26 Incredible Things To Do In Argentina: The Ultimate Guide For Curious Travellers
From thundering waterfalls to majestic mountains, from world-famous vineyards to awe-inspiring glaciers... Argentina is a beautiful place with diverse landscapes and a rich culture.
I lived in Argentina for two years and I've travelled to many different parts of the country. I still go back as often as possible.
I believe that Argentina has a LOT to offer, and I want you to be able to make the most of it.
In this article, I'll share 15 of the best things to do in Argentina with you. And more importantly, I'll help you get off the beaten track and the discover the places and things that will make your trip truly memorable.
So you can have the kind of meaningful experiences most tourists never have. Let's dive in...
This article is divided into divided into 6 sections. You can click on any of the sections in the menu below to jump to that part of the guide.
Ready to begin? Here goes...
Part 1: Famous "Tourist" Sites in Argentina
Let's begin with some of the most well known tourist sites in Argentina. Like many countries, Argentina has a number of well-known "must see" tourist destinations.
These are the places where you'll most likely meet a lot of other tourists - both Argentineans and foreigners. But trust me, the places on this list are some of the most incredible natural wonders in the entire world. So even if they are a bit busier, they're absolutely unmissable.
Marvel at the Iguazú Falls
A visit to Iguazú is one of those things that will leave you pondering the awesome power of nature.
It’s simply impossible to describe the feeling of standing beside the garganta del Diablo (“The Devil’s Throat”) at the heart of the falls as you watch hundreds of thousands of gallons of water pour downwards second after second.
Iguazú Falls are located in the north of Argentina, right at the border with Brazil and Paraguay, and the easiest way to get there is to fly from Buenos Aires or one of the major Brazilian cities.
(I went by bus from Buenos Aires, which takes 19 hours... but that's a story for another day).
I’d recommended going for a few days and basing yourself in Puerto Iguazú, a small but likeable town on the Argentine side of the border. From there, you can spend a day in the National Park on the Argentine side of the border where you'll walk right alongside many of the 180+ waterfalls in Igauzú.
To avoid the crowds, I recommend going early (the first bus from the town to the national park is around 7am) so you're there when the National Park opens. This will give you a chance to enjoy the famous garganta del Diablo waterfalls without the midday throng.
The next day of your trip, cross to Brazil and check out the National Park from the Brazilian side too.
Each side of the border has its own benefits. The Argentine side of Iguazú is more visceral and exciting - you’re up close with the waterfalls, walking in and around them.
But the Brazilian side gives you perspective. It’s not quite as exciting as the Argentine side, as you're further away from the waterfalls but it does have some spectacular panoramic views - great for photographers.
Gaze at the Perito Moreno Glacier in Calafate
Visiting the Perito Moreno glacier is an indescribable experience.
For a start, the sheer size of the glacier is something to behold. Covering a total area of 250km squared, it's bigger than the entire city of Buenos Aires!
But what's most awe-inspiring about the Perito Moreno glacier is how alive it is.
You can hear it creaking softly as rivers of water run through the inside of it. And every now and again you'll see a small section on the front of the glacier crack, break and fall into the lake below.
Perito Moreno isn't the biggest glacier in Patagonia, but what makes it unique is that it's the only one that is not receding.
While all of Patagonia's other glaciers are slowly shrinking as a result of global warming, Perito Moreno is actually constantly regenerating itself.
As chunks break and fall off from the front of the glacier, more ice forms high up at the top of the glacier to replace them.
If you're planning a trip to Argentina, Perito Moreno is one of the places that you should do everything you can to include in your itinerary.
Flights from Buenos Aires can unfortunately be quite expensive, but if you can afford it, it will be worth every penny.
Wander the Colourful Streets of La Boca
La Boca is probably Buenos Aires most recognisable neighbourhood both for its connections with tango music and Boca Juniors football club.
The neighbourhood as a whole is probably not the safest in Buenos Aires, and I'd recommend sticking to the most touristed areas around Caminito. It is the area where all the things to see and do are anyway.
Caminito is a small area of La Boca between the River Riachuelo and Boca Junior's Bombonera stadium. It's full of brightly painted houses and is now one of the most popular tourist spots in Buenos Aires.
