Unlike many other South American countries, bargaining is generally not the norm in Argentina.
Dangers & Annoyances
- For tourists, Argentina is one of the safest countries in Latin America. This isn’t to say you should skip down the street drunk with your long-lens camera dangling, but with a little common sense you can visit Argentina’s big cities as safely as you could London, Paris or New York. That said, crime has been on the rise.
- The economic crisis of 1999–2001 plunged a lot of people into poverty, and street crime (pickpocketing, bag-snatching and armed robbery) has subsequently risen, especially in Buenos Aires. Here, be especially watchful for pickpockets on crowded buses, on the Subte (subway) and at busy ferias (street markets). Still, most people feel perfectly safe in the big cities. In the small towns of the provinces you’d have to search for a crook to rob you.
- Bus terminals are common places where tourists become separated from their possessions. For the most part bus terminals are safe, as they’re usually full of families traveling and saying goodbyes, but they can also be prime grounds for bag-snatchers. Always keep an eagle eye on your belongings. This is especially true in Buenos Aires’ Retiro station.
- At sidewalk cafe or restaurant tables, always have your bag close to you, preferably touching your body. You can also place the strap around your leg or tie it around the furniture. Be careful showing off expensive electronics like laptops, iPods or iPads. Other places to be wary are tourist destinations and on crowded public transportation.
- In Buenos Aires the Tourist Police provide interpreters and help victims of robberies and rip-offs.
Note that buying a smart phone, and especially an iPhone, is extremely expensive in Argentina due to import restrictions – and they are not widely available. This makes them easy targets for theft. If you do bring your smart phone, don’t flash it around unnecessarily or leave it unprotected somewhere. This goes for tablet computers and laptop computers, too.
Pickets & Protests
- Street protests have become part of daily life in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo area. Generally these have little effect on tourists other than blocking traffic or making it difficult to see Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada.
- The country has many gremios or sindicatos (trade unions), and it seems that one of them is always on strike. Transportation unions sometimes go on strike, which can affect travelers directly by delaying domestic flights and bus services. It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the news before traveling.
- Being a pedestrian in Argentina is perhaps one of the country’s more difficult ventures. Many Argentine drivers jump the gun when the traffic signal is about to change to green, drive extremely fast and change lanes unpredictably. Even though pedestrians at corners and crosswalks have the legal right of way, very few drivers respect this and will hardly slow down when you are crossing. Be especially careful of buses, which can be recklessly driven and, because of their large size, particularly dangerous.
Police & Military
- The police and military have a reputation for being corrupt or irresponsible, but both are generally helpful and courteous to tourists. If you feel you’re being patted down for a bribe (most often if you’re driving), you can respond by tactfully paying up or asking the officer to accompany you to the police station to take care of it. The latter will likely cause the officer to drop it – though it could also lead you into the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the Argentine police system. Pretending you don’t understand Spanish may also frustrate a potential bribe.
- The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is available through www.isic.org. It can help travelers obtain discounts on public transportation and admissions to museums. Any official-looking university identification may (or may not) be accepted as a substitute.
- An HI card, available at any HI hostel (www.hihostels.com), will get you discounts on your stay at any HI facility. The HoLa (www.holahostels.com) card works in a similar way for a different network of hostels.
- Travelers over the age of 60 can sometimes obtain senior-citizen discounts on museum admissions and the like. Usually a passport with date of birth is sufficient evidence of age.
- Argentina’s electric current operates on 220V, 50Hz. Adapters are readily available from almost any ferretería (hardware store).
- Most electronic equipment (such as cameras, telephones and computers) are dual/multi-voltage, but if you’re bringing something that’s not (such as a hairdryer), use a voltage converter or you might short out your device.
Embassies & Consulates
Embassies and consulates are found in Buenos Aires. Some other cities around Argentina (especially near the borders) also have the consulates of certain countries.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Argentina country code||54|
|International access code||00|
|National Tourist Information (in BA)||11-4312-2232|
|Police||101; 911 in some large cities|
Entry & Exit Formalities
- Entering Argentina is straightforward; immigration officials at airports are generally quick and to the point, while those at border crossings may take more time scrutinizing your documents and belongings.
