ARGENTINA

 

With a latitude of over 30˚, Argentina has a variety of experiences to offer any visitors from skiing in the Andes, to a jungle tour near Iguaçu falls, to wine tasting in Mendoza. It is a country that you will never have enough time to explore.

When to Go

It will depend on what you want to do to decide when is best to go. The most popular months to go is during the summer, December to March. This is when Argentina is the warmest, but the north can get very hot and humid. If heading to Patagonia or the south, the summer months are when to go as everything is more accessible. If you are heading over for a ski vacation, their winter months (June, July and August) are best. The spring (April, May) and fall (September, October) months will have more moderate temperatures around the country, especially in Buenos Aires.

Getting There

There are no direct flights from Canada to Buenos Aires. You will likely need to connect through Mexico City if coming from the west coast or Santiago, Dallas, Houston or Miami if coming from the east coast. From the US there are daily direct flights from New York, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta and Houston. All these flights will fly into the International Airport in Buenos Aires (EZE).

Tango - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee

Reciprocity Fee

Starting March 2016, Americans no longer need to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina but Canadians still do. It costs $78US. All you need to do is go online here and create an account. Click on “Tourism Fees” and fill out the form. The site will then send you a receipt which is what you need to print out to show the airline before you fly into the country. If you do not have this receipt or have not paid the fee, airlines will not let you on the flight.

Currency & Payment

In Argentina they use Argentinian pesos ($ARG). $1US is equal to approximately $16ARG. $1CAD is equal to approximately $12ARG. It is likely that you will won’t be able to purchase any Argentinian pesos in North America before arriving so make sure you have some cash to change when you arrive. Credit cards are accepted in most places here and banks ATM’s are found on main streets. Although take note, if you are pulling money from an ATM, your limit may be different than at home. I experienced that you can only pull up to $2000ARG at one time although my limit back home is much higher. You will also likely get charged a $10US fee or more (depending on your bank and the bank you pull from) for the transaction. It is customary to leave 10-15% tip in restaurants but there is no need to leave tip for taxi drivers. Taxis do not take credit card.

Before you Go

  • It is quite an expensive country. One of the most expensive in South America. The northern part of the country (closer to Bolivia) is cheaper.
  • If you are looking to practice your Spanish here, be aware that the Argentineans have a different accent than most of South America. They pronounce words with “ll” as a “cha” sound.
  • Tap water is drinkable.
  • You can take liquids through security in Argentina, so don’t worry about packing a water bottle while flying out of the country or domestically.
  • Shopping is very expensive here because Argentina has high import taxes. For example a pair of Ray-Bans will be double the price in Argentina than in the US.
  • You will need to bring a converter as here they us a round two pronged plug (type C) or a 3 pronged flat blade plug in the shape of an inverted V (type I). The standard voltage is 220 V and standard frequency is 50 Hz.
  • They offer Wi-Fi at the airports but it doesn’t let you send e-mail. You can receive emails and send and receive texts and whatsapps though.

 

BUENOS AIRES

If you are heading to Argentina you have to go to Buenos Aires to play some polo, watch some tango and eat some Argentinian steak. Porteños – people from Buenos Aires – are very friendly and it will be hard not to meet some nice locals here.

El Ateneo - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee

City Transportation

The International Airport in Buenos Aires, EZE, is quite far from the city. It will likely take you about an hour to get to the city. If coming from another city close by, try to fly into the domestic and regional Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) airport which is located right in the city. The cheapest way to get into the city from EZE Airport is to take a shared bus that takes you to the Retiro neighborhood. Manuel Tienda Leon is the name of the company and you will see their booths located right outside the airport doors. Buses leave every half hour from 4am to midnight and it costs $210ARG to get from the airport to the city and $190ARG to get from the city to the airport. The address of their bus terminal in Retiro is Av. Madero 1299. From their terminal you can take a taxi to your hotel/hostel. A taxi from the station to Palermo Soho will cost around $125ARG. If you take a taxi from the Airport to the city, it will cost around $600ARG.

If you are staying at one of the main hostels, you can also take the hostel shuttle to and from the EZE airport. This only will cost you $13US and will take you around an hour and 15 minutes. Shuttles leave on the hour on weekdays starting at 8:30am, ending at 4:30pm, with one last one at 6pm. On the weekends there are only 4 that depart. You can check the schedule and pick up points online here.

Uber is also a great way to get around the city, but you cannot use it from the airports. This will also save you from having to pay with cash. Taxis are not too expensive either, especially if you are traveling in a group and split the cost. The cheapest way to get around the city is by metro – called Subte. There are six lines that cover the majority of the attractions in the city. Pay $40ARG for a metro card and charge it with some money. This way you don’t have to purchase a ticket every time you use the metro. One ride will only cost about $7ARG.

