Argentine Customs Travelers Should Know

Argentina Travel Posted on 10/31/2017

Like any country in the world, Argentina has its own set of customs and cultural norms which some visitors may find surprising when they first arrive. But, never fear! Our team of travel experts has collected some of the most common Argentine customs travelers should know, no matter where in the world you’re visiting from!

1. Greetings

Kissing on the cheek when greeting hello and goodbye is part of Argentine culture. When Argentines enter a room, every single person, stranger or family, receives one kiss on the right cheek. The same thing is done when leaving. You’ll be expected to do the same when you travel to Argentina.

2. Mate drinking

Iguazu Falls - Natural Wonder

Mate drinking is one of the most Argentine customs there is. We could say it’s among the most important Argentina’s customs and traditions. It’s a social tradition that brings people together. However, there are small nuances in the mate drinking process that many Yanquis simply don’t know about. For example, one set person makes the mate and pours water in after every person drinks. They are in charge; so after you finish sipping, pass the mate back to them. Also, since it is a social custom, to turn down mate is not necessarily rude, but may distance you from others. The last thing – only say “gracias” if you are done and don’t want anymore!

3. Being Late

This might be one of your favorite Argentina’s customs and traditions. Argentinians have a much different concept of time than Yanquis. You could say being on time is not a priority, and that they are a culture of night owls. Showing up late is culturally accepted, even expected. To important meetings, being five or ten minutes late is no big deal. And for social gatherings, if you show up any earlier than thirty minutes after the set time, you’ll be the first one to arrive. If you’re a chronically late person in the U.S., you’ll feel right at home when you travel to Argentina. 

4. Nocturnal Culture

Everything in Argentina is done later. The people stay up late, eat dinner late, and go out to bars and clubs late. You could say their normal time of doing things is shifted a few hours back from our usual. On any given day of the week, you can find that buses and streets are still bustling with people at midnight or even in the early hours of the morning. Even kids are still up and energetic at these hours! Dinner is typically eaten between 9:30 and 11:30, and dinner restaurants are usually open from 8 pm to 2 am. Happy hours usually last until 9 pm and a normal time to get to a bar is around 11 pm. Clubs don’t get going until 2 am and can last until 8 am in most places. It’s not uncommon for people to go home after the sun comes up! Talk about endurance.

5. No breakfast

Yanquis love a good breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, syrup, bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, fruit, yogurt, bagels, and French toast… well these things just aren’t served in Argentina. Breakfast basically doesn’t exist here. Coffee and maybe medialunas or bread with dulce de leche is all you’re really going to find when you travel to Argentina. Maybe it’s because of the nocturnal lifestyle—by breakfast time they are still full from dinner or still sleeping.

6. Spices or lack thereof

Buenos Aires - City tour

The cuisine in Argentina is exquisite, the meat, wine, and empanadas are famous around the world. However, this culture is not a fan of spices. Typically things are cooked without salt or pepper….or much of anything else. If you like hot sauces and are planning to travel to Argentina, pack some into your luggage! Argentina’s traditions and customs don’t offer anything remotely spicy.

7. Exact change

Vendors or people working in stores appreciate small change and if you hand them only 100 peso bills (the highest value bill), they will usually ask you for something smaller. If they don’t have a peso or centavos to give you back as change, they might commonly offer you candy instead!

Questions? Write to Us