- Citizens from Canada have to pay a reciprocity fee before entering Argentina.
- Argentine officials are generally courteous and reasonable toward tourists. Electronic items, including laptops, cameras and cell (mobile) phones, can be brought into the country duty free, provided they are not intended for resale. If you have a lot of electronic equipment, however, it may be useful to have a typed list of the items you are carrying (including serial numbers) or a pile of purchase receipts.
- If you’re entering Argentina from a neighboring country, officials focus on different things. Travelers southbound from the central Andean countries may be searched for drugs, while those from bordering countries will have fruits and vegetables confiscated. Carrying illegal drugs will pretty much get you into trouble no matter which country you’re coming from.
- Anyone entering Argentina should have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry, and ideally past the date the passport holder leaves the country.
- Once you’re in Argentina, police can still demand identification at any moment (but rarely do without reason), so carry at least a photocopy of your passport around at all times (when it will also come in handy for entering government buildings, getting tax-free purchases, changing money at a bank etc).
- When entering by air, you officially must have a return ticket, though this is rarely asked for by officials once you're in Argentina. However, it is commonly asked for by the airline in the country of origin. Most airlines prohibit the boarding of any passengers without proof of onward travel, regardless of whether the person was sold a one-way ticket or not. They do this because they'd be responsible for flying you back home should you be denied entry once you're in Argentina. Check with your airline for details.
- Nationals of Canada, most Western European countries, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Argentina. Upon arrival, most visitors get a 90-day stamp in their passport. Canadians must pay a significant ‘reciprocity fee’ before arriving.
- Dependent children traveling without both parents theoretically need a notarized document certifying that both parents agree to the child’s travel. Parents may also wish to bring a copy of the custody form; however, there’s a good chance they won’t be asked for either document.
- Depending on your nationality, very short visits to neighboring countries sometimes do not require visas. For instance, you might not be asked for a Brazilian visa to cross from the Argentine town of Puerto Iguazú to Foz do Iguaçu, as long as you return the same day – but doing so is at your own risk.
- The same is true at the Bolivian border town of Villazón, near La Quiaca. Officials at Paraguayan crossings can give day stamps, however. Check current regulations for the latest situation.
Citizens from some countries have to pay a reciprocity fee (tasa de reciprocidad) before arriving in Argentina; ideally you'll be reminded of this when you buy your airplane ticket. This fee is equal to what Argentines are charged for visas to visit those countries. You'll need to pay this fee online via credit card; see www.migraciones.gov.ar/accesibleingles and click on 'Reciprocity Fee.'
Fees are US$78 for Canadians (good until a month before your passport expires). Check current regulations as rules can change quickly.
- For a 90-day extension on your tourist visa, get ready for bureaucracy and visit Buenos Aires’ immigration office Dirección Nacional de Migraciones (www.migraciones.gov.ar). The fee is currently AR$600 for non-Mercosur nationals (those from countries other than Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Interestingly enough, the fee for overstaying your visa is also AR$600 (but this can change).
- Another option if you’re staying more than three months is to cross into Colonia or Montevideo (both in Uruguay; Colonia can be an easy day trip) or into Chile for a day or two before your visa expires, then return with a new 90-day visa. However, this only works if you don’t need a visa to enter the other country.
- Greetings Say buenos dias or buenas tardes (good morning/good afternoon) when you walk into a room. Accept and give besos (kisses) on the cheek.
- Slang Che is a casual word that means ‘Hey!’ Use it with friends. Che boludo, akin to 'hey, jerk!' is a phrase that should only be used with either a very good friend – or someone you want to tell off.
- Farewells Adios or hasta luego means goodbye. Ciao or chau is a casual goodbye to friends.
In 2010 Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. The country has become increasingly gay-friendly over recent years. Buenos Aires is one of the world’s top gay destinations – with dedicated hotels and B&Bs, bars and nightclubs. The capital is home to South America’s largest annual gay pride parade.
