Argentina is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. The country is famous for tango dance and music. It’s big cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, is centered on the Plaza de Maya, lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace. From thundering Iguazu Falls, the icy wilds of Patagonia and Los Glaciares National Park, and the vineyards of Mendoza, visitors come to Argentina and fall in love with the captivating cavalcade of natural environments.
Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards the local people we encounter, their culture, local economies and the environment. It’s important to remember that what may be acceptable behavior, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Argentina
- Be considerate of Argentina’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
- For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
- Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
- Learn some local language and don’t be afraid to use it – simple greetings will help break the ice.
- Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
- Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
- Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
- When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
Argentina Travel Information
Argentina’s temperate climate means it experiences four distinct seasons. Summer (December to February) is the best time for visiting Patagonia as the weather is at its mildest. In contrast, summer can be very hot and humid in Buenos Aires, with spring and autumn offering milder weather. Autumn is a good time to visit Mendoza, Cordoba and the Lake District. The busiest times to travel in Argentina are during January, February and July.
Like many other aspects of Argentinian life, its culture and customs are influenced by the waves of Italian, Spanish and other European immigrants that landed here in the 1880’s and during the two World Wars. As a result, parts of the country feels notably more ‘European’ than other areas of South America. Buenos Aires is nicknamed the ‘Paris’ of South America.
Argentinians are famously affectionate, loud, passionate about football, and big fans of a good plate of homemade spaghetti. The family is the centre of Argentine life with extended families still having prominence. The Argentine constitution guarantees religious freedom, although Roman Catholicism acts as the official state religion.
As a general guide, these are some of the key things you should know before visiting Argentina:
- A kiss on the cheek is the most common way of greeting someone – particularly a friend, but it’s not uncommon between strangers, particularly if being introduced by a mutual friend. This is the case whether it’s female to female or male to male.
- Argentines are on the whole, open, blunt, and direct, yet are able to remain tactful and diplomatic.
- Expect Argentines to be late. Being late for social or cultural events is almost fashionable in Argentina, but it can be annoying for travelers.
- Siesta time is still common, particularly in provinces such as Mendoza, San Juan, and Salta. Shops may close from 1pm to 4pm and reopen around 8-9pm. Dinner with locals can be very, very late. Having dinner at 9pm, 10pm, or 11pm is perfectly normal and accepted in Argentina.
- If you are invited to an Argentine home, dress well. Men should wear a jacket and tie. Women should wear a dress or a skirt and blouse. Arrive 30 to 45 minutes later than invited for a dinner party. Arriving on time is not the norm. Be sure to phone your hosts and thank them the following day.
- Nightlife is truly nightlife. Pubs, clubs and events typically don’t kick off until 1-2am.
- Looking good in the eyes of others is important to Argentines. Therefore, they will judge you not only on what you say, but also on the way you present yourself.
- Avoid confrontation. Argentines do not like publicly admitting they are incorrect.
- When dining in a restaurant, wait for the host or hostess to tell you where to sit. Table manners are Continental, meaning they hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand while eating. Always keep your hands visible when eating and do not rest your elbows on the table. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right. It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
- Pouring wine is beset with many rituals and cultural taboos. If at all possible, avoid pouring wine. Also, wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink.
As many other aspects of Argentinian culture, its cuisine has been heavily influenced by European immigration. Argentine cuisine is best described as a cultural blending of Mediterranean influences. Mix Spanish and Italian favorite dishes with Argentina top quality beef and dairy products and you have Argentine cuisine.
Things to try in Argentina
With Spanish origins, asado describes succulent barbequed meat, slow-cooked on a metal frame over an open fire or a bed of hardwood charcoal. In Argentina, asado is in equal parts a dish and a social gathering – both of which you will want to experience.
A tea-like beverage made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant, is typically consumed in Argentina from a hollowed-out gourd and drunk through a metal straw. It is common to share mate between friends in Argentina, so don’t be surprised if someone offers you a sip!
A piquant combination of diced garlic, chopped parsley and oregano, olive oil and vinegar, this classic Argentinean condiment is the quintessential accompaniment to grilled meat.
4. Fernet and Cola
According to a recent survey, Argentina now consumes over 75% of all fernet branca produced globally. This bitter, aromatic Italian spirit is certainly an acquired taste, yet an essential ingredient of any self-respecting Argentinean asado gathering. Most commonly served mixed with Coca Cola.
Argentina’s favorite sweet biscuit. Two round shortbreads, filled with dulce de leche (a decadent caramel made for condensed milk), often coated in chocolate.
Argentinians take ice cream seriously. Do not miss helado de dulce de leche, the national flavor of Argentina.
Yes, pizza. It’s impossible to ignore the Italian influence in Argentina’s culinary repertoire, with a huge wave of Italian migration at the beginning of the 20th century. Keep your eye out for fugazetta – a type of Argentinian pizza with a cheesy base and topped with onions. You will not find this in Italy!
