We had always heard how amazing this country in South America was. Yet, until we learned all these interesting facts about Argentina we had no idea what to expect! The history, food, and culture surprised us at every turn on our visit and we left completely blown away. Here’s a collection of our biggest surprises, travel tips, and things to know about Argentina before you go!
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Argentina Travel Inspiration
- The Tastiest Dishes and Drinks We Tried Traveling Through Argentina
- How to Crush the Laguna Torre Day Hike from El Chalten
- 12 Facts About Iguazu Falls That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust
- The Best Hiking in El Chalten: Our Guide to the Top Day Treks
- Visiting El Bolson Argentina and the Cerro Amigo Hiking Trail
20 Interesting Facts About Argentina
1. A Massive Country
To say Argentina is a large country would be a vast understatement. It sits as the 8th largest country in the world, and also the biggest Spanish-speaking country. In terms of population, Argentina has just over 45 million people living within its borders. So as you’re reading all these Argentina facts just remember how big it truly is!
2. European Immigration
One of the most interesting facts about Argentina is the immigrant movement from Europe in the 19th century. Specifically, from countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, people came in droves to Argentina’s cities and fertile lands.
It can be seen clearly in the alpine-style architecture in many of the mountain towns, and in the incredibly diverse food of the country. One story we found particularly fascinating was about the La Boca Neighborhood in Buenos Aires. At one point this port neighborhood had a population almost exclusively from Genoa, Italy.
3. Yerba Mate Tea
Argentinians are serious about their tea, and they drink it in the coolest way possible! Basically, everyone has their own cup and personalized straw, most of which have a fun design and color. The mata tea leaves are packed directly into the cup, and a small amount of hot water is poured on top.
Yerba Mate is rich in antioxidants and nutrients and has many health benefits. In a group setting it’s common to share your cup with friends and even strangers. Everywhere we went in Argentina we saw people with large thermoses enjoying Yerba Mate from morning to night.
4. Awesome Bus System
Remember our Argentina fact about how big the country is? Well, that means you’ll need multiple ways to get around. Let’s start off by saying we’ve been in an outrageous number of buses throughout our travels around the world. We’ve taken everything from furgon vans in Albania to sketchy overnight buses in Vietnam, and even a 24-hour bus ride in Chile!
We were impressed with how comfortable and efficient the Argentina bus system was especially comparing it to the rest of South America. Still, if you’re looking into a long bus ride be sure to check the flights first to compare prices! Flights are often a much faster way to get in between destinations and in some cases even cheaper.
5. Italian Food
While great Italian food can be found all over the world, we were surprised at their level of expertise in Argentina. From gnocchi to lasagna you can get it all in this diverse country! So why is Italian food so good in Argentina?
It’s mostly due to the European immigration we mentioned before, and Argentinians have since put their own twist on it. With their own sauces and amazing cheese blends, the Italian food scene in Argentina is bursting with flavor. Be sure to try Sorrentinos which is their deliciously doughy version of ravioli.
6. Craft Beer
Ready for more interesting facts about Argentina? How about a thriving craft beer scene! While the country is known for its amazing selection of red wine, they also have an abundance of great breweries to enjoy.
We found that especially in the hiking towns like El Chalten in Patagonia there were so many fun places to grab a beer. So in between Malbec and steak don’t forget about the hops!
7. Grass-Fed Meat
Speaking of steak… You may have heard that Argentina has some of the best in the world. We were plenty aware of the great meat selection before our own Argentina travel but had no idea why it was so good.
In comparison to countries where the animals are grain-fed, in Argentina the cows are free to graze in the grass. This obviously makes for a more natural and hearty taste. In the United States, we’re used to seeing the more expensive meat labeled “Grass Fed.” Yet, in Argentina we found out that’s a normal occurrence!
Traveling to Buenos Aires? Check out our Food Lovers Guide for the best restaurants in the San Telmo Neighborhood.
8. Mix of Seasons
Argentina is located in the Southern Hemisphere which means it has opposite seasons than if you live in the U.S. or Europe. Winter is often short and typically runs from June to August.
The temperate climate and mountain ranges make for some spectacular scenery. It also can bring a ton of fun in the outdoors depending on what time of year you visit. When traveling in the spring, we were hiking in Patagonia in short sleeves with snow all around us!
9. Great Depression
Unfortunately, not all our interesting facts about Argentina are positive ones. The economy has had a bumpy ride over the last century, crescendoing with its own “Great Depression” from 1998-2002.
Still, it is one of the better-off countries in Latin America. Argentina ranks 3rd in GDP after Brazil and Mexico and is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination in this part of the world.
10. Underground Money Exchange
Due to the instability of the Argentine Peso, it has created a unique system on the street. While first walking around Argentina’s major cities we were confused to see people approaching us saying “Cambio, Cambio!”
We would come to find out that there is an underground money exchange for U.S. dollars. The street exchangers will give you a better price than the official exchange offices for turning your dollars into pesos.
We wouldn’t recommend this as one of our Argentina tips as it’s technically illegal. However, it is known as a way that some budget travelers choose to save money.
11. Glaciers Galore
Did you know Argentina is home to some of the largest glaciers in the world? Outside of nearby Antarctica, this country is one of the best places to see these incredible feats of nature.