Although Buenos Aires (and, to a lesser extent, Argentina’s other large cities) is becoming increasingly tolerant, most of the rest of Argentina still feels uncomfortable with homosexuality. Homophobia rarely takes the form of physical violence, however, and gay people regularly travel throughout the country to return home with nothing but praise.
When it comes to public affection, Argentine men are more physically demonstrative than their North American and European counterparts. Behaviors such as kissing on the cheek in greeting or a vigorous embrace are innocuous even to those who express unease with homosexuality. Lesbians walking hand in hand should attract little attention, since heterosexual Argentine women frequently do so, but this would be very conspicuous behavior for men. When in doubt, it’s best to be discreet.
- A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss, medical problems and trip cancellation or delays is a good idea. Some policies specifically exclude dangerous activities such as scuba diving, skiing, rock climbing and even trekking; read the fine print. Check that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.
- Keep all your paperwork in case you have to file a claim later. Paying for your flight with a credit card often provides limited travel insurance – ask your credit-card company what it is prepared to cover.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
- Wi-fi is available at many (if not most) hotels and cafes, restaurants and airports, and it’s generally good and free.
- Internet cafes and locutorios (telephone centers) with very affordable internet access can be found in practically all Argentine towns and cities.
- To find the @ (arroba) symbol on keyboards, try holding down the Alt key and typing 64, or typing AltGr-2. You can also ask the attendant ‘¿Cómo se hace la arroba?’ (‘How do you make the @ sign?’).
- In remote spots like El Chaltén and other parts of Patagonia wi-fi may be uniformly poor.
Police can demand identification at any moment and for whatever reason, though it's unlikely to happen. Always carry photo ID or a copy of your passport, and – most importantly – always be courteous and cooperative.
Drugs and most other substances that are illegal in the US and many European countries are also illegal here, though marijuana has been somewhat decriminalized in Argentina (and is legal in Uruguay).
If arrested, you have the constitutional right to a lawyer, to a telephone call and to remain silent (beyond giving your name, nationality, age and passport number). Don’t sign anything until you speak to a lawyer. If you don’t speak Spanish, a translator should be provided for you.
- Tourist offices throughout the country provide free city maps that are good enough for tooling around town.
- Download a maps app, like maps.me, with the requisite regional maps for handy use offline.
- With offices in nearly every Argentine city, the Automóvil Club Argentino publishes excellent maps of provinces and cities that are particularly useful for driving. Card-carrying members of foreign automobile clubs can get discounts.
- Geography nerds will adore the topographic maps available from the Instituto Geográfico Nacional in Buenos Aires.
- Newspapers Argentina’s biggest papers are centrist Clarín (www.clarin.com), conservative La Nación (www.lanacion.com.ar) and lefty Página 12 (www.pagina12.com.ar). The Argentina Independent (www.argentinaindependent.com) is an excellent English-language online newspaper.
ATMs are widely available, though tend to run out of money in tourist destinations. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
Cajeros automáticos (ATMs) are found in nearly every city and town in Argentina and can also be used for cash advances on major credit cards. They’re the best way to get money, and nearly all have instructions in English. Limits on withdrawal can be very low – sometimes as low as US$115, though the withdrawal fee can be relatively high (not including charges by your home bank). You can withdraw several times per day, but beware these charges – which are per transaction. Banelco ATMs tend to allow larger withdrawals.
Not all foreign cards work in ATMs. Bring more than one option and be sure to alert your home bank that you are traveling in Argentina.
In Patagonia, places like El Calafate and El Chaltén quickly run out of cash in high season.
- The Argentine unit of currency is the peso (AR$).
- Notes come in denominations of two, five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.
- One peso equals 100 centavos; coins come in denominations of five, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, as well as one and two pesos.
- At present, US dollars are accepted by many tourist-oriented businesses, but you should always carry some pesos.
- Don’t be dismayed if you receive dirty and hopelessly tattered banknotes; they’ll be accepted everywhere. Some places refuse torn or marked foreign banknotes, however, so make sure you arrive in Argentina with pristine bills.
