Our expert travel advisor Kristina M. always looks forward to exploring a new destination in South America. Last June Kristina took a 5-day whirlwind trip to Argentina. During her visit, the cultural vibrancy of Buenos Aires exceeded her expectations and the thundering falls of Iguazu even presented her with a farewell gesture.
Exploring the urban jungle of Buenos Aires
Kristina admits that Argentina’s port city of Buenos Aires did not rank high on her list of must-see places in South America. “I am not really into big cities and I didn’t expect to like Buenos Aires as much as I did.”
Any negative impressions that Kristina might have had about Buenos Aires quickly dissolved after spending a few days there.
“It’s a beautiful and vibrant city,” she said. “Every part is so different! We were only there for three nights and I would have loved to stay longer.”
Although it was fall in the Southern Hemisphere when Kristina went to Argentina, she thought it was an excellent time to visit the city. “The sun was out every day and the weather was brisk. Some people may prefer something hotter, but for big cities I think it’s nice when the temperature is a little cooler. I just wore a light jacket when I got cold.”
Buenos Aires is divided into multiple districts that complement its rich diversity. The downtown district of Buenos Aires, where Kristina stayed her first night, is home to many historical sites, including the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada, the official home of Argentina’s president and government headquarters.
Kristina spent her first night downtown in 5-star luxury at an old refurbished hotel called Savoy. “It was beautiful,” she said. “The hotel is just a couple blocks from the Plaza. When you walk in there’s a huge lobby with a chandelier and a large spiral staircase going up to every level.”
Aside from the peculiar life-size black and white photos in the hallways of Savoy Hotel, Kristina thought it was the most luxurious place she stayed during her trip in Argentina.
She was told to eat some of the city’s best empanadas at Pizzeria La Americana, a restaurant conveniently located a couple blocks from Savoy Hotel. “There were easily 30 different types of empanadas. It was hard to pick which ones I wanted to try!”
During a tour of Buenos Aires, Kristina’s guide talked about two Argentine staples: a loose leaf tea called yerba mate and gelato ice cream. “Our guide told us that most of the time they give kids gelato and adults try the mate. Every time we stopped to do something she asked the group if we wanted to try mate, and I always chose gelato.”
Drinking yerba mate is a unique cultural experience in Argentina.
“Not accepting mate when it’s passed to you can be considered an insult,” Kristina said. “I will drink mate, but I am not a big fan. The taste depends on the yerba mate you’re drinking. But it’s generally a little too strong for my liking.”
Among the many city districts that Kristina explored, La Boca was one of her favorites and is home to the famous Bombanera soccer stadium.
“It was really cool to go there and see the brightly painted houses,” she said. “La Boca is also the neighborhood where the tango originated.”
As a dancer herself, Kristina enjoyed watching an evening tango show in the city while dining in style. “The beautifully choreographed show was awesome and I ate a delicious four-course meal served with unlimited wine,” Kristina said.
There’s a lot to do and see in Buenos Aires.
“It’s best not to be rushed so that there’s plenty of time to walk around, eat good food, and soak up the local culture,” Kristina said. She recommends staying for at least three days.
After spending a couple days exploring Buenos Aires, Kristina flew to the tropical northern region of Argentina where the country borders Brazil to see Iguazu Falls.
A series of 275 cascades form Iguazu Falls and plunge into an 80 meter canyon on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The sheer scale of the falls is something to marvel: Iguazu Falls are four times larger than Niagara Falls in the United States and some of the waterfalls are even taller.
Kristina kicked off her full-day at Iguazu Falls by checking out the largest of these thundering falls, the Devil’s Throat. “I took a train to the top and then walked out on this walkway where you can look down at the Devil’s Throat,” Kristine said. “It was so massive and loud!”
For a unique way to experience Iguazu Falls, Krisitina took a boat tour that started with a short safari through the jungle where she saw some monkeys and colorful species of butterflies. But the real adventure started when she boarded a boat that took her into the river below the falls. “We got some nice views of Iguazu Falls from the river and then we went really close to the falls. The tour isn’t for everybody, but I thought it was really cool,” Kristina said. “I got 100 percent soaked, but they gave me a waterproof bag to put anything that I wanted to keep dry, like my camera.”
By mid-afternoon, shortly after her boat tour, the sun came out and she took photographs of the falls with a rainbow in the background, a memorable ending to highlight to her Argentine adventure.
Read about Kristina’s travel tale to Bolivia.
Articles, videos and more
Video: Introduction to Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina
How to make an Argentinian style empanada
Photo tour of Buenos Aires
What is mate?
Video of the Devil’s Throat at Iguazu Falls
Stunning photographs of Iguazu Falls
Puerto Iguazu Travel Guide
Experience your own tour of Argentina
Come to Argentina and explore the country’s natural beauty and cultural diversity. Latin America For Less can organize a customized trip for you; check out our range of tours or contact one of our travel advisors.
Britt is a California native who left her home to explore South America in 2013 and now lives in Peru. She’s just a little obsessed about planning getaways with her family, scuba diving, and trekking.