Top Tips for travelling in Argentina
South America is increasingly popular as a travel destination for students and tourists alike. Argentina, which is the second largest country in South America after Brazil, offers travellers diverse landscapes to explore – including rain forest and the Andean mountain range. Its landscape and traditions offer a unique sense of adventure, opportunities and experiences off the beaten track. Here are our highlights of this beautiful country:
Argentina’s spectacular capital is a sprawling hive of activity with a distinctly European feel to its central districts.
You’ll be able to take a tango class in one of the many Milongas (tango clubs): find a partner and learn the etiquette. You can even practise outdoors on a warm evening in bustling town squares such as Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo, the oldest neighbourhood in the city.
You’ll also discover the finest grass-fed beef, juicy and succulent, enjoyed as an asado. This is a traditional Argentinian barbeque, a finely honed ritual in a country where the consumption of meat has been elevated to near-religious status.
If you are dining at a Parilla (grill) you’ll also have the chance to ask about different cuts of meat, and sample the local chimichurri. This sauce, which contains garlic, onion, herbs and oil, is delicious with meat and comes in many varieties – each one individual to the establishment in which it is served.
Top tip: Pick up a ‘Guia-T’ from a magazine stall near a bus-stop. These guides provide an A-Z of the city. Each page is divided into a map with a grid overlay, and a corresponding grid opposite showing all the bus routes going through that area.
When you decide you have conquered the art of the barbeque, it’s time to master the choice of the accompanying wine. Mendoza is Argentina’s main region for the production of red wine, and is famous for its Malbec. There is white wine too, but most of this is produced in the north of the country, around Salta, where the altitude provides perfect conditions for the Torrontes grape variety.
As well as the bodegas (wineries) you are bound to come across producers of spirits, olive growers, and other surprises. If you plan to buy some wine, make sure you’ve got your travel money as many of the wineries won’t take cards. It could also be difficult to find an ATM or exchange facilities when off the beaten track.
Top tip: There are many wine tours to choose from. Consider a bicycle wine tour, where you’ll be supplied with a map and a bicycle, and are free to explore the largely flat region at your own pace, under dappled sunlight.
Argentina stretches from the dry, hot north to the southernmost point of any continent besides Antarctica, so pack for all conditions. For keen skiers, worth a visit is San Carlos de Bariloche, which is about two-thirds of the way down. The alpine ski-town has some of the most stunning and accessible panoramic views in the world: some peaks can be reached by chair-lift or just an hour’s short hike.
Although predominantly a ski-town, there is plenty to enjoy even in hot weather. Epic cycle routes, camping among forests and glistening lakes, fly fishing, walking, horse-riding and paragliding are just some of the activities on offer. There are also a number of chocolate shops and factories offering tours – look out for the chocolate Mamushka’s (Russian dolls), which make an adorable gift.
There are a number of ways to get to and from Bariloche from Buenos Aires. Journeys with the bus company Via Bariloche can take around 24 hours but their vehicles are very comfortable. For a small extra sum (usually around £10) you can go first class and enjoy a flat bed, hot meal, movies, and a tipple of whisky or champagne before bed.
Top tip: Bariloche can be affected by adverse weather conditions and nearby Chilean volcanoes, so check the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO website for) travel advice before you go. Argentina is generally a safe place to visit, but like any unfamiliar country, it's wise to do your research in advance and take appropriate safety measures – especially at night.
It's also a good idea to make sure you have the right travel insurance in place before travelling, which could cover you against loss or theft of valuables and emergency medical expenses (including repatriation) should you get injured or fall ill. Make sure that any activities you plan to do are also covered – such as sporting activities like skiing or hiking.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance
Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.