Argentina is the destination where you can have it all. The breathtaking landscapes, thriving city life, world-class vineyards, and thousands of miles of white sand beaches mean there’s something for everyone. But it doesn’t stop there; Argentina has a thriving gastronomy scene and plenty of cultural events and sites. With its melting pot of cultures and various landscapes, Argentina is a vast country waiting to be explored.
Best Time To visit
The best time to travel to Argentina depends on where you’re going. Their hottest month is January, and the coldest is in July. If you’re planning to visit south Patagonia and the wine country of Mendoza, summertime (January and February) is best. For the rest of the country, it’s hot and humid during that time of year. Spring (October to December) and fall (April to mid-June) offer the best balance of weather and fewer crowds.
What to expect
Argentina is a big country (the 8th largest in the world) with diverse activities. Don’t expect to be able to visit the entire country in one visit. Patagonia itself is huge, and there are many other national parks, as well as the countryside, vineyards, beaches, and Buenos Aires to explore.
Most Argentinians don’t consider themselves Latino. While there are places in Argentina with a Latin or indigenous vibe, much of the country is inhabited by direct descendants of Italians, Germans, and Swiss people. So, don’t expect everyone to be able to break out into the tango.
Many Argentinians, especially those from Buenos Aires, speak directly with few nuances. So if you feel like someone is overly self-confident, it’s likely because they feel comfortable — not because they’re rude.
Argentinians are warm people. They will greet each other with a kiss and touch your arm, back, or hands when talking. If you’re uncomfortable, try to use your body language to let them know you don’t want to be touched but are enjoying the conversation.
This is especially important if you’re lucky enough to be invited to an Asado, an Argentine BBQ. Bring a plate to share, and don’t be shocked if you’re offered a sip of Mate, the country’s national beverage. It’s a naturally caffeinated drink passed around in social settings, and people almost always drink out of the same straw. These meals are almost always meat-heavy, so if you’re vegetarian, plan accordingly.
Things to know
Argentina is an exciting place to visit, but you’ll want to know a few things about traveling there before you go.
- Seasons. Argentina is very far south. If you’re from the northern hemisphere, keep in mind that seasons are reversed. Winter is summer, and vice versa.
- Language. Argentinians might not speak good English, but most will understand if you speak slowly or write it down. It’s helpful to learn a few Spanish words. Buenos Aires Spanish is different. If you know Spanish, be prepared not to understand pronunciation and slang here.
- Time Zone. Argentina has just one time zone: Argentina Standard Time, which is two hours ahead of the Eastern time zone in the US.
- Voltage in Argentina. Argentina uses different outlets from North America and Europe. So make sure you bring converters. Argentina uses plug types C and I and operates on a 220V (it’s 120V in the US) supply voltage and 50Hz. Most North American electronics are rated for the higher voltage (120 volts), but double-check. You can get voltage converters to be safe.
- Money. Bring cash. Some places accept credit cards, but many don’t. Carrying $10-$50 USD worth of Argentinian pesos is a good amount to have on hand.
- Meal Time. People eat late, and by late 7-8 pm is early. If you’re not a night hawk, be forewarned that 10 to 11 pm meals aren’t unheard of. Meals are slow and meant to be enjoyed.
- Organic Food. Going to local farmer’s markets is your best bet for organic food. You can also find many organic and natural restaurants in Buenos Aires. While the country grows a lot of organic food for export, many Argentines don’t want to pay more for it, so it’s not as readily available at grocery stores.
- Vegan/Vegetarian Options. While Argentina is a country known for its beef, you can find vegetarian and vegan options. There are more and more vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires, and veganism is becoming more well-known. Look for dieteticas or health food shops where you’ll find a few more options. If you venture outside the city, it’s more challenging to find vegan food and occasionally even vegetarian food. So, look for Andean food that is often plant-based or Levantine, like falafel and lentils.
- Safety. Beware of pickpockets. Keep your belongings safe, and don’t be afraid to say a firm “no gracias” if someone comes out of nowhere and won’t leave you alone. Violent crime is rare, but petty theft is on the rise, so don’t flaunt anything valuable, and never leave your bags, cell phone, or other personal items unattended.
- Politics. Argentinian cities are often quite dirty, but it’s best not to complain about it publicly. The same goes for politics and the economy. As a rule, avoid talking about it unless you are from Argentina.
- Overpriced. Don’t get scammed. Many locals hear English and assume you’re a tourist with money. It’s not uncommon for them to offer highly inflated prices to you, so don’t be afraid to push back.
- Lateness. Nothing is on time. Be prepared to wait a while for a bus. It’s also a good idea to double-check with someone that you are at the correct bus stop.
- Siestas. Be prepared for the afternoon siesta, especially in rural areas. Shops will close between 12 pm to 4:30 pm during the day. Enjoy a siesta yourself, or plan on not going inside during these times.
how to get around
You can use the subway, buses, or taxis when you’re in Buenos Aires. Anywhere else in this vast country, you’ll need to take a bus or plane or rent a car. Buses will take you all across the country; if you take a night bus, you can sleep. Because Argentina is so large, you’ll save time if you fly, but be prepared for steep prices. Visitors can also rent a car, although they may not be able to handle the hectic way Argentinians drive.
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