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Visiting Argentina: 10 Ways Argentina Surprised Me


by Fey Woodford



Welcome to Argentina, a country filled with captivating surprises at every turn. From its warm and welcoming locals to its diverse and breathtaking landscapes, Argentina offers a wealth of experiences that will leave you awestruck. Whether you’re a nature lover, food enthusiast, art aficionado, or sports fanatic, Argentina has something for everyone.


As you journey through this remarkable country, you’ll be immersed in the passionate rhythms of tango, tantalize your taste buds with delicious gastronomic delights, explore architectural gems that showcase the country’s rich history, and marvel at the artistic expression found in every corner. From the vibrant streets of Buenos Aires to the stunning expanses of Patagonia, Argentina is a place that will charm and surprise you in the most delightful ways.


So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure. In this article, we will delve into 10 aspects of Argentina that surprised me the most, shining a light on the country’s unique offerings and experiences. Let’s dive in and discover why Argentina is a destination like no other.


Warm and Welcoming Locals

One of the first things that surprised me about Argentina is the incredible warmth and friendliness of its people. The locals, known as “porteños” in Buenos Aires and “cordobeses” in Córdoba, are known for their genuine hospitality and welcoming nature.


From the moment you step foot in Argentina, you’ll be greeted with a warm smile and a willingness to help. Whether you’re asking for directions, seeking recommendations, or simply striking up a conversation, the locals are always eager to engage with visitors and make them feel at home.


What struck me the most was the genuine interest that Argentinians have in getting to know you. They are curious about your culture, your travels, and your experiences, making for meaningful connections that go beyond just a simple exchange. It’s not uncommon to strike up a conversation with a stranger at a café or bar and end up with a new friend.


The hospitality extends beyond just conversation. Argentinians are known for their generosity, often inviting visitors into their homes for a traditional “asado,” a mouthwatering barbecue feast. Sharing a meal with locals not only allows you to savor the delicious flavors of Argentina but also provides a glimpse into their way of life and values of togetherness.


Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Buenos Aires or venturing into the charming towns of the countryside, you’ll find that Argentinians are always ready to welcome you with open arms. Their warm and genuine hospitality adds an extra layer of joy and warmth to your travel experience, making Argentina a destination that embraces you like a long-lost friend.


Diverse and Breathtaking Landscapes

Argentina is a country of astounding natural beauty, boasting a wide range of landscapes that will leave you mesmerized. From the icy peaks of the Andes in the west to the stunning Patagonian plains in the south, Argentina offers a diverse tapestry of landscapes that are nothing short of breathtaking.


One of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in Argentina is the Iguazu Falls, located on the border between Argentina and Brazil. These magnificent waterfalls, with their thunderous roar and mist-filled air, are a sight to behold. Standing at the viewing platforms, you’ll be captivated by the sheer power and grandeur of nature as countless cascades plunge into the river below.


In contrast to the lush rainforests surrounding the falls, the Andes Mountains in the west offer a dramatic and rugged panorama. Here, you can embark on exhilarating hikes, witness towering snow-capped peaks, and marvel at turquoise lakes nestled in the valleys. The famous Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas, attracts mountaineers from around the world who are eager to conquer its majestic summit.


As you venture further south, you’ll enter the enchanting region of Patagonia. Vibrant blue glaciers, vast steppes, and jagged mountain ranges await you in this untamed wilderness. The Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park is a highlight not to be missed. Witnessing the immense walls of ice calving into the water is a humbling experience that showcases the power and beauty of nature.


From the colorful hills of the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the north to the stark beauty of the Puna deserts, Argentina’s landscapes offer an endless array of surprises. Whether it’s exploring the pristine lakes of the Lake District, horseback riding through the vast Pampas, or trekking through the untouched wilderness of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina will constantly amaze you with its diverse and awe-inspiring natural wonders.


With such a wide range of landscapes to discover, Argentina is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. So, pack your hiking boots, embrace the spirit of adventure, and prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking beauty that awaits you in every corner of the country.


Tango Everywhere

When you think of Argentina, one of the first things that comes to mind is tango. This passionate and seductive dance is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and is a source of immense pride for the Argentinian people.


What surprised me the most is that tango isn’t just confined to dance halls and performances; it can be found everywhere in Argentina. From the streets of Buenos Aires to the intimate milongas (tango clubs), tango permeates the air and brings a sense of romance and rhythm to everyday life.


