Tourism in Argentina

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Tourist regions of Argentina:[1] The North (orange), Litoral (light green), Cuyo (beige), Córdoba (dark green), Buenos Aires (consisting of Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires Province; light blue) and Patagonia (dark blue).

Tourism in Argentina is characterized by its cultural offerings and its ample and varied natural assets. The country had 5.28 million visitors in 2010, ranking in terms of the international tourist arrivals as the top destination in South America, and second in Latin America after Mexico. Revenues from international tourists reached US$4.93 billion in 2010, up from US$3,96 billion in 2009.[2] The country's capital city, Buenos Aires, is the most visited city in South America.[3]


The World Economic Forum estimated that, in 2006 tourism generated around US$25 billion in economic turnover, and employed 1.8 million. Domestic tourism amounted to over 80% of this and tourism from abroad contributed US$4.3 billion, becoming the third largest source of foreign exchange in 2004. Around 4.6 million foreign visitors arrived in 2007, yielding a positive balance vis-à-vis the number of Argentines traveling abroad.[4] [5][6] Argentina has been upgrading its worldwide presence as a tourism destination by increasing the investment on international tourism. The latest push can be seen by Aerolineas Argentinas, the country's national airline, adding international routes from the United States and Europe. There are also rumors that they will join a major airline alliance soon.

INDEC recorded 2.3 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2007 (a 12% increase), at the Ministro Pistarini International Airport, alone (around half the total); of these, 26% arrived from Brazil, 25% from Europe, 14% from the United States and Canada, 8% from Chile, 19% from the rest of the Western Hemisphere and 8% from the rest of the World.[7]

(col 2)/(col 1)
per 1000 pop.
as %
of exports
goods and
as %
% Direct &
in tourism[6]
- align="center" 4,562 4,313 945 116 109 7.8 1.6 10.5 65

The country had 5.28 million international visitors in 2010, up from 4.3 million in 2009. Argentina ranked as the top destination in South America, and second in Latin America after Mexico in 2010, in terms of the international tourist arrivals. Revenues from international tourists reached US$4.93 billion in 2010, up fromUS$3,96 billion in 2009.[2]

Tourist regions[edit]

Calchaquí Valleys in the north of Argentina.

The Tourism in Argentina is divided in six regions:[1] Buenos Aires (consisting of Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires Province), Córdoba, Cuyo, The North, Litoral and Patagonia.

Buenos Aires[edit]

View of the city's district of Monserrat, in downtown.

Buenos Aires is in the midst of a tourism boom, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council,[10] it reveals strong growth for Argentina Travel and Tourism in 2007 [11] and in coming years, and the prestigious travel and tourism publication; Travel + Leisure Magazine, a monthly publication leader in the world-wide market of travel magazines, travelers voted Buenos Aires the second most desirable city to visit after Florence, Italy.[12] Buenos Aires, regarded as the “Paris of South America,” offers elegant architecture, exquisite cuisine, a legendary nightlife, and fashionable shopping.

The most popular tourist sites are found in the historic city core, comprising Montserrat and San Telmo. The city was originally constructed around the Plaza de Mayo, the administrative center of the Spanish Empire. To the east of the square is the Casa Rosada, the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina. To the north, the Catedral Metropolitana which has stood in the same location since colonial times, and the Banco de la Nación Argentina building, a parcel of land originally owned by Juan de Garay. Other important colonial institutions were Cabildo, to the west, which was renovated during the construction of Avenida de Mayo and Julio A. Roca. To the south is the Congreso de la Nación (National Congress), which currently houses the Academia Nacional de la Historia (National Academy of History). Lastly, to the northwest, is City Hall.

Avenida de Mayo links the Casa Rosada with the Argentine National Congress. On this avenue there are several buildings of cultural, architectural and historical importance, such as Casa de la Cultura, the Palacio Barolo and Café Tortoni. Underneath the avenue, the first subte (metro) line Línea A (SBASE).svg in South America, was opened in 1913. The avenue ends at Plaza del Congreso, which features a number of monuments and sculptures, including one of Auguste Rodin's few surviving original casts of "The Thinker."

