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Argentina: The Best and Worst

So it is finally time to wrap up my time in Argentina. Almost four months in this country, the longest I’ve been in any one place for quite a long time. It’s been fun but I am more than ready to move on!

But not before I recap the past few months…

Total Days in Argentina: 99

Amount Spent: (I’m only counting the first and last week to give a better view on travel versus LIVING in Argentina. So this is for 2 weeks, one in Buenos Aires and one traveling the country) $862

Amount Per Day: $61.50 a day. This seems pretty accurate to me. Argentina is NOT a value destination by any stretch, particularly in Buenos Aires.

Places Visited: Buenos Aires, Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza

 Favorite Places: Rosario (where I should have lived) and Mendoza

Least Favorite Place: Cordoba. I was so uninspired I didn’t write a word.

Most Memorable Moments: Wine tasting in Mendoza, catching a major protest in downtown BA, hosting dinner parties in our lovely top floor apartment.

Biggest Misconception: That Argentina is a budget destination- prices are on par with Europe these days! In Buenos Aires we were hard pressed to get a (non self-catered meal) for less than $7 a person and even crappy dorm rooms in hostels are $15+.

Best Meal: Too many to choose! Many steak dinners at La Cabrera and the asian fare at closed door Cocina Sunae.

Worst Meal: Nothing was bad per se, but my goodness did I ever get tired of eating the same things over and over and over. Variety is not the spice of life in Argentina.

Most Annoying Thing: The crazy inflated price of groceries and the constant craving for fresh veggies.

Most Visited Attraction: I ended up at La Recoleta Cemetery three times! I know I said I love cemeteries but this was entirely unintential I swear.

Best Wildlife Shot: Look at those parrots from Temaikan zoo. They totally want to rip my face off.

Best Advice: Don’t just visit Buenos Aires, get out and explore the rest of the country! Also don’t come in Jan/Feb unless you like the sensation of being roasted alive.

Biggest Regret: Not making it to Patagonia. Sigh. Hopefully it will be in the budget next time….

Would I Come Back? Definitely, although I’ve had my fill for a little while at least.

45 Responses to Argentina: The Best and Worst

  1. Bethany ~ twoOregonians May 6, 2012 at 9:36 AM #

    +1 on the incessant craving for fresh fruits and veggies and the higher than anticipated prices in Buenos Aires. Oh, and the being roasted alive in February.

    Three cheers for friendly travelers, expats, and locals, though. They’re the ones that truly Argentina come alive during our visit. 🙂

    • Steph May 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

      Glad we got to spend some time with you guys!

  2. Connor Davies May 6, 2012 at 10:51 AM #

    Having lived in Buenos Aires for a number of years now, I absolutely agree with you that prices are high, and going up. Inflation is a joke here – rent goes up by 20% each year, a trip to the supermarket is undertaken with dread. It’s still cheaper than most places in Europe, but the glory days of being able to eat out three times a week and not even feel the pinch are well over.

    Still a great place to live though, and seven months of summer (Oct-Apr) never gets tiring.

    • Steph May 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

      Yeah I noticed inflation rise in just the three months we were there. Some groceries are just ridiculous! It’s a nice place, but the economy makes it stressful.

  3. Jill May 6, 2012 at 10:55 AM #

    This was a fun post to read with my boyfriend. He’s really interested in going to South America, and Argentina in particular, so we are trying to get a realistic idea of the costs. I keep telling him it’s pricier than he thinks. He’s heard stories about amazing $2 steaks…but it sounds like those days are over.

    • Steph May 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM #

      This was definitely more the case a few years ago. Steak is still a good value but only if you cook it yourself. The Argentinean inflation seems to go in waves, so if oyu wait a few years prices may drop again.

  4. Meg from LandingStanding May 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM #

    What a great recap!! Love this article and agreed with almost all of it! Patagonia was awesome – You should definitely check it out next time… Especially El Chalten! But at least Mendoza was on your list – We had so much fun there as well! Suuuuch good wine!

  5. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 6, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

    While those steaks look awesome, I hear ya on the craving fresh veggies; I barely made it through the UK without feeling like I was getting scurvy, and I so desperately wanted to eat something that wasn’t a potato!

