There are a few things you must know before heading to Argentina. As with any trip, the better prepared you are, the more you’ll get out of the experience!
1- Visas and Passport
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from the date of your return flight home. Depending on your citizenship, you may not need a visa if your stay as a tourist is 90 days or shorter. Make sure to check the requirements here, check with your local Argentine Consulate or Embassy. The payment of a reciprocity fee for the Canadian, USA and Australian citizens has been suspended so you don’t need to pay any fee.
Argentina’s national currency is the Argentine peso. Although the US dollar and the Euro are generally accepted in stores and shops, foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and authorized agencies. The most widely accepted credit cards are American Express, VISA, Diners, and MasterCard.
We usually recommend arriving with at least a small amount of cash, and always having cash on hand when visiting rural areas.
How much cash do you need? There’s no correct answer to this — you will know your spending habits and tastes better than anyone, though be prepared to be tempted by all the fabulous shopping and dining opportunities! A lunch/dinner in a good restaurant with a good wine can be around USD 25-USD 50 in Buenos Aires and Patagonia. Expect the north of the country to be much cheaper than Buenos Aires.
3- Vat refunds on accommodation
International visitors receive a direct and automatic reimbursement of the 21% value-added tax (VAT) charged on accommodation in Argentina. VAT on hotel stays and other accommodation will automatically be refunded for international visitors who pay with a foreign credit card or via bank transfer from a foreign bank. The elimination of VAT on accommodation charges, combined with a favorable exchange rate, make visiting Argentina more affordable.
4- Tax-free shopping
Foreign tourists are eligible to reclaim tax (VAT) on purchases of domestically-manufactured goods with a value over ARS $70 when made at participating outlets. The Global Blue website has useful information on the tax reclaim process here. AFIP, the Argentine tax authority, also has information in Spanish here.
5- Traveling Around Argentina
Due to the large size of the country, flying is the most convenient way of traveling long distances all over the country. Flying can be combined with land transportation. There are a number of airlines offering domestic flights, including Aerolíneas Argentinas, Austral, Andes Líneas Aéreas, LADE and LATAM Argentina. Domestic flights and flights to Uruguay depart from Jorge Newbery Airport, located to the north of the City of Buenos Aires As far as traveling by land goes, dozens of buses leave daily from Retiro Bus Station, located in downtown Buenos Aires, to most of the country’s main cities. Long-distance buses are equipped with onboard toilets, air conditioning, and a bar.
6- Prepaid telephone cards and sim cards
Prepaid telephone cards are available from many tobacconists and newsagents (‘kioscos’), or call-shops/cyber cafes (‘locutorios’). Locutorios can be found all over the city, and offer telephone booths and internet access. Local sim cards/chips for your mobile phone can be bought from mobile phone stores and from many kiosks. The leading telephone networks in Buenos Aires are Personal, Movistar and Claro.
7 – Internet
Hotels, cafes and restaurants have free wifi in Argentina. In Buenos Aires you can download an app and have access to free wi-fi un many points of the city.
Buenos Aires has over 250 free wifi hotspots in the city, including on the subway and Metrobus transport networks. The BA WiFi app allows users to locate hotspots from their smartphones. You can download the BA WiFi application here. Many bars, cafes and restaurants have free wifi for clients. In the rest of the country, internet is often available in hotels, but not always available during your excursions.
8 – Opening hours
The time zone in Argentina is UTC/GMT-3 and there are no time changes during the year. Activity in Argentina starts early in the morning and continues until very late at night.
Shops: Most shops open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and at least 9am – 1pm on Saturdays, but many stores on the main avenues and in the main commercial areas also open all Saturday afternoon. Shopping malls usually open until 10pm, including on Sundays and public holidays.
Banks open 10am – 3pm, Monday – Friday. Some branches in the central downtown area may open until 4pm. Cash withdrawals can be made from ATMs/cash machines 24 hours a day.
Times: Locals fit their meals around work and other commitments and times may vary, but in general breakfast is between 7am and 10pm, lunch between 12.30pm and 3pm and dinner between 8pm and 11pm.
9 – Electricity
Electric current in Argentina is AC 220-380 volts. Electric plug configurations used have 2 or 3 flat pins with the top two pins diagonally angled.
10 – Health and security
Argentina is a safe, modern country with high police presence and good quality health provision. No vaccinations are required for entry into Argentina. Tap water is drinkable. Although Public hospitals are open 24 hours a day and attend patients free of charge, we always recommend getting a travel medical insurance for your trip.
In Buenos Aires, like in many large metropolis, visitors should always take precautions, particularly in tourist hot spots and crowded places.