Jan/ Feb: Gualeguaychu Carnival
This is one of Argentina’s biggest festivals, rivaling the Rio Carnival. Held in Gualeguaychu, in the Northeast of Argentina, the Corosodroma seats up to 40,000 people. All of whom come to witness the amazing energy of this festival. Taking place over 9 Saturdays, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained, with colorful costumes, feathers, floats, and five stages with music and singers. The key event is the crowning of the King of the Carnival. This position is battled out between 4 samba clubs, known as comparsa, which consists of 700 dancers all trying to show why they’ve got the moves to win it.
March: Tilcara Carnival
Now, this is something a little different, but it’s definitely the best way to experience the South American culture. In the center of Quebrada de Humahuaca in the Jujuy and Salta province is a village carnival. The festival opens with a puppet, representing the devil that opens up the gate to madness. All inhibitions – within reason – are lost as it is believed that the devil possesses the villager’s souls throughout the duration of the celebration. When the festival is over, the devil is placed in a hole and covered up until next year. Although it sounds a bit unnerving, this festival is full of what South America does best, and that’s having fun. There are bright colored costumes, masks, flags and crowds, as well as lots of booze!
April: Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival
BAFICI for short, this 10-day festival celebrates all things film, allowing producers to promote their films and actors and actresses to get their name out in the world. This annual movie mania has been gracing the streets of Buenos Aires since 1999, giving viewers the chance to see the weird, wonderful and inspiring. Most films are, naturally, Latin American, but many have English subtitles. Over eight theaters screen movies and tickets go fast, so get in the queue early. If you miss out on film tickets, you can still go to a Q&A session with producers, directors and actors as well as an award ceremony to finish off the event.
July: Argentina’s Independence Day
This celebration takes place all over Argentina and celebrates Argentina independence, which was granted in 1861. Dressed in traditional clothing, this is less fireworks and more political, but it is still a great experience. You’ll see the Argentinean flag everywhere you look and performances at the Colon Theatre.
August: Buenos Aires Tango Festival and World Cub
This is an annual fiesta and dance competition hailed as the world’s largest tango festival. Every August thousands of dancers and fans of tango music converge on Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango, for a two-week extravaganza of free concerts, classes, milongas, and other events. You’ll find duos performing the traditional dance everywhere in the streets of Buenos Aires. There’s also the opportunity to take some beginners lessons free of charge, so you don’t get left out of the two-step fun. And don’t worry if you forget your dance shoes; the festival has its own product fair with items made by some of the city’s best tango shoe and clothing specialists.
Why go all the way to Argentina for a German festival? Although this may seem bizarre, this beer drinking bonanza is actually part of the Argentinian culture – and the beers are a lot cheaper too. The mountain range district of Villa General Belgrano is the location, and origins, of this adopted tradition. Villa General Belgrano is well known for its German population, who accidentally ended up settling in the town after a German warship sunk off the Argentina coast in 1939. This corner of Argentina becomes an old-fashioned Munich, with Bavarian dancing, schnitzel, and traditional costumes. The festival kicks off with beer barrels being smashed open as people desperately try to get a few drops of the free beer into their large mugs as this is meant to bring good luck.
November: Buenos Aires Gay Pride
Buenos Aires has been described as one of the most gay-friendly cities in South America. Home to plenty of gay bars and same-sex tango lessons, what would Buenos Aires be without a pride parade? Rainbow, glitter and pride – that’s all you really need for this festival. This fun party allows all members, and non-members of the LGBT community to let lose, have fun and celebrate who they are. This laid back dance festival attracts up to 250,000 people each year who pile into the Plaza de Mayo to celebrate.
Bordered by Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay, Argentina is South America’s second largest country. With a vast range of natural environments, traveling in Argentina presents a revolving door of terrain and landscapes. From the giant glaciers and icy lakes of Patagonia to the green grasslands of the Pampas; and the lofty Andes of the north to the steamy wetlands of the northeast, Argentina contains a wealth of biodiversity.
First explored in 1516 by Juan Diaz de Solis, Argentina developed slowly under Spanish colonial rule. Buenos Aires was settled in 1580 and the country’s cattle industry began thriving as early as 1600. Invading British forces were expelled in 1806, and after Napoleon conquered Spain in 1808, the Argentinians set up their own government. They formally declared their independence on July 9, 1816. A modern constitution was put into effect in 1853 and a unified government was established in 1861.
Argentina’s culture has been defined mostly by its European immigration population. The Basque and Irish worked in sheep rearing, the Germans and Italians established farms, and the English invested in developing the infrastructure.
From 1880 to 1930, Argentina became one of the world’s 10 wealthiest nations as a result of the rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. However, the Great Depression brought a halt to this period of prosperity, and combined with other social and political changes, brought an unstable government. The ruling parties of the 1930’s attempted to hold back the tide of economic and political change that eventually led to a military coup and the rise to power of Juan Domingo Peron.
