♦Capital: Buenos Aires
♦Currency: Peso Argentino ($) (ARS)
♦Time Zone: -3 GMT
♦Phone Code: +54
♦Best time to visit: September-June
♦Must Eat: Parrillada, Alfajores
♦Must Drink: Mate, Fernet & Coke
♦Don't miss: Having dinner at midnight whilst watching Tango!
♦Number of times visited: 4
Getting there and transportation: Arriving to Argentina is possible by many means of transport, the country has many airports spread across its mass land and depends where you go different transport options apply. The main gateway to the country is via its two main Airports, Ezeiza and Jorge Newbery. both located in the capital.
Ezeiza (EZE) serves most international traffic including long haul flights. Aerolienas Argentinas is the flag carrier. You can fly direct to Buenos Aires from Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, New York, Miami, Atalanta, Houston, Auckland and many south American Destinations. As for Jorge Newbery (AEP), its used most for domestic traffic plus international South American destinations. For more info please visit the website for Argentinian Airports.
Alternatively you can get to Argentina by Ferry direct from Montevideo (Uruguay) taking about 2 hours to cross to Buenos Aires.
South America has not got a national train network and local people go by bus, from city to city and even crossing boarders. Inter-city busses are called Omnibus and they offer comfortable reclining seats and on board service is provided. Many now are including Wifi and fully air conditioned.
Times are long and tiring, however there is a lot of competition so make sure you compare all the sites before you buy a ticket.
Attention!: Don't expose personal belongings in the busses such as cameras, laptops, etc as it's been reported things go missing when busses make stops in-between the trips or even along the way with thiefs travelling on-board.
Food and Drink: Most will associate Argentina with tasty food, highlighting specially meat pasta and pizza. However it, offers a wide selection of culinary types with Japanese, Thai and Asian-fusion food becoming very popular recently.
Wherever you are in the country, meat is the main dish, with a great array of carnivorous treats to taste. Restaurants offer great selection of meat dishes, cooked in many different ways (grilled, barbecued, smoked, fried.. ) accompanied with salad or fries. Around Buenos Aires city there are plenty of restaurants offering fresh meat, served daily and cooked to order. However prices vary a lot depending on place. Expensive restaurants in the centre and Puerto Madero don't necessarily mean you will get the best cut pieces and top flavour. It's advised to try more local restaurants away from the centre, for example Palermo and the neighbourhoods around it are good for authentic Argentine meat but for a much more reasonable price!
The traditional food you can find in Argentina is: The national dish is Parrillada (mixed grill meats, from different cuts and type of meats) Morcilla (blood sausage). Choripan, (like a hotdog, but with redmeat from chorizo) Bife de ancho (Rib eye steak), Bife de chorizo (Sirloin steak), Bife de lomo: Pork steak.
The most traditional snack, and a must take-away for visitors are the Alfajores, a traditional Argentine cookie, they’re also commonly found in other Latin American countries with slight variations in the making and ingredients.Alfajores are soft, delicate cookies, made with a combination of cornstarch and flour. The cornstarch gives the dough a smooth, silky texture, and produces a tender, crumbly cookie.Creamy dulce de leche holds the cookies together.(a caramelised milk sauce) Empanadas (Little pasties typically stuffed with meat, vegetable or cheese, and good in Jujuy and Salta in the northwest.of the country. Milanesa (Breaded veal or beefsteak, topped with cheese, ham or egg). Chimichurri (A sauce made from chopped parsley and oregano, garlic, olive oil and vinegar, served as a side dish with meat). Medialunas (Small, croissant-like pastries served for breakfast)
Vegetarians may struggle to find many options, particularly outside Buenos Aires, though fruits and salads are widely available. A strong Italian influence means quality coffee and ice cream is popular, and in Buenos Aires there are many Gelaterias (ice cream shops).
As for drinks, Argentina is very popular with wine and beer. Argentina produces some excellent wines. Try a light Pinot Noir from Patagonia, a silky red from Malbec and a white, the aromatic Torrontés. Another traditional drink, a must try for a visitor is Mate, it's essentinally green tea made from the Yerba mate plant and drunk any time. Argentinians take flasks out to the streets and drink it as they walk, shop, work etc ,a true Argentine custom. Quilmes, is the national lager, very popular at every bar.
Tip: In Argentina, they dine very late, 9pm being still very early. But good restaurants get full quickly so going for dinner about after 10pm is advised or you might be waiting for a long time for a table. You can find restaurants open for dinning from 8pm till 1am.
The centre of the city, offers the main government and political institutions to visit, the Cathedral, El Obelisco, the Argentinian Congress, PLaza de Mayo and El Cabildo are the main historical buildings.
It's also home to Calle Florida, the main shopping street where souvenirs, clothes, shoes etc can be found at competitive prices.
In the evening the centre is a lively district offering life shows, street art and Tango dancing. Also it's packed with Theatres and restaurants.
Tip: When walking in Florida street, be aware of people offering you currency exchange rates. Due to the economy in the country, there is a heavy black market for foreign currency and although you might be better off getting more Peso for your currency, a lot of these illegal stores trick you with false notes or don't offer genuine exchange promise and get tourists to give up their cash for nothing in exchange
If you know a local then its better you go together to exchange money where it's known safe and trustworthy.
Weather and Temperature: Buenos Aires is located in the southern hemisphere so it has opposite seasons to Europe. The hottest months being December to February, with temperatures reaching well beyond 32C. Buenos Aires is also on the edge to Rio de la Plata so it's often more dry than humid. The colder months during June to September are on average as little as 10C, it can often rain in Buenos Aires and when it does it can be long days with non stop rain. Recommended months to visit are from September to November and from March to May when more comfortable 20C can be expected.