- Counterfeiting, of both local and US bills, has become a problem in recent years, and merchants are very careful when accepting large denominations. You should be, too; look for a clear watermark or running thread on the largest bills, and get familiar with the local currency before you arrive in Argentina. See www.landingpadba.com/ba-basics-counterfeit-money. Being aware of fake bills is especially important in dark places like nightclubs or taxis.
- Getting change from large denominations can be a problem for small purchases. Large supermarkets and restaurants are your best bet. Always keep a stash of change with you, in both small bills and coins.
- Many (but not all!) tourist services, larger stores, hotels and restaurants – especially in the bigger cities – take credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard.
- The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa and MasterCard, though American Express and a few others are valid in some establishments. Before you leave home, warn your credit-card company that you’ll be using it abroad.
- Some businesses add a recargo (surcharge) of 5% to 10% toward credit-card purchases. Also, the actual amount you’ll eventually pay depends upon the official exchange rate not at the time of sale but when the purchase is posted to an overseas account, sometimes weeks later.
- If you use a credit card to pay restaurant bills, be aware that tips can’t usually be added to the bill. Many lower-end hotels and private tour companies will not accept credit cards. Many places will give you a small discount if you pay in cash rather than use a credit card.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- US dollars are by far the preferred foreign currency, although Chilean and Uruguayan pesos can be readily exchanged at the borders.
- Cash dollars and euros can be changed at banks and cambios (exchange houses) in most larger cities, but other currencies can be difficult to change outside Buenos Aires.
- You’ll need your passport to change money; it might be best to avoid any sort of street-tout money changer.
- Restaurants and cafes It’s customary to tip about 10% of the bill for decent service.
- Hotel staff, bus porters, delivery people, hotel porters and taxi drivers Give a few bills.
- Restaurant servers and spas Tip 15%.
An interesting note: when your server is taking your bill with payment away, saying ‘gracias’ usually implies that the server should keep the change as a tip. If you want change back, don’t say ‘gracias’ – say ‘cambio, por favor’ instead.
Note that tips can’t be added to credit-card bills, so carry cash for this purpose. Also note that the cubierto that some restaurants charge is not a tip; it's a sort of 'cover charge' for the use of utensils and bread.
Argentina’s popularity as a tourism destination has birthed an annoying two-tier pricing system: some businesses in certain areas (mostly in Buenos Aires, but also in Patagonia and parts of the Lake District) charge Argentines one price and ‘nonresidents’ a higher price. While you won’t find this everywhere, you will encounter it at some tango shows, museums, tours, estancias (ranches), national parks, airlines and upmarket hotels throughout the country.
Many accommodations also quote prices in US dollars rather than pesos. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting charged more than Argentines; the peso is just so unstable that places prefer to use a currency that isn’t always fluctuating. Also, lodgings now charge in US dollars so foreigners do not have to pay the accommodation tax.
Rates on the Rise
Lonely Planet aims to give its readers as precise an idea as possible of what things cost. Rather than just slapping hotels or restaurants into vague budget categories, we publish the actual rates and prices that businesses quote to us during research. The problem is that Argentina's inflation was running at an official rate of around 26% at the time of writing, and some unofficial estimates are more than double this. But we've found that readers prefer to have real numbers in their hands and do compensatory calculations themselves.
Argentina remains a decent-value destination, but don't expect our quoted prices to necessarily reflect your own experience. Our advice: call or check a few hotel or tour-operator websites before budgeting for your trip, just to make sure you're savvy about current rates.
- Very high commissions are levied on traveler’s checks, which are difficult to cash anywhere and specifically not recommended for travel in Argentina. Stores will not accept traveler’s checks, and outside Buenos Aires it’s even harder to change them.
Banks 8am to 3pm or 4pm Monday to Friday; some till 1pm Saturday
Bars 8pm or 9pm to between 4am and 6am nightly
Cafes 6am to midnight or much later; open daily
Clubs 1am to 2am to between 6am and 8am Friday and Saturday
Office business hours 8am to 5pm
Post offices 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday
Restaurants Noon to 3:30pm and 8pm to midnight or 1am (later on weekends)
Shops 9am or 10am to 8pm or 9pm Monday to Saturday
Many photo stores can affordably transfer images from your digital camera to a memory stick; you can also get them printed out. Old-fashioned print and slide film are available, as is developing.
