Argentina is the quintessential south. Half of the local realities proudly wear the title “the southernmost. To begin with, there’s the world’s southernmost railroad: Argentina’s answer to the bourgeois Orient Express and the harsh domestic Trans-Siberian Railroad – the Patagonian broad gauge, built, by the way, with a continental scope: about 30 years of work and unprecedented for such distant lands amenities – Fiat Concord cars with different twists, like porcelain sinks and carved chairs, and special trailers to transport cars.
Then there’s the southernmost city on the planet, Ushuaia, on the promenade by the harbor which is so nice to contemplate the summer apricot sunsets. Finally – the southernmost glaciers on Earth (not counting, of course, the pole), with a constant dry crackle sliding down from the mountains to the crystal “silver” lakes of Lago Argentino.
An added bonus: Patagonia, immortalized by Monsieur Verne, known to all of us since childhood, is also located here. In general, “he who is merry – he laughs, he who wants – he will achieve, he who seeks – he will always find!”
The capital is Buenos Aires.
- 1 Resorts in Argentina
- 2 Visa to Argentina
- 3 A little history
- 4 Transport in Argentina
- 5 Safety in Argentina
- 6 Interesting facts
- 7 Climate of Argentina
- 8 Banks and exchange offices
- 9 Shopping and Shops in Argentina
- 10 Cuisine and restaurants
- 11 Wines of Argentina
- 12 Mate
- 13 Active recreation or what to do in Argentina
- 14 Argentina’s Entertainment and Attractions
Resorts in Argentina
Argentina has both sea and ski resorts. Interesting cities in terms of tourism are Salta, Cordoba, El Calafate, and the southernmost city of Ushuaia.
Natural attractions are Iguazu, Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
Visa to Argentina
A visa is not required to visit Argentina if the trip does not exceed 90 days. Learn more about visa to Argentina. However you will need to obtain a medical insurance for the whole trip in advance.
Is it possible to extend your Argentine visa, while you are in the country?
Import and export of local and foreign currencies is not limited, but the sums over 10 000 USD need to be declared.
You can bring into the country up to 400 cigarettes (or 50 cigars), up to 2 liters of liquor, up to 5 kg of canned foods, souvenirs and gifts not exceeding 300 USD and things for personal needs. When importing these items in excess of this amount, a duty of 50% of their value is levied.
It is prohibited to import non-canned food products, items and things of historical, artistic or archaeological value (without a special permit), as well as weapons.
When exporting wool and leather goods, jewelry and souvenirs must present a receipt of the store where they were purchased.
When exporting furs, an export stamp receipt will be required.
A little history
Incredible, but true: in the early 20th century Argentina was considered perhaps the richest country in the world. There was even a saying: “As rich as an Argentinean”.
Thousands of Europeans tried to find prosperity in the picturesque foothills of the Andes – Southern Italians, Basques who moved from the Pyrenees, Galicians and Catalans, Germans and Austrians and Swiss, Irish and Scots, Russians, Ukrainians and Jews.
Despite the government’s best efforts to repopulate Argentina’s empty territories, they did not succeed, as most immigrants eventually settled in or around the capital.
Patagonian Indians were exterminated almost to the last, Africans did not survive the wars with Brazil and Paraguay.
Thus a “white” country emerged in South America, Catholic in spirit, Spanish in way of thinking, and French in way of life.
Transport in Argentina
Long distances in the country are most convenient and fastest to travel by plane due to the extensive network of airways and the presence of airports in major cities. It is better to book tickets in advance, and you should also keep in mind that there are flight delays.
Rail transport in the country is popular, but in some areas is not well developed. Special tourist trains run in the Patagonia and Mesopotamia regions, and urban transport is represented by buses, commuter trains and cabs. Buenos Aires also has a subway.