Transportation: When arriving to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) airport you have two main cheap options. Getting local bus 8 towards the centre of the city with an average journey time of 2 hours. Cost of the ticket is less than €1. Tienda Leon is an express coach company that departs every 30 minutes to the centre and it costs €12 for a 50 min trip. This might the best solution if you are travelling with lots of luggage. Taxis to the city centre would cost about €25 but make sure you get official taxi drivers as many locals will try to encourage you for a "taxi service" but they have no guarantee of being genuine.
If arriving to Jorge Newbery airport, take Colectivo Bus number 59 or 45 for a trip of one hour to the heart of the city at El Obelisco. (Cost €0.60) Alternatively Colectivo Bus number 33 to Puerto Madero.
Once in the city centre, Buenos Aires has a very large public transport system. The Metro system is called Subte, and has 6 lines. It is one of the oldest metro systems in the world, opening for the first time in 1913, this can be noticed in its stations and some trains.
You can buy single tickets or use a card called "la Sube" which you can load money onto. You can buy this card in local newsagents or at the official Sube shop.There are currently no travel cards or passes to save money for unlimited usage.
When travelling longer distances its a good idea to take the Subte, but often trains are very crowded at peak times and without air conditioning.
The hours of operation ranges from 4.30am to 11.30pm.
Buses; "Colectivos": Buenos Aires most popular transportation mode is by this local city bus.They are run by many different companies,but fortunately you can use the same Sube card on all of them, including busses to the airports.(be aware only Sube cards are accepted,no cash fare).
When getting colectivos,be sure to warn the driver you want it to stop,they travel fast and jump stops at times.Many lines operate during the day and night, but make sure which lines do as they follow very different timetables and routes depending on the day, or time. Often you can get express busses which have the same number but use the motorways instead of going to all the local stops. Most operate 24h.
Tip: Bus 152 is ideal from a Tourist point of view, spending only €0.40, takes you to places like Boca, Puerto Madero, Retiro, Recoleta and Palermo.For more information, routes,bus numbers and a trip planner tool, check the following useful website:
Suggestion: Visit Tigre, a town in Buenos Aires province.The town sits on an island created by several small streams and rivers.The area's name comes from the tigers or jaguars that were hunted there, in its early years. Antiques shops, riverside restaurants and pubs, Parque de la Costa, an amusement park, The Naval Museum and its renowned natural beauty make Tigre a popular tourist destination.
Commuter speedboats and motorboats are the favourite way to travel through its web of inter-connecting rivers and streams available to locals and tourists. English-style rowing clubs, humble dwellings and elegant mansions are to be seen, as well as small pensions and upscale lodges, restaurants, tea-houses and even picnic sites!
To get there,simply take Bus Colectivo 60 from the Congress Building or a train from Retiro Station.Busses are 2 hours long whilst the train is just under 1 hour.Both cost only €0.40!
Accommodation: Staying in Buenos Aires is very easy thanks to lots of Hotels and Hostels, even Airbnb is popular here as well! However Hotels can be expensive if staying central. The best option is to stay within 10-15 min walk to the city centre and close to bus route or a Metro (Subte) station.
San Telmo is popular for budget accommodation with Hostels and cheap Hotels. However the best areas are located around Palermo and Recoleta, being both safe and pretty to stay and hang out. Restaurants,bars,clubs and popular commercial streets are all in hand in the area with very good transport links.
If staying for a week or more, its highly recommenced you rent a flat. It will be cheaper even than a hostel and you will have full access to amenities. Best places to find best deals are on Airbnb and 4rentArgentina.
Recommended duration: Buenos Aires by its size can be very daunting to visit everything, but when travelling for the first time a moderate 5 nights to a week would be enough including some day out to the further away districts.
Weather and temperature: The climate in El Calafate is dry. The city's extremes of cold and heat are moderated by the influence of a large lake (Lago Argentino). In summer (December to February) the weather is sunny, cool and windy; the average temperature is 20-25 C.
Winds are very common here, so be sure to dress up warmly and taking rain gear-clothes are advised,as rain is evenly spread out over the year.
The best times to visit El Calafate, without it being so hot, as you will be walking a lot and getting warm pretty quick, is April to October. However July and august can be wet months.
Transportation: Getting to El Calafate is possible by Bus or by plane from Buenos Aires. However flying is a much better experience with a 3 hours flight time. The airport is located 17km from the city centre. Only mini-van (busses) or taxis are available to reach the city where all the Hotels/Hostels are located. Prices are much higher for transportation since its a popular tourist destination. Once you arrive, make sure you go straight to the mini-van transfer point and they will take you straight to your accommodation as they only leave once they are full waiting for exactly each flight.
Within the city there is no public transport.
What to see and do? Since El Calafate is all about scenery and nature, its a must you arrange tours from your accommodation to reach the glaziers, lakes and take part in the many sport activities offered. Prices ranges depending how much you want to do, however the cheapest option way is to arrange only the transportation to the Parks entrance and walk yourself towards the mountains and glaziers.
Other options include boat tours, sport activities, safari rides, glazier hiking etc.
Check with the local accommodation/travel company what is available depending on the time of year and climate. Expect prices to be higher for foreigners than for locals. Another suggestion, cash is only accepted at certain shops/agents and take spare cash with you to pay for entrance fees which are not always included in the packet price.
Accommodation: Hostels are very popular in El Calafate, since it's a backpacker destination and nature lovers. There are only a few Hotels in the city but prices are very inflated.
Recommended Duration: At least two tours should be made whilst staying in El Calafate, admiring the beauty of the surroundings takes time as well as walking through rough grounds, rivers, narrow gravel paths atc. Staying 3 nights would be enough.