Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Argentina? Here you will find information on working in Argentina, entry visas, Argentinian hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Argentina
- Things to do in Argentina
- Entry Visa Requirements for Argentina
- Foreigner Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Argentina
- Argentina Hostels
Facts About Argentina
Argentina is a country with something of a dual identity, being at once a pivotal part of South American culture, and yet also bearing a close resemblance to Europe. It is also remarkable for its size; at 2,766,890 km, Argentina is second only to Brazil and ranked eighth largest country in the world. Indeed, it is even larger if you give credence to their claims on the Falkland Islands and a significant portion of Antarctica.
The first inhabitants of Argentina settled in the south around 11000BC, but the first major recorded event was the prolonged assault on the northwest region by the Inca Empire in 1480, the success of which fragmented the territory into disparate cultures.
European intervention followed soon after, with Amerigo Vespucci sighting the territory on his 1502 voyage and further Spanish exploration climaxing with the establishment of the Buenos Aires Colony in 1580 as part of controlled Peru. The colony prospered in subsequent centuries economically, but the independence movement progressed proportionately. The issue was concluded in 1816 after the campaigns of General San Jose de San Martin in the region and Napoleon’s overthrow of Spain’s Ferdinand VII.
Expanding from Buenos Aires, the modern Argentina , named ‘the Land of Silver’ by Spanish explorers due to the rich region in Potos, developed rapidly courtesy of agriculture and foreign investment. One of the richest countries in the world by the early 20th century, political turmoil thereafter between groups represented by Juan Peron in the 1940s and the conservative military damaged the country immeasurably. These economic problems persisted for the rest of the century and were only assuaged during the 2000s with economic growth and stability. As such, it truly is the perfect time to visit the country.
- Language – Spanish
- Population – 39,921,833 (2006 estimate)
- Currency – Peso (the $ is used)
- Time zone – GMT -3
- Phone code – +54
Climate in Argentina
When deciding the best time to visit Argentina, the weather certainly plays a role. Argentina is generally a temperate climate, but with two extremes. The north is closer to a tropical climate, whereas the south is polar. This is born out in the record temperatures of 49 degrees in Cordoba in 1920 and -39 degrees in San Juan in 1972. Central Argentina is incredibly erratic but tends to more closely approximate the north.
Things to do in Argentina
Buenos Aires is still referred to as the ‘Paris of the Southern Hemisphere’ and attracts some 5.25 million tourists per year thanks to its thriving culture. The national Tango dance centres in the capital offer a great way to get involved in the lifestyle – head for the ‘Milongas’ to give it a try.
If you fancy taking it a bit further, why not go to a studio for lessons, try the Avenue Corrientes, or check out the shows in Dorrego Square on Sundays. The nightlife doesn’t solely revolve around the Tango though. You can find a number of great nightclubs, Irish pubs and bars across the city and, in particular, the areas of Recoleta, San Telmo and Palermo Viejo.
Buenos Aires is home to an array of fantastic sights as well. Chief among these is the 67 metre tall Obelisk of Buenos Aires, completed in 1936 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city and a true symbol of the capital.
Other notable landmarks include the world-famous Teatro Colon, opened in 1908, the Casa Rosada (Pink House), situated in the fantastic Plaza de Mayo and home to the executive branch of the Argentinean government, and the 18th century neo-classical Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of great galleries and museums like the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Evita Museum and the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Malba).
However, if you want to see the real Argentina, don’t confine yourself to the capital. The country is packed with great cities, each with phenomenal sights and unique culture. Cordoba, for example, is home to the beautiful Jesuit Block and Estancias, a complex of beautifully preserved 17th and 18th-century buildings including the Universidad Nacional which is classified a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll also find the imposing 16th century Gothic Cordoba Cathedral and over ten galleries and museums to choose from like the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes ‘Dr. Genaro Perez’.
Indeed, most of Argentina’s best locations can be found outside of Buenos Aires. Nature lovers will be captivated by the host of national parks, which include the World Heritage classified Iguazu National Park in the Misiones province, including endangered species like the jaguar and home to the incredible Iguazu Falls, and Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz. No less impressive is the Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), also in Santa Cruz, highlighted by cave paintings some 9000 years old and containing handprints.
Mar del Plata
Situated on the coast of South America, there are naturally a number of resort towns where you can relax on the sand with the sun for company. The largest of these is Mar del Plata, which attracts tourists en masse every year.
Unique Activities in Argentina
Another good way to get an idea of things to do in Argentina is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions in Argentina ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Buenos Aires so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
How to Travel Around Argentina
If you’re flying to Argentina or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Argentina with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Argentina to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Bus travel in Argentina
Once in Argentina, city to city travel is typically achieved by using long distance buses. The Panamerican National Route 9, for example, takes you through Buenos Aires, Rosario and Cordoba. As provincial capitals all have their own airport and operate regular flights on a daily basis, an alternative for those with a bit of spare cash is air travel.
Train travel in Argentina
The train network in Argentina is limited but extremely cheap, making it a decent budget option. A great tourist voyage is the ‘Train of the Clouds’ in the northwest province of Salta, which passes a number of smaller towns on its way to the border with Chile and takes you to extreme altitudes.
Backpacking Tours in Argentina
Though part of the fun of backpacking Argentina is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Argentina alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Argentina are their 14-day End of the Earth Patagonia tour including Argentina and Chile, and their 19-day Patagonia Hiking trek.
Health and Safety in Argentina
Before travelling, jabs for Hepatitis A and B, malaria, rabies, typhoid and yellow fever are recommended. However, many travellers ignore this advice and find their only nemesis is diarrhoea.
The water in Argentina is generally safe for drinking, but be wary outside of Buenos Aires.
As with travel to all other countries abroad, it is vital that you get travel insurance before you leave. The quality of health care is good in Buenos Aires, but varies elsewhere. Unfortunately, the cost of treatment in Argentinean hospitals is very high and cash payment is expected immediately. Recommended for tourists are the British and German hospitals scattered across major cities.
Entry visa requirements for Argentina
A passport is the only requisite for citizens of the US and EU member nations for stays up to 90 days. This can be extended once for a further 90 days by the Immigration Department.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Argentina
If you are a Spanish speaker, you can easily get work translating or teaching English. Call centres and bar work are also accessible and popular options. The average wage is on the rise and currently stands at around AR $550, with the minimum wage at $450. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that unemployment in Argentina is relatively high and, if you do not speak some Spanish, most avenues will be blocked.
Opportunities to volunteer in Argentina are far easier to come by, whether in the community, education, for the environment or providing medical assistance. Check out the options at Transitions Abroad for further details of what’s on offer.
Argentina Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Buenos Aires is a great city for backpackers and budget travellers due to its array of hostels, numbering over 50 and including B&B in Constitucion and Gardenhouse Hotel. However, be sure to shop around, particularly in the San Telmo area, where prices are generally just 20-30 pesos a night.
If you’d prefer a mid-range hotel though, expect to pay around $30 a night. Prices at the top end are typically $70. That said, with both hotels and hostels, if you look outside of Buenos Aires, you should find even better prices.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Argentina on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Argentina is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful links for Backpacking in Argentina
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Argentina and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Argentina. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions in Argentina
- G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Argentina, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation in Argentina. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used accommodation booking site in Argentina. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for backpacking in Argentina
There you have it, the ultimate Argentina backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Argentina.
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