Argentina is a beautiful, vast and diverse country, from its cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, to the scorched mountains of the Salla region in the north, famous for its Gaucho traditions and white wine regions. To the south lies Patagonia, a wilderness famed for its huge open spaces, gigantic lakes and jagged peaks, while to the west is Mendoza with opportunities for skiing in the foothills of the Andes.
Here you can read our beginner’s guide to Argentina to help you make a great start in making the most of Argentina.
Due to being such a large country (the eighth largest on the planet), the climate varies depending on where you are, and remember as Argentina is in the Southern hemisphere, the months for summer and winter are reversed.
Buenos Aires is best enjoyed from September-November and from February-March. January is not a great month to visit the Argentine capital as the temperatures are scorching hot, and many locals like to escape to the coast, making it something of a ghost town in this month.
As it can get extremely cold in Patagonia, especially around the Patagonian Sea, which experiences sub-Antarctic temperatures, the best months to explore this region are from November to February i.e. the late spring and summer months.
Things to see and do
There are countless numbers of things to see and do in Argentina and naturally what you will end up focusing on will depend on the time of year, the part of the country you are staying in, and what you are seeking from your trip.
Below are some top picks amongst many highlights to choose from.
Wine tasting in Mendoza
The region of Mendoza produces almost two thirds of Argentina’s wine in the Andean foothills. Here you can not only taste some of South America’s finest wines, but also learn about winemaking at a traditional Argentinian winery.
Set in the lush jungle of Iguazú National Park, these spectacular falls are packed with exotic bird species and plant life. The highest fall, the Garganta del Diablo, stands at almost twice the height of the Niagara Falls!
Argentina’s Lake District
Argentina's Lake District is perfect whether you are seeking a majestic, peaceful wilderness or adrenaline-fuelled activities such as kayaking and rock climbing.
Horse-riding in the Pampas
The flat lowlands near Buenos Aires are perfect for exploring on horseback. You can stay at an estancia (Argentine-style ranch), many of which offer horse riding around the local beauty spots, and don’t forget the delicious barbeque laid on in the evenings after a full days riding.
Whale-watching in Puerto Madryn
Peninsula Valdés is a nature reserve situated near the Patagonian town of Puerto Madryn and is known to be Argentina’s prime whale-watching location. Between September and October you can see the whales with their young, as well as elephant seals lounging on the shoreline.
Insider’s guide to Buenos Aires
The vibrant capital of Argentina certainly deserves a section all of its own! Buenos Aires is the city of Evita and Diego Maradona and is as famous for its tango halls as it is for its parillas (grill restaurants).
The high-end neighbourhoods of Recoleta and Palermo are full of designer boutiques and trendy eateries. If it’s old world charm you are after, look no further than historic San Telmo. with its antique stalls, cafés and live music performances.
Though the capital Buenos Aires offers the usual range of cultural fare one might expect from a large modern city, it isn’t an understatement to suggest that Argentina is not a vegetarian’s paradise!
Though Italian influences mean that pizza and pasta are prevalent, sizzling meat really is the order of the day, whether in the shape of the traditional Argentine parrilla (grill) or a simple slab of prime Argentine beef-steak.
If staying in Buenos Aires, La Cabrera and Cabaña Las Lilas are steakhouses which come highly recommended. The truly committed Carnivores out there will not want to miss out on the Patagonian lamb ‘a la cruz’ (cooked on a spit) either.
Unless you want to sit in an empty restaurant, you shouldn’t bother settling down for your meal until after 10pm.
Spanish is the official language spoken in Argentina and more than 90% of its population are Roman Catholic.
Despite the country coming through a dark military dictatorship and a devastating economic crisis, Argentinians are essentially a vivacious bunch with an unrelenting lust for life.
Also, you shouldn’t be surprised to see plenty of kissing going on in the streets! The most common form of greeting between friends is for everyone to kiss cheeks on meeting and departing.