Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, has long held travel enthusiasts in awe. This elongated country is the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, the second-largest country in Latin America, and the eighth-largest country in the world. Moreover, it is home to the tallest mountain in the Americas, Cerro Aconcagua, with its summit at 6,960 m and also, the lowest point in the Americas, Laguna de Carbón, going as deep as 105 m below the sea level. And, there’s even more.
The country also boasts of other tourist attractions―the Iguazú Falls, the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Andes, and a part of the mighty Atacama Desert. And if you are still hungry for more, try doing some tango, treat your taste buds to some amazing steak and wine, and indulge in some classy fútbol.
In 2001-02, when Argentina went through an economic meltdown, one of the government measures to deal with the crisis was to devalue the Argentine peso (Argentina’s currency). The results were obvious―the country instantly became affordable, and traveling became way cheaper. In the subsequent years, Argentina’s economy stabilized to a certain extent; however, inflation soon lead to price rise, making the country an expensive bargain. Today, there is absolutely no denying the fact that Argentina is pricier than what it was some years ago; however, for most Americans and Europeans, an Argentinian vacation may still prove to be a good bargain. Here are Buzzle’s few tips to plan an affordable Argentinian getaway.
❑ Visit During the Off-season
This one may sound a bit typical; however, off-season travel indeed helps save a lot of money. Visit Buenos Aires between December to February, when it is summer and the city is hot and humid. This is the best time to find cheap deals on accommodation in the capital, and also on the airfares. Plus, there is also an added incentive; there are smaller crowds and so, you get to enjoy the tourist spots, mostly for yourself. Similarly, if you wish to visit Patagonia, do not plan to travel in summer, the region’s high season. However, though, you will find affordable deals during the other seasons, it should be noted that services thin out in the Patagonia during the other seasons, and getting public transport can also be relatively tough. So, you will have to book well in advance.
❑ Avoid Specific Areas During Festive Times
People dancing Tango in Buenos Aires
Argentina hosts numerous festivals each year (although less in number than most other South American countries), with many major cities having their own fiestas. For instance, the Buenos Aires Tango is held in Buenos Aires in late-February and early-March each year. Similarly, the Eisteddfod, a one-of-its-kind Welsh festival is held every October in the Patagonian towns of Trelew and Trevelin. Many people opt to travel to Argentina at the time of these festivals, in order to savor the local culture. However, for budget travelers, this might not be a good time to visit, especially at or near the location where the celebrations are held. To get better deals and to save money, ensure that your travel dates do not clash with any of these festivals’ dates.
❑ Stay on the Outskirts of Major Tourist Hubs
La Boca, Buenos Aires
Accommodation within major tourist hubs is always more expensive, not only in Argentina, but also in the other countries around the world. Buenos Aires and Patagonia are the most expensive regions of Argentina, but if you stay on the outskirts of these places, you may find some really affordable accommodation deals. However, there are also several budget options, such as hostels or inexpensive hotels, available in Argentina’s major centers, but you may have to compromise on facilities at some of these places.
❑ Use Argentina’s Extensive Bus Network
Argentina boasts of having an excellent network of buses, which can take you almost everywhere. They are fast and comfortable, and if you choose overnight coaches for long-distance journeys, you can save a substantially on night accommodations. What’s even more exciting about Argentina’s buses is the class system; there are different kinds of buses depending on the comfort and the facilities they provide. Those on a tight budget can opt for the común (common) coaches, which are the cheapest of the lot. Generally, trips to Patagonia are the most expensive, so specially opt for the común buses for such journeys. Moreover, there is a very sparse network of long-distance trains in the country, and domestic flights are obviously very pricey.
❑ Food is Not Cheap, But there are Affordable Options
Waitress Serving Food at Outdoor Restaurant, Buenos
Food tends to be a little pricier in Argentina, and there is a price hike with respect to food almost every month. Western fast foods, such as sandwiches and burgers are pretty affordable, and a cheap meal with a drink, may not be actually cheap, but not very costly either. Moreover, if you are looking for a sit-down restaurant, you may have to spare a few dollars more. Opt for the tenedor Libre, restaurants offering unlimited buffets at fixed prices. This way, you can save a substantial amount on food.
Avoid Taking Guided Tours
Península Valdés, Puero Madryn , Argentina
Attractions in Argentina are much expensive than those in most other South American countries, and most of them just should not be avoided. So, you definitely cannot save much money on attractions. Where you can save money, however, is on the guided tours, which are offered at many of these attractions. Taking self-guided tours instead, can help you save money.
❑ Ensure that You are Not being Overcharged
Calle Florida Street Market
Argentina has several tourist traps and shopping in the country can be really tricky. Some merchants have a notorious reputation of charging the local Argentinians in pesos, and the same price in dollars to international tourists. If you are not cautious enough, there are chance that you may be fleeced some extra money. The best way to avoid this is to pay in Argentine pesos. It is also a good idea to befriend one of the locals, who can then be your guide through the city/country.
❑ Go for Car Rental Only if there is No Other Option
Despite the country’s extensive bus network, it should be noted that some, more remote parts can only be accessed by a private vehicle. This is particularly true in the case of Patagonia, where the terrain is difficult, distances are long, and public transport is relatively sparse. If you are planning to travel to such a region, it may be worth hiring a private car; though it may seem an expensive option, it will surely end up being a good value for your money. While motorcycles are becoming popular modes of private transport in Argentina, there are almost no motorcycle rental companies in the country, and buying one (even if you are on a long holiday) can be expensive. Cycling is also a good option; however, apart from being tiring, unpaved roads and rough terrain may hamper your progress.
While watching your wallet at all times is an excellent idea for those traveling on a budget, there is no harm in splurging out a little. Check out the famous antique markets of Buenos Aires, do some whale watching in Patagonia, and visit one of the wineries in Mendoza. You’ll never stop craving for more.