  6. Andrea May 7, 2012 at 1:54 AM #

    I’ve never been to South America and I don’t have too many preconceived notions about that area, but I will say, I’ve been surprised to hear you say BA is as expensive as Europe. It sounds awesome though, guess I gotta add it to my never-ending bucket list 🙂

  7. Tony May 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM #

    The prices were crazy! I guess everybody still thinks it is 2001 when they told us you can live like a king in BA… well you can live like royalty if you pay for it! Patgonia is a must, but dang was everything way more expensive than I thought. And you better like hiking!

  8. Jessica May 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM #

    Prices are crazy but how did you afford 2 weeks with $862? What type of experience (lodging, transportation, etc) could I expect with a 1000$ budget for two weeks (how did you do it!?).. I am trying to plan! thanks

    • Steph May 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM #

      The first week in Buenos Aires we rented an apartment ($300 split two ways) and the second week outside of BA we stayed in private rooms in hostels (usually about $15- $20 per person). We cooked for ourselves a lot in BA where food is massively expensive and all of the hostels provided free breakfast. Traveled by bus, which are very nice in Argentina and not particularly cheap. We didn’t do a lot of tours and such (or we had them sponsored) so I would factor in a bit of extra money for that.
      As a rule, everything in Buenos Aires is much more expensive than anything elsewhere (except Patagonia which I did not visit but is supposed to be crazy pricey).

  9. Ryan at Travel and Graphs May 7, 2012 at 1:57 PM #

    Very even handed account of the country! I always enjoy reading recaps that are more than just glamour pieces.

    A note on prices, Argentina has taken some very bold economic decisions over the last decade…and while the rise in price around B.A. is frustrating, the country should be given credit for making hard long run choices that will ultimately benefit the Argentine people.

    • Steph May 7, 2012 at 2:13 PM #

      Possibly. I don’t think it benefits the Argentines to pay higher prices either. Particularly when the unemployment rate is so high. I’ve read a lot of debate on both sides. The country is definitely headed for something big but I don’t know if it’s something good.

  10. cornelius aesop May 8, 2012 at 6:21 AM #

    Thanks for writing this post, Argentina is on our list of places to visit unfortunately likely in jan/feb.

    I knew argentina isn’t a cheap destination but it is good to have some general figures. I’m hoping that my wife and I can share and split costs so that we don’t just double your figure.

    • Steph May 8, 2012 at 8:27 AM #

      I should mention that I was with my BF this whole time, so these figures are really half of a couple. Sharing rooms and rent definitely did help a bit.

  11. Emily in Chile May 8, 2012 at 12:04 PM #

    Come to Chilean Patagonia – cross off a new country AND see the south! Question: what made you feel that way about Córdoba? I haven’t been, but I know a lot of people who really like both the city and the surrounding countryside, so I’m curious to hear another point of view.

  12. Jeremy Branham May 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM #

    With Rease and Stephanie in Argentina, I’ve heard BA was expensive. Still some great places to visit. Too bad you didn’t get to Patagonia. And even though I do like meat, BA might even be a bit much for me!

  13. Terri May 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM #

    I totally agree about missing fresh veggies. It was hard to get vegetables that were prepared well. We had a salad once or twice, but they were just okay and pretyt much consisted of iceberg lettuce and tomato. I also agree that there just isn’t varied food there even though we still ate quite well. Patagonia was wonderful, and I’ll be writing about my experience there soon.

    • Steph May 15, 2012 at 1:41 AM #

      Argentinean Salad= lettuce, tomatoes and onions. No wonder nobody is interested in it!

  14. Joaquin May 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM #

    Hello Steph, great post!
    Not agree with you. I’m from buenos aires, Argentina, i’m 30 years old… but i hate it! I hate my country, sorry family..but… i hate the city, is too dirty, the people aren’t polite, the prices, the economy..
    I’d like to live in other country, i don’t kow, but not in Argentina

  15. Sharlene Boodram May 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM #

    “Variety is not the spice of life in Argentina.” I couldn’t agree more! I never ate so much beef in my life. The street tango made it all worthwhile though ;).

  16. Chrystal McKay May 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM #

    I like this round up. I lived in Buenos Aires next year and I will never return. As a vegetarian and spice lover – Argentina and me don’t mesh. But the sheer beauty of the rest of the country – Amazing.

    • Steph May 22, 2012 at 5:50 AM #

      Mike and I often remarked how tough it would be for a vegetarian in this country- the salads are so blah!

