Travel in Argentina
Argentina was the 4th stop on our 2014 South America trip. We spent a total of 3 weeks traveling around Argentina and it was absolutely worth the trek. We went through three different border crossings while traveling in Argentina because we left to Uruguay at one point and then came back. We entered the first time by land from the Bolivian border. We went to Salta first and a few other places before crossing the channel by boat to go to Uruguay. When we came back, we took a ferry from Uruguay and entered Argentina again, this time via the Buenos Aires port. Traveling around Argentina is very easy and straight forward. The mix of art, culture, music, and food, and make it a great place to get in touch with the important heritage of the country.
The Cost of Travel in Argentina
- Currency: Argentine Peso
- Exchange Rate: $1 US Dollar = $10 Argentine pesos (In 2014, during their financial crisis, the banks would give you $7 pesos to $1 US Dollar, but on the street, money changers would give you as much as $12 pesos to $1 usd if you had crisp new $100 bills)
- Reciprocity Fee: $160 (US, UK, Canada, & Australia only) Be prepared for this if you cross into Argentina by land
- Private AR 180 – AR200 – Hostel Bed AR70-120
- Food & Drink
- Lunch/Dinner: $5-$10 meals or $1 for empanadas or pizza by the slice
- Mate-Yerba mate looseleaf tea. It’s not really something you order at a restaurant, but everyone and their grandma drinks it. If you want to truly indulge like a local, buy your own mate gourd and thermos for hot water and then pick up a bag of the looseleaf yourself. You can have your own personal set up for less than $10 usd
- Vino: $3/bottle on average
- Meat-Argentinians eat so much meat that the cost of leather is substantially cheaper than anywhere else in the world. I wasn’t eating meat at the time so I did not indulge.
Tips for Traveling in Argentina
- Bring crisp new $100 usd bills to exchange in Buenos Aires, and exchange them with people on Florida Street, not in the banks or cambios. You will get a much better rate.
- Cafayete is a way better wine experience than Mendoza.
- Buy your own yerba maté supplies and have at it.
- The hotels that are around the bus terminals are always the cheapest
- Wine will never be so good for so cheap anywhere else in the world so drink Malbec every night
- You’re going to want to purchase a corkscrew as soon as you enter the country
Things to do in Argentina
- Tango in La Boca-La Boca is the part of the capital where the world famous dance originated. You can both watch or participate in the eloquent tango in this colorful part of the city.
- Visit the Cathedral where the Pope Francis is from.
- Tour vineyards and wine bodegas all day by bicycle in Cafayete.
- Drink maté in the plazas. The best way to get a feel for the pace of life is to imitate the locals, and drinking the national beverage in heart of every city is the most Argentinian thing you could do.
- Go to the capital art museum in Buenos Aires. The museum has one of the best collections I have seen outside of Europe. Among many famous Latin American artists, it boasts work from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, Manet, and more.
Take some maté up the cable car and save money by taking your time walking the nice trail back down. The city is full of great restaurants. Go on an empanada tour (i.e. walk around eating empanadas from different restaurants. There’s one historic empanada place that has been there for something like 200 years. Don’t eat the oranges growing on the trees downtown…they are ornamental and taste like shit. There are so many shops that just sell maté gourds. This might be a good time to go ahead and select yours.
If you’re going to go to wine country, Cafayeta puts Mendoza to shame. It is peaceful and quiet and you can ride bicycles down dirt roads to various vineyards and tour their facilities and sample all of their wines. There are also cheese tours and olive oil facilities that are fun and interesting. Take some notes and learn as much as you can about tasting wine and you will leave here an expert. Pick up some fresh goat cheese and bottle of Torrontes and have yourself a picnic on one of the close by hiking trails. Build an army of street dogs by feeding them cheese and then parade your new following through town. Tip: You don’t need a guide for the trails unless you want one, so don’t be fooled.
Cordoba is a great city. It’s not too big to feel overwhelming, but it’s big enough to have still plenty to do. There are some great art museums and coffee shops, as well as some really unique cathedrals. We decided to skip the hostels and stay in a hospedajes by the bus station to save money. You can have a private room there for about half the price. There’s a giant shopping mall in this town that is worth checking out just to get a feel for how modern Argentina really is. We did standout when we went in there, just for being dirty backpackers in such a clean and stylish mall.
Mendoza is regarded as one of the greatest wine regions in the world. Home to the Malbec grape variety, Mendoza boasts some of the largest vineyards on the continent. We had some difficulty finding a place to stay when we arrived. There are hostels in town, but they aren’t marked well. We ended up booking one on the Hostelworld app and still spent half the day looking for it. You can take a bus to the part of town where most people ride bikes to the vineyards. You do have to ride down the highway to get to them all, so that is kind of unnerving, but once you get off onto the side roads it’s a little less stressful.
*Tip: Don’t rent the tandem bike unless you and your date have both been on one before…
One of the largest cities in South America, Buenos Aires will swallow you whole. You could easily spend weeks here just walking around the city. You can visit the Metropolitan Cathedral where the Pope was an Archbishop. You can take a bus to the colorful part of town know as La Boca, and learn all about dancing tango. You can walk down Florida street and eat street food and shop. The subway is super easy to navigate and can be used to get pretty much anywhere in town. We were masters of the subway by the end of our stay. Check out the Buller Brewery for a delicious pint and then go get yourself some empanadas.