In 1906, the newly elected president of Argentina raised the question of the development of the national territories: thus began the era of the Patagonian Railroad. But only a couple of decades later the operating line finally connected the major center of Bahia Blanca and the southern tip of Buenos Aires province, the city of Carmen de Patagonese, across the river from which lies Viedma, the capital of the neighboring province and the door to Patagonia…
International bus routes connect Argentina with neighboring countries: Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. From Jujuy and Salta there are buses to La Chiaqua, from where you can cross the Bolivian border on foot or by cab. From the same cities you can go to the Bolivian town of Jacuibo, located right on the border, where buses go to the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz. With Chilean cities Argentina is connected by routes from Salta to San Pedro de Atacama, from Mendoza to Santiago, from Bariloche to Puerto Montt, from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas.
All cabs in Argentina are equipped with meters, which must be turned on when the passenger boards.
Safety in Argentina
Because there are few “Russo tourists” in the country, locals consider them exotic and the attitude is friendly and helpful. However, certain security measures do not cancel it: it is not recommended to leave the tourist centers alone (especially in the evening), you should not carry large sums of money, expensive jewelry and so on.
It is recommended to drink bottled or boiled water.
Swimming in the ocean can only be strictly in designated areas: in unequipped areas it is dangerous because of the strong coastal currents.
The “silver country” has a lot to show the world: tango, Evita Perón, soccer and the most beautiful woman president – just the beginning of the list.
Argentina offers, in record time, some of the most bizarre experiences the opposite hemisphere has to offer: a glacier that never stops murmuring, a wander through the streets of the southernmost city, a tango lesson in the street (and if you are lucky, even a milonger standing ovation!), a sail to the legendary Cape Horn, or even an Antarctic cruise. With no visa formalities, to get from winter Russia right into the Argentine summer, all you need is spare time and a fair amount of money.
Argentina is known as one of the world’s leading wine producers, but adherents of tequila, whiskey, vodka or brandy are also not lacking in their favorite beverages.
Climate of Argentina
Argentina’s climate is subtropical in the north, humid tropical in the center, and temperate in the south. Don’t forget that in the southern hemisphere winter and summer coincide with ours in exactly the opposite way.
The Andean region is characterized by rainy weather and frequent flooding in the summer season, intense heat in the summer, snow cover in the mountains in the winter, and frequent dry hot winds, which Argentinians call “zonda”. The temperature variations are considerable both between the seasons and within a single day.
In the plains, it often rains heavily over impenetrable rainforests and savannahs. The average temperature is +5 ° C in January and +20 to +22 ° C in July.
Summer (December to February) is the best time to visit Patagonia and the Southern Andes. Winter (May through September) is the best time to travel through the northern and northwestern parts of the country.
Spring and autumn are the perfect time to visit Buenos Aires, the Inter-Mediterranean region and the Cordillera foothills of La Rioja and Catamarca. And fans of skiing can hone their skills on the slopes of snow-capped Argentine Andes from June to October. The best time to visit the country – from October to May.
Up-to-date information: weather forecast for the main resorts in Argentina in the coming days.
Hotels in Argentina
There are two types of hotels in Argentina – local and international “chains”. The first are usually inclined to attribute an extra star to themselves undeservedly, while the level of the latter fully comply with the declared. There are few all-inclusive hotels in the country; in general the hotels offer either breakfasts or half board.
The mains voltage is 220 V, 50 Hz. There are two-pin plugs and three-pin plugs. You are advised to bring your own plugs.
Tango in Argentina
Perhaps everyone knows about the Argentine origin of the tango. Of the fact that it has long been considered, say, not too decent even in their own homeland, probably, are well aware of many (it is known that the champions of strict morality considered tango as a prelude to sex, rather than a dance).
But one funny nuance, directly connected with the above-mentioned point, remained almost unknown. It turns out that when the tango began to gain popularity among male audience, its first fans faced with a severe shortage of partners during the training: decent girls in any way did not want to do “it”, and dancing lessons in brothels were too expensive.
However, they found a way out: men simply began to learn tango dancing… with each other! By the way, according to some researchers, this is what gave a strong impetus to the development of dance and enriched it with new movements.
