Ready to have one of the best experiences in Argentina? Here are the seven important tips you must know before heading to this South American country.
Please be sure to stay until the end of this article because we’ll reveal a fun fact many tourists do not know about!
NUMBER 7: THE SPANISH IS DIFFERENT
Locals in Buenos Aires, who are known as Porteños, speak a different kind of Spanish.
So, if you have already spent some time learning Spanish individually or in school, you will have to brush up on your Spanish vocabulary to avoid language issues.
The Italian roots of their Spanish make the intonation sound melodious, while the slangs are completely different. So, before packing those bags, spend some time learning some of the Argentine slang or Lunfardo that you’ll come across.
Of course, the internet is a great resource, and you will definitely find lots of information online.
For instance, since all y’s and ll’s sound like “sh”, in the local dialect, words like Pollo will sound like posho instead. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to struggle to be accepted here, as the locals are always ready to help.
The Spanish everywhere else in Argentina is much easier to understand, and you’ll always find someone who’s willing to make an effort to understand you as you explore their country.
You might also meet another tourist who’s great with the local Spanish and will help you get by easier.
NUMBER 6: SPENDING MONEY IN ARGENTINA
In Argentina, cash is king.
While your Mastercard and Visa cards will be accepted in most high-profile restaurants and hotels catering to tourists, many smaller shops would rather get paid in cash. This means you’ll find yourself in need of the Argentinian peso more often than not.
That’s the official currency in Argentina, and the bad news is that the rates fluctuate a lot due to inflation.
So, don’t think of relying on credit cards while in the country. This is especially as you have to pay a surcharge most of the time after use, sending your expenses through the roof.
Using ATMs in Argentina is also quite expensive as you will be charged as much as ten dollars for every withdrawal, and there’s also a limit on withdrawals in a single transaction.
The solution is to search for blue markets, which are equivalent to black markets, where you’ll get money changers.
Look for an arbolito by asking around your hotel or if you’re in Microcentro in Buenos Aires. There’s a high chance you’ll hear someone shout Cambio, which translates to exchange.
Here’s our little secret. The first rule to saving cash when traveling to Argentina is to never exchange your currency before leaving your country.
You won’t get great rates. Initially, they may seem good to you, but they are often much lower than you would get in the country. So, you can exchange a little so you have something to move around with until you find a money exchanger in the city.
NUMBER 5: YOU DON’T HAVE TO TIP
You’re not expected to tip in Argentina, so you won’t be doing anything wrong if you don’t drop some extra pesos when served at the restaurant or bars. The rules are quite similar to what you’ll find in Italy.
The tips are already accounted for with a service charge on your bill in most restaurants. However, if you just can’t let go of your habit of tipping, it’s okay to round up the figures on your final bill. Also, your tip shouldn’t be more than ten percent, which will keep everyone happy.
NUMBER 4: BE PREPARED FOR ALL WEATHER
The biggest secret to getting the best out of Argentina is to be prepared for both hot and cold weather. This means you should only pack what you need instead of filling your luggage with space wasters.
Your first step to packing wisely for the weather is to note how many clothes you have for warm weather and how many you have for colder regions. This selection should be as even as possible and largely determined by the cities you intend to visit.
For example, places like Ushuaia and El Calafate are usually cold and would need you to wrap up nicely to stay warm. So, be prepared for this.
Also, there’s a huge chance that you’ll be hiking. While you can always get hiking gear from great tour companies, it’s always a great idea to pack some with you, especially when it comes to rain-proof jackets and hiking pants.
A good pair of walking shoes work great everywhere, so this is a must-have in your luggage. For a country as big as Argentina, you should remember that you may not be able to see it all.
However, ten days should be more than enough to do many exciting things in cities like Mendoza, Patagonia and Buenos Aires. This means you should pack for ten days or something close to that.
NUMBER 3: GETTING A VISA
Before traveling to Argentina, one of the biggest questions is if you would need a visa to gain entry. People coming in from Switzerland, the United States, Canada, and Australia don’t need a visa to visit Argentina.
This also applies to anyone with a European Union passport. Your passport will be stamped as soon as you arrive, and your free visa is valid for only 90 days. Surely, that’s more than enough time to have an amazing experience in Argentina.
While this is confirmed information, the best place to get more details on your visa is the website of the Argentine consulate in your country.
Be sure to confirm the visa requirements and other information that could make your trip a disaster if you don’t keep to them.
NUMBER 2: DRINK ONLY BOTTLED WATER
If drinking tap water in your home country is no big deal, then be prepared for the culture shock of not having any in Argentina. According to most locals, tap water is not safe to drink as it contains high chlorine levels.
One place that has clean tap water for sure is the Patagonian region, since much of the water comes from the glaciers nearby.
However, the answer you’ll get to the question of drinking tap water depends a lot on who you ask. I recommend not drinking it at all and, instead, taking more bottled water.
It’s not that expensive, so it won’t cut into your budget significantly. Interestingly, restaurants won’t serve you water either.
NUMBER 1: GETTING AROUND ARGENTINA
Moving around Argentina is a big deal and something you should be prepared for as this is a massive country.
It can take as many as twenty hours to move through two cities by bus, so you’ll have to know which areas require flights and which you can move through by road.
Most times, you’ll need to connect your flight to Buenos Aires to reach your final destination as there are no direct flights in most areas, including from El Calafate to Puerto Iguazu.
So, don’t pick destinations that would take you a whole day of flights to get to, as this can make your trip tiring.
A great way to get around in the city is by bus as these are mostly comfortable and punctual. Long-distance buses also have wi-fi, and there’s a good chance your seat will have a personal screen.
Alternatively, you can rent a car outside Buenos Aires as the traffic in this city is terrible. A car will come in handy in cities like Patagonia and Salta, where the road networks are not so bad. Don’t rule out the chances of coming across some toll roads, so it’s always great to have some spare change for this.
While driving in Argentina, your headlights should always be on, and you should drive on the right side of the road. Moreover, you can opt for public transportation in Buenos Aires, where there is no shortage of buses.
However, you’ll have to visit the ticket window at any metro station to get a SUBE card to help you get around on the public bus. Taxis are another cheap alternative; and since it’s metered, you don’t have to worry about being cheated.