I'm sure this thread has been done many times before - I've looked back and found a few useful but I'm really looking for very general advice. My friend and I are planning to travel to Argentina in late August and stay for about a month. Neither of us have been to South America and we're both really keen to experience the country but considering the size of Argentina/ our fairly basic budget was wondering what a realistic plan of action would be? We're flying into Buenos Aires but other than that nothing is concrete. My current knowledge of Argentina is limited so any advice would be appreciated- be it destinations, how much to budget, any tourist traps to avoid, best modes of transport, or just your own travel experiences.
i spent 3 months travelling argentina in 07/08 so i hope i can be of some help. first of all argentina is a a fantastic country with lots to do but with only a month it would be impossible to see everything. it is also very easy to travel around..the bus network is fantastic. As argentina is so big there are great distances between the best cities/sites to see, the best way to travel is on overnight sleeper buses..these are really comfortable and you dont waste daytime on travelling. book the 'cama' (spanish for bed) class and you could fully reclininf seats....dinner and breakfast are usually served as well. The main bus station in BA is called retiro which serves the whole country. be warned that as this station is huge with many hundreds of people leaving at any one time.....theft of bags is common. i met many backpackers who had bags stolen here.....never never leave your bag out of your site....thiefs working in gangs will have it gone in an instant. it is also reletively cheap (compared to ireland) to travel in...i survived on a budget of about 35 euro a day.
buenos aries is ag great city with a good night life and lots of nice plazas and squares to hang out during the day. there is no shortage of good hostels with the best areas to stay either the san telmo of palermo districts. on such a short timeframe 2 days to explore BA is prob enough.
the number one destination has to be the iquazu waterfalls in the northeast along the brazil/paraguay border. 300 waterfalls over a short stretch of river where 3 rivers meet..they are amazing. the town of puerto iquazu is the base to explore the falls. this is about an 18 hour bus trip from BA. The argentinian side is best to view the falls from. 2 full days here is prob enough.
other recommended cities/places to go are
mendoza - in the west of the country situated in the heart of argentinas wine region. nice relaxing city from where vineyard trips and great white water rafting can be organised. one of the best hostles i stayed was here..called hostel Lao.
Bariloche - also in west of country, about 10 hours bus trip south of mendoza. the winter sports capital of argentina with some good trekking near by too. also you can explore the beautiful lake district from here.
El calaftyte - in patagonia further south than bariloche. this town is the base from which to explore the famous perito moreno glacier which is an outstanding attraction
Puerto madryn - this town is about 20 hours down the east coast from BA. its famous for the wildlife with whales off shore and plenty of big seals and other sea mammals. also a great spot to do some diving.
Rosario - on of my favourite cities in the world. its about 4 hours north of BA. Really chilled out relaxed city.
Cordoba - in the northcentre of country...if ya wanna a prty city..this is it..
.. its home to 6 universities so the night life is quality
in a month it prob not possible to get to all the above and there are other places like ushuaia and salta which could be added to the list as well.
hope this was of some help
if you need any more details about a particular place send me a mail
I spent 2 weeks in Argentina recently and visited Buenos Aires (with a day trip to Tigre), Iguacu Falls and Rosario. I'd agree with most of what ger_power said: BA, Rosario and Iguacu Falls are all great. Regarding the falls though, I'd recommend spending a day on the Brazilian side too - I actually thought the view was better from that side but I think you need to see it from both sides to get the full experience. Day trips to the Brazilian side are easy to arrange from Puerto Iguacu; my tour also took in Paraguay for a couple of hours in the morning which was interesting.
I got the bus from Iguacu down to BA with a company called Rio Uruguay; it took 18 hours but it didn't feel like it as the bus was so comfortable, with snacks, a good dinner (including wine) and breakfast being served.
In Buenos Aires I highly recommend doing a walking tour with Buenos Aires free tours; I did both their walks and they were excellent. It's a really interesting and informative way to explore the city.
I stayed in 2 great places in BA: Sandanzas cultural hostel and Che Telmo guest house.
Fantastic steaks are not hard to find in BA but I ate in a place called Desnivel in San Telmo 3 times and would highly recommend it.
[ Edit: Edited on 05-Feb-2010, at 15:15 by bex76 ]
Remember it is winter then. Two years ago, it snowed in BA when i was there. BA and Mendoza were great but i found Cordoba terrible. Overpriced, dirty and absolutely nothing to do. But the lake district there in Cordoba was the only thing WORTH doing.
Mendoza, wine tours, hot springs, hikes in mountains, take a private Spanish course with your enjoy the little plazas and the wonderfully leafy Parque SanMartin.
Wow, bringing back memories here.
I actually just realised I met Ger in hostel Lao (it won 2nd best hostel in Latin America 200& btw)!! I echo pretty much everything he said.
I spent circa 2 months in Argentina but I feel most of my time (2 weeks) in Bs As was wasted. I much preferred the smaller towns and treking available elsewhere. Desnivel (as also noted above) is awesome. A few visits myself. I stayed int he Tango Inn round the corner. San Telmo is a great place to stay.
I don't feel there is a whole load I can add to what's been said but bear in mind its a massive country and the weather will differ from Iguazu to Bs As to Bariloche to the Patagonian south. I'd plan around that depending on your interests.
For me Bariloche was an absolute gem of a place. Beautiful mountains and lakes, plenty treking and the food, drink etc is as good as it gets. It's almost alpine like. Fondu, fresh fish, chocolate and ice cream worth paying for!
A few days on the wine in Mendoza is an absolute must and as said the Universities in Cordoba make it well worth a trip. Around that area you have smaller places like La Cumbre (perfect for paragluiding and other outdoor persuits) and Alta Gracia where the Che museum is (his childhood home).
I found travel around the country very easy. Buses as noted are the way to go. You'll find buses between most cities go very regularly and I rarely booked anything more than a day or two in advance. However when you arrive somewhere it might be advisable to take note of the timings of the buses to your next destination since you are on a tighter time scale.
My fav place was the Torres del Paine NP in Southern Chile. It might prove to be a bit far and the wrong time of the year however. :-(
If you have any specific questions please ask.