- The often unreliable Correo Argentino (www.correoargentino.com.ar) is the government postal service.
- Essential overseas mail should be sent certificado (registered).
- You can send packages less than 2kg from any post office, but anything heavier needs to go through aduana (a customs office). In Buenos Aires, this office is near Retiro bus terminal and is called Correo Internacional. Take your passport and keep the package open, as you’ll have to show its contents to a customs official.
- Domestic couriers, such as Andreani (www.andreani.com.ar) and OCA, and international couriers such as DHL and FedEx are far more dependable than the post office. But they’re also far more expensive. The last two have offices only in the largest cities, while the first two usually serve as their connections to the interior of the country.
- If a package is being sent to you, expect to wait awhile before receiving notification of its arrival. Nearly all parcels sent to Buenos Aires go to the international Retiro office, near the Buquebus terminal. To collect the package you’ll have to wait (sometimes hours), first to get it and then to have it checked by customs. There’s also a processing fee. Don’t expect any valuables to make it through.
Government offices and businesses are closed on Argentina’s numerous public holidays. If the holiday falls on a midweek day or weekend day, it’s often bumped to the nearest Monday; if it falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, then the in-between days of Monday or Friday are taken as holidays.
Public-transportation options are more limited on holidays, when you should reserve tickets far in advance. Hotel booking should also be done ahead of time.
The following list does not include provincial holidays, which may vary considerably.
January 1 Año Nuevo; New Year’s Day.
February/March Carnaval. Dates vary; a Monday and Tuesday become holidays.
March 24 Día de la Memoria; Memorial Day. Anniversary of the day that started the 1976 dictatorship and subsequent Dirty War.
March/April Semana Santa; Easter week. Dates vary; most businesses close on ‘Good Thursday’ and Good Friday; major travel week.
April 2 Día de las Malvinas; honors the fallen Argentine soldiers from the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) war in 1982.
May 1 Día del Trabajador; Labor Day.
May 25 Día de la Revolución de Mayo; commemorates the 1810 revolution against Spain.
June 20 Día de la Bandera; Flag Day. Anniversary of the death of Manuel Belgrano, creator of Argentina’s flag and military leader.
July 9 Día de la Independencia; Independence Day.
August (third Monday in August) Día del Libertador San Martín; marks the anniversary of José de San Martín’s death in 1850.
October 12 (second Monday in October) Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural; a day to respect cultural diversity.
November 20 (fourth Monday in November) Día de la Soberanía Nacional; Day of National Sovereignty.
December 8 Día de la Concepción Inmaculada; celebrates the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.
December 25 Navidad; Christmas Day.
Note that Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are treated as semi-holidays, and you will find some businesses closed for the latter half of those days.
- Smoking Smoking is banned in workplaces, all public indoor areas, schools, hospitals, museums and theaters, and on all public transportation.
Taxes & Refunds
- Argentina's 21% value-added tax is known as the Impuesto de Valor Agregado (IVA).
- When using US dollars or a foreign credit card to pay for lodgings, no IVA is charged.
- Some stores, identified by ‘Tax Free’ sign in English, offer IVA refunds on Argentine products. Obtain an invoice from the merchant and process with customs upon departing the country.
- To use street phones, you’ll pay with regular coins or tarjetas telefónicas (magnetic phone cards available at many kiosks). You’ll only be able to speak for a limited time before you get cut off, so carry enough credit.
- Toll-free numbers begin with 0800; these calls can only be made within Argentina. Numbers that start with 0810 are charged at a local rate only, no matter where (in Argentina) you are calling from.
