The name “Argentina” elicits a mix of sensations: the flavour of Argentinian barbecue accompanied by a good wine, the intensity of tango, the fervour of football and rugby supporters or political protesters. The immense size of the country (it’s the second-largest in South America and the largest Spanish-speaking nation) means that there’s always something to do, from visiting the Iguazu Falls to exploring the southern reaches of Ushaia.
Argentina is bordered by Chile to the west, Bolivia and Paraguay directly above, and Brazil and Uruguay to the north-east. To the east is Atlantic Ocean and the disputed Falkland Islands, a British territory which many Argentineans would like to name las Islas Malvinas once more.
The most well-known destinations are Mendoza, for its wine; Patagonia for wildlife and wilderness; Buenos Aires for culture and clubbing; and Iguazu Falls for viewing stunning cascades falling dozens of meters. There’s certainly much more: Colonial Salta in the north is a beautiful base from which to explore surrounding regions (like Cafayate and its wineries), and Bariloche is one of the best places for snow sports in all of South America.
People tend to be friendly and easy-going, but you might not know it if you don’t speak Spanish. While tourism operators throughout the country have passable-to-excellent English, it can be harder to find shopkeepers who know what you’re talking about, no matter how loudly and slowly you speak.
Argentina’s capital is known for its European stylings and Latin American flair. It impresses with its food, theatres and dance. It has grand palaces and bright ramshackle apartments, and gothic beauty in its cemeteries to contrast with the stark lines of the famous Obelisk in Avenida 9 de Julio.
There’s great asado (slow-barbecued meat) to drink with Malbec from Mendoza or Cafayate, and savoury pasty-like empanadas to snack on. Indie Travel Podcast Community member Ana Lauren recommends “to save some money and avoid empanada overkill, find yourselves a nice barrio bakery and try their galletitas/bizcochitos de grasa (“fat biscuits”) and their sanguchitos de miga (sandwiches, really, but that how Argentinians pronounce it). They’re made on paper-thin bread with a variety of fillings)”.
Getting to and from Argentina
The main international airport in Argentina is in Buenos Aires, which is serviced from long-haul destinations in Europe, New Zealand and many US airports.
Ferry crossings operate between Buenos Aires and Colonia, Uruguay while coach and car crossings between the two countries are possible further north. There are also land borders with Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia, which are accessible by coach or private car.
Crossing land borders with rental cars in South America can be a regulatory headache, so make sure you work with your rental company and look at third-party reports before you head to the borders.
Staff on some long-distance coaches will collect people’s passports and visas just prior to arrival at the border. Make sure you get your passport back after you’ve gone through the second checkpoint and before you are too far down the road, and check for the right stamps.
Argentina travel resources
Check out our Buenos Aires podcast or browse the articles below.