Where to Stay

There are many different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, so depending on what you are looking for will help you choose which area to stay in. Palermo Soho area is a great area to go out in. There are lots of good restaurants and bars and local shops and cafes. Palermo Hollywood is also a great area for restaurant and bars and is also home to some of the best clubs in the city. It is right next to Palermo Soho but is not as easy to get around from this area. Recoleta is the “high-end” area of town and is where some of the top hotels are located. Puerto Madero is the newest part of the city. It is located right along the water and it is very clean. Hotels here are very expensive though.

  • Millhouse Hostel – great hostel located just off Avenida 9 de Julio in Microcentro (the downtown area). They offer dorms as well as private rooms. They have a bar inside the hostel that gets pretty full. Their kitchen is very small but they include a good breakfast during your stay (which includes fresh fruit). One night stay here in a mixed 6- person dorm with AC costs around $20US. It is worth getting the AC.
  • Play Hostel – a great low budget option located in the heart of Palermo Soho. This hostel offers both dorm and private rooms. Shared rooms start at $14US per night and private rooms are $45US per night with a shared bathroom.
  • Esplendor Palermo Soho Hotel – great hotel located in a great neighborhood, Palermo Soho, walking distance to many restaurants, bars and shops. The rooms are very spacious and a night’s stay includes breakfast. One night will cost $80-$100US.
  • Glu Hotel – this boutique hotel is located in Palermo Soho and is a good option is budget isn’t an issue. One night here will cost around $130US.
  • Oasis Collections – if budget isn’t an issue and you are planning to stay for more than a few days it might be worth looking at Oasis Collections as they rent out fully furnished apartments around $130US per night. They have a private club called The Clubhouse that is a good place to hang out and they also rent a few rooms in that building as well.
Polo - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee

What to Do

  • Go to the San Telmo Market which is open from 10am until sundown every Sunday. It will take you down 12 blocks on Defensa Street. Start from Plaza de Mayo and walk all the way down to Plaza Dorrego. Buy a chorizo sandwich right off the grill about one block in.
  • Attend a soccer game at the Boca Juniors (CABJ) home stadium. If you like sports, this is a must see. Fans go nuts and the rivalry between the two local Buenos Aires teams is like none other. There are only 49,000 seats in the Bonbonera stadium for the many thousands of fans so tickets are hard to come by and you will likely need to purchase through a secondary site, or a tour agency. Tickets will cost you $100US upwards.  Their season runs from March to June or July.
  • Visit the Recoleta Cemetary, one of the most unbelievable cemeteries you will ever see. This is a must do in Buenos Aires. The famous Eva Peron is buried here. They have free guided tours every Tuesday to Friday at 11am and on Saturday and Sundays at 11:15am.
  • Walk down the main streets of La Boca, el Caminito. There are lots of colors on these blocks and you can buy many souvenirs. You can also take pictures with tango dancers. Be aware though that you do not want to be caught walking around this area after sunset because it isn’t safe at all.
  • Take a polo lesson at the Puerto Viejo Estancia and Polo Club. Although not cheap, it is worth it and a lot of fun. It costs $170US per person and includes private transportation to and from your hotel. Most of the time, people get lucky and will receive a private lesson. They include pastries, a large lunch and snacks as well so you will never go hungry there!
  • Go to the El Ateneo bookstore. It is incredible and worth the visit.
  • Stroll through the Palermo Market on the weekend afternoons in Plaza Serrano.
  • If you have time to kill, visit the Japanese Gardens which are close to Palermo. They are pretty but it does cost $100ARG to get in and if you have visited real Japanese gardens in Japan, it won’t be anything special. You probably will only spend half an hour in the garden.
  • Go see a tango show. The best one is at the Faena Hotel, called the Rojo Tango Show, but it is also very expensive and costs $220 per ticket ($290 with dinner included). If you have the money to spend go check it out, otherwise you can find some other options around the city for about $900ARG.
  • Walk past the Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo. This is the government office and house of Argentina.
  • A Graffitimundo Tour is also offered where you can see some awesome street art around the city as well as visit artist studios, galleries and shops. This will cost around $470ARG. You will need to book in advance here.
Recoleta Cemebary - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee

Where to Eat

In Buenos Aires everyone eats late, especially on weekends. Some restaurants won’t even open until 8pm. On weekends locals will head out for dinner at 9:30pm or 10pm.

