Getting to Argentina
Flying to Argentina
All airlines arriving in Argentina land in Ezeiza international airport, Ministro Pistarini, located 35km away from the city of Buenos Aires usually called Capital Federal. When leaving the country you have to pay a boarding tax (35 USD approx.), as long as it hasn´t been included in your plane ticket. This tax can be paid in American dollars or Argentine pesos. To travel through the interior of the country, there are several air companies that cover different flight routes from north to south. For domestic flights there is an airport called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (better known as Aeroparque or Aeroparque Metropolitano), located in the north of the city of Buenos Aires. For national flights, the boarding tax to be paid is included in the plane ticket, except for Chapelco (San Martin de los Andes), Trelew, El Calafate and Ushuaia airports where the tax must be paid separately in a special counter in the flight terminal.
Aircraft, the best option to travel around Argentina´s hinterland.
The best way to know Argentina is by aircraft, due to the long distances, it is impossible to manage the journey by bus or train as there would be a great waste of time and tiredness when going through so many kilometres. This is a frequent question from people who want to travel to Argentina and to know the whole region in 15 days, or expect to make the journey cheaper by travelling by bus. Let´s take into account that between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia there are 3,000km distance, or between Buenos Aires and Bariloche there are 1,600km. The flights are principally covered by Aerolineas Argentinas, Lan and Andes, although there are other regional flight companies.
The domestic flights as well as the ones to Uruguay take off from the Aeroparque Metropolitano in the city of Buenos Aires. The international flights land and take off from the International Airport Ministro Pistarini, located in Ezeiza (better known as simply "Ezeiza"). Unfortunately Argentina is centralized in the city of Buenos Aires which monopolizes all flights to the rest of the country. This means going through the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires every time there is a connection between other destinations in the country. For example the Patagonian region does not have direct flights to the Northern region (Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy, Iguazú), it is necessary to do a stop over in Buenos Aires. In spite of this great inconvenience there are connections between the most popular destinations such as Ushuaia and El Calafate, or between Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, or between El Calafate and Bariloche in the Patagonia.
Today there are direct flights from Salta to Puerto Iguazu but they are very few, depending on the day you want to travel because they are not daily. There are also touristic destinations like San Martin de los Andes which regretfully doesn´t have daily flights, just 2 weekly flights, even though it is the most exclusive destination in Northern Patagonia. There aren´t daily flights not even in high season. Thus, there is still a long way to go in air infrastructure in Argentina due to the scarce availability of flights and the dependence on Buenos Aires.
|Puerto Iguazú||1 h 45 min|
|Posadas||1 h 30 min|
|San Salvador de Jujuy||2 h 10 min|
|San Miguel de Tucumán||1 h 50 min|
|Córdoba||1 h 15 min|
|Mendoza||1 h 50 min|
|San Carlos de Bariloche||2 h 20 min|
|Mar del Plata||1 h 10 min|
|Río Gallegos||2 h 55 min|
|Ushuaia||3 h 20 min|
|El Calafate||3 h 15 min|
Bus, the cheapest alternative
The bus terminal in Buenos Aires is located in Ave. Ramos Mejía 1680, meters away from Retiro Train Station. Every company offering long distance transport to passengers provide service such as air-conditioning and bar. To travel around the interior of the country, bus service is the cheapest. The big passengers transport companies join the most important destinations, while the smaller and regional ones connect the small locations.
WHEN TO TRAVEL TO ARGENTINA
Seasons are exactly opposite in the Southern and in the Northern hemisphere. Argentina can be visited in any time of the year. Warm temperatures are between November and March and the coldest ones between June and September. April, May and October have mild temperatures. The thermic fluctuations are very wide between the North(Salta/Jujuy/Tucumán/Iguazú) and the South (Patagonia). In the North it is hotter and the climate is drier, especially close to the Cordillera de los Andes, in the South it is colder, towards the West with dry climate and towards the East the climate is more humid due to the closeness to the Atlantic Coast.
Summer, with mild temperatures and longer days, is the best season in Patagonia. Winter is ideal to know the Northeast (Iguazú Waterfalls) and the Northwest (Salta/Jujuy/Tucumán), due to the fact that it doesn´t rain so often and the tropical temperatures descend some degrees. Autumn and Spring are more recommended to visit Buenos Aires and the Cuyo region. To give more details about the most visited regions and answering the most common questions that our clients make to Argentinian Explorer, there is hereafter a short description of each one:
Buenos Aires is pleasant all year long, Winter is not very cold being quite short, the temperature fluctuates around 10ºC, whereas in Summer it is hot and damp, with an average temperature of 33ºC. Damp percentage in Buenos Aires city is very high, nearly 100ºC. The ideal seasons to know Buenos Aires are Autumn and Spring, we don´t recommend to travel between December and February.
