Argentina | The Travel Guide
Argentina is in the top 10 of the most visited countries on a world tour and for good reason, it has, along with Chile, the greatest variety of scenery in South America. From north to south, you can find yourself, sometimes in a desert, sometimes in the middle of the ice, also passing through marshes and breathtaking waterfalls. The perfect playground for a backpacker who also wants to discover active and friendly cities like its capital Buenos Aires or indulge in the many small villages of the country, far from everything. Welcome to Argentina, the land of the Che, Maradona and Tango, where your senses will be in wonder 24/7. DALE!
⤁ Backpacking Argentina ⬵
• Travel tips • Places to visit • Itineraries •
Budget : $ 30 / € per day
Currency : 1 € / 1US $ = officially $ 100 or = $ 180 in Cambio Blue (Real change in the streets)
Visa : No visa, 90 days for most passports.
Sleep : 10-60 $ / € bed in dormitory / correct double room
Transport : $ / € 15 for a Bs.As / Bariloche coach.
Food : Parilla (Grill), Empanadas, Locro, Choripan, Mate, Dulce de leche, alfajor
Weather : Hot from November to May, cold from June to October.
Religion : Christianity for the great majority, syncretism, Judaism.
The people : Argentinian of European origin, The Diaguitas, The Mapuches, The Guaranis and many others.
Music : Tango, Argentinian folklore, Milonga, Chamamé, Chacaréra, Zamba, Cumbia Argentina,
Language : Spanish, Quechua, Guaranis, etc ...
** ROUTE TIPS **
Just like all of our articles, we try to imagine a more or less coherent route that allows both to see the most important places of the country while maintaining a logical route for travelers who want to get from a point to another. There is therefore no order of preference or importance here but a route going from the capital Buenos Aires, leaving for the discovery of the north, the descent to the south by the west and an ascent by the east side. Feel free to adapt your way !
** TRANSPORTATION TIPS **
As everywhere in South America, the best means of transportation are coaches, whose seats recline almost completely to sleep comfortably. The distances between cities being long, prefer overnight trips which will save you hotel nights and will arrive at your destination the next day in good shape. It is accessible to all budgets, we provide you a blanket and a meal tray just like in airplanes. DOPE !
-- NORTH --
Buenos Aires and its surroundings (10 days): BsAs (7d) - Tigre et delta du Paraná (1d) - La Plata (1 / 2d) :
For more information on Bs. As and its surroundings, see our article HERE or by clicking on the picture.
Rosario / Santa Fé (2 days) - Iguazu (2 days) - The Esteros de Ibera nature reserve (2 days).
From Buenos Aires, we start our escapade to the north by stopping at Rosario, birthplace of Ernesto “Ché” Guevara in which we can see the building of his birthplace at “Calle Entre Rios, 480” that we can’t go in, but there’s a commemorative sign that confirms the location. There is also a giant painting of him in Plaza de la Cooperación and a huge statue in Parc Hirigoyen built from 75,000 keys donated by the residents of Rosario. For more visits, the city also offers The Flag Monument where the Argentinian flag was raised for the first time, designed by Colonel Belgrano whose crypt is located under the 78m column. A few steps away is the Basílica Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Rosario as well as the banks of the Rio Paraná which offers a relaxing walk.
You can also stop at Santa Fé, 165km away, which has many museums (ethnographic, colonial, historical…), religious buildings and green spaces such as the botanical garden and many parks.
Iguazu Falls are of course a MUST SEE of Argentina and allow an entire afternoon there to enjoy the park and its breathtaking waterfalls. It’s wordless. It’s sumptuous. The following day, you can chill in the city but also go to the Brazilian side for more points of view, knowing that the Argentinian side remains the best. Must say what it is! ;)
Continue to Esteros del Ibera nature reserve passing through the nearest village, Colonia Carlos Pellegrini accessible from the town of Mercedes (3 to 4 hours by minibus). You will discover the fauna and flora of this part of the country with more than 300 species of birds, black caimans, hummingbirds, etc ... in a marshy setting where green is the dominant color.
Jujuy & Salta: Purmamarca, Tilcara, Humahuaca, Iruya, Tolar Grande, Salinas Grandes (5 days) - Cafayate and the Calchaquies valleys (5 days).