Banks and exchange offices
The currency unit of the country is the Argentinean peso (ARS). 1 peso has 100 centavos. The current exchange rate: 1 ARS = 0.76 RUB (1 USD = 95.77 ARS, 1 EUR = 113.64 ARS).
Currency can be exchanged in all banks and large shopping centers, hotels and specialized exchange offices.
American Express, Visa, Master Card and Eurocard are accepted at major stores, hotels and restaurants. But in the provinces it is almost impossible to pay with them.
You should not take traveler’s checks with you. Exchange offices charge high commission for cashing them out, besides, it is almost impossible to exchange them in small towns.
Most banks and exchange offices use a ticketing system – instead of standing in line a visitor receives a ticket with a number and then waits until the number is called by a clerk. It must be said that this procedure is more time-consuming than the usual live line.
Shopping and Shops in Argentina
In Argentina, inexpensive and high-quality shopping. From the country you can bring knives, silver mouthpieces, mate tea with a set for its preparation and use (calebasse and metal tubes), sheepskin products, clothing made from vicuña wool, Argentine wines, guitars, art, and quite good furs. When exporting wool and leather goods, you must present a receipt from the store where they were purchased.
When leaving the country, you can reclaim VAT on purchases over $70 USD. In Ushuaia, in the free trade zone, purchases will be particularly advantageous.
Cuisine and restaurants
To start with a little advice: forget about fish restaurants in Argentina. It’s almost impossible to find them there, and even if you do, you’ll regret it. Argentina is meat! One of the best in the world. And wine.
Argentine chefs are known for their masterful handling of beef. In addition, after a trip to the country’s restaurants, a tourist may well have the impression that he or she has visited almost all of South America – so fond are the local chefs to “borrow” recipes from their neighbors on the continent. The same is true for alcoholic beverages.
Argentina is known as one of the world’s leading wine producers, but fans of tequila, whiskey, vodka, or brandy are never short of their favourite drinks. Well, the leisure of ideological or unintentional opponents of alcohol will be brightened up by genuine mate in authentic calabas, traditionally drunk through a silver tube.
Tipping in Argentina amounts to 5-10% of the bill for service; in expensive establishments it is often already included in the bill.
If you decide to treat yourself to a famous restaurant, especially on a weekend, be sure to reserve a table in advance. Otherwise you’ll have to stand in a decent line at the entrance.
All restaurants on the Atlantic coast prepare excellent dishes of seafood. The “specialty” of Argentina are the “empanadas” pastries, which are considered a Spanish contribution to local cooking.
Argentinians have a late dinner, at 9 p.m. at the earliest. Until then, most restaurants serve only light snacks such as pizzas and sandwiches: the “big kitchen” doesn’t start until after dark.
Wines of Argentina
Wine in Argentina is very decent. The local culture of viticulture and winemaking is a kind of symbiosis of European traditions.
Even the grape varieties that are grown here seem to have been selected according to the principle “the best from each country. From France – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, from Italy – Sangiovese and Bonarda, from Spain – Cempranillo, from Germany – Riesling.
Any wine from 200 ARS and up will be very decent. “Top five”: Cheval des Andes 2002 (Terrazas de los Andes), Vistalba Corte A 2004 (Finca y Bodega Vistabla), Iscay 2002 (Trapiche), Luigi Bosca DOC 2003 (Luigi Bosca), Antalogia VIII 2000 (La Rural).
The Argentines say that yerba mate, the drink number one in all of Latin America, was bestowed upon humanity by the gods who had mercy on mankind. According to the legend, two goddesses came down from heaven to take a walk on the pampas, to gaze at the glaciers, to bathe in the crystal waters of Lago Argentino… In general, everything is like today’s tourists.
No sooner had the celestials set foot on the “silver” land, than a jaguar appeared out of nowhere, and it was just dinnertime. The ladies were frightened out of their wits – but then an Indian appeared from behind the bushes and drove the bloodthirsty beast away like a real gentleman.