- The cheapest way to make an international call is to use an online service (such as Skype or Google Voice) or use a phone card. International calls can be made at locutorios, but they’re more expensive this way. When dialing abroad, dial 00, followed by the code of the country you’re calling, then the area code and number.
|Police||911 in some larger cities, 101|
|Tourist Police (Buenos Aires)||011-4346-5748, 0800-999-5000|
It’s best to bring your own unlocked tri- or quad-band GSM cell phone to Argentina, then buy an inexpensive SIM chip (you’ll get a local number) and credits (or carga virtual) as needed.
- All SIM cards now must be registered to users before they can be activated. In theory, a foreigner can activate a SIM card with identification, but in our experience, knowing a local willing to register the phone under their own name, address and DNI made the process possible.
- Both SIM chips and credits can be bought at many kiosks or locutorios; look for ‘recarga facil’ or 'saldo virtual' signs. Phone unlocking services are available; ask around. You can also buy cell phones that use SIM chips; these usually include some credits for your first batch of calls.
- Be careful renting phones as they’re not usually a better deal than outright buying a cell phone.
- If you plan not to use a local SIM card, purchase an international plan to avoid being hit with a huge bill for roaming costs.
- Telephone calling cards sold at kiosks make domestic and international calls far cheaper than calling direct. However, they must be used from a fixed line such as a home or hotel telephone (provided you can dial outside the hotel).
- When purchasing one, tell the clerk the country you will call so they give you the right card.
To call a number in Argentina from another country, dial your international exit code, then the country code for Argentina, then the area code (without the zero) and number. For example, if you’re calling a Buenos Aires landline number from the United States, you’d dial:
- 011 is the United States’ international exit code
- 54 is Argentina’s country code
- 11 is Buenos Aires’ city code without the beginning zero
- xxxx-xxxx is your local Buenos Aires phone number, usually eight digits
When dialing an Argentine cell phone from another country, dial your international exit code, then 54, then 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number – leaving out the 15 (which most Argentine cell phone numbers start with). For example, if you’re calling a Buenos Aires cell phone number from the United States, you’d dial:
Cell-phone dialing is a bit more complicated in Argentina than in other countries. Cell-phone numbers in Argentina are always preceded by ‘15.’ If you’re calling a cell phone number from a landline, you’ll have to dial '15' first (add the area code before the '15' as necessary). However, if you’re calling a cell phone from another cell phone, you don’t need to dial '15.' You also don't need to dial '15' to send text messages.
WhatsApp is a popular way of sending free texts and voice messages.
Locutorios & Internet Cafes
- Most common in more remote places where internet and phone services are poor, a locutorio is a small telephone office with private calling cabins.
- When making international calls from locutorios ask about off-peak discount hours, which generally apply after 10pm and on weekends. Making international calls over the internet using Skype is a cheap option; many internet cafes have this system in place.
- Argentina is three hours behind GMT and generally does not observe daylight-saving time (though this situation can easily change). When it’s noon in Argentina, it’s 7am in San Francisco, 10am in New York, 3pm in London and 1am the next day in Sydney (add one hour to these destinations during their daylight-saving times).
- Argentina uses the 24-hour clock in written communications, but both the 12- and 24-hour clocks can be used conversationally.
- Public toilets in Argentina are better than in most of South America, but there are certainly exceptions. For the truly squeamish, the better restaurants and cafes are good alternatives. Large shopping malls often have public bathrooms, as do international fast-food chains.
- Always carry your own toilet paper, since it often runs out in public restrooms, and don’t expect luxuries such as soap, hot water and paper towels either.
- In smaller towns, some public toilets charge a small fee for entry. Changing facilities for babies are not always available.
- Some may find bidets a novelty; they are those shallow, ceramic bowls with knobs and a drain, often accompanying toilets in hotel bathrooms. They are meant for between-shower cleanings of nether regions. Turn knobs slowly, or you may end up spraying yourself or the ceiling.
Argentina’s national tourist board is the Ministerio de Turismo (www.turismo.gob.ar); its main office is in Buenos Aires.
Almost every destination city or town has a tourist office, usually on or near the main plaza or at the bus terminal. Each Argentine province also has its own representation in Buenos Aires. Most of these are well organized, often offering a computerized database of tourist information, and can be worth a visit before heading for the provinces.
