With a rich cultural scene, lots of history, as well as superb natural areas, Argentina is one of the most popular destinations in South America. To make the most out of your Argentinian experience it is best to plan in advance. Here are some considerations about places to go, things to see and do, as well as practical tips that will make your trip an absolute amazing one!
Where to go
Of course you must not miss Buenos Aires… allow some time for exploring this vibrant city full of culture, with hints of its Spanish, Italian and indigenous legacy all over the place. But you also should consider getting out of the capital and visit some of the most iconic places in the country. Head down south to the Argentinian Patagonia if you are in seek of some serious nature encounters and adventure. For breathtaking views of one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, visit the Iguazu Falls. If your thing is rather to sit back and relax over a good glass of wine, consider a few days in the Mendoza region and sip your worries away at any of the numerous world-class wineries. Or check out Salta if you are craving for culture and history.
What to see & do
- Have your own little tango experience, venturing into a beginners’ tango class or even just enjoying a milonga (a tango dancing gathering by locals).
- Seize Buenos Aires café culture and just unwind at any of its many little coffee shops. If you are a literature-lover, you must visit legendary Café La Biela, where Borges and other famous writers used to go.
- Eat dinner at a closed-door restaurant, having a chef cook something special just for you and a small group at a special location. A plus: you’ll get to meet some people while sharing the table with them.
- Try a classic Argentinian asado (roast), along with some of the many topnotch wines that the country produces. If you really are not hungry, ditch dinner and go straight to a wine bar!
- Go to a boliche (nightclub) to experience the local nightlife. Just beware that the scene begins to warm up no earlier than 2am.
- Head down to the Recoleta Cemetery and pay a visit to Evita Peron’s grave.
How to successfully face the “mate” ritual
You can’t leave Argentina without giving the mate ritual a shot. Mate (pronounced “mah-tay”) is a hot beverage, similar to a tea, made of yerba mate. There are rules around this social ritual. It is served in a communal cup with a metal straw (bombilla). The group sharing the mate sits in a circle and the cup is passed onto the person on your right hand side, only after having drank all the liquid and having had the cebador (the person in charge of serving the mate) rebrew the beverage. Do not stir the yerba mate and don’t say “gracias” (thank you) unless you don’t want any more.
- It is standard to greet both men and women with a single kiss on the right cheek.
- It is custom and much appreciated to tip around 10% at restaurants, although it is not mandatory.
- Arriving fashionably late to social meetings, between 20 and 40 minutes, is perfectly normal.
When to travel to Argentina
This really depends on the specific places you want to visit. The south is cooler and therefore is most agreable during the Argentinian summer, from December to March… although you should bear in mind that it will always be sort of cold down there. The north, on the other hand, enjoys a permanently warm climate, so it is ok to visit throughout the year. Buenos Aires can also be visited year-round, however, the best times are Spring (September to November) and Fall (March to May).
Other practical notes
- Visas: Most western countries do not require a Visa to visit Argentina for tourism purposes, for stays up to 90 days. Check out this list to see if your nationality is included: http://cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar/en/node/1816. If you do need a Visa, it is strongly encouraged to apply for it at least 45 days in advance.
- Language: Spanish is the official language in Argentina. The accent and local slang varies radically from that of Spanish spoken in Spain or other hispanic countries, though.
- The time zone for Argentina is UTC -3.
- Local currency is the Argentinian Peso. The current exchange rate is approximately 17 pesos for 1 US dollar, and 19 pesos for 1 Euro. But be sure to get an updated rate at http://www.xe.com/?c=ARS or any other online converter.