Argentina is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world for the intrepid traveler seeking adventure. This colossal South-American country is renowned for its differing landscapes, intense cities, and incredible scenery. When you’re not tangoing in the streets of Buenos Aires, you could be hiking a glacier in the Austral Andes of Southwest Argentina, or vineyard hopping in the north. Keep reading below to find out our top tips on things to know before embarking on your trip to Argentina.
1. Argentina is huge. It’s one of the largest countries in the world (roughly the same size as the USA east of the Mississippi River) so be prepared for expensive flights and scrap the idea of exploring everywhere in one go. You’ll barely scratch the surface!
2. They’ve long siestas. Prepare yourself for the traditional Spanish siesta which takes place from midday and can last anywhere between four-to-five hours. During this time, all shops shut down, towns become empty, and your chance of getting a bite to eat become dashed. Make sure you plan your day around the ‘big sleep’, and you’ll be fine.
3. Nightlife runs till early morning. Argentina’s nightlife is quite legendary, and quite rightly so. When dinner isn’t served till 10pm you’ve got to stay up and use that energy somehow. Buenos Aires, in particular, is one of the country’s most popular party towns and here you’ll find sports bars, high-end nightclubs, divey underground bars, and classy wine bars. Take your pick, and get ready to dance until the sun comes up!
4. Their Spanish is different. Unfortunately, your high school Spanish lessons won’t pay off in Argentina as the Spanish used here is slightly different. Originating from the indigenous language, Argentinian Spanish has its own words and phrases. However, the general grammar doesn’t stray too far from the Spanish you may know. Pick up an Argentinian pocket dictionary to help you get by.
5. Argentinians are the best people. They are friendly, warm and welcoming, and why wouldn’t they be? They live in a beautiful country, take a four-hour nap in the middle of the day, and live for wine, dancing, and fine food. You’re bound to be greeted and helped along the way by smiling faces.
6. It is expensive. Though Argentina is still listed as a third world country, it’s super developed, and living cost here is rising rapidly due to inflation. Keep in mind that even if you research every penny you might spend, it’s likely items will still be more expensive by the time you get there. Budget accordingly.
7. Always carry cash. Cash is king in Argentina as many places still don’t accept card payments and ATMs, though widely available, tend to run out of cash quickly. Note that USD 1 is the equivalent of 18 pesos and at present, US dollars are largely accepted. Be aware of counterfeit notes though; they are a problem in the country.
8. Prepare for single air kiss. In Argentina, it’s customary to kiss (beso) certain people on the right cheek when greeting them. Don’t be alarmed if someone does this to you, accept it and fire one back! Note, the kiss is actually an air kiss, and your lips shouldn’t touch their face, but you should make the noise!
9. You can sail to Antarctica. While there are several ways to reach Antarctica from around the globe, it’s hard to top the journey from Ushuaia in Argentina. Departing from the southernmost city in the world, your journey will take two days as you sail through the Drake Passage. Be prepared for spectacular, awe-inspiring views!
10. Chile is right next door. With a valid US or Canadian passport, you don’t need a separate visa to visit Chile from Argentina. If traveling from a different home country, please check if you need a visit. When crossing the border by land, make sure you have all the necessary documents required for legal passage. Also, don’t carry any fresh food and prepare to be checked by sniffer dogs and have your luggage opened.
11. Most of Patagonia is here. While the sparse region of Patagonia is said to be shared between Chile and Argentina, the majority of the land is found on the Argentinian side of the border. If budget and time allows then you’ll conveniently find more things to see and do on this side of Patagonia!