The local currency is the Argentine peso (ARS), although US dollars are accepted in many places throughout the country. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in major cities and in tourist areas, but pesos are still preferred and recommended for local markets. It is also handy to have smaller bills to make smaller purchases for snacks and drinks and for tipping. Note that withdrawal limits from ATMs in Argentina tend to be lower than in the US and Canada and will dispense ARS. Check with your bank if you're not sure.
The official language of Argentina is Spanish, the Rioplatense dialect to be exact. The Porteño accent used in Buenos Aires is quite distinct, being heavily influenced by Italian. English is commonly spoken in large tourist areas, especially by locals working in the tourism industry.
Best Time to Go
The best time to travel to Argentina depends on what you want to do there. Summer is when the country is driest and warmest, allowing for more activities. For the outdoorsy traveller, Patagonia is most accessible during the summer months. In spring and autumn, nature lovers will love the Lake District, and wine aficionados will enjoy the wine valleys that surround Mendoza year-round. Buenos Aires is also a year-round destination. Winter temperatures are much lower, but offer the ideal time to visit Bariloche and visit a ski resort in the mountains.
Argentina has a variety of climates and microclimates such as subtropical, oceanic, semi-arid, Mediterranean, and tundra due to the vast size and wide range of altitudes across the country. It experiences all four seasons: spring (September to November), summer (December to February), fall (March to May), and winter (June to August). Average temperatures in the north range from 26°C/79°F in the summer to 14°C/57°F in the winter. In the cooler south, average temperatures are 12°C/54°F in the summer and 4°C/39°F in the winter.
Argentina offers experiences for a variety of interests. Hikers and nature lovers can explore Iguassu Falls, Bariloche, and the lakes region, or the wilds of Patagonia including Perito Moreno Glacier. Foodies and wine connoisseurs will enjoy the vineyards of Mendoza and the ever-changing restaurant scene of food and culture-loving Buenos Aires.
Getting There From North America
The largest airport in Argentina is Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, located about 35km southwest of the city. There is also the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires, which operates flights to the country’s different regions.
Major Air Routes from the United States
In the United States, many airlines have direct flights to Buenos Aires from New York, Dallas/Ft Worth, Atlanta, Miami, and Houston.
Major Air Routes from Canada
In Canada, Air Canada is the only airline that has direct flights to Buenos Aires, departing from Toronto. Travellers departing elsewhere in Canada can connect via the United States or Toronto.
Essential Sights in Argentina
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and a cosmopolitan city renowned for its exciting history, great food scene, and associations with tango. Its spiritual center is the famous Plaza de Mayo surrounded by 19th-century buildings. Be sure to visit the Presidential Palace (Casa Rosada) and the Teatro Colon, and spend some time exploring local neighbourhoods like San Telmo, Palermo, and colourful La Boca.
Located in southern Patagonia, El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, where the famous Perito Moreno Glacier is located. It’s a good base for exploring Patagonia, with many trips through Argentine Patagonia connecting through the town at some point.
This mighty waterfall system is located in the north of the country on the border with Brazil. When taken all together, these waterfalls form the largest waterfall system in the world. Both sides are worth visiting, with the Brazilian side offering an epic panorama, and Argentina offering a wide variety of trails that take you in for a close look.
Other Highlights of Argentina Off the Beaten Path
Made famous internationally by The Motorcyle Diaries, this city borders a beautiful glacial lake (Huapi) that is surrounded by spectacular vegetation and the great mountains of the Andes. Due to its architecture and the surrounding mountains, you could mistake Bariloche for a city in the Swiss Alps.
This frontier town is located in the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) at the southern tip of South America. It’s the gateway to the Magellan Strait and Antarctica, with most Antarctic cruise vessels embarking here.
This city, with modern architecture and Art Deco buildings, is located in the heart of Argentina's wine country. In Mendoza, travellers can tour many of the bodegas (wineries) and enjoy a variety of red wines, especially Malbec, or visit the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno and appreciate the modern and contemporary art on display.
