Travel to Argentina

Travel to Argentina

Soak up the pleasures of one of the largest countries in the world, Argentina—splendidly rich in natural, cultural, and culinary delights.

Argentinian heritage springs from the country’s incredible diversity of indigenous peoples—from the Gurani to the Huarpe—and the cultural and ethnic influence of European colonization. Revel in that multicultural character in Argentina’s great cities, including Buenos Aires (the capital), Cordoba, and Rosario. Another exciting urban hub is Mendoza, set picturesquely in the foothills of the Andes near expansive vineyards. Mendoza also provides a good jumping-off point for nearby Chile’s delights, including the great city of Santiago. Argentina’s cuisine includes the rich heritage of asado—charcoal or open-fire grilling. Any meal is enhanced by a glass of Argentine wine, produced in great quantity since the 1500s. Spice up your trip by taking in some homegrown tango, one of Argentina’s most famous cultural exports. A great place to enjoy this classy dance is vibrant La Boca, a famed neighborhood of Buenos Aires. On the Argentina-Brazil border, meanwhile, lies the magnificent Iguassu Falls—arguably the planet’s most impressive waterfall. This wonder of the world is only one of Argentina’s amazing natural landmarks, which range from tropical rainforest to Andean icefields.

Argentina, like the U.S., is a country of immigrants. During the 19th and 20th centuries Argentina received a large influx of European immigrants, most from Spain and Italy. Only a small percentage of the population is mestizo, people of mixed European and Native American descent. This cultural mix has had an impact on both the sports and gastronomy of the country.

Argentina is strongly associated with the dance called tango, which was initially danced in cafes, gambling houses and bars, originating in the late 1800's. This was a time when most social dancing did not involve much physical contact, so the dance was considered scandalous until it slowly started creeping into middle and upper class households and was brought to worldwide attention by European travelers in the 1920's. These days tango can be experienced by viewing a professional tango show, visiting a tango dance hall known as 'milongas' or by participating in a group or private lesson.

Soccer is the most popular sport, followed by basketball. Argentina is also known as the polo capital of the world. However, the official national sport of Argentina is pato, now called horseball globally. Pato has some similarities to both polo and basketball as two teams on horses fight to throw a ball with handles through a vertical ring during the exciting matches.

Argentinians take asado, a form of grilling, very seriously. The techniques evolved from life on the pampas when the cowboys, or gauchos, lived off the land and the livestock. Argentinians are the largest consumers of red meat in the world, so visitors are sure to enjoy a tasty steak at some point during their travels. Meat eaters may be surprised not only by how tender the meat is, but by how low the price is for a quality piece of beef.

Argentinian cuisine has also been influenced by both its indigenous and European cultures. The national dish, Locro is a thick stew containing corn, some type of meat and vegetables, other ingredients vary according to which variety of Locro it is. Empanadas are savory pastries stuffed with cheese or meat. Because of the number of Italian immigrants, pasta and pizza is widely eaten. Facturas is the general term for Argentinian pastries, many of which originated in Europe, and are eaten as breakfast or an afternoon snack. Medialunas are similar to croissants and is the normal breakfast consumed with a cup of coffee. A particular favorite snack is alfajors, which are two soft cookies filled with a layer of dulce de leche, available in any kiosk, store or bakery.

Mate is Argentina's national beverage consisting of steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water. No ordinary mug will do for this drink which is an obsession for Argentinians; it is served in a hollow gourd with a metal bombilla, which acts as both straw and a strainer. Vacationers find that some of the more intricately decorative mate gourds make wonderful souvenirs.

Argentina is the fifth largest producer or wine worldwide, though it doesn't export a lot of its wine, so travelers should make an effort to sip vintages they won't be able to try elsewhere. There is a growth in wine tourism in the Mendoza province in the western part of the country; Malbec is considered one of the best wines in Argentina.

Argentina, the second largest country in South America, and the eighth largest in the world, shares its border with Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. In the east the country has a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The sheer size of the country means there is a wide variety of geographic diversity, including mountains, grasslands, deserts, glaciers, prairies and lakes. Both eco and adventure tourists will find much to satisfy. Argentina's wide variety of landscapes is indicative of the number of activities that can be enjoyed while traveling the country. Hiking, mountain climbing, white-water rafting, canoeing, hang-gliding, paragliding, windsurfing and horseback riding will allow you to not just see Argentina, but to experience it.

Buenos Aires serves as the gateway to Argentina. Called the "Paris of the South" - it is a modern and sophisticated city with a rich European influence in its culture. Buenos Aires is known for its vibrant nightlife, wonderful shopping and excellent restaurants. Picturesque districts are spread throughout the city and have their own unique character of sights and sounds. Wander along cobbled streets of colonial San Telmo, home of the sultry tango or visit Recoleta, the city's most chic neighborhood. The city never seems to sleep and the residents live passionately.

Once you have exhausted the wonders of Buenos Aires - you may wish to travel throughout the rest of the country and explore the geography. The plains of the Pampas are home to the cowboys of South America - the gaucho - with his legendary horse skills and a rugged individualism that lies at the heart of a long-standing and proud heritage. There are several large lakes in Argentina, including salt water lakes, as well as a number of hot springs. Bariloche is an Andean village that resembles the ski resorts of Switzerland in architectural style and whose snowcapped mountain peaks are just as challenging.

The region of Patagonia, which includes the southernmost section of the Andes mountains, stretches to the Straits of Magellan and includes the Peninsula Valdes which is home to large numbers of sea lions, seals, penguins and birds. Glaciers National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to a stunning 22 mile long glacier with some of the most impressive peaks, glaciers and icebergs in the world. The magnificent Iguassu Falls is over 2 miles long and has 275 individual waterfalls that cascade down some 260 feet into a gorge.

Most visited cities: Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Ushuaia, Salta

Native Indians lived off the land for centuries. In the 16th century Spanish explorers landed and established a settlement. Most Spanish immigrants lived in Buenos Aires and a handful of other cities, though some lived on the pampas as gauchos (cowboys). In the early 19th century a decade long war of independence occurred which resulted in independence from Spain. The country prospered from the late 19th century into the early 20th century.

After the World Wars in which Argentina remained mostly neutral, General Juan Peron was elected president and created a democratic movement which became known as 'Peronism' that fostered unionization, better wages and working conditions. These advances, along with his dynamic wife, Eva, made him a cult figure. However, his achievements were offset by severe censorship and repression toward any opposition. He was deposed in a violent coup and went into exile in Spain, before engineering a return in 1973. However, he died soon after taking office again, and although his third wife was supposed to take over the governance of the country, factions of left and right wing extremists burst into conflict.

During the 'Dirty War' of the 1970's, thousands of dissenters disappeared. To this day, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women whose children disappeared, wear white headscarves embroidered with the names of their children and meet at the plaza every Thursday. After the conflict, a dictatorship took over the country until free elections were once again held in the early 1980's. The country has since been governed by elected presidents. In recent times, servicing the country's foreign debt has led to economic crises, which has made the country attractive to tourists, who find prices in the country to be very reasonable.

Buenos Aires at Its Best
Buenos Aires and Wine Country
Santiago and Buenos Aires
Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires and Iguazu
Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu and Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Iguazu and Mendoza
Santiago to Buenos Aires with Lake Crossing