The most popular glacier to visit is Perito Moreno because of its easy access from El Calafate. Yet, it’s not nearly the biggest in Patagonia! Upsala is the largest glacier in South America at 60 km long and 10km wide. If you can believe it, the massive field of ice stretches across both Chile and Argentina.
12. Famous Wine Region
Have you ever tried Malbec? One of the most interesting facts about Argentina involves this delicious red wine! Argentina is the world’s largest maker of Malbec and the Mendoza region produces 70% of it within the country.
Set with the Andes Mountain Range as its backdrop, this part of Argentina should be included in every Argentina travel itinerary. You can take buses between the vineyards from the city, or even a wine bicycle tour on your visit!
13. Nazi Hideout
Despite the healthy migration of Europeans to Argentina in the 19th century, there was one ugly truth after World War II. Juan Peron was Argentina’s President at the time and known as a nazi sympathizer.
After the war, there were escape routes set up called the Ratlines. This allowed Nazis to sneak out of European countries and avoid being prosecuted for war crimes. Many were exposed by investigative reporters years later, but we will never know many truly made it to Argentina.
14. Day Trips to Other Countries
Did you know Argentina borders 5 different countries in South America? This means you can easily go between nations and have completely different cultural experiences.
One of the most popular day trips is from Buenos Aires to Uruguay. You can actually take a boat from Argentina’s largest city to a town called Colonia del Sacramento.
Another amazing day trip from Argentina is Iguazu falls. You can grab a bus to the Brazilian side of these incredible waterfalls and take in the epic views after seeing the Argentinian side. Once you’ve read over our Argentina travel guide, make sure to plan out some quick trips to other countries if you have time.
15. Largest Waterfall System in the World
Don’t worry, we weren’t just going to skip over the largest waterfall system in the world. Yes, you’re reading that right! Not only is Argentina home to extraordinary mountain ranges and cities, but also some of the most magical waterfalls you’ll ever see.
In total, Iguazu Falls has over 275 waterfalls stretching over two countries. Although Iguazu is plenty visible in Brazil, over 80% of the waterfalls reside on the Argentinian side.
A trip to Iguazu falls will take you over, underneath, and directly into the waterfalls on the steel-built walking planks. One of our best Argentina tips is to also take the boat tour down the Iguazu River. This will give you an up-close look at these majestic falls… Just be prepared to get wet!
→ Complete Two Day Iguazu Falls Itinerary Visiting Argentina & Brazil
16. Swiss Alpine Town
A Swiss alpine town in Argentina?? Yeah, we were confused as well. However, from the moment we stepped foot in Bariloche we fell in love! Swiss architecture and food mixed with Argentinian culture, set right under the Andes Mountains? Sign us up!
One of the most popular activities in Bariloche is skiing, and it brings travelers from around the world here during the winter months. We also loved taking in the scenery on a bike tour from town.
Bariloche sits on Nahuel Huapi, which is the largest of the lake region in Argentina. This part of Argentina is worth exploring in itself and we highly recommend doing the beautiful Seven Lakes Drive.
17. Excessive Atm Fees
ATM fees are a crappy reality of traveling, but they’re taken to new extremes in Argentina. Be ready to pay anywhere from $6 to $11 in fees when you withdraw money! So how do you avoid this on your travels to this one-of-a-kind country in South America?
Before heading out on your Argentina travel you should sign up for a debit card with no ATM fees. International banks like Charles Schwab, Etrade, and Fidelity will actually refund your ATM withdrawal fees at the end of each month.
We also recommend bringing some cash in USD. Even if you’re just exchanging money it will be better than paying those high fees at Argentinian ATMs.
18. Incredible Hiking
Did you really think we would make it through this Argentina facts blog without mentioning the unbelievable hiking? The unique and colorful scenery of this country makes for some of the most epic treks and hikes in the world.
The very best is known to be in the Patagonia region. Travelers from all around the globe come to the tiny mountain town of El Chalten to take on both day and multi-day treks. One of our favorite hikes we’ve ever done was Mount Fitz Roy in Argentina. Totally worth the 13+ miles for those views!
19. Local Markets
South America is known for its amazing local markets, and Argentina has some of the best. Everywhere from local mountain towns to the sprawling city of Buenos Aires, you will find markets selling local Argentine goods. They are great places to buy souvenirs on your journey, delicious food, and drinks.
One of the largest markets we’ve ever seen was San Telmo in Buenos Aires. This outdoor market is held every Sunday and stretches for blocks and blocks as far as the eye can see. Definitely hit this market on your visit to the big city!
20. The Choripan
So now you know Argentina facts about steaks, Italian food, and red wine… But what about street food? Well there’s plenty of it in cities like Buenos Aires, and our favorite snack was the Choripan!
Slathered in salsa and chimichurri sauce, the Choripan quickly became a daily ritual for us. The best part is you can get one from a restaurant for around 100 pesos ($1 USD), or even at a grill on the street.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own interesting facts about Argentina? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Argentina Travel Planning
Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Remember that a lot of the time it’s cheaper to fly between cities in Argentina than driving or taking the bus!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling in Argentina. It is especially fun to have a car in scenic regions like Patagonia.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Argentina. Attend a tango show in Buenos Aires, visit Iguazu Falls with an epic boat tour, or go glacier trekking in El Calafate!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Here’s all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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