Walking through the vibrant neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, you’ll come across street performers and professional dancers gracefully moving to the melodies of the bandoneon. These impromptu performances capture the essence of tango—the intricate footwork, the intense eye contact, and the emotional connection between partners.


If you want to immerse yourself in the world of tango, visiting a traditional milonga is a must. These intimate venues bring together tango enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or just a beginner, you’ll find yourself swept away by the passion and energy of the dance.


It amazed me that tango isn’t just limited to the older generation; it continues to thrive among the younger population as well. Tango schools and studios offer classes for all ages, allowing anyone to embrace the dance and its rich history. It’s not uncommon to see young couples practicing their moves in parks or attending tango festivals, keeping the tradition alive for generations to come.


Furthermore, tango has also influenced other art forms in Argentina. In addition to the dance itself, you’ll find tango music and lyrics that tell stories of love, longing, and the hardships of life. Attending a live tango show, complete with a live orchestra and passionate singers, is an experience that will transport you into the heart of Argentina’s soulful musical heritage.


Whether you choose to watch tango being performed in the streets, take a dance lesson, or simply listen to the melancholic tunes of tango music, Argentina’s love affair with this dance form will captivate and enchant you. Tango truly is an integral part of Argentina’s cultural fabric, and experiencing it firsthand is an unforgettable highlight of any visit to this incredible country.


Gastronomic Delights

Argentina is a paradise for food enthusiasts, offering a culinary experience that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. The country’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of influences from Europe, indigenous traditions, and regional flavors, resulting in a gastronomic scene that is diverse and incredibly flavorful.


Of course, no visit to Argentina would be complete without indulging in its world-renowned beef. Argentina is famous for its beef production, and the quality of the meat is outstanding. Whether you try a juicy steak cooked to perfection on a grill or savor the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of an asado (traditional barbecue), you’ll understand why Argentinian beef is considered some of the best in the world.


But Argentina’s culinary offerings go beyond just beef. Empanadas, savory pastries filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, and vegetables, are a popular snack throughout the country. Each region has its own twist on this classic dish, making it a delightful culinary adventure to try different empanada flavors wherever you go.


Another delightful surprise is the abundance of delicious Italian-inspired dishes in Argentina. Due to the large Italian immigrant population, the influence of Italian cuisine is prominent, with dishes like homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and creamy gelato gracing menus throughout the country. Be sure to try the classic dish of milanesa, a breaded and fried meat cutlet served with a variety of accompaniments.


Wine lovers will also be in for a treat. Argentina is one of the world’s major wine-producing countries, known particularly for its smooth and rich Malbec. The wine regions in Mendoza, Salta, and Patagonia offer stunning vineyards where you can immerse yourself in the winemaking process and sample some of the finest wines Argentina has to offer.


For those with a sweet tooth, Argentina won’t disappoint. Dulce de leche, a caramel-like spread made from sweetened condensed milk, is a staple in Argentinian desserts. Whether it’s drizzled over pancakes or used as a filling for pastries, dulce de leche adds a touch of indulgence to any dessert.


From delicious meat dishes to mouthwatering pastries and world-class wines, Argentina’s gastronomy is a true delight. The country’s culinary traditions reflect its rich cultural heritage and the passion that Argentinians have for good food. So, come hungry and prepare to feast on an array of gastronomic delights that will leave you craving for more.


Wine Culture

Argentina is a wine lover’s paradise, with a rich and thriving wine culture that dates back centuries. The country’s diverse climate and fertile soil make it an ideal location for grape cultivation, resulting in a wide array of flavorful and high-quality wines.


One of the highlights of Argentina’s wine scene is its iconic Malbec. This red wine varietal has become synonymous with Argentinian wine and is celebrated for its bold flavors, deep color, and velvety texture. The Malbec grapes thrive in the high-altitude vineyards of the Mendoza region, producing wines that are renowned worldwide.


Visiting the vineyards of Mendoza is an experience like no other. Set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Andes Mountains, the vineyards offer stunning views and the opportunity to explore the winemaking process firsthand. From guided tours of the grapevine fields to cellar visits and wine tastings, you’ll discover the passion and precision that goes into creating each bottle of Argentinian wine.


