The world's eighth largest country, Argentina has it all, with glaciers in the South, beach resorts in the East, jungle in the North and mountainscapes in the West. When Argentina defaulted on its debts in 2001 the country went into economic meltdown, however things have recently taken a turn for the better and while the Argentines may well be more cynical than ever, they remain extremely generous, welcoming and hospitable. Though prices are slowly climbing they are still well below their pre-crash heights, making travelling in Argentina extremely good value.
The official language is Spanish and it is spoken by the entire population. Argentine Spanish, or español rioplatense, is slightly different to the Spanish spoken in the Iberian peninsular, or in the rest of South America in that it uses an archaic form for the second person singular, though this shouldn't be cause for concern. The first language of some Argentines in the North may well be quechua or guaraní while some Welsh is spoken near Puerto Madryn.
Outside Buenos Aires a surprisingly small number of people speak or understand English, though Italian and Portuguese often come in useful.
Habla usted inglés? - Do you speak EnglishCuanto cuesta un cuarto? - How much is a room?Como hago para ir a Jujuy? - How can I get to Jujuy?
Argentine Peso, exchange rate approx. £1 : 5.8 pesos (August 2006)
Argentina is a country of meteorological extremes. The climate of the North, around Iguazu or Jujuy, or towards the Bolivian, Paraguayan or Brazilian borders, is tropical with temperatures high all year around.
Patagonia, in the South, is excessively cold in the winter, though many Argentines holiday there in the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the plains and the North. Likewise with the mountains ranges of the West that offer moderate temperatures in the summer and skiing in the winter. The climate of Buenos Aires itself, and the plains surrounding it, is particularly seasonal, with temperatures climbing to 40° in the summer and falling below 0° in the winter.
Argentina's attractions are inexhaustible. The country's capital, Buenos Aires, known as the 'Paris of the South', is a grand, elegant city with a huge variety of sights. Excellent for the cultural tourist, visitors can explore its many museums, discover its vibrant music scene and watch two of South America's greatest football teams, River Plate and Boca Juniors.
Past Buenos Aires, lie the pampa, huge flat plains, ideal for farming and the secret behind Argentina's amazing beef. Many estancias - ranches - open their doors to visitors, offering sports, including horse-riding and polo, and the chance to enjoy the country lifestyle and food.
In the North, the waterfalls of Iguazu are a must. Higher than the Niagara Falls and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they emerge from thick jungle and mark the border between Argentina and Brazil. The landscape in the Northwestern provinces of Jujuy and Salta, is sparse, desolate and enthralling. Trek across the region's multi-coloured mountains, marvel at the stunning scenery and sample the local indigenous culture, markedly different from that of ‘European’ Buenos Aires.
In the East, the Andes stretch down to the country's Southern tip. The exquisite mountain town of San Martin de los Andes is surrounded by seven large lakes all of which can be explored by boat, while lower down the sleepy town of Mendoza is bang in the middle of Argentina's increasingly acclaimed vineyards. The area is excellent for hiking, though walkers will have trouble dragging themselves away from the vineyards' numerous shops and restaurants.
In the South, El Calafate serves as the gateway to the glaciers of Patagonia. Perito Moreno looms nearby and is one of the world's few advancing glaciers. 30 miles wide, visitors are able to get within metres of it. To cap it all, it is also possible to take a boat trip around the fantastic ice landscapes of the Los Glaciares National Park.
Argentina, though especially Buenos Aires, has superb shopping when it comes to clothes and designer items. Fashion is still much more girl-orientated, with everything from tasteful Argentine brands to chic local designers causing waves far from home. Catering for boys, a number of brands make high-quality and elegant clothes fit for the most sophisticated of polo players.
Argentina also has remarkable leather goods. Everything and anything can be found fashioned out of leather, from hats to coffee tables.
Given the exchange rates following the economic crash, shopping in Argentina is unbelievable value-for-money.
That many young South Americas used to travel down to Buenos Aires for its New Year celebrations says something about Argentine parties. A tragic incident in 2004 saw a large number of nightclubs closed down, however things now are much as they were before 2004. Big nightclubs dot the country, are extremely popular, generally open at 2am and close around 8am.
For another kind of night out, tango-dancing is popular across Argentina and increasingly so with the young. Tango 'clubs' are called milongas, come in all shapes and sizes and tend to peak in the early hours of the morning.
Otherwise, Argentina has a thriving jazz scene and rock nacional never fails to get the young moving.
In Argentina one drives on the right-hand side, though be warned that distances can be enormous and the general standard of driving is quite poor. However, on the flip side, the main roads within cities and between cities generally tend to be in good shape and petrol is relatively inexpensive.
The Argentine drink-driving laws are stricter than in the UK, with a limit of 50 milligrams (mg) per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (compared to 80mg/100ml in the UK). In built up areas the police do carry out regular checks.
Similarly, whilst drivers rarely get stopped for speeding on the national roads, in the cities there is a much larger police presence.
Food and Drink
Justifiably world-famous for its huge steaks, Argentina boasts excellent cuisine. The turn of the century immigration is readily apparent in the Spanish and Italian influences, whilst in the cities a growing number of world-food inspired chefs are setting up shop. What's more, Argentine vineyards are increasingly talked of as world class.
Tourist Informationwww.firstname.lastname@example.org (Emailing in English is no problem)National Secretariat of Tourism: +54 (0)11 4312 2232 Or try writing to: Information, 65 Brook Street, London, W1K 4AH
All car hire locations in Argentina
- Almirante Marco Andres Zar Airport
- Aviador C. Campos Airport
- Bahía Blanca
- Belén De Escobar
- Brigadier Antonio Parodi Airport
- Brigadier Mayor D Cesar Raul Ojeda Airport
- Buenos Aires
- Capitan V A Almonacid Airport
- Carmen De Patagones Airport
- Cataratas Del Iguazú International Airport
- Clorinda Airport
- Comandante Espora Airport
- Comodoro Rivadavia
- Coronel Martínez De Hoz
- Corrientes Airport
- Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Airport
- El Calafate
- El Calafate Airport
- El Plumerillo Airport
- El Tehuelche Airport
- Formosa Airport
- General E. Mosconi Airport
- General Urquiza Airport
- Gobernador Castello Airport
- Gobernador Horacio Guzman International Airport
- Hermes Quijada International Airport
- Ingeniero Ambrosio Taravella Airport
- Islas Malvinas Airport
- Jorge Newbery Airpark Airport
- La Plata
- La Rioja
- Lago Argentino Airport
- Libertador Gral D Jose De San Martin Airport
- Malvinas Argentinas Airport
- Mar Del Plata
- Martin Miguel De Guemes International Airport
- Ministro Pistarini International Airport
- Palermo Soho
- Piloto Civil N. Fernández Airport
- Presidente Peron Airport
- Puerto Iguazú
- Puerto Madryn
- Resistencia International Airport
- Río Gallegos
- Río Grande
- San Carlos De Bariloche
- San Carlos De Bariloche Airport
- San Juan
- San Luis
- San Martín
- San Martín De Los Andes
- San Miguel De Tucumán
- San Rafael
- San Salvador De Jujuy
- Santa Fe De La Vera Cruz
- Santa Rosa Airport
- Sauce Viejo Airport
- Suboficial Ay Santiago Germano Airport
- Teniente Benjamin Matienzo Airport
- Vicecomodoro Angel D. La Paz Aragonés Airport
- Villa Gesell Airport
- Ástor Piazzola International Airport