The Manzana de las Luces ("Illuminated Block") area features the San Ignacio church, the Colegio Nacional Buenos Aires, and the old city council building (1894 to 1931). This area features tunnels and catacombs, which crossed underneath the Plaza de Mayo during colonial times. In the neighbourhood of San Telmo, Plaza Dorrego hosts an antiques fair on Sundays, complete with tango shows. They also have tango shows daily at the famous plaza. On weekends they involve many tourists to learn how to dance. Frequent tours and activities are also available at the Church of Nuestra Señora de Bethlehem, the San Pedro Telmo Parish and the Antonio Ballvé Penintetiary Museum. The National Historical Museum in Parque Lezama is a few blocks south. The Ayres Porteños Hostel is a very famous hostel as it is also a tourist attraction, it is decorated and painted by artists from La Boca and possesses a unique collection of local paintings among its walls.

The borough of Recoleta is home to a number of places of interest, including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Biblioteca Nacional, the Centro Cultural Recoleta, the Faculty of Law of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, the Basílica Nuestra Señora de Pilar, the Palais de Glace, the Café La Biela and the Cementerio de la Recoleta, where Eva Perón's crypt can be visited, among those of many other Argentine historical and cultural figures.

Buenos Aires Province[edit]

two of the beaches of Mar del Plata during summer tourism season.

The Province of Buenos Aires is the most populous and largest province of Argentina (if territorial claims in the Antarctica and South Atlantic islands are not taken into account). The nation's rail and road network fans out from Buenos Aires and into the province, the area centered around the Pampas. This region is characterized by its estancias (large cattle ranches) the oldest of them being featured in architectural styles, located in the middle of the Pampas. The province is also known by its many and different beaches in the coast of the Atlantic Ocean (the most visited being Mar del Plata). The hilly region of Tandil and Ventana offers golf courses, paragliding rides and trekking. They are very different landscapes from each other and distant from the mouth of the Paraná River, which islands are also visited by tourists.


The Sierras de Córdoba seen from the Córdoba municipality of Nono.

The Córdoba Province is one of the most important economic centers in the country. It has with many contrasting features— it is both a cultural and tourist-like destination, a traditional and modern city, with an industrialized as well as a home-made production. Large portions of landscape and favorable weather conditions are distinctive in Córdoba, natural sceneries are mixed with colonial monuments. Little towns, historical antiques and cave paintings are found in a pleasant valley landscape, high plains and gorges. Sierras de Córdoba rise toward the northwestern Pampas plains. They are part of the “Sierras pampeanas” mountain range, reaching 2,790 m high in the Champaqui hill. These hills are fertile valleys, deserts and salt mines. All along the way northward, many 17th and 18th century chapels and farmhouses inherited from the Jesuits can be found.

The Jesuit estancias (large cattle ranches) in Córdoba are a singular sample of the productive organization of the religious members of Compañía de Jesús in the country, and this can still be seen in a preserved architecture. Though history demonstrated that the farms were acquired for economic purposes in order to support schools and universities, the estancias were of course used “for missionary purposes, thus turning into religious centers.” Estancias in Jesús María, Caroya, Santa Catalina, La Candelaria and Alta Gracia can be visited along a 250 km circuit. These farms that date back to the 17th century —together with the Jesuit Block in the City of Córdoba— are all national historical monuments that were declared World Cultural Heritage in 2000.


Vineyards in Mendoza, the heart of the winemaking industry in Argentina.

The Cuyo region consists of the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza and San Luis.[13]

Cuyo is the region of the high peaks, the snow-covered volcanoes, and the large wilderness spreading from the Andes mountain range and foothills to the steppe. The visit to Ischigualasto - Talampaya Natural Parks is an historical path trough Argentinean history of palaeontology. Ischigualasto, also known as “Valle de la Luna” (Moon Valley) because of the diversity of forms and colours of its landscape shaped by erosion, is one of the world’s most important paleontologic sites. The Talampaya River Canyon reveals multi-shaped layers in its high red walls. Pink flamingos, Andean ducks, “vicuñas” and “guanacos” cohabit freely in parks and natural reserves, while condors fly over the area. The region displays the full splendour of the Central Andean Range. The Aconcagua (6,959 m) is the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, and its steep slopes are renowned and respected by mountain climbers worldwide. In the valleys of La Rioja, Mendoza and San Juan, among leaves of grapevines, farms and wineries, visitors can go along the Wine Road.