Mesopotamia Argentina (Misiones / Corrientes / Entre Rios) has a damp subtropical climate. The best season to visit the waterfalls is during Autumn and Spring as the average temperature is around 25ºC. Summer is very damp (100% humidity) and very hot, reaching higher levels than 40º. Winter is also recommended to know this region.
Northwest of Argentina & Cuyo
Salta, Tucuman and Jujuy can be visited from Autumn to the end of Spring. Winter is cold-dry and Summer is very hot but with the advantage of being very dry. We recommend Autumn, Winter and Spring as ideal seasons.
To visit Patagonia, the ideal period is between September and May (inclusive), as Winter is very cold with average temperatures of 5ºC. Autumn is an excellent time to appreciate the great variety of colours that nature provide us and Summer is the best season with average temperatures of 25ºC. If you are travelling to ski, Winter is the season to enjoy ski centers such as Chapelco Mount in San Martin de los Andes or Las Leñas in Mendoza, among others. Visiting Southern Patagonia (Ushuaia, El Calafate and El Chalten) is recommended between December and March (inclusive). However, Northern Patagonia, with benign climate, is recommended between September and April (inclusive). May and June are months with high level of rain in all the region.
You will be refunded the money of the VAT at the Ezeiza international airport, as long as the purchased products have been bought in shops which are associated to the GLOBAL REFUND system. This is one of the most frequent questions that our customers travelling to Argentina make. You can get up to 16% refund if the purchase is over 70 $, in products manufactured in the country (made in Argentina) in shops identified with the logo TAX FREE. The refund cheque must be stamped at customs before returning to your own country.
Global Refunds - Data in Argentina:
- Paraguay 755 8° PISO
- (1057) Ciudad de Buenos Aires
- TE: 5238-1970
The procedure is easy
Each time you buy, you will be given a Global Refund cheque where the refund of the performed purchase will be written down. Without this cheque, they will not refund the money. Advice: Some stores give a wrong information to the tourists saying that with the purchase invoice their money will be refunded, this is not quite so. WITHOUT A CHEQUE THERE IS NO REFUND, have it in your mind and demand it if the store is associated to Global Refund. On the other hand, remember these cheques have to be stamped at customs before leaving the country.
Steps to cash the Global Refund cheques:
- 1°) You must buy in stores which are associated to the TAX FREE SHOPPING. They stand out because of the logo or simply ask before buying. Once you bought and paid, ask for the Global Refund cheque.
- 2°) You should present the invoices, your passport and the Global Refund cheques at the customs to be stamped.
- 3°) You can receive the refund in cash or cheque. Cash in the Global Refund offices or cheque at your private address. Another alternative is to receive it via credit card.
At the customs
The personal goods in the luggage such as toiletries, electrical appliances, clothing, calculators and specific profesional items, are tax free. So are video and/or photographic cameras, cassettes and familiar taped DVDs, portable CD and MP3 players, notebooks and personal computers among others that being in use, could be part of the luggage.
Medicines which don´t need a prescription or with the corresponding prescription whose quantity is reasonable considering the time of stay in the country, can enter the country tax free as well. Regarding mobile phones, they have to be declared at customs to obtain the line in the country. Apart from these mentioned goods, customs officers are allowed to revise, confiscate and fine any other object even applying penalties depriving of freedom.
Means of payment
The local currency is the PESO ARGENTINO. The US dollar is the second accepted currency in the stores. Money can be exchanged in Banks and in Exchange Houses. The most popular credit cards are VISA and Mastercard, a bit less so are American Express and Diners. Traveller cheques are difficult to change in the interior of the country being more used in Buenos Aires city.
We recommend you to use cash, pesos or dollars, as you will have important discounts paying cash. The euro is not widely accepted in Argentina and if they accept it, the exchange rate is usually less than what the market offers. For this reason we don´t advise to come with euros. Even with credit cards sometimes the price is raised although it is forbidden.
When do shops, stores and restaurants open and close ?
This frequent question is answered in detail as follows: Banks and Exchange Houses are open from Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm (in some cities in the interior of the country they may open early at 7am or 8am closing at midday at 1pm). Shops and stores generally open at 10am too and close at 8pm. In some touristic cities the closing time can be stretched to 10pm like in Mar del Plata for instance.
In Buenos Aires City, most shops and stores don´t close at midday, they work all day long, whereas in the cities of the interior of the country, shops and stores close at midday, even in important cities such as Mendoza, Rosario, Mar del Plata, Córdoba, Salta, etc. Shops are open on Saturdays till 1pm and close on Sundays, except for the big stores or Shopping Malls in big cities.
Restaurants, pizza shops pizza party and cafeterias in Buenos Aires City work till dawn, some of them work 24hs non-stop, especially cafeterias. Lunch is normally between 1pm and 2pm and dinner between 9pm and 10pm. During weekends, especially on Sundays, lunch can last up to 3pm and dinner till 12am. Buenos Aires City has a lot of nightlife, comparable to Madrid, Spain.