  • Don Julio – located in Palermo Soho, this is one of the most famous restaurants in the city for a great cut of meat. The food is delicious. A reservation is necessary.
  • Osaka – a Peruvian Asian fusión restaurant located on the border of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. It is quite expensive but the food is amazing. Definitely order the traditional ceviche.
  • Parrilla Mi Sueño – located along the boardwalk of Puerto Madero, this sandwich stand is always busy. Order your basic sandwich and fill it up with the many toppings and sauces they have to offer along the window shelf.
  • La Cabrera – another great restaurant known for their meat located in Palermo Soho. If you go between 6:30pm and 7:15pm you will receive 40% off your bill but they don’t take reservations for this “Happy Hour” deal.
  • Burger Joint – this burger restaurant located in Palermo Soho serves one of the best burgers in the city. They have a few choices to choose from the Mexican one is delicious. They have vegetarian patties as well. A burger, beer and fries will only cost $160ARG.
  • Feliz Felices & Co. – a great local coffee shop located in Palermo Soho. On Fridays they have a bagel stand out front that sells delicious lox bagels.
  • Lattente – another great coffee shop located in Palermo Soho. On Sundays the bagel stand is here.
  • Xalapas – a Mexican restaurant located in Palermo Soho.
  • Cabaña la Lilas – a high end restaurant located on the boardwalk of Puerto Madero.

Where to Drink

  • Victoria Brown – this speakeasy bar is located in Palermo Soho and offers great cocktails and snacks. From the outside it will look like a coffee shop. Make sure you make a reservation if heading there on the weekend.
  • Temple Bar – located on a busy street corner in Palermo Soho and has a great outdoor space to hang out.
  • Floreria Atlantico – this speakeasy bar is located in Retiro and is in the basement of a flower shop. Unlike many of the other bars in the city, this one is open on Sundays.
  • Lupita – on the boardwalk of Puerto Madero, this restaurant has a 2 for 1 happy hour and is perfect for an afternoon drink. They also have great service.
  • Soria Bar – another great place for a drink in Palermo Soho
  • Festival – another great place for a drink in Palermo Soho

 

USHUAIA

Take a trip to the southernmost city in the world, dubbed “el fin del mundo”.  To avoid unbearable cold weather, head over during the summer months, from November to March.

Ushuaia - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee

City Transportation

The city itself is so small you can walk around everywhere. You will need to take a taxi from the airport to the city center which will cost about $150ARG.

Where to Stay

Don’t expect much from the hotels here. They will all be a bit average for the prices you will pay.

  • Albatros Hotel – rooms for about $120US a night. They sell a really good Antarctica log book here for $20 if you are headed that way. It is displayed next to the bar.
  • Arakur Ushuaia Resort and Spa – this 5-star hotel is the best in the city but is also quite far away from the city center where all the shops and restaurants are. A room here goes for about $220US per night.
  • Cruz del Sur Hostel – if on a budget, this is the place to be because most accommodation choices in Ushuaia are quite expensive. A bed in a dorm room here will cost you around $22US per night.

What to Do

The information center by the port in the city is very helpful. They can tell you all the options there are in the city for activities. It is a worth a visit when you arrive. They also have a stamp for your passport if you bring it there.

  • Walk down the main street – Avenida St. Martin. There are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. There is a café that has really good internet on the corner of San Martin and Augusto Lassere (sits on the second floor of the northwest corner).
  • If you want to learn a bit about the history of the town, take light blue city tour bus. The tour lasts one hour and takes you around the city with an automated bilingual guide. It costs $200ARG (cash only) and starts at 10:30am, 3:30pm or 5:30pm on Avenue Maipu just in front of the port.
  • Take a helicopter tour of the city and the mountains around it with HeliUshuaia. This is pretty expensive but you also get to land on a mountain for a picture. They offer different packages ranging in price, including heli-skiing in the winter months. The short city tour is $99US but lasts only 7 minutes. A 15 minute tour around the city and Laguna Esmeralda costs $180US and a 30 minute tour around the city and a landing at Los Andes costs $320US.
  • Visit the Tierra de Fuego National Park. You can hire a private car to take you around or you can take a bus that departs every hour from 9am to 5pm. The bus costs $400ARG for the round trip and it will cost about the same for the private car per person and for 4 people it will cost about the same for the private car. You can negotiate though with the taxi drivers. The entrance to the park is $210ARG. You can also find packages that include hikes and canoeing.
  • You can also take day trips to see some of the islands nearby and penguins. Most of these tours are quite expensive but you can see all your options at the information center.
  • El Tren del Fin del Mundo is something that you will see advertised a lot in town, but I wouldn’t recommend this as it is really slow and quite boring. It also costs quite a bit too to take.
  • You can also find last minute deals here to Antarctica if you have the extra budget. You save a few thousand if you book last minute here so if it is something on your bucket list, it is worth looking into! Tours can be found as low as $5000US for a 10 day cruise. See my Antarctica travel post for more information.
Ushuaia View - 2017 Christie Lee
(c) 2017 Christie Lee
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