Travel With Children
Argentina has plenty to offer little ones, from dinosaur museums to beach resorts and plenty of outdoor activities to use up all that extra energy. With a culture that is very family-friendly, you’ll find Argentina makes a good, interesting and, yes, at times challenging, but fun, family destination.
Best Regions for Kids
- Buenos Aires
Argentina’s capital provides plenty of museums, parks and shopping malls, many with fun areas for kids.
- Atlantic Coast
Beaches and more beaches – bring swimsuits and sunscreen, and start building castles. Wildlife watching is also a plus.
Waterfalls and wildlife galore, plus thrilling boat rides that guarantee a fun soaking.
- Península Valdés
Rich with wildlife, such as splashy whales, smelly elephant seals and supercute penguins.
Outdoor activities are the draw here – go hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding and rafting.
Wine tasting is off-limits for the kids, but you can take them skiing and white-water rafting.
Argentina for Kids
Argentina is remarkably child-friendly in terms of general travel safety and people’s attitudes toward families. This is a country where family comes first.
Argentine parents will often send unaccompanied pre-adolescents on errands or neighborly visits. While you’re not likely to do this, you can usually count on your children’s safety in public.
Argentina’s numerous plazas and public parks, many with playgrounds, are popular gathering spots for families. Argentines frequently touch each other, so your children may be patted on the head by friendly strangers. Kids are a great ice-breaker and certainly make it easier for you to meet the locals.
And remember that families stay out very late in this country – it’s common to see young kids and babies out past midnight with their parents. There’s no early curfew and everyone’s out having fun, so consider doing the same!
- Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio Kids can overnight in their pajamas at Trelew’s dinosaur museum.
- Museo de La Plata Argentina’s best natural history museum; the taxidermy and skeletons are especially awesome.
- Glaciarium El Calafate’s slickest museum; highlights the wonders of glaciers.
- Shopping centers The bigger ones often have playgrounds, video arcades, toy stores and ice-cream shops.
- Museo Municipal Ernesto Bachmann Marvel at the world’s largest predator, as well as the spectacular skeletons of other locally found dinosaurs.
- Glaciar Perito Moreno El Calafate's superactive glacier is a wonder to behold for all ages.
- Beaches Argentina's Atlantic coast beaches are family-friendly, and offer up plenty of sand, surf and sun.
- Estancias Horseback rides and folkloric shows are highlights during your stay on an estancia (ranch).
- Outdoor activities are best experienced outside the winter months of June through August (with the exception of skiing, of course).
- Small kids often get discounts on such things as motel stays, museum admissions and restaurant meals.
- Supermarkets offer a decent selection of baby food, infant formulas, disposable diapers, wet wipes and other necessities. Big pharmacies such as Farmacity also stock some of these items.
- Strollers on crowded and uneven sidewalks can be a liability, so consider bringing a baby carrier.
- Public bathrooms are often poorly maintained, and baby changing tables are not common.
- For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.
- The great majority of hotels accept children without any problems; the most upscale may even offer babysitting services.
- The only places with possible minimum age restrictions are small boutique hotels or guesthouses.
- Hostels are usually not the best environment for kids, but a few welcome them.
- During summer, reserving a hotel with a pool can be a good idea. Also look for places with kitchenettes.
- Apartments are available, especially in BA; in less-urban holiday destinations you can look for cabañas (cabins) with full kitchens.
- Larger campgrounds often have cabañas, common cooking facilities and sometimes play structures.
- Most restaurants offer a selection of food suitable for children, such as vegetables, pasta, pizza, chicken and milanesas (breaded meat cutlets).
- Empanadas make good, healthy snacks that are fun to eat, and don’t forget to take the kids out for ice cream – it’s a real Argentine treat!
- When it comes to public transportation, Argentines are usually very helpful.
- Taxis and remises (radio taxis) are common, easy to arrange and safe.