The military ousted Argentina’s government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the leaders, and he soon became the government’s dominant figure as Minister of Labor, elected president in 1946. In 1947, Peron’s charismatic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as Evita, played a key role in developing support for her husband’s re-election in 1952, but the military exiled him in 1955. With considerable national support in 1973, he returned to power, but died soon after in July of 1974. Military rule continued throughout the 1970’s until mounting charges of corruption, human rights violations and the country’s 1982 defeat by the British in an unsuccessful attempt to take control of the Falklands (Malvinas) Islands combined to discredit the regime.
The contagious effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 mushroomed into a four-year depression for the country, culmination in their own financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, President de la Rua resigned during bloody riots. After a prolonged period of political turmoil and several provisional presidents, the country has finally regained some semblance of social stability and seen slow, but steady growth.
We take the health and safety of our travelers seriously, and we take every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travelers check with their government or national travel advisory organization for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organization
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
We also recommend that you carry a First-Aid kit and hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Tap water in Argentina is considered safe to drink unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and use a refillable canteen or water bottle instead.
Snatch and run:
This is where a thief snatches victims belongings such as phones and cameras resting at a restaurant or cafe table – particularly while seated outside. When dining outside, make sure you keep your belongings in your bag and your bag at your feet.
This is a common scam in Buenos Aires where a thief riding a bike or motorbike snatches a traveler’s camera or bag. To avoid this, walk on the shops side of the footpath and keep back from the street when waiting to cross a road.
Stain on shirt:
This is a sophisticated form of pick-pocketing where a passer-by “accidentally” spills a drink or food on an unsuspecting victim. The thief then offers to help you clean up, while robbing you of your belongings in the process. If this was to happen to you, simply keep walking and accept no help from strangers.
The vast majority of taxi drivers in Buenos Aires are honest and hardworking people. However, there is a small number of them that will target travelers overcharging them or handing back counterfeit bills. To avoid this problem, order taxis from hotels, restaurants, or flag them at official taxi stands.
Leather goods are normally top of the shopping list of every traveler to Argentina. The quality of leather products is excellent and prices can be significantly cheaper than at home. The most popular items are jackets, handbags, shoes, boots, and belts. A word of warning though – be wary of cheap imitations!
Argentina is also home to Malbec, a red varietal that is easy to drink with a ton of juicy fruit flavors. It’s an easy to drink wine that is always a crowd-pleaser and doesn’t cost a fortune. You can typically pay between 5-10USD for a good quality bottle! Just remember that you’ll have to ship it or send it back in your check-in luggage, as you won’t be allowed to carry it on the plane.
If you’re looking for an unusual souvenir, consider buying a mate cup or mate set. The spherical shaped mug, which is used to drink tea, is usually made of wood and comes with a metal straw. The unusual shape and material will certainly make it a talking point around the office or at home.
Many travelers are entitled to shop free tax in Argentina – which means 13-14% cheaper shopping! At the checkout, just ask for a Global Blue form from the retailer and process the refund at the airport before going home. You can find more info here.
Argentina Travel FAQ's
Though not compulsory, a tip of about 10% is generally expected in restaurants and cafes. Tipping ushers, taxi drivers and porters a few pesos is desirable, but not mandatory.
With the highest number of internet users in Latin America, accessing the internet isn’t usually a problem in Argentina. Large cities have WiFi hot spots and cyber cafes, but be prepared for less coverage in remote or rural areas.
Mobile phone coverage is very good in Argentina’s cities but less reliable when traveling in mountainous or remote areas. If you wish to use your mobile phone, ensure global roaming is activated before leaving home.
Toilets in Argentina are modern flushable toilets. It’s a good idea to carry your own soap and toilet paper as these aren’t always provided in public toilets. Also, most places request that you NOT flush toilet paper as it might clog the toilet.
City bus/subway fare = 6-8 pesos
Bottle of beer in a bar/club = 60-80 pesos or 120-150 pesos for a large bottle
Glass of wine in a restaurant = 50-70 pesos
Simple lunch = 150-200 pesos
Dinner at a basic restaurant = 250-350 pesos
Water is considered safe to drink in Argentina unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and use a refillable canteen or water bottle instead.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Argentina’s large cities and towns, especially Visa and Mastercard. Keep in mind that credit cards may not be accepted so readily in small towns and rural areas, so always have alternative payment methods available.
Please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website – travel.state.gov – for the latest advice. The Argentine government charges a reciprocity tax which applies to Canadian, US and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows:
Australians – US$100 (multiple entry for up to 1 year from date of issue)
Canadians – US$92 (multiple entry for up to 10 years from date of issue)
American – No longer need to pay for this tax
This fee must be paid before arrival and can only be paid online through the following website:
For instruction on how to process this payment, please visit:
A receipt for this payment must be produced at every border crossing into Argentina.
Yes. All passengers traveling with Adventure People are required to purchase travel insurance with a minimum of $200,000 for emergency evacuation and repatriation before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your tour coordinator before your departure. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey. For more information, please visit: Travel Insurance.