Spirited Argentina, with its clamouring capital, vast pampas, rolling wine regions and snowy peaks, is a land bursting with adventure. It’s a place where the clichés hold true: football is essentially a religion, the beef is phenomenal and there’s little point even thinking about starting a proper night out before midnight. Its natural wonders range from Andean plateaux and Patagonian glaciers to subtropical waterfalls and wildlife-rich wetlands. There’s an awful lot to love.
Buenos Aires might sit at the very edge of the country, gazing out across the Rio de la Plata, but it’s very much Argentina’s centrepiece. The city of Evita and Maradona, its tango halls, parillas (grill restaurants) and feisty porteños (BA residents) provide a gutsy introduction to the country. In the high-end neighbourhoods of Recoleta and Palermo you’ll find designer boutiques and trendy eateries, while historic San Telmo offers antique stalls, old-world cafés and an abundance of live music.
In the north, scorched mountains and otherworldly rock formations characterise the Salta region, where Spanish and Gaucho traditions combine and Argentina’s famous white wines flourish. Further west, in the Mendoza region, the grapes are red and the foothills of the Andes offer skiing, while down south, in Patagonia, you’ll find an astonishing spread of expansive lakes, jagged peaks and mile upon empty mile of open space.
Elsewhere, try walking in the glistening Lake District, whale-watching off the coast at Puerto Madryn, meeting baby penguins in Punta Tombo or exploring the Jesuit chapels and farmhouses of Córdoba. Another of the country’s majestic natural beauties is the mighty Iguazu Falls, bordering Argentina and Brazil.
Despite living through a dark military dictatorship and a spectacularly devastating economic crisis, Argentineans still have a vivacious and infectious lust for life. And from its subtropical top to its icy tip, it remains a mesmerising country.
When to Go
Plan your visit according to what activities you would like to experience. Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer (December, January, February) is often hot and humid yet remains the best time to travel south to Patagonia. Winter (June, July, August) provides the best snow. Walking and trekking is truly a year round activity with suggestions of spring or autumn for most tours.
– A little Spanish goes a long way and unlike many Latin American countries, English was not mandatory in the schools until recently.
– The Argentines have a relaxed attitude towards rules and regulations, which can make for some interesting sights on the roads.
– Forget about traveller’s checks unless you don’t mind wasting a day at a bank that you may not find open when needed.
– Argentines tend to dress in a conservative manner and take a pride in their appearance.
– When greeting or leaving people Argentines kiss once on the right cheek.
– Public drunkenness is frowned upon and smoking is illegal in enclosed public spaces within some areas.
– Check whether a tourist visa is needed to visit Argentina although some countries do not a visa (such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Turkey, UK)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
– Los Glaciares National Park
– Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina), Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes (Brazil)
– Iguazu National Park
– Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas
– Península Valdés
– Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks
– Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba
– Quebrada de Humahuaca