Aside from Malbec, Argentina is also known for its other red wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Bonarda. Additionally, the country produces exceptional white wines, including crisp Torrontés and smooth Chardonnay, which pair perfectly with the local cuisine.


What surprised me the most about Argentina’s wine culture is the accessibility and affordability of its wines. In Argentina, it’s common to find high-quality wines at reasonable prices, allowing visitors to enjoy a range of options without breaking the bank. Whether you’re sipping a glass of wine at a trendy wine bar in Buenos Aires or enjoying a bottle with a traditional asado, you’ll be delighted by the balance of quality and value that Argentinian wines offer.


Wine is deeply ingrained in Argentinian culture, and it’s not just about the drink itself. Wine is often enjoyed alongside a delicious meal or shared among friends and family during social gatherings. The act of sharing a bottle of wine fosters a sense of connection and celebration in Argentina’s warm and welcoming culture.


Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply appreciate a good glass of vino, Argentina’s wine culture is a captivating aspect of the country’s identity. So, raise your glass and indulge in the flavors of Argentina’s world-class wines, and let the passion and richness of its wine culture transport you to a realm of pure pleasure and delight.


Football Frenzy

In Argentina, football (or soccer) is more than just a sport—it’s a way of life. The passion and enthusiasm that surround football in this country are unparalleled, creating an electrifying atmosphere that can be felt in every corner of Argentina.


Argentinians live and breathe football. The sport is deeply ingrained in the national identity, and the fervor and pride that fans exhibit are truly awe-inspiring. From the grassroots games played in local neighborhoods to the grand stadiums that host professional matches, football is a central thread that weaves through the fabric of Argentinian society.


Attending a football match in Argentina is an experience like no other. The energy inside the stadiums is palpable, with fans chanting, singing, and waving flags in unison. The passion and devotion of supporters create an electric atmosphere that can be overwhelming in the best possible way.


Argentinians take football rivalries very seriously, with the most famous being the Boca Juniors vs. River Plate match, known as the “Superclásico.” The intensity and excitement surrounding this rivalry are unparalleled, making it an event that is eagerly anticipated by fans and followers around the world.


What surprised me the most about Argentina’s football frenzy is the sheer talent that the country produces. From legends like Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to a host of other world-class players, Argentina has a remarkable track record of producing exceptional footballers. The success of their national team, with its two FIFA World Cup victories, further highlights the country’s prowess in the sport.


Even if you’re not a devoted football fan, experiencing a match in Argentina is a must. The passion, chants, and camaraderie amongst the fans create an atmosphere that is infectious and unforgettable. Whether you’re cheering for a local team at a neighborhood stadium or witnessing the national team in action, the love and dedication for the sport will leave an indelible mark on your memory.


Football is more than just a game in Argentina—it’s a cultural phenomenon that brings people together and ignites a sense of pride and unity. So, embrace the football frenzy, immerse yourself in the excitement, and witness firsthand the magic that happens both on and off the field in Argentina.


Architectural Gems

Argentina is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, with a diverse mix of styles that reflect the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. From historic colonial buildings to stunning contemporary structures, Argentina is a haven for architecture enthusiasts.


One of the architectural highlights of Argentina is found in its capital city, Buenos Aires. The city’s distinct neighborhoods showcase a blend of architectural influences, with magnificent examples of European-inspired buildings. The grandeur of French Beaux-Arts architecture can be seen in iconic structures like the Teatro Colón and the stunning Palacio Paz. The Belle Époque facades of buildings in neighborhoods such as Recoleta and Palermo evoke a sense of old-world charm.


Another architectural gem is the neighborhood of San Telmo, known for its preserved colonial architecture. Here, centuries-old buildings with colorful facades and intricate wrought-iron balconies transport visitors to a bygone era. Wandering through the cobblestone streets, you’ll discover hidden treasures and architectural delights around every corner.


Argentina also boasts a unique architectural style known as neocolonial. This style draws inspiration from the country’s indigenous and colonial roots and can be seen in landmarks like the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. The combination of neoclassical and indigenous motifs creates a visually striking and culturally significant architectural expression.


One surprising architectural gem is the Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires. This Art Deco masterpiece has a rich history and has hosted some of the world’s most renowned artists. With its extravagant interior and elegant design, the theater is not only a cultural landmark but also a stunning architectural achievement.