Despite its bright colours, Caminito is a place with a sad history.
La Boca is where many poor immigrants settled when they arrived in Buenos Aires in the 19th century.
These immigrants came form all over Europe, but in particular from Genoa in Italy. In Argentina, many of them lived in overcrowded and squalid conditions which persisted until the early 20th century.
Ultimately, Argentina's famous tango music grew out of this impoverished setting, not unlike how samba music developed in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro.
Visit La Boca nowadays and you're sure to see tango dancers putting on shows in any one of the popular tourist bars. These dancers are not bad, but the locals will tell you they're far from the best either.
If you're interested in seeing the best tango dancers in action, you'd be far better to visit a local milonga (a special type of bar where people go to dance tango).
Fall in Love with Beautiful Mendoza (and its Incredible Wines!)
One of my favourite regions of Argentina is Mendoza, a land of wine and mountains.
The provincial capital city, also called Mendoza, is the epicentre, surrounded by majestic mountains and hundreds of acres of vineyards.
If you like hiking or mountaineering, you’ll love Mendoza - it’s just a couple of hundred kilometres from the Andes mountains and their highest peak - Aconcagua.
However, Mendoza is probably most famous for its wine - and with good reason!
There are hundreds of vineyards (large and small) surrounding the city and no trip to the region without be completely wihout going out and exploring them!
While in Mendoza, I visited a number of local vineyards, but my favourite was Kaiken. Their Ultra Malbec was sensational, or if you prefer white wine, I recommend their Torrontés.
If you have a car, driving is probably the easiest way to reach the vineyards, but you can also hire a bike and cycle or join a local wine tour.
Insider tip: When flying out of Mendoza, each passenger is allowed to take one box (6 bottles) of wine with them. This overrides the usual "no liquids" rule for flying and doesn't cost you a penny (well,... apart from what you pay for the wine itself!).
If Mendoza is just one stop on your trip, this might not make much difference to you, but if you're spending an extended period somewhere else in Argentina or flying home directly from Mendoza its a great excuse to take some of the world's best wine with you!
Enjoy a Delicious Argentine Asado
Argentina is not short on fantastic food.
But it's probably most famous for its beef.
And beef in Argentina means asado.
Asado is a Spanish word that literally means roast and it refers to a special way of cooking meat in Argentina (and other South American countries).
An asado is kind of like an Argentine barbecue, but done a little differently...
The first step is to start a small fire with some dry wood and charcoal.
Once the flames and smoke from your fire have faded, you'll be left with a pile of hot, smouldering charcoal.
The asador (the person who's cooking) will then shovel these hot embers out of the fire and place them below a metal grill (called a parilla).
The meat is then placed on top of the grill and cooks slowly over the course of a number of hours.
The foundation of a traditional Argentinean asado is beef (it can be one of many different cuts) but it's also common to include chorizo sausage, morcilla (blood sausage), chicken, lamb, pork and even provolone cheese. In short - anything that can be eaten can be part of an asado, and if it's meat, all the better.
That said, there are lots of vegetarian and vegan asado alternatives beginning to crop up in recent years, especially in Buenos Aires.
So if you're not a meat-eater, not to worry - you'll still be able to enjoy an authentic Argentina asado while on your trip.
Take in Stunning Scenery in Bariloche
Situated on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi lake, in the middle of an enormous national park that stretches over two million acres, Bariloche is one of Argentina's most beautiful regions.
And in a country that's not short on natural wonders, that's saying something!
Bariloche is the most visited region of Patagonia and one of the most popular destinations in Argentina all-year round.
In the summer you'll meet Argentineans and Brazilians on their summer holidays, and in the winter you'll meet skiers, as well as hoards of young Argentine teenagers on their viaje de egresados (a traditional high graduation holiday).
Sometimes called the "Switzerland" of South America, Bariloche is probably best known for 3 things:
- Artesanal beer
- Delicious local chocolate
- ...and it's magnificent 7 lakes
The best way to get to Bariloche is by plane, but once you land, it's well worth hiring a car despite the extortionate prices.
By driving, you'll be able to explore the National Park in peace without having to rely on local tour buses.
