Learn all the travel tips to enjoy the amazing and varied landscapes of Argentina
My personal list of handy Argentina travel tips. All first hand knowledge - written during my travels in Argentina.
All the tips have been categorised into sections. Just click on each tab to open fully and start reading.
- Argentina has an excellent bus network. However,the further south you travel, the less the frequency.
- There are four main classes of bus travel:-
Comun (common): the most basic and cheapest class;
Semi cama (semi sleeper): Regular bus with footrest maybe. Seats don’t recline much. Set in 2-2 configuration (2 seats – aisle – 2 seats);
Cama Ejectivo: Seats recline further than semi-cama buses, wider seats, more comfortable. Usually have a 2-1 configuration (2 seats – aisle – 1 seat).
Cama suite (full sleeper): highest class of bus that provides fully reclining seats. Some companies will have individual entertainment systems. Usually have 2-1 configuration. The best class for overnight travel.
- The buses can be con/sin servicio (with/without service). This means whether meals are included. If meals are not included, bring your own or buy at cafeteria stops enroute.
- I always recommend to bring some US cash with you. Unfortunately, Argentina still struggles with its finances, so there may be times you can't use credit cards or withdraw from ATMs. Furthermore, it can happen without warning. For example, when the all the banks shut down one day, I had to bus it across to Chile to withdraw money from the ATM and then returned into Argentina to continue with my journey.
Argentina travel tips by City
BUENOS AIRES TIPS
- Travelling from the airport, a taxi can cost around $30 - $48. Which is great if 2 or more people are sharing. On the other hand, for a cheaper option take the Manuel Tienda Leon airport shuttle bus for approx. US$13 – a 40 minute journey. Taking the public bus system is cheaper again but will involve a 2-3 hour journey!
- For shopaholics, you will need a couple of days to stroll down Sante Fe street. It consists of 30 blocks or so of a wide variety of shops including clothing, shoes plus some homewares and fashion accessories. There is a big shopping mall (Alto Palermo) towards the end of the street. On the other hand, walk along the outdoor pedestrian shopping malls of Florida and Lavalle streets in downtown area.
- If you’re on a tight budget, there is decent cheap food in the downstairs food court of Galeria Pacifico on Florida Street.
- Don’t plan shopping days on weekends because half the shops are closed on Saturdays and most are closed on Sundays. Only the large shopping malls are open, such as Galeria Pacifico or Alto Palermo.
- The best Sunday markets are at the vibrant Plaza Dorrego, located in the heart of San Telmo area. The cute cobblestone streets are filled with antique shops and stalls, café bars with live tango music, art displays and professional tango dancers showcasing their talents in the streets.
- For a relaxing chill out day away from the city, take a 45 minute train to Tigre. It’s a beautiful quiet area in the delta region of the Parana. In short, it has nice streets, nice houses, not so noisy, no traffic and is clean. Boating tours through the delta is a major attraction with several different circuits to choose from. Or walk along Paseo Victoria, which is a renovated boardwalk along the river.
- Even if you’re not sports mad, try to schedule in attending a game of football (called soccer in other parts of the world). Most certainly the best game to watch is between the two famous rivals – Boca Juniors and River Plate. It’s quite an adventure – had a brick thrown at us on the bus (from a Boca fan to a River fan), almost got crushed to death standing in queue at the stadium and police on horses keeping everyone in line with sticks. Sounds scary but once inside there was lots of singing, streamers, confetti, fires in the stands, fireworks in team colours. I really enjoyed the game.
- Buller Pub and Brewery in trendy Recoleta district, brew their own beers. Loved the honey beer.
- Certainly the most beautiful hike to do in Bariloche is Cerro Frey. Take a 20 minute taxi or bus ride to the ski resort of Cerro Catedral. Then its approximately a 3.5 hour hike up. At first, the trail is easy going for the first two hours with nice views of the river and Bariloche. However, the last 40 minutes is quite steep and you may have to cross a flowing river over rocks. Thus once at the top, there are magnificent views of Laguna Toncek surrounded by snow-capped rocky mountains. If you have time, the trail continues further up to another lake. Likewise, you can also continue even further to other mountains, for example, a one way 3 day hike to Llao Llao.
- The other major attraction at Bariloche are the big lakes. You can do day cruises on these lakes. Or for an adventure do the one day Lakes Crossing (Cruce de Lagos) across to Puerto Montt in Chile, which is much more scenic and exciting than going by road with the bus. The crossing consists of 25km drive to the first lake, 1.5 hour boat ride across Lago Nahuel Huapi (surrounded on both sides with high rocky green mountains), a short bus ride to the next lake, then a 20 minute boat ride across Lago Frias, which you go through Argentine immigration, then a 2 hour bus ride over the Andes through the national park of Paso de Perez Rosales, which you go through Chilean immigration and board the last boat ride to cross the third lake Lago Todos Los Santos (great views of the towering Volcan Osorno). Then finally a bus ride to our final destination of Puerto Montt. Although, I highly recommend staying at the quaint village of Puerto Varas instead.
EL CHALTEN TIPS - Los Glaciares National Park
- El Chalten is a small village in this national park, the gateway to some spectacular hikes, namely to Cerro Torres and Cerro Fitz Roy.
- If you camp on the trail, I highly recommend waking up early in the morning to view the sunrise over both of these peaks. For Cerro Fitz Roy, it’s a 1 hour steep hike from the camp to Lago de Las Tres, which is a perfect spot to view the suns rays hitting Cerro Fitz Roy with pink skies and a deep turquoise blue coloured lake in the foreground.
- If you don’t have camping gear, you can hike to each peak as one day walks from El Chalten.
- There are about 4 mini supermarkets in this small village. You do have to shop at all four to find the best of everything, especially fruit.
- I found Chalten Travel to be extremely helpful with information and bus fares.
EL CALAFATE TIPS - Perito Moreno Glacier
- El Calafate is the base town to explore the star attraction of Perito Moreno Glacier. You can visit by an organised bus tour (makes stops at viewpoints for photos) or take the direct public mini bus (with various departure times).
- You will have to pay separately for the park entrance fee.
- I recommend taking the earliest bus to the park so you can have the lookouts to yourself before the other tourists arrive!
- They offer boat cruises (separate payment) to cruise along the glacier. But I didn’t think it was worth it because the boats don’t really get any closer as they need to keep distance due to constant ice calving.
- The town did offer an option to visit Glacier Upsala but many people we spoke to said it's not as grand or impressive as Perito Moreno.
- The local specialty dish is Centolla (King crab). It can be served in many forms, such as soups, stews, shredded, salads, legs only etc. But I recommend ordering the entire crab and dissect it yourself with cutters. Volver restaurant was average in taste, but it seemed that everyone was going to El Viejo Marino restaurant. At any rate, no matter which restaurant you choose, check they serve fresh crab (not frozen) and that they charge by the crab, not by weight.
- One of the highlights of this town is a cruise around Beagle Channel. There are many companies offering boat cruises ranging in prices. However, all make the three standard stops of the seal colony, the bird colony and the lighthouse. The difference in prices is the type of boat and any extras included, for example, hiking on island or indulge in chocolate & cognac.
- If you like hiking, I highly recommend the Guanaco Trail in Parque Nacional Tierra Fuego because its the best of all the trails in this national park due to the magnificent views. If you have more time, you can camp overnight here and explore the other trails. Buses depart almost hourly from town centre to the national park.
- For a smaller hike under 1.5 hours, I recommend the Martial Glacier hike, specifically for the great views of Ushuaia and Beagle Channel. Just take the bus from town centre to the base of the ski area.