Argentina travel guide
Spirited Argentina, with its clamouring capital, vast pampas, rolling wine regions and snowy peaks, is a land bursting with adventure. It’s a place where the clichés hold true: football is essentially a religion, the beef is phenomenal and there’s little point even thinking about starting a proper night out before midnight. Its natural wonders range from Andean plateaux and Patagonian glaciers to subtropical waterfalls and wildlife-rich wetlands. There’s an awful lot to love.
Buenos Aires might sit at the very edge of the country, gazing out across the Rio de la Plata, but it’s very much Argentina’s centrepiece. The city of Evita and Maradona, its tango halls, parillas (grill restaurants) and feisty porteños (BA residents) provide a gutsy introduction to the country. In the high-end neighbourhoods of Recoleta and Palermo you’ll find designer boutiques and trendy eateries, while historic San Telmo offers antique stalls, old-world cafés and an abundance of live music.
In the north, scorched mountains and otherworldly rock formations characterise the Salta region, where Spanish and Gaucho traditions combine and Argentina’s famous white wines flourish. Further west, in the Mendoza region, the grapes are red and the foothills of the Andes offer skiing, while down south, in Patagonia, you’ll find an astonishing spread of expansive lakes, jagged peaks and mile upon empty mile of open space.
Elsewhere, try walking in the glistening Lake District, whale-watching off the coast at Puerto Madryn, meeting baby penguins in Punta Tombo or exploring the Jesuit chapels and farmhouses of Córdoba. Another of the country’s majestic natural beauties is the mighty Iguazu Falls, bordering Argentina and Brazil.
Despite living through a dark military dictatorship and a spectacularly devastating economic crisis, Argentineans still have a vivacious and infectious lust for life. And from its subtropical top to its icy tip, it remains a mesmerising country.
2,780,400 sq km (1,073,518 sq miles).
44,022,394 (UN estimate 2016).
15.6 per sq km.
President Mauricio Macri since 2015.
President Mauricio Macri since 2015.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plug fittings in older buildings are of the two-pin round type, but most new buildings use the V-shaped twin with earth pin.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The most common crimes are distraction theft, bag snatching, pick pocketing and armed robberies. Take particular care in restaurants and internet cafes, on public transport and in bus and train terminals. Keep a close eye on your personal possessions at all times. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing jewellery. Leave your passport in a hotel safe and keep a photocopy of the details page with you at all times. Avoid isolated or poorly lit areas at night.
Thieves have been known to rob tourists while an accomplice pretends to help remove ketchup or mustard that has been ‘accidentally’ sprayed on them. There have also been reports of thieves posing as hotel guests and snatching bags while tourists are checking into hotels or hostels. Handbags can be cut open in crowded places. Mobile phones can be snatched while they are being used. Thieves on motorbikes are known to carry out robberies from pedestrians. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars are common. Keep your valuables out of sight.
In Buenos Aires, remain aware at all times particularly in the areas of San Telmo, La Boca, Retiro, Florida Street and Rivadavia Avenue near the obelisk area. Robberies involving physical violence and the use of weapons are known to occur in the streets immediately outside of the Caminito tourist area in La Boca. Make sure to stay within the designated tourist area where there are high visibility police patrols.
In Mendoza, remain aware at all times particularly at the bus terminal and at the General San Martín Park.
If possible, book taxis in advance. If you hail a taxi in the street, only use a ‘radio taxi’. These have a clearly visible company logo on the rear passenger doors. If you are being met at the airport and you don’t know your greeter, confirm their identity before setting off. Alternatively use a ‘remise’ service from the official stand in the centre of the arrivals concourse.
Kidnappings and so called ‘express kidnappings’ occur in Argentina. Victims are normally held while criminals empty their bank accounts with cash cards. Once the ransom is paid the victim is usually quickly released. It is common for thefts to take place when withdrawing cash from ATMs.
If you are a victim of crime, you should inform the local police and get a police report.
In Buenos Aires, a 24-hour police helpline in English is available on telephone number 101. There is also a new multi-lingual free phone number for tourist assistance: 0800 999 5000. This goes through to the tourist police station at Corrientes 436, email: email@example.com. In Mendoza, contact the Tourist Police at San Martin 1143, tel: (0261) 413 2135, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extreme and adventure sports
If you take part in extreme or adventure sports (including paragliding, climbing, off-road driving and hot air ballooning), make sure adequate safety precautions are in place. Only use reputable operators and insist on training. Make sure your travel insurance covers all the activities you want to undertake.
Political demonstrations and picketing are more common in Argentina than in the UK. They can take place at many public locations throughout Argentina. Some demonstrations attract large numbers of people. There have been cases of demonstrations turning violent. You should monitor the media and avoid demonstrations.
There have been occasional Falklands-related protests including outside the British Embassy and British affiliated businesses in Argentina.
Groups of demonstrators (piqueteros) sometimes block major roads into and out of Buenos Aires during times of social unrest. This can cause significant delays.
The departure of flights from airports in Argentina can be unreliable and susceptible to delays and cancellations. Check with your airline or travel company before travelling to the airport.
We cannot offer advice on the safety of individual airlines, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
You will need an International Driving Permit to drive in Argentina.
Driving and road safety standards vary. Respect for speed limits and traffic signals is patchy, and other road users can make unexpected manoeuvres. Crime against car users, particularly when stationary at traffic lights, is a problem. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times in major cities.
Take care when driving in the Province of Misiones close to the borders with Paraguay and Brazil; the area is used to smuggle goods. Seek local advice if you intend to drive in this area.
There have been cases of disruption by activist groups and unions against British flagged shipping, and shipping involved in hydrocarbons or fishing activity in the Falkland Islands . If you are in charge of a vessel, make contact with your agent or the local authorities before travelling. Most cruise ships and visiting tourists should not be affected.