You'll also be able to visit parts of the region that tour buses simply can't easily get to such as the incredible Circuito Grande that features a long section of dirt road along the side of a mountain.
As you explore the park it's well worth taking some time to stop and hike some of the local trails or even take a dip in the lakes.
Both the trails and swimming spots are pretty clearly marked and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them.
Part 2: The Best of Buenos Aires
Just about everything in Argentina centres around Buenos Aires. It's not just the capital city but the country's cultural and political hub. Around a quarter of the entire population of Argentina lives in the greater Buenos Aires area.
I lived in the city for 2 years and I return each year, so I'd like to think I know the place pretty well! In this section, I'll share my picks for the "best of Buenos Aires". These are the iconic things to do and places to visit in Argentina's capital.
In later sections, I'll share some of my "off the beaten" track suggestions.
Visit Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada
The historic and political centre of Buenos Aires is the famous Plaza de Mayo.
It was here that the country first declared independence from Spain in 1816 and where families of people who disappeared during the country's military dictatorship in the 1970's gathered to protest.
Plaza de Mayo is also home to the Casa Rosada, or "pink house", Argentina's presidential palace.
The building dates back to 1713, long before Argentine independence and was originally used by the viceroys who ruled Argentina on Spain's behalf. Since independence it has been used by the Argentine government.
It was painted in its distinctive pink colour for the first time 1850, under the presidency of Domingo Sarmiento and has remained that colour ever since.
Buenos Aires main cathedral is also located in Plaza de Mayo. The building itself is not especially spectacular, at least not when compared to the magnificent gothic cathedrals of France or Germany.
But what it lacks in architectural innovation is made up for in historical importance.
The cathedral houses the tomb of José de San Martín, the famous general who helped liberate much of South America from Spanish rule including Argentina, Chile and Perú.
Even if you know nothing about San Martín now, his name will become very familiar before your trip to Argentina is over!
Argentineans name everything after their historical figures - streets, cities, buildings, football teams, you name it - and San Martín is probably the most popular of all.
Go to a Football Match in Buenos Aires
There are few things more synonymous with Argentina than football. No matter where you in the world you go, mention Argentina and people will immediately think of Messi or Maradona.
And it’s true… Argentina lives and breathes football.
When the national team plays, the whole country stops to watch. Even if that means closing bars, restaurants and offices for a few hours to do so.
The two biggest clubs (and old rivals) in the country are River Plate and Boca Juniors. Both teams are based in Buenos Aires and trace their history back to the La Boca neighbourhood of the city, though River Plate have since moved to a different part of the city.
Their histories are strongly intertwined with the immigration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that has played such a pivotal role in Argentine history.
Soak Up the Atmosphere at the Obelisco
Arguably Buenos Aires most iconic monument is the Obelisco, or Obelisk, located in the middle of city's main avenue - 9 de Julio.
It was built in 1936 to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city.
The monument's design is plain and simple - artistically, it's nothing to write home about.
But its location at the very centre of Argentina's main avenue has made it iconic and today it is the heart of the city - a meeting point for celebrations, political rallies, concerts and protests.
When one of Buenos Aires big football teams wins a tournament, it is common for thousands of fans to gather at the Obelisco to celebrate.
Take a Stroll through Recoleta
Recoleta is one of Buenos Aires oldest and most "gentrified" neighbourhoods and it is where you'll find most of the foreign embassies.
It's also home to a huge cemetery, where many of Argentina's most famous historical figures are buried, including Eva Peron.
The cemetery is like a small city in itself, with "street after street" of magnificent stone tombs.
Even if you don't know anything about Argentine history and won't recognise the names, it's worth spending an hour getting lost in the maze of the cemetery and soaking in the atmosphere of the place.
Enjoy a Boat Trip on the Tigre Delta
Just to the north of the city of Buenos Aires lies a town called Tigre, which is built on an island formed by several small rivers and streams.
It's easy to get to from the city (just take a train), and a trip to Tigre makes for a peaceful and relaxing escape from the Buenos Aires.
The town is home to a lovely artisan's market and from the riverside you can take boat trips that bring you out into the heart of the delta (or even take a ferry across to Uruguay!).