Top Activities and Experiences in Argentina
Dance the Tango
Tango is one of the most famous dances in the world, originating in 18th-century Argentina and Uruguay and becoming a staple of the national identity. It combines Indigenous dance rhythms with Spanish European influences. You can take a Tango dance class while visiting Buenos Aires or attend an evening show to watch skilled dancers show off Tango in all its glory.
Eat Argentine BBQ
Argentina is famous for its meat, in particular its beef. The Gaucho culture and the country’s livestock are famous throughout the world for the quality of their meats. Be sure to visit an Argentine barbeque restaurant and try some Argentine roast meat, as it’s unlike barbeque anywhere else in the world.
Visit a Vineyard
Argentina is famous for its quality wines, especially its Malbec. If you visit a wine region, be sure to visit bodegas (vineyards) to learn about the winemaking process and try out the different vintages. Don't limit yourself to the Malbec either!
Essential Argentine Foods to Try
This drink is made by steeping dried yerba mate leaves with water, creating an infusion similar to tea. It’s Argentina’s national drink and has a distinctly earthy, bitter flavour that is iconic across the nation. There is strict etiquette around how it should be prepared, served, consumed, and shared, and it's an acquired taste, so fair warning before that first sip.
Dulce de Leche
This Latin American version of caramel is a favourite dessert topping in the country. It’s prepared by slowly heating sweetened condensed milk or milk and sugar, until it becomes rich and caramel-like. It is a delicious sweet treat that can be found in a variety of local desserts.
This sweet dessert is made with biscuits and sweet filling (often dulce de leche) and is popular across the country.
Asados (Argentine BBQ)
Argentina’s cattle tradition has earned a reputation around the world for producing high-quality meat that is lean and flavourful. Visit a parilla or steakhouse to enjoy asado, including grilled cuts of steak and chorizo.
Tips for Sustainable Travel
Book with tour operators who are dedicated to sustainable travel and committed to responsible and ethical practices. Stay in eco-lodges and hotels when possible as they focus on providing sustainable accommodations that reduce our impact on the environment. Try to travel with reusable items like refillable water bottles (filtered bottles are great) and avoid plastic bags or items wrapped in plastic to minimize waste. Do not leave waste behind when traveling to remote areas where waste management is not available. Respect that campfires are banned in parks, especially in regions like Patagonia. Stay on marked trails to avoid disturbing surrounding areas and delicate natural habitats.
Where to Go Next
Argentina connects well with most of its neighbours, and you can easily reach those countries further afield by air. Chile is a natural pairing, via Patagonia (Calafate in Argentina and Torres del Paine in Chile) and the Lake Region (crossing from Bariloche, Argentina to Puerto Varas, Chile). Another popular connection is to finish your tour in Iguassu (Argentina) and cross the border into Brazil to see both sides of the falls and then fly to Sao Paulo or Rio. Of course, you can do the same in reverse. Uruguay is just a short ferry ride away from Buenos Aires. Explore Montevideo, visit beautiful Colonia, or sun yourself on Punta Del Este beach. Bolivia is a less common, but no less spectacular pairing. The spectacular Salar de Uyuni salt flats are an easy next stop from Argentina's Salta region and the Atacama Desert. Many people even visit Antarctica as a step on a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica, since most cruises depart from Ushuaia.
Most Popular Itineraries for Argentina
Argentina Top to Bottom is a 9-day vacation that offers a comprehensive overview of the nation, from Buenos Aires to Patagonia and finally, Iguassu Falls. El Calafate & the Perito Moreno Glacier is a 3-day stopover that takes you to El Calafate, a small town in the heart of Patagonia, where you’ll connect to majestic Perito Moreno Glacier and explore the quaint town. It can easily be added to any Argentina or Chile itinerary. Argentina in Style VIP offers a 9-day luxury experience from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls, with visits to some of Argentina’s best restaurants, finest wineries, and Gaucho farms.
20 Aug 2020, 5:40 p.m.