Argentina Pictures & Visitor Information

Buenos Aires street tango in Argentina, South America

Street tango on the pedestrian street outside Galerias Pacifico in central Buenos Aires.

Vacations in Argentina

This huge country, second only to Brazil in South America, contains climates ranging from tropical jungle thru desert and snow-capped Andes to barren Patagonia and the end of the world, containing some of the world’s most stunning natural wonders and a wide selection of activities during which to enjoy them.
Argentina has a down-at-heel but relatively sophisticated, energetic capital buzzing with people of south European stock, excellent soccer and rugby and fine dining – which you can afford thanks to incredibly low prices.

Downsides

• local culture is hardly exotic.
• city traffic is hectic, noisy and polluting.
• city pavements (sidewalks) sport ankle-snapping potholes, dog doo, or often both.
• widespread poverty is common, restrained begging too. Unusually, we recommend giving beggars a few centavos(cents), most really are hard up.

Length of stay

Minimum worthwhile trip not including flights, 2 weeks (bearing in mind that this is a looong flight for most English speaking folk).
4 days in Buenos Aires, 5 days (via flight) in Patagonia for glaciers and mountain hikes, 2 days (flight) to Iguazu Falls, and a few days northwest around Salta for Andean culture (flight), deserts and canyons, or skip that and hydrofoil into Uruguay for a quick look at Colonia, the beaches or Montevideo, the capital.

Main Attractions

The capital is terrific for urban spacemen but a bit short on wow! sights. There is the touristy but quaint Caminito district, evocative cafés and restaurants, fantastic tombs in Cementario de la Recoleta, including Evita’s, the ‘Pink Palace‘, grand architecture and not much else unless you head for the suburban playground of Tigre or take a quick trip to Colonia, Uruguay.

Perito Moreno Glacier with spectators on a terrace, Patagonia, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, central Patagonia.

This rural land near El Calafate is the place for glacier views, especially of Perito Moreno glacier and ice walks or icy cruises or El Chalten for stunning short and long mountain hikes (UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site) to Mt. Fitzroy, Cerro Torre and more.

Lago Nahue Huapi, Bariloche, Argentina

Bariloche ‘Lake District’ and National Park in north Patagonia.

Sadly overdeveloped but gateway to activities galore in the spectacular surroundings of Argentina’s Lake District. The Seven Lakes Scenic Route is recommended. Hiking, riding, climbing, fishing, skiing, eating chocolate or heading for Patagonia or Chile, Bariloche gets you there.

***Mendoza

A pleasant town on the doorstep of some magnificent mountains, home to excellent wines and en route to Santiago, Chile.

Iguazu Falls fish-eye lens view of everything! Argentina

Iguazu Falls for sights, short hikes and crossings into Brazil and Paraguay, north Argentina. Photo by Martin St Amant.

In northeast Argentina Iguaçu’s massive waterfalls are stunning. It’s a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and a good place to head for a neighbouring South American country – Brazil or Paraguay.

A Valdes armadillo pondering human attitudes to their environment, Argentina

A Valdes armadillo pondering human attitudes to their environment.

This is Argentina’s primay wildlife destination and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

***Ushuaia, Patagonia

Sea Lions enjoying a cuddle near Ushuaia, Argentina

Sea Lions enjoying a cuddle near Ushuaia.

The world’s most southerly town (3, 580 kms from BA), offers terrific scenery, hiking, fishing, scenic boat trips, marine wildlife, dog-sledding and skiing (in winter) from a pleasant, if over-touristy town but does not welcome tourists with names of Clarkson, May or Hammond.
Ushuaia is also a port for tour ships to the Antarctic.

**Cordoba

The country’s lively second city has friendly people and a better collection of colonial architecture than BA; partly a World Cultural Heritage Site.

**Beaches

Mar del Plata is overbuilt and tacky but has picturesque surroundings and monster beaches that go into overdrive December-February. There’s fishing and horse riding as well as beach activities; 400kms (250 miles) from the capital.
On both sides are prettier, more peaceful or exclusive resorts, such as Pinamar (up-market), Miramar (families), Mar de las Pampas (horses) and Mar Azul.

**San Juan and La Rioja provinces

San Juan and La Rioja are scattered with weird rocks, paleontological delights, petroglyphs and condors passing by in Ischigualasto and Talampaya National Park, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

Cuevas de Acsibi in Salta Province. Photo by Gabito Gimenez.

*Jujuyprovince

In the far northwest Jujuy’s adobe towns sit in multicoloured landscapes around Salta and Quebrada de Humahuaca (UNESCO World Cultural Landscape).

Rio de la Plata aerial shot from NASA, Argentina and Uruguay

Rio de la Plata aerial shot from NASA.

A one hour boat trip via the sea or the Rio Plata gets you to the pretty, laid back old town of Colonia. Return to BA or head off to Montevideo or the posh beaches of Punta del Este.

Activities

A fantastically complex and sensual dance, enjoyed by Argentinians as much as tourists, it’s visible all over BA in clubs, in the street and around Plaza Dorrego at weekends. Try to learn it by all means, but it’ll be a long job.