What documents do I have to present to enter Argentina ?
To enter the country it is necessary to go through certain entrance formalities. According to the place where you come from, a valid passport with or without visa (ask the nearest Embassy or Consulate) will be demanded. Passengers coming from non-neighbouring countries, are tax free on goods they bring or on new goods which are not over U$S 300 and some additional U$S 300 for products bought in duty free shops within the national territory.
Regarding the vehicles belonging to the MERCOSUR (Uruguay - Brazil - Paraguay) the following documentation will have to be presented at the bording crossings:
- Ownership certificate or vehicle title.
- Driving licence.
- Valid Third Party Liability insurance (Green Card).
- Plate number and country registration certificate.
If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, he must present an authorized letter by power of attorney. To confirm the owner´s residence address in the registration of the vehicle the national identity card is enough. For the rest of the countries which don´t belong to the MERCOSUR, apart from the previous requirements, they will have to present the valid passport and to complete an affidavit where the vehicle identity data as well as the accessories list of the owner or authorized driver will be recorded. With these documents, you are entitled to go through the national territory as well as to leave it.
If during your visit you need any touristic advice, you may go to the National Tourism Secretary, Touristic Information Centers:
- Av. Santa Fe 883, (C1059ABC) Buenos Aires.
- Ezeiza International Airport and Jorge Newbery Airport.
Touristic Information Centers in the City of Buenos Aires:
- in Ave. Pte. Quintana y J.M. Ortiz,
- Florida & Diagonal Norte,
- Carlos Pellegrini 217,
- Dique 4 in Puerto Madero,
- Teatro de la Ribera (La Boca),
- Retiro Bus Terminal
- Abasto Shopping Mall.
To present vaccination certificates when entering Argentina is not compulsory except for passengers coming from countries where cholera and yellow fever are endemic diseases. However, ask your doctor about inoculations if you are planning to visit other destinations after Argentina. Remember to do it with enough time as some vaccines must be given between 6 and 8 weeks before travelling.
Some advice about health
To avoid trouble during your stay, if you are under a medical treatment, ask your specialist for a letter specifying your detailed medication as well as the condition for which this medicine is asked. It is advisable to have a copy of the medical history and the prescriptions for your treatment. Don´t forget to find out if your health care system has any service within the country.
¿Which are the codes to phone locally or abroad ?
Public telephones accept cards or current coins. There are "locutorios" (telephone centers) where you must generally pay in cash, some of them work 24 hours. To call Argentina from abroad, the national prefix 54 must be dialled, then the area code of the location. To call nationally, the prefix 0 must be before the local code. When calling abroad, first dial 00, then the country code and then the city code. It is important to take into account certain times of the day when the fees are cheaper.
How to call a mobile phone in Argentina from abroad
To call a mobile phone in Argentina from abroad, first you must dial double zero, then the country code (54 for Argentina), number 9 and then the prefix of the city (without the initial zero) and the telephone number. For example if the mobile number you want to call is from Buenos Aires City and were 5555-5555, you would have to dial: 0054-9-11-5555-5555.
|Country Code: 0054|
|To dial phone: 9|
|Area code for Buenos Aires: 11|
|Sample Cell Number: 5555-5555|
|The complete dial is: 0054-9-11-5555-5555|
UTC - 3. In Summer: UTC- 2. By oficial decree, every year the 1st Sunday in October, at 2am clocks must be put forward 1 hour, until the second Saturday in March.
Requirements to rent a car
International and local companies have a wide variety of cars and vans, available in agencies throughout the big cities of the country. Apart from the specific requirements of each rent-a-car, there are some legal conditions to take into account through all the country:
- Be more than 21 years of age and less than 75
- Have a valid origin country driving license
- Present a credit card or cheque as security at the moment of renting
- Present a valid identity card or passport
Some companies offer an additional service, drivers, who can be bilingual.
In every country entrance point, there is a delegation from the Livestock, Agricultural and Fishing Ministry, in charge of controlling the entrance of pets to the country. The dogs or cats coming from countries within the MERCOSUR, from America and from Europe, will have to present a sanitary certificate issued by the Livestock Ministry of the country of origin, where the sanitary status and the antirabies vaccine of the animal is recorded. For pets born in other countries, the authorization of entrance will have to be previously arranged where the sanitary conditions will have to be stated. For other animal species as birds, mammals and reptiles, etc., a previous importation authorization will have to be granted by the same Ministry.
They can be bought in the A.C.A. (Automovil Club Argentino) in Ave. del Libertador 1850, Buenos Aires City). We also recommend to buy the Firestone Routes Map in kiosks and libraries, it is a very updated book with all the routes.