Travellers with Disabilities
- Negotiating Argentina as a disabled traveler is not the easiest of tasks. Those in wheelchairs in particular will quickly realize that many cities’ narrow, busy and uneven sidewalks are difficult to negotiate. Crossing streets is also a problem, since not every corner has ramps (and those that exist are often in need of repair) and traffic can be ruthless when it comes to pedestrians and wheelchair users.
- A few buses do have piso bajo – they ‘kneel’ and have extra-large spaces – but the Subte (subway) in Buenos Aires does not cater to the mobility-impaired.
- International hotel chains often have wheelchair-accessible rooms, as do other less-fancy hotels. Some restaurants, tourist sights and public buildings have ramps, but bathrooms are not always wheelchair-accessible (in bigger cities, shopping malls are a good bet for these).
- In Buenos Aires, QRV Transportes Especiales offers private transportation and city tours in vans fully equipped for wheelchair users.
- Other than the use of Braille on ATMs, little effort has been dedicated to bettering accessibility for the vision impaired. Stoplights are rarely equipped with sound alerts.
- The Biblioteca Argentina Para Ciegos in Buenos Aires maintains a Braille collection of books in Spanish, as well as other resources.
- Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Also check out the following international organizations:
Flying Wheels Travel (www.flyingwheelstravel.com)
Mobility International USA (www.miusa.org)
Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (www.sath.org)
There are many opportunities for volunteering in Argentina, anywhere from food banks to villas miserias (shantytowns) to organic farms. Some ask just for your time (or a modest fee) while others charge hundreds of dollars (with not necessarily a high percentage of money going directly to those in need). Before choosing an organization, it’s good to talk to other volunteers about their experiences.
Aldea Luna (www.aldealuna.com.ar) Work on a farm in a nature reserve.
Anda Responsible Travel (www.andatravel.com.ar/en/volunteering) Buenos Aires travel agency supporting local communities.
Conservación Patagonica (www.conservacionpatagonica.org) Help to create a national park.
Eco Yoga Park (www.ecoyogavillages.org/volunteer-programs) Work on an organic farm, construct eco-buildings and teach local communities.
Fundación Banco de Alimentos (www.bancodealimentos.org.ar) Short-term work at a food bank.
Habitat for Humanity Argentina (www.hpha.org.ar) Building communities.
WWOOF Argentina (www.wwoofargentina.com) Organic farming in Argentina.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
- Being a woman traveling in Argentina can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you are young or alone. In some ways Argentina is a safer place for a woman than Europe, the USA and most other Latin American countries, but dealing with its machismo culture can be a real pain in the ass.
- Catcalling can be highly irritating. Verbal comments include crude language, hisses, whistles and piropos (flirtatious comments), which are often vulgar – although some can be eloquent.
- As tempting as it may be to respond, the best thing to do is completely ignore the comments.
- Chivalry is part of the fabric of life. Men frequently hold the door open for women and let them enter first, offer bus seats when people are standing or seat their female companions when dining.
- Unless you have a special skill, business and/or speak Spanish, it’s hard to find paid work in Argentina other than teaching English – or perhaps putting time in at a hostel or expat bar.
- Native English speakers usually work out of language institutes. Twenty hours a week of actual teaching is about enough for most people (note you aren’t paid for prep time or travel time, which can add another hour or two for each hour of teaching). Frustrations include dealing with unpleasant institutes, time spent cashing checks at the bank, classes being spread throughout the day and cancelled classes. Institute turnover is high and most people don’t teach for more than a year.
- A TEFL certification can certainly help but isn’t mandatory for all jobs (check out www.teflbuenosaires.com). You’ll make more money teaching private students, but it takes time to gain a client base. And you should take into account slow periods, such as December through February, when many locals leave town on summer vacation.
- To find a job, call up the institutes or visit expat bars and start networking. March is when institutes are ramping up their courses, so it’s the best time to find work. Many teachers work on tourist visas (which is not a big deal), heading over to Uruguay every three months for a new visa or visiting the immigration office for a visa extension.
- There are job postings at http://buenosaires.en.craigslist.org and you can try posting on expat Facebook groups or website forums such as www.baexpats.org.