Argentina offers a wide array of options for different types of travellers. For urban explorers, there is the bustling metropolitan capital of Buenos Aires. For nature lovers, national parks such as Tierra del Fuego and Los Glaciares in Patagonia are a must for hiking, and desert canyons can be reached up in the north. Unfortunately on my trip to Argentina, I only got a chance to visit Buenos Aires, and the wine region of Mendoza. I also visited Iguazu Falls, but I already covered that in my Brazil Budget Breakdown. Without further ado, here are my cost breakdown and experiences whilst exploring Buenos Aires and Mendoza.
Currency Info: When I was there in March 2019, the exchange of the Argentine Peso to the Canadian Dollar was 31 ARS to $1 CAD. This exchange rate might change as Argentina has one of the world’s volatile currency due to the country’s high inflation rate.
I took a flight with Norwegian Air from Mendoza to Buenos Aires. The flight lasted only around 2 hours, which is nothing compared to a grueling 14 hour bus ride. With the cost of the flight being only $10 more expensive than the bus ride at $57.56 CAD, it was a no brainer for me as to which to choose.
When searching for domestic flights in Argentina, you might come across cheap prices. Before you get too excited, they may only be for Argentine citizens as some flights are subsidized by the government.
Food & Drinks
If you like red meat and wine, then Argentina has to be your next destination! No other place can get you better steak and red wine for the price you are paying. The rest of the food scene is heavily influenced by Spanish and Italian cuisines–Spanish due to its colonial past and Italian as there are a lot Argentines with Italian descent. The following are some of the food and drinks I tried while exploring Buenos Aires and Mendoza:
- Delicious Argentine steaks starting at 195 ARS ($6.29 CAD). Don’t forget to add chimmichurri, a sauce for grilled meat consisting of parsley and garlic.
- A choripan, a quintessential Argentine dish consisting of sausage on bread at Chori 170 ARS ($5.48 CAD)
- Buenos Aires’ style pizza at El Mazacote. They have a pizza filled with a lot of cheese and onions called fugazzeta. 95 ARS ($3.06 CAD) for two slices.
- Milanesa, breaded pounded chicken deep fried topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and ham. Popular in Argentina due to its strong Italian influence. 320 ARS ($10.32 CAD)
- Quite possibly the best fried chicken in Buenos Aires at NOLA 240 ARS ($7.74 CAD)
- Argentine empanandas. They are usually filled with ground beef, spiced with cumin and paprika and topped with onion, boiled egg, olives, or raisins.
- Argentine asado. A BBQ of different meats such as beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, morcilla (blood pudding). A real feast that is also a social event. 600 ARS ($19.35 CAD)
- Due to its strong Italian influence, Buenos Aires serves some delicious artisanal gelato. A small ice cream from the highly rated Rapa Nui 95 ARS ($3.06 CAD)
- A bottle of Argentine Malbec wine 120 ARS ($3.87 CAD)
- Mate, a tea like drink that’s super popular in Argentina, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil. Dried leaves of yerba mate are steeped in hot water and sipped with a metal straw from a special mate cup. You will see people carrying this everywhere on the streets. In my opinion, it tastes like really strong green tea. FREE at my hotel (Sabatico Travelers Hostel)
Being the 8th largest country in the world, my transportation costs would have been a lot higher had I visited more than just Buenos Aires and Mendoza. Here are my costs of transportation while I was in Argentina:
- Ferry from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay to Buenos Aires with Colonia Express 1254 ARS ($40.45 CAD).
- Public transportation in Buenos Aires is super cheap with bus fare at around 20 ARS ($0.65 CAD) and the subways at around 16.5 ARS ($0.53 CAD) depending on the distance travelled.
I found that the cost of accommodation in Buenos Aires and Mendoza–like the food and drinks–to be of great value. While the two hostels I stayed at were pretty basic, they were really cheaply priced, comparable to those in Southeast Asia. It was even more surprising for me to get a private room through Airbnb in a trendy neighborhood for such a low price!
Sabatico Travelers Hostel in Monserrat for 4 nights at 479 ARS ($15.44 CAD) per night.