On the other end of the spectrum, Argentina is also home to modern architectural marvels. The Faena Hotel and Universe in Buenos Aires, designed by renowned architect Philippe Starck, is a prime example. This contemporary masterpiece combines sleek design with luxurious amenities, creating a harmonious blend of old and new.


From the ancient ruins of indigenous civilizations to the impressive contemporary structures, Argentina’s architectural gems showcase the country’s diverse and fascinating history. Exploring the architectural wonders of Argentina is like embarking on a journey through time, where the past and present converge to tell a compelling story of tradition, innovation, and cultural richness.


Artistic Expression

Argentina is a haven for artistic expression, with a vibrant and dynamic arts scene that spans across various mediums. From street art to classical masterpieces, Argentina offers a rich tapestry of creativity, showcasing the country’s passion for artistic exploration and innovation.


One of the most striking forms of artistic expression in Argentina is its street art. Walking through the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, you’ll find colorful murals adorning the walls, transforming mundane spaces into vibrant works of art. Street art serves as a powerful form of self-expression and social commentary, providing a visual narrative of Argentina’s history, culture, and social issues.


Argentina is also home to numerous art galleries and museums that house priceless artworks. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires boasts an extensive collection of European and Latin American art, including works by renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo and Marc Chagall. The MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) showcases contemporary Latin American art and hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase the diversity and innovation of the region’s artists.


What surprised me the most about Argentina’s artistic scene is the strong emphasis on theater and performing arts. The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is considered one of the world’s best opera houses, renowned for its exceptional acoustics and opulent architecture. Attending a performance at this majestic venue is a truly enchanting experience.


Beyond traditional art forms, Argentina’s creative spirit extends to music and dance. Tango, as mentioned earlier, is an iconic artistic expression deeply rooted in the Argentinian culture. The passionate movements and soulful melodies of tango evoke intense emotion and captivate audiences around the world, making it an integral part of Argentina’s artistic legacy.


Argentina is a breeding ground for emerging artists and innovative contemporary art. The art districts of Buenos Aires, like Palermo and La Boca, are home to numerous independent art galleries, showcasing the work of emerging talent. These spaces provide a platform for artists to experiment, collaborate, and push the boundaries of artistic expression.


Argentina truly embraces artistic expression in all its forms, from traditional to contemporary, and from visual to performing arts. The country’s dedication to nurturing and celebrating creativity ensures that visitors are immersed in a vibrant and ever-evolving artistic landscape that reflects Argentina’s unique identity and cultural heritage.


Magical Patagonia

Patagonia is a region of unparalleled natural beauty that captivates visitors with its dramatic landscapes, rugged mountains, and pristine wilderness. Located in the southernmost part of Argentina, Patagonia is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


What surprised me the most about Patagonia is the sheer vastness and untouched splendor of the region. Spanning across both Argentina and Chile, Patagonia encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, from snow-capped peaks to shimmering lakes and sprawling grasslands. The region offers countless opportunities for exploration, hiking, and adventure.


One of the most iconic landmarks in Patagonia is the towering Perito Moreno Glacier. Located within the Los Glaciares National Park, this massive ice formation is a sight to behold. The sheer size and shades of blue of the glacier are awe-inspiring, and witnessing chunks of ice calving into the water creates a mesmerizing spectacle that will leave you breathless.


Patagonia is also known for its stunning national parks, such as Torres del Paine and Nahuel Huapi. These protected areas offer hiking trails that lead you through pristine landscapes, past crystal-clear lakes, and up to viewpoints that provide panoramic vistas of majestic mountains. The raw and untouched beauty of these parks is a testament to the pristine wilderness that Patagonia harbors.


For wildlife enthusiasts, Patagonia is a haven. From the elusive puma and the endangered huemul deer to the playful Magellanic penguins and the majestic Andean condor, the region is home to a diverse array of fascinating wildlife. Spotting these creatures in their natural habitat is a rewarding experience that showcases the region’s unique ecological diversity.


Patagonia is also a playground for adventure seekers. Whether it’s exploring the rugged landscapes on horseback, embarking on adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting expeditions, or tackling epic mountain climbs, the region offers endless opportunities to push your limits and connect with nature on a profound level.


