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What to Know Before Going to Argentina

If you’re planning a trip to Argentina, get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Whether you’re spending a few weeks exploring the cities, culture, and landscapes of this vast country or simply spending the day in Ushuaia before your Antarctic cruise, there is so much to love about the spectacular, welcoming, and beautiful country of Argentina.

For many South American travellers, Buenos Aires may be their first stop in the continent, so you’re not alone if you’re feeling unsure about things like currency, safety, and language.

If you’re wondering what to know before going to Argentina, we’ve compiled this guide to help you prepare for your upcoming trip. 

Argentina is one of the safest South American countries

It’s normal to be concerned about safety before travelling to any new destination, but is it safe to visit Argentina?

You may find it reassuring to know that Argentina is one of the safest destinations in South America. Based on the Global Peace Index ratings, which examine conflict, militarisation, and safety and security, Argentina is considered the second safest country in the continent, only behind Uruguay.

In all major cities in Argentina, there is a small risk of robbery and petty crime based on opportunity, so always take caution as you would anywhere, keeping a sharp eye on your belongings. To prevent opportunistic crime, it’s best to leave valuables at home and only bring the amount of cash with you for each day, leaving the rest in your hotel safe.

If you’re visiting Patagonia, it’s considered an extremely safe destination, with very low crime levels.

In short, you shouldn’t feel worried about visiting Argentina, as the country is safe and very welcoming of tourists. If you have questions about your safety, your hotel concierge or local Chimu representative is there to assist. 


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Patagonia, a popular hiking destination, is known for being very safe. 


Currency fluctuations are common in Argentina

If you’ve been researching exchange rates and currency in Argentina, you might be a little confused - and you’re not alone in this! The economy of Argentina is volatile due to inflation and post-pandemic recovery, so the currency exchange rates can change very quickly, leaving many tourists confused about how to handle money when visiting.

Argentina operates on the Argentine peso, with each peso subdivided into 100 centavos. However, you’re not likely to ever need any centavos, as they’re worth very very little. As of April 2024, one Australian dollar is worth around 560 pesos.

Before going to Argentina, it’s best to just accept that their currency may not be as stable as other currencies you’re used to, so be prepared for fluctuations.

There are actually three currency conversion types that you’ll encounter in the country: the official government rate, the rate your credit card will exchange (which varies, it can be closer to the blue rate or in between the official rate and the blue rate), and the blue rate.

You may have heard of the blue rate, which is the informal currency exchange rate (as compared to the official government rate). It’s used frequently throughout the country and provides some stability to local economies. While previously only available with cash exchanges, Visa and Mastercard, as of the end of 2022, are now converting close to the blue rates, so you can still use your credit card with confidence when travelling in Argentina.

If you’re a little confused, you’re not alone! When you arrive in Argentina, we recommend asking your Chimu representative about the best way to access local currency.


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If you're visiting Argentina, plan on exchanging some cash once you arrive. 


Exchanging cash in Argentina - Why you need it and how to get the best rates

With so many countries around the world moving towards cashless transactions, do you need cash when travelling in Argentina?

Yes, it’s recommended to travel with some cash to Argentina. While credit cards are widely accepted, many vendors will prefer cash, especially for smaller purchases like taxi fares, your morning coffee, or small souvenirs.

You’ll find currency exchange bureaus all over Argentina. It’s better to wait until you’re in the country to exchange cash, as you’ll get a better rate than you would in your home country. Exchange bureaus in Argentina generally prefer US dollars, in higher denominations, that are crisp and new.

There are also ATMs throughout the country where you can withdraw from your account back home, but be sure to let them know in advance that you’ll be travelling overseas. However, the ATM exchange rate is generally not as good as the cash exchange rate.

At Chimu Adventures, one of the questions we’re asked most frequently about Argentina is regarding money and currency exchange, so we’re always here to assist. Our experienced Destination Specialists have travelled extensively in Argentina and can provide answers for you based on recent first-hand experience in the country. 


