A European-like city mixed with Latin American charm, Buenos Aires is filled with designer boutiques and grand parks interspersed with faded elegance and colonial-laced streets. Sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and romantic, yes, but what we love about Argentina is something less tangible—its passion. Here in the Paris of South America, dance a steamy tango in a sensual embrace, exchange a flirtatious glance across a crowded street, or join a heated debate between football fans.
No holiday to Buenos Aires would be complete without dancing the illustrious tango, the seductive national dance of Argentina. And the best place to do this is in Buenos Aires’ neighbourhood milongas (tango salons). Whether you want to dance this steamy dance yourself, or just watch the locals do it, the city’s milongas are dotted throughout the city. Grab the TangoMap Guide, which gives all the information you need to know about the milongas, including best locations and times.
This imposing cemetery is the final resting place of some of the most famous figures of Argentina’s storied history. Wind past the neo-classical gates framed by tall Doric columns to the tomb of Eva Perón, beloved First Lady, who has the most visited tomb in the cemetery. Throughout the cemetery are elaborate marble mausoleums decorated with a wide range of architectural styles like Art Nouveau, Baroque, Art Deco, and Neo-Gothic.
Shop the trendy boutiques of Palermo, abuzz with locals exploring the designer stores, the small artisan markets around Plaza Serrano, or drinking wine at the sidewalk cafes. The charming cobblestone streets are filled with bookstores, bars, restaurants, and expansive parks to explore amid the inimitable buzz that only Buenos Aires has.
For the best all-round fix of Argentine culture, head to the Feria de Mataderos. This weekly fair (April to December) shows the gauchos (Argentine cowboys) displaying their fine horsemanship skills, tango dancers igniting the streets, and row upon row of Argentine street food vendors offering choripan and pancho to munch on while you watch the lively culture of Argentina unfold around you.
There are a number of carriers offering flights to Argentina from the UK.
Direct Carriers: British Airways offer a direct service from the UK.
Indirect Carriers: Aerolineas Argentinas, Iberia, TAM, TAP and Qatar Airways offer indirect services to Argentina.
Departure Taxes: An international departure tax of USD29 must be paid at Argentinian Airports (unless it is included in your flight ticket price).
None for British citizens
Argentina's currency is the Argentine Peso. The economy here is fragile, so you should bring US Dollars, which are regularly accepted, rather than Argentine Peso's.
We recommend bringing some US Dollars with you on your holiday to Argentina, then exchanging small amounts at a time for Argentine Peso's. It is difficult to change currency apart from US Dollars and Euros outside of Buenos Aires. Make sure whatever currency you are carrying is in pristine condition, otherwise it will not be accepted or exchanged. Credit cards are widely accepted, however, due to inflation, the fees can be in excess of 15 to 20 percent, so be sure to ask if there is a surcharge before you use it.
Tipping in Argentina is given as a reward for good service. Some restaurants include gratuity, but a little extra should still be given as a tip. In general, tip 10 percent of the bill to servers in restaurants, 10 Argentine Pesos for porters, and round up for taxi drivers.
May to October
No specific vaccinations required
When packing for your holiday to Argentina, keep in mind the weather patterns here are reversed from what we experience in the UK. Like any country that is so vast and geographically diverse, there are stark differences in weather conditions and temperatures between regions. In general, Buenos Aires is hot in the summer (November to April) and mild in the winter (May to September). The Lake District is cool throughout the year, as is Patagonia, although Patagonia can get severely cold in the winter. The arid northwest can get very hot during the summer.Because of these varying weather patterns, what you pack for your holiday in Argentina depends on where you are going and when.
Sunscreen and sunglasses;
Light or heavy jacket
depending on which season you are travelling in;
Cotton T-shirts and shorts that will keep you cool in the summer
especially in Mendoza and Salta;
and gloves if you are travelling to Patagonia or the Andes or if you are going skiing;
Umbrella in the rainy season;
Converter and adapter (the power supply in Argentina is 220 volts at 50 hertz);
Sandals in the summer;
The Mediterranean and European-influenced flavours of Argentinian cuisine are heavily supplemented with meat. The people here love ribs, sausages, blood sausages, lamb, and goat, but the beef is what Argentina is famous for. The country has huge cattle ranches and the gaucho (Argentine cowboy) still exists. Beef is served in hundreds of ways, including grilled, roasted, in stews, dipped in eggs and crumbs and fried, as a mixed grill, or the most popular way, barbecued.
Asado (barbecue) is Argentina’s national dish. The grass-fed cattle (as opposed to grain-fed) produce a tastier steak that is also easier on the digestive system. This weekend ritual is performed by families across Argentina, the steaks cooked over charcoals on an aparilla (giant grill). The meat is paired with locally produced wine and served either on its own or with chimichurri sauce.
This delicious Argentinian sauce is a combination of olive oil and spices like garlic, parsley, chilli, and cilantro. While chimichurri is usually rubbed on grilled meat, it is so versatile it is often used in other ways as well. Slather it on bread, use it as a marinade, drizzle over roast vegetables, add a few spoons to a salad vinaigrette, use as a pasta sauce, there are literally hundreds of recipes and ways to use this simple and utterly mouth-watering sauce. All, however, contain copious amounts of fresh parsley, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The flavour is spicy and garlicky, yet fresh and smooth, and it really gives food that definite oomph.
Dulche de Leche
Dulche de leche is another national dish you might eat on holiday in Argentina. This sticky, sweet, caramelised, milk-and-sugar spread is found in nearly every pantry here. It is used like peanut butter is in the USA. Spread it on toasts, smear it on pastries, drizzle it over ice cream, the possibilities are endless. Recently this sweet secret has gotten out and now you will find dulche de leche-flavoured sweets just about everywhere, from Starbucks Frappuccinos to Haagen Dazs ice cream.