Go to the northwest of Argentina for a completely different and more arid scenery. The city of San Salvador de Jujuy is the entry point to the wonders of the Andes and you can stay there for a day or 2 to prepare your excursions, joining tours or renting your vehicle to go to the different places at your own pace. Ruta 9 (65km) leads to Purmamarca and you can drop your luggage in this village which seems to have stood still in time. From here set off for Tilcara (22km) to see the Pucara de Tilcara, a fortress built on the top of a hill during the Inca era whose view is breathtaking. There are also many museums for those who wish to stay there for more than half a day. Otherwise, continue your road to Humahuaca for 1 night or 2 and discover the village of Uquia and the Serrania de Hornocal whose vehicle climb is difficult but whose landscape is incredible with its 14-colored mountains. Another MUST DO in the country. Coming back to Humahuaca, chill out in the village with its Plaza Principale and its Iglesia de la Candelaria.
70km away is Iruya, another small village located in the heights of the province of Salta. Difficult to access by road (2-3 hours Go and Back) but the reward will be at the end of the path with an incredible scenery frozen in 1752 when the village was founded, here, at 2780m above sea level, in the middle of nowhere.
Another day from Humahuaca, this time towards Salinas Grandes (200km / 3h drive), the largest salt desert in the country, another sumptuous place to see in the region. On the road you will pass through the Abra Pampa known as "Siberia argentina" and the Puna plateaus via Ruta 11.
Then head to Salta, the second city of the country for a little return to urbanism with its many cultural points, starting with its historic center, Plaza 9 de Julio and the Church of San Francisco. The Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montaña (MAAM), the Pajcha (Museo de Arte Étnico Americano), Museo histórico del Norte, el Cerro San Bernardo with its cable car leaving from Parque San Martín or by these 1070 steps! Every Saturday, from April to December, El Trem a las Nubes leaves Salta to descend the Lerma Valley, the quebrada del Toro, the ruins of Tastil and San Antonio de los Cobres and ends in a desert canyon. It’s Argentina's best-known train route and is in high demand by travelers in the region. 16 hours of travel for a 434 km round trip in the clouds through 29 bridges, 13 viaducts and 21 tunnels. Magical.
From Salta, the Ruta 68 leading to Cafayate crosses the Quebrada de Cafayate, a canyon hollowed out by the Rio de la Conchas and which offers a rocky landscape with gradations of colors. Points of interest such as El Hongo, La Garganta del Diabo and Anfiteatro are all signposted on the road to the village at an altitude of 1660m where you can enjoy its colonial style for a good day out. Via Ruta 40, you enter the Calchaquie valley with its Quebrada de las Flechas and its many villages such as Angastaco, Molinos, Seclantas and Cachi in which you can take a break and enjoy the authentic setting of its colonial style at 2280m from altitudes. Tranquilo. For the return to Salta, plan a 5-hour drive (160km) through the Parque Nacional Los Cardones and the Recta del Tin-Tin, a 14km straight road that crosses a cactus desert to the Piedra del Molino pass (3350m ), the Valle Encantado and the Cuesta del Obispo which are two other viewpoints as well as the Quebrada de Escoipe.
San Miguel de Tucumán (3d) - Córdoba (3d) - San Juan / San Luis and Las Sierras de las Quijadas (2d).
Next stop heading south: Tucumán. Not a very touristic city but which has its charm and its importance by its history. It’s in fact here that the independence of Argentina was declared on July 9, 1816, of which La Casa histórica de la Independancia is the place of signature. The monument has become a museum where period furniture has been preserved along with paintings and period weapons. The Plaza Independencia and its Libertad statue is sublime to see with its palm trees as well as La Casa del Goberne not far away, the Iglesia San Francisco and the Iglesia Señora de Merced.
