Argentina is big. Full of open space and empty wilderness, it has towering mountains, giant glaciers and spacious pampas to explore. Its people are passionate, prepared to debate anything and everything over a glass of good red wine and a hearty steak. All night revelry is on offer in the capital city in contrast to the quiet that can be found amidst the pastel hues of the desert in the north, the big skies of the Lake District and the ice-clamped south, ensuring that the visitor is spoilt for choice.
What to see
Alive and bustling, this vast metropolitan area is a shopper and foodie haven. Home to the Teatro Colon, the world’s largest opera house and the immense Catedral Metropolitana, the final resting place of San Martin, Argentina’s liberator, it captivates and enthrals. Stroll the avenues of Recoleta Cemetery admiring the sculpted mausoleums of the city's rich and famous.
The southernmost region of the country comprises a vast area. Full of parks, nature reserves and wildlife it is an area largely free from people where the space, solitude and big skies are boundlessly rewarding.
Tierra del Fuego
The tip of the country, the gateway to Antarctica and the location of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, Tierra del Fuego is spectacular and otherworldly with 1500m peaks rising straight from the sea.
Top experiences / sites of particular interest
275 cascades plunge up to 90m over a two and a half mile span making this a natural wonder of the world. The River Parana splits into countless channels, the most impressive of which is Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. The National Park surrounding the falls is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to 2000 identified plant species and 400 bird species.
Listen to the ice creak and crack as this enormous glacier calves and moves.
Running along the border with Chile stands this mighty range. Topping out with Mt Aconcagua, at 6995m the highest summit in the Western hemisphere, they provide a massive barrier and superb playground for trekkers and skiers.
The sound of the city and Buenos Aires heartbeat, look out for impromptu performances performed passionately and often simply in the street or without a stage.
When to go
Weather & Seasons: The weather in the north is sub-tropical throughout the year and you can expect rain at any time. The far south is sub-arctic and you’re best off exploring Patagonia from December to March. The central region remains temperate and can be visited year round. The capital, Buenos Aires, is best in the spring (March to May).
Important dates and festivals: Buenos Aires plays host to the Tango Festival in February-March; Palermo stages the Polo Argentine Open between November and December and Humahuaca puts on a folk festival full of music and dance around Ash Wednesday.
Getting there / around
Flights: Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini InternationalAirport (EZE) is 42 km from Buenos Aires. There are a number of domestic airports making internal flights the most efficient way to get around although the services are often busy.
Rail: Long haul train services can be unreliable
Bus: Buses are much better and occasionally even quite luxurious.
Short Trips: In less than a month you can explore Argentina’s four finest cities, starting in Buenos Aires, then traversing the country to Mendoza before heading north to Cordoba and Tucuman to explore Argentina’s finest colonial centre and some of its liveliest street life respectively, before pushing on to Salta, scene of a stunning central plaza.
6 - 8 Weeks: In six to eight weeks you can leisurely travel the length of the country on the Ruta Nacional 40, winding its way through 5000km of wilderness and stunning scenery.
Longer Trips: 12 weeks allows you to tackle a complete loop, around 9000km, circumnavigating the country and enabling you to drop in on the glaciers in the south, the lakes in the centre and the Andean villages in the north.
GuidesOverall Country Guides: Rough Guidesand Footprint have good country books as does Lonely Planet. Eyewitnessand Insightalso have comprehensive guidebooks to Argentina. Time Out publishes a good guide to Argentina and Uruguay.
City Guides: Buenos Aires Shortlist Guide,Frommer's Buenos Aires Day by Day and Buenos Aires Encounter Guide from Lonely Planet as well as the Buenos Aires Hedonist Guide from Hg2 are also available.
Patagonia:Footprint have individual guides that cover Patagonia.
Climbing: Cicerone produces a comprehensive guide to climbing Aconcagua and Lonely Planet publishes Trekking in the Patagonian Andes.
Country Maps: Whole country maps of Argentina from Michelin, Rough Guides, ITMB, Freytag & Berndt and de Dios offer the best overview of the country.
Sectional mapping: Available from de Dios and the Automovil Club Argentino. Nelles also produces maps for Argentina South - Patagonia and Argentina North and Uruguay. Maps of Patagonia are available from Zagier y Uruty and de Dios.
Street Maps: There are street plans of Buenos Aires available fromITMB. Street maps of Cordoba,Mendoza and Rosario are all available from Automapa.
Trekking Maps: JLM and Zagier y Uruty produce trekking maps, including maps for Monte Fitzroy & Cerro Torre / Lago Desierto and a Monte Fitzroy & Cerro Torre Minimap, as well as a map of Aconcagua .Climbing Map also publish a superb topographical map of Aconcagua.
Argentina Reader is an intriguing introduction to the country's history, culture and place in the world.
Patagonia - A Cultural History is a good background to the region.
In Patagonia takes the reader on a journey of discovery inspired by a piece of supposed dinosaur skin found at his grandmother's house.
Labyrinths is a short story collection full of fact, fiction, science, imagination and philosophy.The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene is a tragicomic account of a bungled kidnapping in a provincial Argentinian town that explores the corrupt nature of the country's political system.
The Tango Singer by Tomas Eloy Martinez follows a legendary performer as he plays evocative gigs in seemingly arbitrary sites around Buenos Aires, providing a map of the city's past.
Sight & Sound
Music: Listen to the Argentine Tango, in particular those of Juana Molina.
Film: Watch a young Che Guevarra discover Latin America in the film adaptation of The Motorcycle Diaries.
Spanish, although English is also widely spoken. Language Books:Take Lonely Planet's Latin American Spanish Phrasebook to help you get around.
Peso (P), which is made up of 100 centavos.
Neither UK nor US citizens require a visa before entering the country currently.
Inoculations for Hep A, Hep B, Rabies, Typhoid and Yellow Fever are recommended. Malaria is also present in places.
Safety, FO travel advice
Generally safe with occasional reports of opportunistic crime and petty theft such as pick-pocketing, which can be avoided by taking sensible, standard precautions.
Useful Telephone Numbers
Argentine country representatives can be found
in the UK at 65 Brook St, London, W1K 4AH. Tel 020 7318 1300
and in the US at 1600 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Tel 202 238 6400.
There is a tourist board
in the UK at 27 Three Kings Yard, London, W1K 4DF. Tel 020 7318 1340
and in the US at 12 West 56th St, New York, NY 10019. Tel 212 603 0443.
For more information visit www.argentine-embassy-uk.org, www.argentour.com or www.sectur.gov.ar.
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