  17. Kretina July 12, 2012 at 6:59 PM #

    Argentina used to have the best beef in the world, but since the Kirchners have been in power, the beef industry has been completely destroyed. Nobody should eat the poor quality and polluted beef, it’s not fit for human consumption. Argentine beef loaded with hormones, drugs and chemicals that have been outlawed in the USA and Europe and they have been known to ship rotten beef for export after it’s been washed with bleach and ammonia, injected with formaldehyde and red food coloring.
    Argentine lemons are sprayed with toxic, dangerous cancer and nerve damage causing chemicals and injected with artificial yellow coloring. The soil in Argentina is so depleted of minerals in that lemons grow white on trees and have no flavor.
    Industrial products – tools, automobiles, machinery & appliances from Argentina are the worst, poorest quality in the world. Even the chinese won’t buy them. No industrial standard, the lowest quality raw materials, no testing is done before they are shipped. This has caused serious injuries by unsafe products, many people have been electrocuted by Argentine washing machines & hot water heaters that leave the factory with short circuits.
    All countries should completely avoid ALL Argentine products permanently.
    Very scary news about Argentina signing a military cooperation agreement with Venezuela, they are looking to start a war.
    http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/105945/argentina-venezuela-to-sign-military-agreement
    And the new “militant” movement that Kirchners are starting that make “La Cámpora” look like a group of kids in nursery school? It’s called “Vatayon”, a Kirchner backed group that goes into prisons of Argentina to recruit supporters for their political movement!
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/vatayonmilitante

  18. matthew October 5, 2012 at 7:55 AM #

    I just would like to ask people in this forum why you visit a place for for “budget”?? what made you think that argentina should be a bargain?? it has culture, complex and interesting, long term historical lessons, literature, etc. Im not talking about inflation and the very day economy im talking about “bargain” desire that some travellers seem to have.
    I live in Australia and this place is so expensive for what it delivers. Yet nobody seem to realize that, except australians overseas.
    Developing countries shouldnt be a bargain nor should overseas visitors go there just for that.
    Dig deeper….please.
    I also live in Israel and it was similar to Argentina in many levels. Tthere is variety in their capacity…
    Learn to open your mind a bit more.
    I come across english speaking travellers all the time and it never stops surprising me their limited knowledge of the world and how to read other societies…
    sorry, its my honest share.

    • Steph October 5, 2012 at 9:37 AM #

      Well I would guess people are concerned about budget b/c they have a limited amount of money. I’m in western europe right now and it is very expensive, but that is okay because I planned for it. I would never say not to visit Argentina b/c it is expensive, but it’s certainly important to know before you go.

  19. Richard Lemus November 15, 2012 at 9:33 AM #

    Yes, prices here are increasing, but people knows that things will change. The same situation happens here every 10 years. And this government will leave in a short period and maybe someone (but nobody knows who) turn to the other side. If someone dicede yo move (I have my own soya farm and couldn’t be better), I suggest to deal with immigration mess with support form a specialist…don’t try by yourself. I’ve tryied and lost 2 months dealing with paperwork. After that period without results, I’ve contracted a specialized lawyer (I think his name is Paulo or something similar) and for a small cost they gave my residence in few days. If Am I remember well, the company is emigratetoargentina.com , and I nannot provide emails or phones, I couldn’t find them. Best places: Iguazu, Mendoza, Villa La Angostura, Perito Moreno, Usuhaia and Salta!!!

  20. Myrna February 1, 2013 at 4:06 PM #

    Touche. Sound arguments. Keep up the good effort.

  21. Marc February 12, 2013 at 10:26 PM #

    i’m not agree with you about cordoba…

  22. john March 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM #

    Thank you for your report. I have been to sao paulo and it is super expensive as well as Buenos Aires. Stay away from Big Cities, most city folks are rude and obnoxios. When I went to the small towns and resorts, eating was dirt cheap. I do agree with you on lack of vegetables. Argentina as well as Brazil do not have vegetables. They do have a of fruits though. If you are a meat eater, then these countries are heaven. Stick with the small resort towns that locals go to. You will be treated like you are super star celebrity. Small town folks will always be small town folks. I intend to visit some fishing villages in Argentina and get to know the locals.

  23. Reima July 13, 2013 at 11:58 AM #

    Wow to see that it has changed! I was in Argentina in 2009 and it was cheap for me! A lot cheaper then and a few years later to hear this! I’m sad that its becoming more expensive. I absolutely loved Argentina! The food was really good, easy to get around, and so much to do! I went in February of that year and thought the weather was perfect! Well, besides Mendoza, because it was really hot at that time! I also can’t wait to get back to see Patagonia! I regretted not being able to go there then.