Take a Tour of the Teatro Colón
Not far from the Obelisco, right in the heart of Buenos Aires, you'll find the beautiful Teatro Colón, Argentina's premier opera house.
Argentina has a history of wanting to imitate European culture and architecture and the Teatro Colón is a great example of this. It was built in 1908, at a time when Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world and Buenos Aires was known as the Paris of South America.
Argentineans will proudly boast that the Colón is the most magnificent opera house in the world and actually... they have a point!
The acoustics of Teatro Colón have been voted the best in the world for opera and it is widely recognised as being up there with La Scala in Milan, the Met in New York or the Royal Opera House in London as one of the best concert venues in the world.
Personally, I haven't been to an opera in the theatre but did attend a ballet there and both the sound and the setting were truly wonderful. I've also been to the Royal Opera House in London and I can confirm that the Colón compares favourably!
The building itself is beautiful from the outside and there's a lovely park behind it that's worth a visit too. If you have the time, it's worth paying the entry fee to join a tour that takes you inside.
Part 3: Argentina's Hidden Gems
In this section, I'll share some of Argentina's best "hidden" gems.
These were some of my favourite things to do in Argentina and I think they'll make your trip more meaningful too.
Visit Mar del Plata... in Winter!
Mar del plata is located on the Atlantic coast of the Province of Buenos Aires, about 5 hours drive from the capital. It’s the biggest beach resort in Argentina and one of the country’s main fishing ports.
Every summer, the country receives millions of tourists (mostly Argentines) and is the “hub city” of the Atlantic coastal region, which is Argentina’s “beach resort” area.
Hardly an "Anti-Tourist" hideaway.
So why on earth is it on this list?
Even the most busy tourist destinations in the world can be fascinating if you visit out of season. And Mar del plata is a great example!
It’s an important fishing city and naval base, it hosted 6 matches in the 1978 World Cup and is the home of one of Argentina’s most successful and famous companies - Havanna - that produces alfajores (a delicious local treat)
So actually, when tourists go home, there’s plenty to enjoy in Mar del Plata
That’s why I suggest visiting in winter or spring. Go in September or October (end of winter/beginning of spring in Argentina) and you’ll have the beaches to yourself. It will be far too cold to do any swimming or sunbathing but you’ll be able to walk and appreciate the ocean.
You’ll also be able to enjoy the city’s best seafood restaurants without queuing for a table.
I also strongly recommend visiting La Cabaña Del Bosque on the edge of town. It’s a small tea house in a forest at the south of the city.
It might not be the most “Argentine” place you’ll visit on your trip. But after all, having authentic experiences when you travel doing more than just visiting places that fit the stereotypes.
In fact, it’s normally the less stereotypical places and activities that teach you more about local life.
Disconnect from the World in El Chaltén, Patagonia
El Chaltén is a small village in Patagonia, located near the base of Mt. FitzRoy, one of the most famous mountains in Latin America.
It’s known as Argentina’s “Trekking Capital” due to its location close to a number of excellent trails, with spectacular views of mountains, glaciers and Patagonian forest.
And with good reason!
Of all the places I’ve visited over the years, El Chaltén just might be my favourite.
The reason is it’s incredible location at the foot of some of the Andes' most iconic mountains.
This means there’s not just one or two, but countless great hiking trails accessible from the village.
The primary trails in the area are of moderate difficulty and can each be completed in a single day, while using the village as your base.
But if you’re more experienced or adventurous, you can also undertake multi-day treks and camp at one of the many campsites dotted throughout the National Park.
In my opinion, the most spectacular (but also the most popular) is the hike to Laguna de los Tres, a small lake at the base of Mt. FitzRoy.
The last section is quite steep and you’ll want to be in good shape to tackle it but the magnificent setting at the end is well worth the effort.
This hike can be done in a day and takes about 8 hours in total.
At the edge of the village, there is also a short trail, leading up a hill about 100m tall. From here you have a birds-eye view of the village on one side and magnificent view of the seemingly endless Patagonian Steppe on the other.
For this view point, it’s also quite common to be able to see condors, the Andes most iconic bird, gliding through the sky above.
The Andean condor is a vulture and is the largest flying bird in the world. It can have a wingspan of up to 3.3 metres.