Outside the city, you can visit El Parque de los Menhires by taking Ruta 307 which will take you across quebrada de los Sosa towards the village of El Mollar. A hill overlooking a valley with more than 120 menhirs and our many sculptures are to be seen. A mysterious place dating from before our era. There is also El Tafi del Valle which offers a perfect relaxing landscape at 2000m altitude of the Sierra del Aconquija, the small village Amaiche del Valle with its Complejo y Museo Pachamama to better understand the culture of the Quilmes who lived in the region, as well as Las ruinas de Quilmes, a site founded around 1000 when the Quilmes settled there. They resisted the Spanish conquistadors for nearly 130 years and were brought to Bs.As. to build the capital.
We continue with Córdoba and its colonial-style city center, its Manzana Jesuita (P. Unesco), Plaza San Martin and its Cathedral, the Mercado Norte, the Nueva Cordoba district and the bohemian Guemes district. A city rich in activity and movement with also many parks including the Parque Sarmiento and museums such as the Museo Bellas Artes Evita or the Museo de Arte Religioso Juan de Tejeda.
At + 30km around Córdoba you will find different places to wander such as Alta Gracia, a city whose architectural heritage is made up of many Jesuit estancias or even Villa Carlos Paz on the shores of lago San Roque and close to the Sierra de Córdoba which you can access to the top with a cable car (aerosilla). Note that hikes are possible in the heart of the Sierra at the Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito with magical views of the surrounding valleys and lakes.
90km from Córdoba is Villa General Belgrano, a village with entirely Bavarian architecture welcoming the largest German colony in the country and where the language is even taught and the famous Oktoberfest is celebrated. Crazy.
Make a stop in San Juan or San Luis, as you prefer, to then go to Las Sierras de las Quijadas which offers its hikers an arid landscape made of rocks and cliffs and a diverse fauna such as pumas, condors, guanacos, etc...
Mendoza (2d) - Aconcagua Provincial Park (Cerro) (1d) - Canyon de L’Atuel (1d)
We continue our tour of the north with Mendoza, well known for its vineyards which contrasts with the white peaks of the Andes in the famous Uco Valley located 1 hour from the city. Great view of the mountain range in addition to being able to taste the local wines. From these peaks, you will see Aconcagua, the highest point of the Andes, the continents and the southern hemisphere (6960m). The park offers a crazy panorama for hikers and those even if you do not make the full climb, intended for professionals of course. However, you need a permit collected in the city if you wish to stay there for more than a day.
On the city side, Mendoza offers different Plazas with many hotels and shops, a city center with its churches and the Paseo Sarmiento to chill in the bars, restaurants, ice cream or coffe shops.
3 hours by bus from Mendoza, south of San Rafael, is the magnificent Atuel Canyon sculpted by the Rio Atuel and which stretches over 80km. The park offers multiple aquatic activities such as rafting or canoeing in addition to incredible spots for taking pictures. The city is very relaxing if you want to stay there for a night or two before attacking the south of the country!
-- SOUTH --
Ruta 40 : Ruta de los 7 lagos, San Martin De Los Andes, Villa La Angostura, San Carlos de Bariloche (4/5 jours) :
Ruta 40 is a classic because it is the largest road in the country starting from the border of Bolivia to Patagonia over a distance of 5000km, crossing a multitude of different landscapes and giving access to many national parks. The 7 lakes route is part of it and joins San Martin de los Andes and Vila La Angostura over a distance of 107km and offers a landscape with 7 superb lakes not to be missed when passing through the region. The 2 villages are charming and worth taking a break knowing that San Martin is known to be the place where the Che and his companion took shelter when they made their road trip by motorbike, in the famous barn that becam the museum La Pastera (lapastera.org.ar). Vila La Angostura was the holiday resort of the Perón family.
Stay few nights in Bariloche, which is also called "Argentinian Switzerland" for its wooden chalet architecture and European cuisine as well as the firs and mountains that surround it. Here we eat fondues and chocolates and we ski there just like in the Alps! The village is located on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi and is surrounded by spots and views to see such as Cerro Campaniaro, Cerro Otto, Cerro Catedral. To be seen in summer as well as in winter with the snow.
Perito Moreno (Town) and the cueva de la Manos (2d) - El Chaltén & Fitz Roy (2d-4d) - El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glaciar (2d) - Ushuaia and the natural park of Tierra Del Fuego (3d).