The North[edit]

Main square in Salta.
Pucará de Tilcara, a pre-Inca fortification strategically located to provide good views over a long stretch of the Quebrada de Humahuaca.

The North (Spanish: El Norte) consists of the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, Tucumán and Santiago del Estero.[14]

Northern provinces feature traces of pre-Columbian cultures, mingled with ruins of natives’ villages, as well as forts and constructions dating back to the time of the Conquest and Colonization. In the high plateau of the Puna, a land full of mountain ranges, steep mountain paths, and gorges. Villages have been built in the small valleys. Multi-coloured and monochromatic hills covered with huge cactuses on the slopes surround the village. This region offers landscapes full of contrast, from the high peaks to the salt pans, and the subtropical rain forests, where Latin American culture took root.

An ample diversity of natural landscapes and dramatic contrasts such as the densely vegetated Yunga forests, or the mountains, hills and brooks of the Calchaquí Valleys, provide great conditions for sport fishing. The rivers Juramento, Lipeo, Iruya and Bermejo are home to the dorado, and the mountain river rapids support trout. The whole region combines natural attractions with suitable areas for diverse activities such as mountaineering, trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, ecotourism, bird-watching, rural tourism, and archeological trips. Sailing, canoeing and windsurfing are other sports that may be practiced in this region.

Destinations of interest in this region are the Train to the Clouds, which offers a view to the stark contrasts of the province of Salta; the Quebrada de Humahuaca, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003, the Calchaquí Valleys, that ranges from the mountain desert to the subtropical forest; Pucará de Tilcara, a fort built by the humahuacas; Cafayate; Iruya; Cachi; and Tafí del Valle, among others.


The "Litoral", Spanish for littoral, consists of the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Misiones and Santa Fe.[15] This is a region of large rivers, humid tropics, red earth and a virgin forest full of huge trees and important flora and fauna.

The Iguazú Falls on the border with Brazil are one of the world's natural wonders. Lined with dense forests, the Iguazú river flows into 275 waterfalls, plunging more than 70 meters with a deafening noise. As this huge volume of water reaches the bottom, spray rises, and rainbows are formed in the sky. A variety of fauna and flora completes the setting for the waterfalls within the protection of the Iguazú National Park. This park, located at eighteen kilometres from Puerto Iguazú, was declared Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The famous falls are inside this park. The deep flowing waters of the river fall from a height of 70 metres through 275 falls over 2.7 km. The frontier with Brazil goes through the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). The National Park is full of the exotic subtropical vegetation which surrounds the falls and has 2,000 plant species - gigantic trees, ferns, lianas, orchids, - 400 bird species - parrots, hummingbirds, toucans - jaguars and yacarés (caimans).

Lying on the bluffs of the Paraná river, Posadas, capital city of Misiones and bordering with Encarnación (Paraguay), has its Plaza 9 de Julio, as well as museums and artisan markets. If the course of the river is followed in a south-west direction, the Yacyretá hydroelectric plant, which is one of the biggest in the world, can be reached.

Many ruins of the ancient Jesuit missions - some of which have been covered by the jungle - are located near Posadas. The most well-known ruins are in San Ignacio Miní, 56 km away from the province’s capital. The ones in Candelaria, Loreto, Santa Ana and Santa María are also very interesting. These Jesuit reductions were declared World Heritage by the UNESCO.

Fifty kilometers to the north of Colón lies El Palmar National Park, housing the last samples of Yatay palm trees, which are almost eight centuries old. The city of Concordia is connected to the city of Salto (Uruguay) through the Salto Grande hydroelectric plant.

The Esteros del Iberá, a humid zone of 700.000 hectares can be reached from Posadas, Concepción or Mercedes. In Guaraní, Iberá means "Shining water". Its lagoons cover 31,500 hectares, its marshlands 52,000, and its inlands 260,000. This eco-system which gives life to turtles, yacarés (caimans), monkeys, swamp deer, capybaras - the largest rodent in the world - and up to 400 bird species, besides an extraordinary flora, extends over one million hectares.

