Ah, Argentina. I’m writing after a 10-day trip to the beautiful South American country, and I’m already pining after it. Take me back! If only Argentina was easier to travel to. Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, is a huge, high spirited city where I could see myself living for a summer – a few days just doesn’t do it justice. Iguazú Falls and its nature reserve made me feel closer to nature than I ever have. And a wild ride through the Andes Mountains to the Salinas Grandes salt flats is now one of my fondest travel memories. Are you ready to discover Argentina?
Where To Visit In Argentina
Argentina is a large South American country, bordering Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Chile. As my first trip to Latin America, I was astounded by the size and variation of the country, from sprawling urbanity of Buenos Aires to the wild, remote lands further afield. I travelled with two of my best friends on this trip, and we met similar female travellers who were spending multiple months in Argentina and jumping across borders to discover Argentina’s neighbouring countries, a feat I would love to do if I was ever to go back. For us though, we had a limited time of 10 days to explore the country, and divvied those days between:
We chose these three destinations based on their broad appeal and variation – Buenos Aires as an introduction to the country, Iguazú for its incredible waterfalls and nature park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Salta Province, an easily reachable city nestled close to the Andes Mountains and Salinas Grandes salt flats. It was a full-on holiday, with each day centred around a new place to discover.
Top Tips For Visiting Argentina
Whether you’re travelling to Argentina for a holiday, for work, or for exploration, it’s worth taking note of the following tips that I’ll share with you, many of which I wish I’d known before visiting.
1. Learn A Little Spanish
Argentina is the world’s largest Spanish-speaking country by land size, and while English will help you to generally get by, Spanish will make it a breeze. I was fortunate to be travelling with two friends who had both learned some Spanish during their school days, so they generally took the lead (while I fumbled between a mix of English, broken Spanish, and accidental French). If you’re looking to learn, I recommend trying Duolingo and its free app!
2. Dress For The Opposite Season
If you’re travelling from the UK, or anywhere in the upper hemisphere, it’s worth noting that Argentina experiences its seasons at the opposite time to us. That means when it’s Spring in the UK, it’s Autumn there. For packing, it’s worth digging into your wardrobe to pack the absolute opposite of whatever you’re wearing now. Despite the bright sunshine shown in most of my holiday pics, it was actually quite cold!
3. …And Dress Conservatively
Despite spending much of our time in Palermo, Buenos Aires’ equivalent of London’s Shoreditch, most people dressed quite conservatively. I’m talking black trousers, light puffer jackets, and muted colours. Unless you’re happy to attract unwanted attention, it’s worth dressing quite plainly to fit in with the locals. The same goes out in the wilderness – dress for functionality. Long sleeves protect from mosquitoes. Hats and sunscreen help evade the sun’s UV rays.
4. Act Like An Argentina Local
While we’re on the topic of blending in, it’s worth noting that looking like a tourist in Buenos Aires can make you a target. That could be something unavoidable, such as paying a higher entrance fee to certain attractions, or something hopefully totally avoidable, such as having your phone/camera/wallet stolen. We were warned by friends, taxi drivers, and hotel staff, to be careful with valuables while staying in the city, as many had had their own stolen. To reduce the chance of this, we made the most of hotels’ safes, and only took out a limited amount of spending money and valuables each day
5. Take Travel Money In Cash
For travel money, it’s worth making the most of cambios, or money exchanges, when in Argentina. Payments are cheapest when made in Argentine pesos, the national currency, and certain services – such as taxis – only take pesos. I would recommend taking travel cash for your entire trip, and converting it across your time there (we found the best rates were at Western Unions, but this could change).
For restaurants and other establishments, you can also pay by card, and for this I’d recommend using Monzo, a digital ethical bank, that uses national exchange rates and doesn’t charge an additional fee. Make sure to use a debit card, as credit card can incur additional fees (by the issuer and the establishment as well).
6. Travel By Uber In Buenos Aires
BA has Uber, and it is CHEAP! We found out the hard way, after paying almost £40 for a taxi from BA’s international airport to our hotel, and realising we could have paid less than £10 on Uber. We made use of the app when travelling across the city, and also the Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus, which gave us a panoramic view of the city as well as ‘free’ travel during operating hours.
7. Be Open To Trying New Food
I’m a big foodie, so food often makes up a big part of my holidays. In Argentina, they eat quite a lot of meat, which didn’t really appeal, but I did still get to try some national favourites: empanadas, tamales, and most surprisingly, sushi. Yes, sushi! Buenos Aires was brimming with sushi restaurants, and they gave us a fresh option that balanced out all the queso elsewhere. But beware! This is sushi with an Argentine twist: guacamole, cream cheese, and other fusions that were as confusing as they were delicious.
Thinking Of Visiting Argentina?
I also wanted to note that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me: it was my first trip outside of Europe (excluding Turkey and Morocco) and my first long-haul flight. So, while I encourage reducing flying for the environment, I wasn’t going to pass up this trip that took three years in the making! Flight shaming might be easy to do, but it’s not as effective as taking a well-rounded approach to living sustainably. Alongside this trip, I’m planning to offset my flights as well as my unavoidable annual emissions. I hope you’ll join me in the practice – especially if you’re travelling far this year.