As scavengers, condors don’t generally hunt their own prey. Instead, they search for the carcasses of large animals like deer or cattle that have died naturally or been killed by other animals and feed from the remains.
Because of this, these birds perform a very important ecological job in Patagonia, as a sort of natural clean-up crew. They’re pretty fascinating creatures!
Spend a Weekend in Rosario
Located 300km north of Buenos Aires, on the banks of the river Paraná, Rosario is the 3rd most populous city in Argentina after Buenos Aires and Córdoba.
The city is of great economic importance to Argentina with almost 70% of the country’s production of cereals passing through its ports.
Rosario’s most famous landmark is its National Flag monument, located on the riverside, close to the city centre. This imposing monument was built in 1957 and features a large tower, 70 metres tall, which can be climbed by visitors.
The view from the top isn’t exactly breathtaking, to be honest, but its still worth doing because it will help you gain a better understanding of Rosario’s location on the banks of the river and its geographical importance.
The city is probably best known for its most famous sons… socialist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and football superstar Lionel Messi.
In fact, you can still see the place where Guevara lived in Rosario now. It’s located in a neoclassical building at number 480, Entre Rios street; though it’s a private apartment now so you can’t go inside.
Rosario is also a lovely place to chill out and there are few more peaceful things to do than relaxing like the locals do in the beautiful Parque de la Independencia or taking a stroll along the riverside.
Discover Argentina’s German Heritage in Villa General Belgrano
When we think of Argentina, most of us think of a rich Spanish and Italian heritage. But did you know that the next largest immigrant population in Argentina is of German descent?
As a result, Argentina has lots of strong German cultural influences and there are few better places to discover these German links than in Villa General Belgrano.
The story of Villa General Belgrano is a fascinating one... This small mountain village in the province of Córdoba, central Argentina, was founded in 1930, by two German speculators attracted by its agricultural potential.
But wasn’t until around 10 years later, during the Second World War that the village really began to take off.
In 1940, there was a naval battle between Britain and Germany not far from the Uruguayan coast - the Battle of the River Plate.
How on earth Britain and Germany ending up fighting a sea battle in South America, thousands of miles from home I’m not quite sure…
(Both Argentina & Uruguay were neutral at this point of the war).
… but that’s a question for another day!
Anyway, after losing the battle, German seamen sunk their battleship, off the coast of the Montevideo, Uruguay and decided to stay in South America.
Where did they settle?
You guessed it… Villa General Belgrano!
The influence of these first German settlers is felt very strongly in the village even today. German newspapers are available in shops, the local church offers masses in both German and Spanish, and the town’s architecture is mostly Bavarian.
Visit the Andes & Hike the Aconcagua Trail
It’s quiz time…
Can you name the tallest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas?
Or the tallest mountain in South America?
The answer to both questions is the same… Aconcagua.
Just a few hours drive from the city of Mendoza in western Argentina, Aconcagua is Argentina (and South America’s) tallest mountain at 6,962 metres.
As you might imagine with such a tall mountain, climbing to the summit of Aconcagua is difficult and recommended only for experienced mountaineers.
However, hiking part of the trail is very doable as long as you’re in good shape and it’s well worth the effort!
One of the reasons I love hiking so much is that by getting out and spending some time in nature, you can build a “geographical” map of what a place is like.
It’s an incredible way to gain a better understanding of the world we live in.
Anyway, back to Aconcagua...
The first part of the route, as far as the Confluencia camp can be done in a single day, and that’s exactly what I did when I visited.
It’s a 16km round trip and takes around 5-6 hours. It’s not an easy hike, but its not especially difficult either. If you’re in decent shape, you shouldn’t have any problem with it.
As for the views...
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hike further, to Plaza Francia, which offers a stunning view of the south face of Aconcagua. This is a 3 day round trip and is generally done with a local guide.
The best way to get to Aconcagua is to take a bus from Mendoza to Puente del Inca, a tiny village a couple of kilometres from where the trail starts. There are couple of small refugios (paid shelters) there where you can stay overnight before or after your hike.
When we did the hike, we arrived the evening before and stayed overnight at Refugio El Nico, which I highly recommend. Roberto (the owner) and his family were extremely friendly and accommodating.