The city of Rosario lies on the banks of the Paraná River in the Province of Santa Fe. It has developed into an industrial and commercial center and destination for a significant number of people on business. On its riverside promenade stands the Monumento Nacional a la Bandera (National Monument to the Flag), where the Argentine National Flag was raised for the first time. Parque Independencia has an artificial lake, statues, a racecourse, and the Provincial History Museum.


The patagonic region consists of the provinces of La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego.[16]

Other destinations in the region include seaside Las Grutas (in Río Negro), Rada Tilly; The Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere and nearby Las Leñas ski resort; Villa La Angostura, San Martín de los Andes, Junín de los Andes, El Bolsón, Esquel, Trevelin, Los Antiguos, Copahue, Caviahue, near snow-capped mountains with temperate rainforests and glacial lakes; San Rafael and Mendoza, where the best wines of Argentina are made.

Tourism centering around fauna is also popular, particularly whale-watching in Puerto Madryn.

World Heritage[edit]

These are the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in Argentina:[18]

National Parks[edit]

For a more comprehensive list, see List of national parks of Argentina.

Argentina has an extensive National Park system, preserving sights of natural beauty, which includes the following:

Government Tourism Agencies[edit]

The Secretariate of Tourism was promoted to a full cabinet ministry in June 2010, naming Enrique Meyer the Minister of Tourism. Leonardo Boto is the Chairman of the National Institute of Tourism Promotion.

Safety and security[edit]

Security with the Train to the clouds.

The U.S. Department of State warns travelers in Argentina that "drivers frequently ignore traffic laws[19] and vehicles often travel at excessive speeds . . . traffic accidents are the primary threat to life and limb in Argentina."[20] Argentina has the highest traffic mortality rate in South America, with Argentine drivers causing 20 deaths each day (about 7,000 a year), with more than 120,000 people injured or maimed each year. These deaths have included tourists from various parts of the world.[21] Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution.

Ethical Traveler Destination[edit]

Argentina has been included in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 lists of "The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations." This is an annual ranking produced by Ethical Traveler magazine, which is based on a study of developing nations from around the world to identify the best tourism destinations among them. The benchmarking uses categories such as environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights.[22][23][24]

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ministry of Tourism of Argentina: Regions
  2. ^ a b "UNWTO Tourism Highlights - 2011 Edition" (PDF). World Tourism Organization. June 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-26.  See table in pp. 8.
  3. ^ "México DF, Buenos Aires y San Pablo, los destinos turísticos favoritos" (in Spanish). Infobae América. June 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-19. .
  4. ^ World Economic Forum
  5. ^ a b c d WTO: World Tourism Barometer
  6. ^ a b c d World Economic Forum: Argentina
  7. ^ INDEC: turismo internacional
  8. ^ a b UNData: Argentina
  9. ^ World Tourism Organization (2006). "Tourism Market Trends, Annex 12, 2006 Edition" (PDF). 
  10. ^ Retrieved on 10 March 2008
  11. ^ WTTC reveals strong growth for Argentina Retrieved on 10 March 2008
  12. ^ Travel +Leisure Magazine worldsbest/2007 Retrieved on 10 March 2008
  13. ^ "Cuyo" touristic region official website
  14. ^ Official website of "The North" touristic region
  15. ^ Litoral tourist region official website
  16. ^ Official Tourism Portal
  17. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Pali Aike, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham
  18. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Argentina
  19. ^ A non-profit working for traffic safety in Argentina noted that "drivers did not respect the red traffic light approximately 1,903,560 times every day" and that although drivers knew the dangers of drinking and driving "83% (of survey respondents) admitted to 'driving after drinking alcohol'".
  20. ^ U.S Department of State Country Guide
  21. ^ See Luchemos por la Vida - Asociación Civil
  22. ^ "Ethical travel destinations unveiled: Argentina, Barbados, Chile". The Independent. Relaxnews. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  23. ^ Jane Esberg, Jeff Greenwald and Natalie Lefevre. "The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations". Ethical Traveler. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  24. ^ "The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations: 2012". Ethical Traveler. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 


External links[edit]