Patagonia’s allure lies not only in its natural wonders but also in the sense of isolation and tranquility it offers. The vastness of the landscape, the crisp air, and the solitude found in this remote corner of the world create a sense of escape and a chance to reconnect with oneself.


Visiting Patagonia is like stepping into a world of enchantment and discovering a true wilderness that seems untouched by time. Its pristine beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes make it a destination that will leave you with memories of an adventure that will last a lifetime.


Rich Cultural Heritage

Argentina’s cultural heritage is as diverse and rich as its landscapes. The country’s history, traditions, and customs have shaped a vibrant and unique cultural identity that is celebrated and preserved by its people.


Argentina is a melting pot of different cultures and influences, resulting in a rich tapestry of traditions and customs. The country’s indigenous heritage is deeply ingrained in its culture, and indigenous communities continue to cherish and pass down their ancestral knowledge and practices.


The Spanish colonization of Argentina also left a lasting impact on the country’s cultural heritage. Spanish customs, language, and architecture can be seen in cities and towns throughout the country, adding a touch of European charm to the Argentinian identity.


One of the aspects of Argentina’s cultural heritage that surprised me the most is the strong influence of Italian and German immigrants. Waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries brought a significant number of Italian and German settlers to Argentina, and their influence can be seen in the country’s cuisine, architecture, and cultural traditions. Italian pasta and homemade pizzas have become an integral part of the culinary scene, while German-style beer halls and festivals provide a taste of European traditions.


The gaucho culture is another integral component of Argentina’s cultural heritage. Gauchos, the skilled horsemen and cattle herders of the plains, represent a romanticized image of rural Argentina. Their traditions, clothing, and way of life have become symbols of national identity, celebrated through traditional festivals, music, and art.


Argentina’s literary heritage is also remarkable, with several renowned writers and poets hailing from the country. The works of Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Isabel Allende, among others, have shaped the literary landscape not only in Argentina but also on a global scale.


Music and dance are deeply ingrained in Argentinian culture. Alongside tango, Argentina’s folk music and dance traditions, such as chacarera and zamba, showcase the country’s cultural diversity and regional influences. From lively dances performed at festivals to soul-stirring melodies played on traditional instruments, Argentinian music is a celebration of the country’s cultural heritage.


Argentina’s cultural heritage is not just about the past—it is a living, evolving entity that thrives in the present. The country’s festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events continuously showcase the creativity, passion, and resilience of its people. Whether you’re witnessing a traditional dance performance, indulging in the flavors of regional cuisine, or exploring the historical sites that dot the landscape, Argentina’s rich cultural heritage will immerse you in a world of tradition, diversity, and beauty.



Argentina is a country that never ceases to surprise and captivate its visitors. From the warm and welcoming locals to the diverse landscapes, vibrant cultural heritage, and artistic expressions, Argentina offers a remarkable travel experience that satisfies both the adventurous spirit and the curious soul.


As you explore the streets of Buenos Aires or venture into the untamed wilderness of Patagonia, you’ll be immersed in a sensory journey that awakens your senses and leaves a lasting impression. The country’s diverse landscapes, from the majestic glaciers to the breathtaking Andes Mountains, provide a backdrop for countless adventures and create memories that will stay with you long after your visit.


Argentina’s cultural heritage is a testament to the resilience and rich history of its people. From the indigenous heritage to the European influences brought by immigrants, Argentina’s cultural fabric is a tapestry woven through diverse traditions, languages, customs, and arts.


And let’s not forget about the gastronomic delights that Argentina has to offer. From savoring succulent meats and empanadas to indulging in exquisite wines and delectable desserts, your taste buds will be treated to an array of flavors that showcase the country’s culinary prowess.


Whether you find yourself caught up in the passion of tango, cheering on your favorite football team, or admiring the architectural wonders that grace Argentina’s cities, you’ll witness the vibrant spirit and zest for life that defines this incredible country.


Argentina’s surprises are not limited to the natural and cultural wonders; it’s the intangible elements—the warmth of the people, the sense of community, and the authentic connections—that truly make a visit to Argentina an unforgettable experience.


So, come and immerse yourself in Argentina’s beauty, charm, and surprises. Let the country embrace you with open arms and awaken your senses. Discover the warmth of its people, soak in the magnificence of its landscapes, indulge in its culinary delights, and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Argentina will surprise you at every turn and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.