Part 4: Sample Local Life in Argentina
The only way to get to the heart of a place is to see how the locals live. In this section, I'll share 6 things do do in Argentina to experience the country like a local.
Try Fernet with Coke
You can’t say you’ve sampled local life in Argentina if you haven’t tried fernet con coca (fernet with coke).
Fernet is a type of Italian-style herb liqueur, made from herbs and spices and it’s one of most popular alcoholic drinks in Argentina.
Fernet originally comes from Italy, but was introduced to Argentina by Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (a common theme with Argentina’s food and drink!)
Despite, its Italian origins, fernet is traditionally associated with the province of Córdoba. It’s now one of Argentina’s most popular drinks and the country accounts for more than 75% of global Fernet consumption!
In Argentina, Fernet is traditionally mixed with Coca-Cola, to make fernet con coca, and is rarely drunk straight.
I’ll be honest, it’s an acquired taste - my brother told me he thought it tasted like mouthwash! - but as Argentina’s most popular social drink, it’s something you have to try!
Enjoy an Ice-Cream in Buenos Aires Best Heladerías
Something you’ll quickly discover on your trip to Argentina is that the locals LOVE ice-cream.
In fact, ice-cream is so popular in Argentina, that heladerías (ice-cream parlours) don’t just sell standard cones and cups… You can order ice-cream by the kilo, delivered in a bucket or container you can bring home and keep in your freezer!
So why is ice-cream so popular in Argentina?
It’s not just the summer heat… in fact, it’s another example of Argentina’s strong ties with Italy and Italian culture.
Italy, of course, is famous all over the world for its gelato (ice-cream). And this is just another of a long list of things that Italian immigrants brought to Argentina over 100 years ago.
Argentine ice-cream is known for two things:
- Variety of flavours
Most heladerías in Argentina will have at least 20+ flavours available to choose from and a combination of ice-creams and fruit sorbets.
The most popular flavour is dulce de leche (a little like caramel), but chocolate and fruit combinations are also common.
There are a lot of ice-cream parlours to choose from, including both franchises and local producers.
If you travel around the country, you’ll find that most towns and villages will have their own local artisanal ice-cream shops.
In Buenos Aires, my favourite places to get ice-cream are Arnaldo, CR and Daniel. Try the dulce de leche or dark chocolate flavours in any one of these heladerías and you’re in for a treat!
Taste Some of the Best Pizza in the World in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is home to the best pizza in the world.
I know, I know… my Italian friends will be up in arms!
But having spent a fair bit of time in both Italy and Argentina, I stand by my claim.
If you like homemade pizza that’s heavy on the cheese and loaded with fresh ingredients, you can’t go wrong in Buenos Aires.
Pizza first arrived in the city in the second half of the 19th century, with the first waves of mass immigration from Italy. It first became popular in the port neighbourhood of La Boca and pizzerias soon began to crop up all over the city.
The most famous and unique Argentine pizza is the fugazza con queso, which has a bread base, covered in cheese and onions. It’s one of the two most popular types of pizza in Argentina, alongside the napolitana (tomato sauce, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes).
There are hundreds of excellent and delicious pizzerias in Buenos Aires to choose from, but some of the best and most famous are Güerrín, El Cuartito, El Palacio de la Pizza, or Banchero (inventor of the fugazza con queso).
Personally, I’ve eaten at Güerrín and El Cuartito and both were sublime.
The other two are on my bucket list for my next trip. 😉
Chill Out with Mate in the Forests of Palermo
In recent years, mate has begun to take Europe by storm with South American footballer players and coaches making the drink famous.
Mate is prepared by steeping dried leaves of the yerba mate plant in hot water in a small, rounded cup called a mate. Mates were traditionally made of hollowed out calabash but nowadays, most mates are made of plastic or metal. The drink is consumed with a metal straw called a bombilla.
It was first drunk by the native Guaraní and Tupí peoples of Paraguay and southern Brazil, but today the drink is associated with gaucho (cowboy) culture.
Mate has a strong cultural significance not just in Argentina, but in Paraguay and Uruguay too. It's an important feature of social gatherings in these countries and is also connected with national identity.