In gratitude, the goddesses gave the Indian a calebasse and leaves of an unknown plant and taught him to make a decoction from them, which helps to relieve fatigue, improve health, and generally find all kinds of happiness. Since then, yerba mate has been consumed here on an astronomical scale, and Argentinians, as a consequence, are invariably awake and cheerful.
Active recreation or what to do in Argentina
What to do in Argentina: In Buenos Aires – see numerous generals on horseback, in the stone, bow to Eva Perón, drink mate, take part in a gaucho show, visit a tango show, dance a tango in La Boca and feel free from everything – a real gaucho, see how pre-Hispanic cultures live among stunning landscapes.
The obligatory trekking in the National Park of Glaciers and Iguazu Falls, rafting and kayaking in the mountain rivers of Bariloche, Salta and Mendoza; mountain climbing and ascent of Mount Aconcagua; canopying, paragliding, skiing, riding in the salt deserts in the highlands are just some of the options that Argentina has to offer.
You can ride horses across the snow-capped Andes, swim alongside seals and whales, walk between penguins in Patagonia, watch birds in the “American Serengeti” or condors in the high Andes, meet animals like llamas, vicuñas, capybara, nyandu, mara-anything to make it a major destination for those with any interest in nature. People come here for the exotic, the great fishing and the special, inherent only in Latin American countries, feeling of a continuous holiday.
Argentina’s Entertainment and Attractions
Argentina has an area of almost 3 million km² with different geographical characteristics and climatic belts and many attractions. A wide variety of natural scenarios develop on its territory. True natural wonders are combined with the sophistication of the big city, Buenos Aires. South of the Lake District begins the vast Patagonian Plateau, adorned with giant glaciers.
Between the rocky Atlantic coastline, lined with wildlife in the east, to the wine grounds in the high Andes in the west, where the seven-thousandth peak, Mount Aconcagua, rises, lies pristine land. The majestic Antarctica completes Argentina’s list of natural treasures.
The country has many monuments with UNESCO World Heritage status: Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia and Iguazu National Park in Misiones province, Jesuit missions in the land of Guaraní Indians, Cueva de las Manos Cave in Santa Cruz province, Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks, where flora and fauna, formed about 230 million years ago, are preserved. And also the Jesuit buildings and farms in and around Córdoba and the natural and historical monuments of the Quebrada de Humahuaca Valley along the Inca Trail.
You can ride horses through the snow-capped Andes, swim alongside seals and whales, walk hand in hand with penguins in Patagonia, watch birds in the “American Serengeti” or condors in the high Andes.
In Salta, the Cathedral, the Jesuit churches, and the Folk Art Market, where you can find authentic works of art, are worth a visit. Salta also serves as a starting point for excursions to the Calchaca Valley and Umahuaca Canyon.
Mar del Plata is a famous resort located 404 km south of Buenos Aires in a temperate climate zone. Mar del Plata has a population of only 600,000, and the number of vacationers and tourists reaches 6 million! Mar del Plata has many theme parks where you can see shows with dolphins, seals, sharks, acrobatic performances of athletes on water skis, and much more. Eco-tourism-style farm tours give you the opportunity to see how lambs are fed milk and sheep sheared, as well as to taste home-cooked food. Mendoza regularly hosts a wine festival with carnival and dancing, music shows, and elections of the Queen.
Another interesting excursion is a trip to Cordoba, Argentina’s second largest city, which is architecturally superior to the capital in many ways. There are beautiful ensembles of buildings from colonial times concentrated in the center of the city – the old market, the Catholic cathedral and more. One of the best historical museums of the country is opened in the same city.
The main natural sights of Argentina are the national parks Nahuel Huapi, Los Glaciares, Lanin, Iguaçu and others. Ocean cruises to Cape Horn, Antarctica and Patagonia are especially popular with tourists. The colorful Italian suburb of La Boca and the resort of Mar del Plata are also of interest.
Some of the most curious excursions are the “Fiesta Gaucho” and the “Tango Show,” entertaining performances featuring the best dancers in the country. These shows introduce you to the life, cuisine, manners, and music of the Argentine gaucho cowboys.