Travel to Argentina: Important Customs You’ve Gotta Know

Argentina Travel Posted on 06/28/2019

When you travel to Argentina, there are many cultural differences that may surprise you! Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are seven super customs in Argentina that would be helpful for a Yanqui (Yankee in Spanish!) to know.

Updated to December 2022

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

Mate drinking is one of the most classic customs in Argentina. 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 selected 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 any more!

Iguazu Falls - walkways


 3. Being Late

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 the U.S. 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 if you follow the customs in Argentina. Maybe it’s because of the nocturnal lifestyle—by breakfast time they are still full from dinner or still sleeping.

Man drinking mate, a very well known drink of Argentina

6. Spices or lack thereof

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 sauce and are planning to travel to Argentina, pack some into your luggage! Here there is absolutely nothing remotely spicy.

7. Exact Change

Vendors or people working in stores appreciate small change and if you hand them only 100 or 500 peso bills, they will usually ask you for something smaller. If they don’t have a peso or centavos to give you back as a change, they commonly offer you candy instead!

Written by Chloe Moore

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