In fact, I once saw a man drinking mate while cycling his bike in Montevideo, Uruguay!
Mate is traditionally drunk in a particular social setting, such as family gatherings or with friends. It’s common to take a flask of hot water and a bag of yerba with you when going on road trip, meeting friends in the park or getting together for a catch-up.
Normally, one person will be the server. They’ll fill up a flask with water and prepare the mate.
Then, the mate is passed around the group, one by one, each person drinking before passing the mate back to the server who refills is it and passes it on to the next person.
Just remember… DON’T say gracias (thank you) to the server until you’re finished and don’t want any more mate!
Saying gracias is considered a way of saying “thanks, I’ve had enough” in mate culture. So if you say gracias after your first drink, you can expect to be excluded on the next round!
My recommendation is to do like the locals do and head down to one of Buenos Aires parks, such as the Palermo forests, on a sunny afternoon, to relax with friends and a share a mate.
Explore the History of Tango at the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel
One of Argentina's most famous export is of course... Tango.
Tango began in the 1880s in bars and brothels at ports in Argentina and Uruguay, including La Boca.
It's the result of the fusions of various regional music and dance styles belonging to the different immigrant people who lived in these areas.
Tango had its heyday in the early 20th century. It became popular internationally in the 1910s as Argentine orchestras began to tour Europe and North America.
The most iconic representative of tango was Carlos Gardel, a singer, songwriter and actor who gained international fame.
Gardel was born in 1890 in Toulouse, France but emigrated to Argentina at the age of three with his mother and spent most of his life in Buenos Aires.
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s Gardel’s work was hugely popular and influential. He’s credited with writing several classic tango songs.
Gardel died tragically in a plane crash in Colombia in 1935 when he was at the height of his popularity.
Nowadays, one of the best places to learn about Gardel and about the rise in popularity of tango in the early 20th century is the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel in Buenos Aires.
The museum is located in the house where Gardel lived with his mother from 1927 to 1933. In the museum, you’ll not only learn about Gardel’s life and work, but also have the chance to listen to his most famous recordings and watch clips from his most popular films.
Discover Rock Nacional Music
Argentina’s most famous musical export is tango, but if you’re a music lover, you won’t want to miss out on the country’s excellent local rock music.
Argentine rock began by recycling hits of English-language rock & roll. However a rising trend of composing new songs mostly in Spanish can be traced to the late 1960s, when groups such as Almendra and Sui Generis began composing songs and lyrics that related to local social and musical themes.
A distinguishing trait of Argentine rock is its insistence on Spanish language lyrics. It's rare for an Argentine rock band to sing in a foreign language as is common in other countries (except to convey a sense of artistic freedom, or in an attempt to express a particular message or aesthetic).
Argentine Rock Nacional is also one of the principal predecessors of the cultural and musical movement in Latin America known since the 80's as Rock Latino.
Here are some of my favourite Rock Nacional albums to check out to get you started..
- Almendra - Almendra (1969)
- Artaud - Pescado Rabioso (1973)
- Clics Modernos - Charly García (1983)
- Canción Animal - Soda Stereo (1991)
Have a listen to some of these albums here, then leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
3 Things to Do in Argentina to Have the Trip of a Lifetime
A trip to Argentina is about more than just the sights, sounds and tastes.
If you want to get to the heart of this beautiful country and have the most authentic experience possible, you need to go a little further.
These final 3 things to do in Argentina require a little more effort... but you get out what you put in!
Learn the Basics of Spanish
The first guaranteed way to have a better trip is to learn a little of the local language before you go.
Learn the basics of Spanish and you'll be able to connect with people and come across as more than just another gringo tourist.
If you're short on time, the best thing to do is to learn some basic every day words and phrases that you can use to talk to people on your trip. Even just making the effort to say "hello", "goodbye", "please" and "thank you" in Spanish will earn you a lot of good will with local people who can see that you're trying!
If you have a more time and want to go further with your Spanish, I recommend checking out Spanish Uncovered, a comprehensive beginner Spanish course created by my friend Olly Richards. I personally helped produce the course and I can vouch for it's quality - you won't find anything better as a beginner learner.
If you speak some Spanish already, you'll quickly notice on your trip that the way people speak in Argentina is a little bit different from other Spanish speaking countries.