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Local markets can be a great place to practice your Spanish!


Argentine Spanish differs from other Spanish-speaking countries

You’ve been working diligently on your Duolingo to brush up on your Spanish before travelling, but once you arrive in Argentina, things sound a bit different - what’s going on?

Many arrivals are surprised to discover that the Spanish spoken in Argentina is not quite the same as in Spain. Also known as Rioplatense Spanish, this dialect of Spanish is only found in Argentina and Uruguay. With varying accents, verb conjugation, pronunciation, and grammar, you’ll find a few differences when speaking Spanish in Argentina. Don’t stress though, as Spanish speakers will soon pick up on the differences.

And if you happen to speak Italian, you’ll be glad to know that Argentina has one of the largest Italian populations in the world - the third largest outside of Italy!

While some levels of English are spoken in the major tourist areas of Argentina, it’s always helpful to try and learn at least a few words in Spanish before you go.

In Chimu’s Signature South America itineraries, we work with local guides who are fluent in English, ensuring our guests feel comfortable as they explore Argentina. 


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The weather in Argentina varies, with Iguazu Falls known for being hot and humid. 


The size of Argentina is vast, so be prepared for a varied climate

Not only is South America a huge continent, but Argentina is a huge country! If you’re planning a trip, don’t underestimate the size of Argentina - and the varied climate it brings. 

It’s the 8th largest country in the world and 2,780,400 km² in size, so be prepared for very different weather as you travel. While Patagonia is often cold, windy, and rainy, even in the summer months, Buenos Aires could be enjoying a balmy 28 C day at the same time of year.

If you’re wondering what to pack for Argentina, our top tip is lightweight layers that you can take off and put on as the weather changes. Patagonia-bound? In that case, warm, waterproof gear will also come in handy, especially if you’re travelling onward to Antarctica.

Travel insurance is not government mandated, but is highly recommended

Do you need travel insurance to enter Argentina? While this was mandatory post-pandemic, the government no longer requires each traveller to have travel insurance - instead, it’s highly recommended.

Accidents, flight delays, and disruptions can happen at any time, so don’t take the risk by travelling without insurance. If you’re going on an Antarctic cruise after Argentina, note that travel insurance is mandatory. Chimu also requires all travellers to South America to have adequate travel insurance to ensure your trip is memorable in all the right ways.


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Empanadas can make for an easy dinner, or even an afternoon snack. 


Dinner is enjoyed later in the evening than in other parts of the world

If you’re a fan of early bird specials, note that Argentina takes a page from the Spain and Portugal dinner playbook - you won’t find anyone heading out to dinner around 5 or 6 pm!

In Argentina, dinner is enjoyed later in the evening, so a 9 pm or 10 pm dinner reservation is common, with many restaurants not opening before 8 pm. Dining in Argentina is an unbelievable experience though, especially at an asado restaurant or enjoying king crab in Ushuaia, so it’s worth staying up late for!

You can always find somewhere for a late afternoon snack or a glass of Malbec if you’re looking for something to hold you over. 

Download WhatsApp, if you haven’t already 

WhatsApp is an extremely popular way to communicate in Argentina, so it’s recommended to download the app before your travels, if you haven’t already. WhatsApp is a messaging platform that uses your phone number, but it runs on the internet or Wi-Fi, rather than through your phone's data plan, allowing you to make calls or send text messages via any internet connection.

Many tour operators and hotels will use WhatsApp to communicate with you and organise pick-up times, so this free and secure app is well worth a download before you travel. It’s also the main method of communication used by Chimu ground staff once you’ve arrived. Plus, if you’re connected to your hotel's WiFi, it’ll be easier to send messages without tapping into your international roaming plan.

Dreaming of an Argentinian adventure? Or have questions about your upcoming trip? Contact us to get started, we’re always here to help.


Written By Katie
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