Argentina overview

Argentina is perhaps best known for its tango, amazing steaks, gaucho culture and, of course, football. These will not disappoint, but there is also much more to this country. Argentina is full of beautiful changing landscapes as you travel across the country.

Vineyards, Argentina
Vineyards, Argentina

Argentina is a huge country bordering Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil in the south of South America. In the Northwest of the country, you’ll find blinding white salt flats, dry red rocky terrain and miles of cacti. Not to mention, the highest vineyards in the world. In the far northeast, bordering with Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, you’ll encounter tropical rainforest and the spectacular Iguazú waterfalls. In the East, there is an amazing shoreline, with great opportunities to see whales and other wonderful wildlife. Down in the South is the region of Patagonia and the Lake District, where the climate is harsh, but striking, with glaciers and clear azul waters. To the West, the Andes mountain range travels half the length of the country. From here, Argentina gets its Andean spirit, rich culture and historical traditions.

Weekend trips to stunning places nearby Salta, Argentina
Red mountains in the northern regions of Argentina

In the Argentina section of the website, I’ll be posting information and photos of the places we visit as we travel around Argentina.

Getting around the country is very easy due its great network of coaches. However, Argentina is certainly more expensive than Bolivia or Peru or Ecuador, so make sure you budget for it. (More on living costs can be found here.)Due to the size of Argentina, coach journeys can be long, lasting 25-35 hours at a time, and so it can get expensive. Get the top front seat of the coach though, and you’ll have the impressive panoramic views to distract you during your journey.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Food

Personally, I would recommend travelling to Argentina just for the food. Argentinians are huge meat eaters and it’s no surprise. The meat here is tasty and fantastic quality, and always served in huge cuts. It’s typical here for the family to get together on Sundays and have an asado, or barbecue. For this reason, Sundays are a quiet day and you’ll see very few people out and about in the streets. They’re probably eating meat or having a siesta after eating meat.

Argentinian steak
Argentinian steak

Another typical food that is eaten here in Argentina is empanadas. They are like mini pasties that traditionally come in four fillings: ham, cheese, chicken or meat. They are delicious and particularly great to warm you up in the cooler mountain climates. They are sold everywhere, but also are super easy to make yourself. You will find ‘empanadas’ sold in other countries of South America, but they can vary a lot. For example, Ecuadorian empanadas are like bread rolls filled with cheese with sugar sprinkled on top.

Another warming food to eat in the winter is Locro, a stew made with various cuts and entrails of beef and pork, with corn and pumpkin. Not sure if I’ve given the best description of it, but it really is delicious.

Milanesa is also a very popular dish. The thin cut of meat, usually beef or chicken, is breaded and fried and then topped with ham, mozzarella and tomato, and usually served with potatoes. It’s tasty, but usually pretty greasy and filling.

Wine tasting in Cafayate, Northern Argentina
Wine tasting in Cafayate, Northern Argentina

With regards to drink, Argentina is most famous for it’s wine. In the North of the country, you’ll find the highest vineyards in the world, which gives the wine it’s unique taste. It’s white fruity Torontés wine is perhaps most characteristic of the northern region of Argentina. Most of the country’s wines are made in the region of Mendoza, in the central west of Argentina. There are many varieties to choose from, so the best way to try them is to cycle around the vineyards on your own wine tasting tour.

Aside from wine, the most popular and most typical alcoholic drink of Argentina is Fernet Branca. It’s a herbal alcohol, served either neat with ice, or with coke, ideally Coca Cola. It’s certainly an acquired taste, due to its bitter flavour, but you very quickly become accustomed and grow to love it. It’s also supposedly good to settle the stomach, so a good excuse for a tipple when you’re travelling.

People

Argentinians are fantastic people. Or, at least, the ones we’ve been fortunate enough to meet. They have the kindness, generosity and openness that we have come to expect in all the South American countries we’ve visited. Added to that, they have a reputation for being outspoken, which gives them a certain attitude and confidence. They are also very sociable and love to chat. Perfect for us who want to learn Spanish and find out more about the country. Argentinians always have something to say about something. If in doubt, football is always a sure way to get someone talking.

Argentina is a country of immigrants. The makeup of the country is very diverse, with a mix of native Andean people and descendants from Europe and other parts of the world. Here, living in Argentina, we do not stand out as much and can often be mistaken for Argentinians. This was definitely not the case in other countries, such as Ecuador or Peru. With our paler skin, my lighter hair and my boyfriend’s slimmer build, we definitely stood out as gringos. Moreover, in Ecuador, I felt tall for the first time in my life. Being 5”4, this was a real novelty for me.

Friendly & inviting Argentinians
Friendly & inviting Argentinians

Certainly, our time in Argentina so far has been unforgettable. There is so much to see and do and experience is this vast country. It’s a country that is developing and modernising, but at the same time it maintains its rich culture and historic roots. For this, Argentina stands out from its neighbours and is a unique country to visit.

As we find out more and travel about Argentina, I will continue to post more information. Please keep checking back to read about our experiences.


If you liked what you read, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Thank you! :) 

2 thoughts on “Argentina overview

  1. Hi,

    I just came across your blog. Great information, particularly about Argentina. We currently live in Ecuador but are hoping to move to Salta in the coming year. It’s nice to find some up to date info on the prices especially since things change so quickly there.

    One thing I’m wondering about is if you’ve heard if the crime rate has increased in relation to the growing instability of the economy?

    Holly

    1. Hi Holly,
      Thanks for having a read of my site and glad it’s of some help. Where are you living in Ecuador? We were living in a small town in Zamora, near Loja, last year for a few months. Moving to Argentina was a big change – a lot more developed and I guess more familiar to what life is like back in England, but still with enough of an interesting and diverse culture and way of life.
      We have not found crime to be a problem and we feel generally safer here than in Ecuador. I have heard some people who live here say that Salta is dangerous and there is a lot of crime, but I can only imagine they are talking about the whole of Salta region. Yes, there are barrios where poverty is high and you don’t go to, but there is also no reason to go to them unless you live there.
      We have not heard that crime has increased – but that is not to say, of course, that it hasn’t. However, the majority of saltenos say it is muy tranquilo. We live in the city centre and feel very safe. There are lots of police around the centre, but I have never seen them have to do anything except move a few kids along. Apparently 2 years ago the police went on strike here and people ran riot, looting & setting fire to things, so maybe, yes there is a reason there are so many police now! But, Salta in general is quiet, super traditional and conservative. It’s worth noting that presidential elections are happening this month, which could bring about some changes, although most people here feel this is unlikely, that the same government will stay in power and problems will continue.
      If you need any help finding a place to live or work, please let me know – I can email you details. We are leaving in December, so there might be a flat and teaching job available!
      Oh, and if you are coming from Ecuador, bring as many dollars as you can and you can exchange them for a great rate on the main plaza here 🙂
      Thanks again for visiting and good luck with your move!

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