The most obvious difference is the Spanish “ll” sound which sounds like an English ‘y’ in most countries, but makes a ’sh’ sound in Argentina. For example, let's take a look at the phrase "my name is"...
- Most countries: me llamo (may ya-mo)
- Argentina: me llamo (may she-mo)
You'll also notice that there a few interesting slang words used in Argentina that you won't hear in other countries.
If you can learn a few words in the local dialect, locals are sure to be proud and impressed!
Learn about Argentine History (Before You Travel)
Argentina is a country with a short, but rich history and your trip will be much more meaningful if you take the time learn a bit more about its history in advance.
You've probably heard of some of Argentina's more famous figures like Che Guevara and Evita, but how much do you really know about the country?
Did you know that it was once one of the richest countries in the world before a dramatic fall from grace in the second half of the 20th century?
Or that the country is still dealing with the consequences of a military dictatorship in the 1970's that saw thousands of people disappear?
It's only by learning about events like these that you can truly understand Argentina and its place in the world.
It will also help you to better understand modern Argentina and why the country is the way it is today.
Insider tip: One of the best places to learn about Argentine history during your trip is the excellent Museo Bicentenario.
The only downsid is that the information in the museum is only in Spanish! If you can read Spanish though, it’s definitely worth the visit.
Talk to the Locals about Their Culture… They’ll Be More than Happy to Chat!
There's no better way to learn about a place than to chat with the local people.
And this is especially true in Argentina, where people are generally friendly and sociable. They'll be delighted to talk to you!
If you can start the conversation with a few words of Spanish to show them you're really making an effort, even better!
Show an Argentinean that you're interested in their country and they'll happily talk to you for hours.
In my experience, there are few things Argentineans love more than telling people why their country is the best in the world... and why it's a terrible mess at the same time.
And you know what... I think they're probably right on both counts.
Argentina is far from perfect... but there's no doubt that it's one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
You're Ready for Your Argentinean Adventure!
So there you have it, everything you need to know to have an unforgettable trip (or 2 or 3!) to Argentina.
I hope that, armed with the tips and advice in this article, you'll have a wonderful adventure and come back with just as many memories and stories I did.
Which of the things to do in Argentina from this guide are you most excited about? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Resources Related To This Article
The Anti-Tourist Club
The Anti-Tourist Club is a training and support centre for curious adventurers who want to do travel differently.
It is where anti-tourists like you and I come together with a common mission:
To put learning at the heart of our adventures and unlock the kinds of meaningful travel experiences most tourists never have.
The Penguin History Of Latin America
If you're planning a trip to South America and you only have time to read one book before you go, The Penguin History Of Latin America would be my number one recommendation.
This book does a superb job of simplify Latin America's complicated history and condensing it into 400 pages.
It also has individual chapters on many countries meaning you can dive deep into Argentina's history specifically.
In Spanish Uncovered, you'll learn to speak Spanish through the power of story. Olly Richards' comprehensive beginner programme teaches you Spanish through a fun and natural method that makes learning a pleasure, and grammar a breeze! If you're interested in learning Spanish from beginner up to intermediate level ahead of your next adventure, Olly's course is my top recommendation.
Argentina: A Modern History
There are not that many really good general histories of Argentina in English but Jill Hedges is the best I've come across so far.
The main strength of this book is that it is able to present complicated local politics in a way that's easy for a foreign reader to understand.
Tango in La Boca: Pit Thompson on Flickr
Asado photo: De Gdiaz - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1396689
Havanna alfajores photo: David (https://www.flickr.com/photos/99255685@N00/1282100536) on Flickr
Rosario flag monument photo: Lu6fpj / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Rosario Parque de la Independencia photo: Leonardo Samrani on Flickr
El Chaltén sign: De MGPanoramico - https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgpanoramico/3133423046/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9645906
Fernet photo: Photo by Beatrice Murch on Flickr
Fugazza pizza photo: De Aleposta - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24697226
Pizzeria Guerrín: This photo of Pizzeria Guerrin is from Tripadvisor
Bosques de palermo photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%ADa_soleado_en_los_Bosques_de_Palermo.jpg