Wildlife

Most famously visible around the barren cliffs of Peninsula Valdés – seals, elephant seals, killer whales, penguins, guanacos (llamas), but especially southern right whales. Puerto Madryn is the base from which to find a tour or rent a car.
Wildlife is also found in Iguazu Park alongside the waterfalls, Ushuaia and in swampy Ibera Nature Reserve (wetlands) for cayman, capybaras, monkeys and birds.

Activities below are best mainly in the Patagonian Andes, particularly from Los Glaciers National Park in the southwest to Mendoza in the centre-west. Bariloche, El Calafate and El Chalten are the three best activity centres, though Ushuaia is pretty wild too.

Hiking

Spectacular hikes, well signposted, long and short, particularly around Bariloche and El Chalten.

Biking

Cycling near El Chalten in Patagonia, Argentina

Mendoza and the Lake District are best but mountain bike hire is widely available throughout Patagonia in spite of occasionally fierce winds making for wobbly rides.

Rock/Ice Climbing

Fantastic challenges, mostly around El Chalten, Ushuaia and Mendoza; a guide will generally be required. Mt. Aconagua 6, 959m, near Mendoza, is the highest.

Horseback Riding

This is gaucho country so there are plenty of high quality horses and guides out there. The Pampas are the true home of gauchos – particularly in estancias (ranches) near San Antonio de Areco – but being mainly flat are far less scenic than rides in Patagonia.

Skiing

Good powder snow and sunshine at good prices; mostly resorts around Malargue, the Lake District or San Martin de los Andes, but also in Ushuaia, way south.

Fishing

Sea fishing off Mar del Plata and Necochea or fly fishing (esp. in San Martin de los Andes {Patagonia} or Isla del Cerrito {north}) for trout, salmon, dorado and giant catfish.

Kayaking and Whitewater Rafting

Availability is increasing, especially near Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes.

Visas

Nationals of the USA, Canada, Western European, Australia and New Zealand are granted 90 day tourist visas on arrival (assuming the passport is valid for 6 months and has free pages) but US citizens arriving at airports must pay a substantial entry fee of US$ 160 which is valid for ten years and allows for multiple visits to the country. What a rip-off!

Getting Around

Argentina is a massive country and the best attractions are widely spaced so get ready for seriously long distance bus rides on seriously comfortable buses with hot meals, wine and lay-flat seats! But book well in advance or domestic flights will be necessary. These are efficient and reasonably priced but buy an airpass to get the best deals. Chile is a natural additional destination for many travellers in South America and Bariloche one direct route to get there.

Best weather in northern Argentina

Spring (September-November) or autumn (March-May) strike a fine balance between warmth and clouds.
Worst: January-February. Summertime is hot, humid, expensive and everything’s booked up, but this is the best time for beaches and tank tops.
Winter (May-September) is driest in most areas, but also coolest, between 7C-15C (45F-60F) in Buenos Aires, so this time would be best if holidays mean skiing, the north country and/or general sightseeing, but don’t think beaches, tank tops or Patagonia.

Best weather in Patagonia (southern region)

The best time to visit Patagonia is October – March, spring and summer months in Argentina when it’s great for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, hunting and golfing.
June – October are Patagonia’s wintersports months with the best month being January and the best location being Bariloche.

This is the eighth largest country in the world so summarizing weather conditions is tricky, but one thing we should point out, this is mostly not a hot country, with temperatures rarely over 30C (85F) except in the far north.
Argentina holidays are around January, Easter and July, so transport and accommodation become a problem then.

Health

No huge problems here, though the tropical north (e. g. Salta Province) can deliver dengue fever via mosquitoes, so keep the buzzers off you. Also be careful of AMS (Altitude Sickness) when hiking above 3, 000m in Patagonia.

The River Plate: On the right is Argentina; the light brown mass is Buenos Aires. On the left is Uruguay; Montevideo is the light brown blob at the mouth of the river. Blue is the South Atlantic Ocean. The river is brown due to soil and sediment washing out of the river’s tributaries.

Money

Argentina is extremely cheap apart from hotels.
ATMs are readily available but $ cash is king and happily accepted instead of pesos. Travellers cheques can be a little hard to change and the rate is poor.

Festivals

Gauchos in Salta City, Argentina

Gauchos in Salta City. Well, dress-up gauchos tbh. I’m guessing these guys actually work behind desks most of the week. Photo by Herve Gestas.

February or March, Wine Harvest Festival, Mendoza, a few days. Parades and various folk events in honour of Mendoza’s raisin d’etre, wine.
March or April, Easter, unusually for a Latin Catholic culture, no big deal.
May 25, Revolution Day, with a military parade in BA.
Nov 12 or thereabouts, Tradition Day, with some Gaucho celebrations near BA but especially in San Antonio de Areco.

Electricity

220v, 2 (slim) round pins and/or three flat angled pins (but a 2 round pin adaptors will be quite sufficient).

Language

Spanish – known as Castellano in Latin/South America. It’s an easy language so learn the basics, they will be useful though locals know some English. Some basic food vocabulary is vital.

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