This hostel is located in a great location close to the historic San Telmo, Boca neighbourhood and Centro. The staff organizes nightly events such as asados (BBQ), empanada night, pub crawls, etc. They also lend you SUBE cards, which are needed to use Buenos Aires’ public transportation. The one thing I have to complain is that they run out of hot water quick, and thus I showered in cold water numerous times.
Airbnb (private room) in Palermo for 4 nights at $16.79 CAD per night.
As Buenos Aires is a big city, I wanted to stay in two different areas. My first stay in Monseratt was closer to Old BA. I wanted to also experience New BA by staying in Palermo. It’s a trendy area filled with great restaurants, bars and cafes. When looking for accommodation, I came across a private room on Airbnb for a bargain at $16.79 CAD a night! I couldn’t turn that down. It was a basic room and the WiFi didn’t reach my room, but the hosts were very welcoming and hospitable.
Hostel Internacional Campo Base for 2 nights at 329 ARS ($10.61 CAD) per night.
This party hostel is situated in a great location within the city. It has an awesome atmosphere, making it very easy to meet other travellers. They set up daily and nightly activities making your travels convenient. The drawbacks are that the facilities are rundown, with not the cleanest bathrooms and dorms. The WiFi also doesn’t reach into all the dorm rooms.
Even though I didn’t get much of a chance to explore Argentina’s natural beauty, I was able to do a lot of other stuff in Argentina’s cities. Here is what I was up to:
- Buenos Aires’ football team, Boca Juniors’ stadium (La Bombonera) and museum entrance. 380 ARS ($12.26 CAD). Ideally, I would have loved to watch a match, but the tickets are only sold to season ticket holders which some sell second hand at really expensive rates (around $100)
- A pub crawl in Buenos Aires 300 ARS ($9.68 CAD)
- The City Center Tour covering places such as Congress Building and Evita’s mural with Buenos Aires Free Walks. FREE, but don’t forget to tip! Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as there was so many people on this tour (probably over 50 people)
- The Recoleta Free City Tour covering places such as Islas Malvinas war memorial and the most affluent neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires with BA Free Tour. FREE, tip at your discretion. This tour was a lot less crowded, with only 10 people in my group.
- Recoleta Cemetery. The burial site of many Buenos Aires’ elite including the beloved Evita Peron. One of the most breath-taking cemeteries in the world, its tombstones and memorials are quite extravagant, reaching sizes of small houses. The best thing is that admission is FREE!
- Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) entrance. I got in with the student price of 85 ARS ($2.74 CAD). Regular price is 170 ARS ($5.48 CAD)
- and more! Check out our The Sum of Travel’s guide to visiting Buenos Aires on a Budget
- White water rafting in the Andes. 1130 ARS ($36.45 CAD). Having previously gone 4 times, this has been my cheapest time going white water rafting. Unfortunately the rapids weren’t too rough, as they only reached a level III.
- DIY wine tasting tours on bikes in Mendoza. All together we visited three wineries and one olive oil factory. Including bike rentals it came to 800 ARS ($25.81 CAD)
Here are my other expenses while exploring Buenos Aires and Mendoza:
- Withdrawing Argentine Pesos at the ATM is one of the worst in the world. The ATM fees are 410 ARS ($13.23 CAD) across most banks and had a low withdrawal limits (around 5000 ARS ($161.29 CAD)). This is the first country I have encountered where it is better exchanging USD to ARS as the exchange rate offered are so much better than the ATM fees you will have to pay!
- Bought a new laptop charger as mine broke in Uruguay. 1290 ARS ($41.61 CAD)
The Sum of Exploring Buenos Aires and Mendoza
For the 10 days I was in Argentina’s two cities, I spent a total of $594.44 CAD which came out to $59.44 per day! My budget would’ve been a lot higher if I also included Patagonia on my trip. I felt that Patagonia deserves a trip on its own as I did not have any proper gear (hiking boots, warmer clothes).
Due to the inflation crisis that Argentina is facing, the Argentine Peso (ARS) has experienced a significant rate of devaluation. The Peso was trading around 3:1 with the US Dollar at 2008 and have risen to 40:1 by 2018. While this has been terrible for the millions of Argentines travelling abroad, it has made travelling in Argentina (for foreigners) a lot cheaper.