Situation, extention and limits
Located in South America, in the Southern hemisphere, Argentina has a 3.8 million sqm extention; 2.8 are continental - with a 54% plains (praires and savannas), a 23% plateaux and other 23% hills and mountains - and the rest belong to the Antarctica sector. Argentina is 3,800 kilometers long, spanning from 22º to 55º South latitude. The neighbouring countries are Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile with a bordering perimeter of 9,376 kilometers. The maritime coast, on the Atlantic Ocean, reaches the 4,725 kilometers.
Two completely different relieves offer a great contrast in Argentina´s landscape: the llanura Pampeana (plateau) and the Cordillera de los Andes (Andean Mountain range), where the highest mountain of the Western hemisphere is located: the Aconcagua, of 6,959 meters. From the North, beginning by Jujuy down to the South, Tierra del Fuego, in the Patagonia, the cordillera offers a great variety of landscapes: from the Andean high plateaux, with desertic characteristics, covered with valleys, canyons and mounts, to the zone of Patagonian lakes, with beautiful wild forests and majestic glaciers through all Patagonia. The Mesopotamia Argentina framed by the great Parana and Uruguay rivers, as natural geographic limits, is formed by low hills, lakes and marshes which show the old courses of these rivers. The subtropical jungle appears in the Iguazu National Park in the province of Misiones, bordering Brazil, where spectacular natural breakings like the Iguazu Waterfalls and in a smaller degree the Saltos del Moconá (smaller waterfalls) can be enjoyed.
The center of the country is covered by the Llanura Pampeana (plateau), the vastest and most productive in the world, with a great agriculture-livestock exploitation, in Buenos Aires province, South of Santa Fe and Cordoba. The plateau is interrupted by the Tandil, the de la Ventana and the Cordoba mountain ranges. The Central and Atlantic Patagonia is formed by arid and stony plains, with a strong wind towards the Atlantic. The Atlantic Coast has high cliffs, as in Peninsula Valdes, with its wonderful sea animals stations. Its landscape is interrupted to the South by the small mountains at Tandil and de la Ventana and to the West by the Cordoba mountains. To the South, from the Andes to the sea, there are barren and stony Patagonian plains hit most of the year by strong winds. El coastal Atlantic, bordered by high cliffs, draws winding shapes, as the Peninsula Valdes, with its spectacular sea animals stations.
The oficial language in Argentina is Spanish. We can learn some slang called "lunfardo" as an own dialect of the porteña culture (belonging to Buenos Aires). There are also quechua, aymara and guarani, which are indigenous languages spoken by natives who populated the country especially near the borders between Argentina and Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia, but are spoken by few people. Some million people also speak Italian.
As it has a Latin history, Argentina has as official religion the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church. However, there is a total freedom of worship according to the National Constitution in its 14th article. There are a lot of Protestant, Jewish and Islamic communities in all the country, as well as Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox among others. There is an agreement between the National State and the Catholic Church signed together with the Vatican to regulate the relationship between them. Almost 90% Argentinians are baptised as Catholics, although the practicing Catholics are only 50%. There is an important sector of Evangelists in Argentina, some agnostics, less some atheistics and Jews. There are many popular believes with religious orientation such as the Gauchito Gil in Corrientes who has been extended to all the country as well as the Difunta Correa.
Argentina has a wide range of climates, from warm and damp in the centre of the country, in the llanura pampeana (plateau), to cold and damp in the Continental Patagonia and cold and dry in the Andean Patagonia, up to subtropical in the Mesopotamia and hot and dry in the Northeast. From November to March, the media temperature is 25ºC and from June to September it is 10º C.
The total population in Argentina is more than 42 million inhabitants, whose principal concentration is in the Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires and the Buenos Aires province, reaching almost half of its inhabitants. The predominant race is the white race, influenced by Italian and Spaniards. Due to the massive European immigration, the mestizo (mixed race), a crossbreed between white and native, has been disappearing little by little, and today they are only the 4.5% of the total population. The natives - Mapuches, Collas, Tobas, Matacos and Chiriguanos - represent the 0.75% of the inhabitants.
Its cultural roots are predominantly European, this can be appreciated in its architecture, music, literature and lifestyle. It is a country with scarce national identity, due to the Spanish, Italian and other countries in the old Continent´s influence. This is especially in Buenos Aires, not so in the interior of the country where cultural roots are more settled. There are intense cultural activities in the principal cities such as festivals, expositions, cinemas, theatres and concerts. Buenos Aires has some 100 cinemas and 90 theaters, with a wide range of shows, making it one of the cities with highest cultural activity in Latin America.
Nowadays, the peso argentino is the offical currency. Valid bills circulating today are of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos, and coins of 1 peso and of 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos (cents). Argentina is a country with high inflation, the highest in South America, with a 30% annual average. The coin circulation is scarce, we recommend you to ask for them in banks as they are useful for public telephones.