  24. ande October 20, 2013 at 11:55 AM #

    Wonderful blog! Argentines are definitely not adventurous eaters, that is the bane of my life here!

    I have to offer a dissenting opinion on the prices though — it is still a budget destination if you are in the know.

    The thing is that some travelers don’t realize the huge difference between the informal exchange rate and the official exchange rate. If you get money from the ATM (getting the official exchange rate, of a little more than 5 pesos to the dollar) than yes, it is fairly expensive, BUT if you bring cash or wire yourself money (thereby getting what is called the ‘blue rate’) you get 40% more pesos for your foreign currency. It makes a huge difference!

    You also have to know where to look, because there are basically two economies here. For instance many end up paying $15 for a hostel bed, but here in San Telmo you can get a decent private room at the Victoria Hotel for less than $10.

    So the circa 2005 days of $2 steaks are gone, but if you are getting the black market or blue market rate for your currency you can still get a nice steak and wine dinner for under $10.

  25. Milly Day January 22, 2014 at 5:16 PM #

    I’ve been in Buenos Aires for almost a year now, the food cravings I have are unbelievable…I want some veg, some spice, less meat and more herbs & spices por favor!!

    • Steph January 22, 2014 at 6:03 PM #

      Yeah I had a hard time in BA too, I just wanted some fresh veggies!

  26. William Slokem July 24, 2014 at 4:59 AM #

    I was in Argentina in March 2010. Would love to go back! You talk pricey! Try living in Vancouver. I call it Monaco North America! I thought Argentina was quite reasonable.

    • tim September 14, 2015 at 5:15 AM #

      Currently “Consumer Prices Including Rent” in Vancouver are 18.31% higher than in Buenos Aires but the salaries are twice as much on average.. You’re talking 2010 prices, Argentina is an economic disaster with a real annual inflation rate of 30%+ (government likes to show it lower than it is).. may offer quite a lot of culture and all but is still a poor Latin American country with high crime rate that should have prices accordingly and shall do soon with another collapse. This is not USA or West Europe..

  27. Brian Kohn January 8, 2015 at 2:56 PM #

    We just got back from two months in Argentina. I feel you on the veggie cravings. I will say that the recent blue dollar rates have made the country a little more budget friendly, but far from a Peru, Bolivia, or Ecuador. You really just have to time it with the inflationary cycles to get good value (which is now!). And, yes, Patagonia is incredible and would be worth a trip back.

  28. ruthisan February 19, 2015 at 9:07 PM #

    Yeah I feel like Argentina is a destination for people of the first world, unfortunately we found it much too expensive and the quality for what we were paying for was somewhat lacking. Unfortunately or fortunately it isn’t a long stay, we’re here for a five day trip to Mendoza from Chile, heading back on Saturday (not that Chile is the cheapest either). We found the average meal is about $8.36US to over $10.00US, we haven’t found a decent meal for less than +-$6.00US. I’m not sure if that’s normal in the US but from where I’m from (South Africa), you can get the same quality meal or better for about $4.00US. I walked passed a McDonald’s today and saw a price for the big mac meal being A$80 which is $9.20US, in South Africa the same meal would be about $4.11US. This might seem reasonable to people who can actually afford all this but unfortunately argentina is a country I will have to put off for many years. I won’t be able to afford it until I’m making an amazing salary and have everything in my life sorted, and after saying that I’m guessing I will have to remove half the world from my bucket list.

    • a. wanderer February 19, 2015 at 9:26 PM #

      It seems you didn’t learn about the Blue Dollar before your trip, because the AR$80 meal you mention would actually be US$6. Still, prepared food is relatively expensive in Argentina, but if travelers bypass banks to get the blue rate they save 40%.

      • Steph February 19, 2015 at 10:37 PM #

        This is true now. The exchange rate was not quite as juicy mid-2012 when I wrote this. Nonetheless, coming from other countries in South America and not directly from the US meant we didn’t have a lot of dollars on us to exchange.

  29. German October 11, 2016 at 3:39 PM #

    The days of the “blue dollar” are gone. There is only one exchange rate now, the official one. However, at 15,5 pesos per dollar (october 2016), Argentina offers very good value for money.

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