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Argentina Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

You can reach Argentina via a direct British Airways flight from London Heathrow which runs daily. This is the fastest way to reach Buenos Aires from the UK. Other common routes include flying via Madrid with Iberia or the US with a range of American carriers.

Flying times from UK

Flights between the UK and Argentina take around 14 and a half hours. Flights that stop enroute will take considerably longer.

Time zone

Argentina is -3 hours behind GMT. However, the time can sometimes be -4 or even -5 hours as the country uses Daylight Saving Time. The time change is determined on a year by year basis and so may not change some years.

Visa requirements

In most cases you will not need a visa if you are visiting Argentina from the UK and tourists can stay for up to 90 days as long as they show a valid passport and proof of their return or onward journey.

Do's and don'ts

When meeting somebody for the first time make sure to greet them in the right way. Say ‘encantado’ to a man or ‘encantada’ to a lady as this is formal first-time expression. Argentinians are very friendly and tactile so do not be afraid to shake hands when meeting.

Wine is commonly served with meals and drinking is a popular activity. Argentinian wine is some of the finest in the world.

Smoking has been banned in enclosed public spaces throughout the country since 2006 – this includes public transport, bars and restaurants.

Do be respectful of the roadside shrines around the country. Many of these tributes are left to signify the loss of an accident victim, and others are in memory of unrecognised Argentinian saints, revered by the local communities. Taking photographs without permission may be seen as disrespectful.

Money

The currency in Argentina is the Peso. Many outlets and services in Argentina will also accept the US Dollar and some even take the Euro so carrying this extra currency is a good idea. Exchanging money is also simple. ATM machines are common throughout the country and can be found in nearly all towns and cities although in some rural areas they may be few and far between so it is best to carry some cash on you. Similarly, credit cards are very widely accepted except in some rural areas.

Tipping

Some services in Argentina will expect a tip and very few will be offended if you offer one. As a rule there is an expected standard charge but great service should be rewarded with a higher tip. Restaurants expect that you will tip 10% of your bill, as do taxi drivers. Change is short in Argentina due to inflation and many places are simply unable to break notes for you. Be prepared to tip over the odds by sacrificing your change or ensure you carry plenty of change with you to cover your tips. A guideline for tipping your drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

Red meat lovers will love Argentina – steak is one of the national dishes and Argentinian beef is among the finest in the world. The diet in Argentina is very rich with a strong Mediterranean influence. Barbecuing and grilling are the most common cooking methods and blood sausage and chorizo dishes are popular, alongside steak and sweetbread. Lunch is the main meal of the day and a big occasion. All but the largest towns will close during lunch and workers return home to eat with their families. The evening meal is usually served late in the evening and eating is drawn out over several hours. Socialising and sharing meals is a big part of Argentinian culture.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

Many Argentina national holidays and festivals centre around military and political achievements. On 24th March, Día National de la Memoria remembers the outbreak of war and on 2nd April tributes are made to the victims of the Falklands War. The 2nd June is Flag Day in Argentina and a celebration of national culture and 12th October is all about celebrating Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. Festival time gives visitors a great experience of the Argentinian culture, with music and colour filling the streets. Argentina is a mainly Catholic country and the country also follows the Church's holidays. Easter and Christmas are widely celebrated along with other key events in the Christian calendar.

Shopping

If you love to shop, San Telmo and Recoleta in Buenos Aires are renowned for their outdoor markets, with fresh ingredients and locally made goods available. Be ready to haggle for the best prices and have cash with you to make your purchases. This area also has plenty of vintage boutiques and second hand stores making it the perfect place to find a unique bargain. Elsewhere, Bariloche in Patagonia is known for its chocolate, Mendoza for its wine and indigenous arts and crafts can be found throughout the country.

Suggested reading

The Footprint Guide, Rough Guide and Lonely Planet all provide an excellent introduction to the country and comprehensive Argentina travel advice.  If you wish to learn more about the culture and history of Argentina try ‘The Myths of Argentine History’, by Felipe Pigna, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey’, by Ernesto Che Guevara, ‘The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics’, by Gabriela Nouzeilles, ‘In Patagonia’, by Bruce Chatwin and ‘The Old Patagonian Express’, by Paul Theroux.

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org.  The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Argentina the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Argentina Holiday Ideas

Brazil, Argentina and Chile Holiday Review

“Finally home after our wonderful trip to South America. We had an amazing time and we cannot thank you enough for your support and services. There is no doubt that the trip would not have been as brilliant without your recommendations and the quality of your guides in Brazil and Argentina.”

LS - Brazil, Argentina and Chile - February 2015

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