This unique stew mixes dried fruit like apricots and raisins with beef, tomatoes, onions, winter squash, and potatoes. Though it may sound unusual, the flavours blend harmoniously so what you taste is a mildly sweet stew that is unforgettable. This is the perfect, hearty dish to serve during the chilly winter months.
Argentina is more of a sit-and-eat sort of nation, rather than the eat-on-the-run type. You will rarely see people eating and walking at the same time, as usually they sit down to enjoy a leisurely meal. Despite this, there are a few street food vendors serving up some delicious snacks along the costaneras (boardwalks). Take your street food and enjoy it in the green areas, near the river, or by the sea. Make sure to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean and fresh, as well as cooked right in front of you.
These ubiquitous Latin American savoury turnovers are sold at street vendors. You can find them prepared and stuffed a myriad of ways: cheese, mushrooms, beef, spinach, even seafood. Argentinian empanadas are typically baked, not fried, and are the perfect travelling food. Argentinians claim the best empanadas are made in the Salta region.
Milanesas (schnitzel) are also typical Argentine street vendor food. Milanesas is a pounded piece of chicken or beef, breaded and fried. It is similar to a German schnitzel and can be served with chips or potatoes or stuck between two pieces of bread and made into a sandwich.
This much-beloved sausage sandwich is the ultimate Argentinian street snack. The name is a clever combination of chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread). Choripan is hot, grilled, and heavily sauced, then served on a bun. You can buy it from vendors outside football stadiums, on Avenida Corrientes, and along the Costanera.
While not as inexpensive as during the economic collapse of 2002, average prices in Argentina are still quite good. Beef tenderloin steak costs about 60 Argentine Pesos per kilo, a bottle of decent wine costs about 25 to 60 Argentine Pesos, and a litre of domestic beer costs about seven Argentine Pesos. Dinner for two in a nice restaurant costs about 100 to 200 Argentine Pesos. Prices rise sharply in Patagonia and Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires a decent hotel room starts around 180 Argentine Pesos (double room), although you can get a good room in the provinces for about 90 Argentine Pesos.
Argentinians wear clothing that is similar to what we wear in the UK: jeans, T-shirts, polo shirts, etc. Traditionally, the dress of Argentina was gaucho clothing, which is still worn in villages and on special occasions. Gaucho dress (the dress of the Argentine cowboy) consists of a wide brimmed hat, a poncho, and bombachas de campo (baggy trousers) made of black cloth and tucked into boots.
Because most Argentinians are primarily of European descent, Argentina might seem more European than Latin American. A notable difference is that Argentinians do not tend to rush as much as Europeans. They have, in fact, been known to linger over a cup of espresso for hours. The two strongest cultural symbols you will find on holiday in Argentina are football and tango, and both play heavily in daily life here.
There are a few things you should be aware of on your holiday in Argentina:
• Argentinians are generally warm, open, blunt, and direct.
• Argentinians greet each other quite formally initially, but then evolve to a kiss on the cheek.
• You may notice people tend to have less personal space than in the UK and there is a lot of touching while speaking.
• Showing up on time for a party is considered impolite. Arrive 30 to 60 minutes late.
• You should avoid eating while standing or walking.
• When dining, it is considered polite to leave a little bit of food on your plate.
• Confrontation, especially public confrontation, is frowned upon.
• Piropos (flirtatious comments), especially by men, are common, so do not get offended.
• Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this signifies anger or boredom.
• Yawning is thought to be very rude. Try to cover your mouth or hide your yawn.
• There are many rituals associated with pouring wine in Argentina. Avoid it if you can.
• The ‘okay’ and ‘thumbs up’ signs are both considered vulgar.
• Argentinians humour tends to involve poking fun at people. Don’t take it seriously or be offended.
Argentina is a country unlike just about anywhere else. Absolutely vast and completely diverse, Argentina's salt pans and Andes to the west, waterfalls to the north, stretches of grassland, steppes, rugged cliffs, wetlands, icebergs, and glaciers are home to immense amounts of animal species. Killer whales make the Valdes Peninsula their home and the southern tip of the country is home to penguins. Patagonia and the Ibera wetlands offer vast bird watching opportunities, while the Iberá marshes are home to anacondas and capybaras. Wherever you go on your holiday to Argentina, you will encounter exotic animal species that will astound and amaze you.
Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery
On the Patagonia coast, Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery is the largest penguin rookery outside of Antarctica. Every year, along with the warm weather of spring, more than a million and a half of the Magellanic Penguins arrive to breed. One of the best things about the rookery is that you can get very close to the penguins. The only rule is that you do not touch them.
Esteros del Ibera
Imagine a place where giant rodents frolic under marshy wetlands, where broad-snouted caimans and piranhas lurk, where wildly colourful birds fly through the trees. Esteros del Ibera, the Ibera wetlands, the second largest freshwater wetlands in the world, are just such a place. These wetlands are composed of a series of lagoons, lakes, marshlands, and savannahs that are home to a variety of strange and wonderful wildlife.
Whale watching off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina’s Patagonia takes place between May and December. The main places to see whales are from the bay in Puerto Madryn, the beach of Playa Doradillo, or the village of Puerto Piramides. Keep an eye out for Southern right whales, orcas, sea lions, and dusky dolphins.
House of the Birds, in the native Guarani language, is a wildlife refuge located near Iguazu Falls. This rescue centre cares for badly wounded animals that have been injured in the national park surrounding the falls. The animals are rehabilitated on site and then released back into the wild. On your journey through the refuge, you will see brightly plumed toucans, macaws, parrots, parakeets, owls, eagles, and more. In addition to the birds you might also see capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), anteaters, monkeys, and caimans.