We continue our descent on Ruta 40 to Perito Moreno, the TOWN, and then we reach Cueva de la Manos 60km away (3h30). It is a prehistoric site registered with the heritage of UNESCO with more than 800 cave paintings dating back to 13000 years for some and you must join a visit of 45min at the reception to see these wonders and excursions are possible from the city. A perfect stopover before the next destination.
When you reach the small village of El Chaltén, you will be surrounded by Mount Fitz Roy but also by Lago Viedma and the Valley of Las Vueltas. Walking paths start directly from the village and all hikers can then escape on different paths, on walks of 8 hours round trip or even 4 days. The scenary is sumptuous, magical and really makes you want to get lost in it. A MUST DO.
220km to the south, about 3 hours by bus, is El Calafate, another small village in which to drop luggage for a day or two and then go to Glaciar Perito Moreno at 80km. It is one of the largest glaciers in the world stretching over 30km and reaching a height of 74m. Incredible blue and a mountain range in the background, the Perito Moreno ends at Lago Argentino and sometimes you can see a detachment of ice blocks making a huge noise. Power of nature. Another MUST DO.
We feel far away in all these small villages of Patagonia and we love this feeling of distance from the ultra connected world and Ushuaia is no exception to this sensation. So here we are at al Fin Del Mundo, the city in the far south of the continent for ever more thrills, although the city is a little more lively here. Go on an excursion to Ushuaia Bay and the Beagle Channel to see the famous “Les Éclaireurs” lighthouse, as well as the wildlife perched on small islands such as sea lions, penguins and various birds. On the city side, the wreck of the Saint Christopher on the port is part of the scenery and do not miss the maritime museum as well as the Ethnology museum which traces the route of mankind from Abyssinia, ancient Ethiopia, to this point. What a history ! Ushuaia is 12 hours by bus from Rio Gallegos and you will have to cross the Arg / Chi border, then the Strait of Magellan by boat (with vehicle), then the Chi / Arg border again.
--> For the ascent, you can continue your trip to Punta Arenas in Chile and continue on the Pacific coast or stay in the country and go up to the capital by the Atlantic coast.
Puerto Deseado (2d) - Puerto Madryn & the Valdés Peninsula (3d).
We therefore go back to Puerto Deseado (13h from Rio Gallegos / 4h from Comodoro Rivadavia), a fishing village which has no such interest apart from its train station and its Mario Brozoski museum. Its surroundings will however interest nature lovers with its many reserves such as the Ría Deseado which is home to penguins, sea lions, cormorants or Cabo Blanco where you can see sea bears. To see the yellow feathered jumping penguin, you will have to go 20km from the city, to the Isla Pingüino marine park which also protects Magellanic penguins, wolves and elephant seals, skuas and other species.
Still in our ascent, we reach Puerto Madryn which overlooks the Valdés Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its conservation of marine mammals such as lions and elephant seals, killer whales, sea lions and penguins but especially southern whales, that we can see from the city or by boat or kayak. Puerto Piramides is the only town on the peninsula but there are accommodations everywhere such as the Punta Delgada lighthouse site. Note that the roads are difficult.
And much more :
To finish our ascent and return to Bs.As., why not stop at other destinations such as Viedma, Bahia Blanca or Mar del Plata to end this crazy tour with a little rest at the beach. These are certainly not essentials, but the distances being long, let's take the time to stop here and there between 2 destinations to prolong the pleasure and taste each atmosphere of each region or place. Argentina is so huge that you never stop exploring it. So many roads, villages, lagos, cerros in which to wander, get lost, venture that one should not hesitate to deviate here or there.
The distances being long, Argentina is this kind of country that makes us realize that the path is part of the journey and that you have to know how to appreciate it just as much as the destination itself. The rolling landscape, the changing scenery and the temperatures regulating from north to south and vice versa, we cross its lands endlessly with wonder, surprise and a multiplicity of emotion. So many memories to build and so many moments to live here, in the tierra de los gauchos! Buen Viaje Muchachos !
Exit To Argentina - The mix :
We have prepared a one-hour mix of Argentinian music for you to enjoy on the country's long roads. From Tango to Cumbia through Folklore or popular music of the country, enjoy these classics or obscure pieces while sinking comfortably in your seat. Download it for free HERE and listen to it right THERE !