Argentina offers quite possibly the most sensational natural beauty in the world, yet is less frequented by backpackers than other countries in South America. Cries of it’s too big or too expensive ring loud around many hostels on the continent. But take it from us, skipping Argentina would be a massive mistake. Take in the madness of Buenos Aires, drink your way around the wineries of the north and cap it all off with the adventure of a lifetime to Patagonia. Our guide to backpacking Argentina will inspire you to make the trip and help you along the way.
UK citizens do not require a visa to visit Argentina. So long as your passport is valid for 6 months you may stay for up to 90 days.
Entry fee: N/A
Exit fee: N/A
From (Bolivia (Villazon) - From the bus station to the border is about 2 km, so you can walk it in about 20 mins or hop in a taxi which usually charge 5 BOB (£0.55) per person. The immigration offices for each country are a stones throw away from one another. We're not sure if the following is true for everybody, but it is the case for UK passport holders; it is not necessary to collect an exit stamp from Bolivia. You simply go to immigration on the Argentina side where you will get your entry stamp which doubles as your proof of exiting.
From Chile - The crossing between Santiago and Mendoza is nestled deep in the stunning scenery of the Andes mountains, for hours you pass nothing but rock. Despite its remoteness it's well organised and pretty efficient. Your bus will get into a line where each bus and its passengers will be processed in order. Although you'll more than likely have to kill a few hours until your turn, once you're up you'll be through in no time.
To read more about other border crossings in South America and tips on how to cross like a pro click here
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Buenos Aires -
A city which needs no introduction. The capital is as big and as crazy as you’d expect with no shortage of sights and attractions.
A charming little city surrounded by mountains. Spanish colonial architecture, churches and museums all add to the charm and there are plenty of wineries to visit.
One of Argentina’s largest cities and has a lively urban centre. There is an electric energy here and no shortage of amazing street food.
This little known town is found just 90 minutes south of Salta. Surrounding waterfalls, mountains and wineries make this a great place for a little break.
“Argentina’s wine cellar” You could easily spend a week here riding bikes, visiting wineries, hiking, canyoning and water rafting.
“The end of the world”. The famed images of Patagonia frequently stem from Ushuaia. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
A real hidden gem of pure undisturbed natural beauty. It’s a bit of a hike to get there but the crystal clear waters, thick green trees and beautiful mountain backdrop makes it worth while.
BUDGET & MONEY
Much like neighbouring Brazil, Argentina is pretty expensive. On average, for 2 people, we were spending about 1,190 ARS (£50.65) per day. That figure includes accommodation, transport, activities, food and, of course, beers. Argentinas's currency is the Peso (ARS) and its exchange rate to GBP is currently around £1=23.5.
Argentina may be pretty expensive but accommodation costs are fairly reasonable. A private double room in a hostel or cheap hotel will run you around 420-500 ARS (£17.90-21.30) and dorm beds in the the region of 150-200 ARS (£6.40-8.50).
Argentineans take meal times very serious and are passionate about their food. You can pick up a snack or small meal from a street vendor for 30-50 ARS (£1.30-2.15) and you'd be looking at paying 100+ ARS (£4.25) in a local restaurant. There really is no upper limit to dining as all tastes and styles are catered for. For a traditional Argentine steak dinner be prepared to pay a minimum of 230 ARS (£9.80).
Buses cover all the major routes and destination in Argentina and are modern and comfortable. Its easy to get around solely by bus, but it's not exactly cheap. The average price per hour of bus travel in Argentina is 93 ARS (£4).
- La Quiaca to Salta - 8 hours - 360 ARS (£15.30)
- Cafayete to Tucuman - 6 hours - 435 ARS (£18.50)
- Tucuman to Mendoza - 14 hours - 1665 ARS (£70.85)
- Mendoza to Santiago - 6 hours - 700 ARS (£29.80)
If you're able to plan and book a few weeks ahead you can usually get flights for around the same price as buses for long distance journeys. One of the best experiences we had in Argentina was renting a car for our (Patagonia road trip, we rented a medium sized car from Mendoza for one week which cost us 7,000 ARS (£298).
Argentina is considered one of the safer countries in South America for visitors. The main issue facing tourists is petty street crime such as pick pocketing and robberies. Try not to make yourself a target by not being flashy with cash, jewellery or electronics, avoid being out alone after dark and only use registered taxis which staff in most bars, clubs and restaurants will call for you. It's worth noting that the majority of pickpockets in Argentina are female.
As with any destination on the backpacker trail you need to keep a sharp eye on your belongings on buses and in and around stations, cities and major attractions as petty crime and bag theft is always a concern.
Final thing; make sure to have these numbers saved in your phone -
- Police: 101
- Ambulance/Fire: 107/100
- Tourist Police: +54 11 4346 5748
- Your Embassy (UK): +54 11 4808 2200