If you haven’t yet been to Argentina, you are missing out. There are plenty of reasons as to why Argentina is the most visited tourist destination in South America. Argentina is the largest Spanish speaking country around the world, with gorgeous landscapes and crazy nightlife. Some of the world’s most famous natural wonders come from Argentina, such as Iguazu Falls or the Perito Moreno glacier. Since Argentina is such a vast country, it is also highly diverse, so you can keep returning to it every year and discover something new every time. However, since Argentina is such a popular tourist spot, visiting during high season may not be the best idea, as tons of tourists flock to the most popular attractions. Instead of waiting in long lines, we recommend visiting some of the lesser-known hidden gems of Argentina, which are just as beautiful as the popular ones. To help you find the best unobvious attractions available, we have prepared this list of Top 10 Hidden Secrets about Culture of Argentina, which not only shows attractions but also some facts about the culture of this wonderful country.
Argentina is filled with gorgeous natural wonders, but not all of them lie in the uncultivated landscapes outside of the cities. If you’re on your vacation in one of the Argentinian cities, we recommend searching around for gardens, which are usually neatly kept and colorful. One of such gardens is the famous Botanical Garden of Buenos Aires. However, this one is often surrounded by tourists, so you might not get a chance to take the perfect souvenir photo or enjoy nature in peace and tranquility. Instead, we suggest taking a trip to Palermo, which is a region of Buenos Aires. In there, you will find a gorgeous Jacaranda tree garden which blooms in November with vibrant, violet flowers.
Argentina’s rich cultural heritage is filled with theatres, museums, art galleries, and other attractions. However, most of the popular ones are plagued by long waiting lines as tourists crowd the cultural spots. One of the more unusual places, which usually has no lines, can be visited right in Buenos Aires. El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a historic theater, which is now non-functional and has been instead turned into a huge bookstore. There was even a time when the theater was turned into a cinema, beloved by the locals. The Grand Splendid retains its original interior, which is filled with frescos on the ceiling and ornate balconies all around.
While most of Argentina is warm and sunny, there are places in the country which can still surprise you. One such place is the Perito Moreno Glacier, which lies in the middle of the Los Glaciares National Park. The gorgeous glacier was named after a famous 19th-century explorer and is a long stretch of ice that rises as high as 250 feet in the sky. The glacier is the third-largest source of freshwater in the world, as the ice sheets cover over 120 square miles. There are also plenty of observation platforms and spots, so you can watch the glacier from a safe distance, as you cannot walk on the glacier itself – it would be too dangerous.
Located in the city of Carhue in Argentina, Villa Epecuen used to be a famous tourist resort back in the 1920s, hosting thousands of international visitors at one time, who wanted to bathe in the healing waters of the nearby Lago Epecuen. However, in 1985, a curious weather phenomenon caused the nearby dam to broke, which flooded the whole village. Although nobody was hurt and the destruction continued slowly, the village was no longer usable as a resort and fell to ruin. However, the flood finally retreated around 2009, revealing the sunken village, but the damage was already done and there were no plans to rebuild. Instead, Villa Epecuen remains as a famous ghost town, perfect for more daring explorers.
If you want to get a test of true Argentina culture and traditions, Palacio Barolo is definitely the place to visit on your next trip to this South American country. Palacio Barolo is actually located in Buenos Aires at the end of Avenida de Mayo, and used to be the tallest building not only in Argentina, but in all of South America. Even though there are many buildings that are now taller than Palacio Barolo, it still towers above the surrounding neighborhoods. The Palacio was intended to keep Dante Alighieri's ashes safe, far away from Europe which at the time of the tower's construction was falling apart. The building even resembles Dante's structure of hell and heaven, with every floor being a part of it.
Argentina culture and traditions are not only about gorgeous landscapes and famous monuments, but also about their unique cuisine. One of the most famous items among all Argentinian foods is jagua, which has a wide spectrum of uses. Apart from being a tasty dessert, resembling a melon with a taste of a dried apple, jagua is also used to create wine, sweets, and most importantly – temporary tattoo ink. When jagua is exposed to fresh air, its juices slowly turn black. This ink can make tattoos that last even up to a month, which makes them a perfect alternative to permanent tattoos and henna, to which many people are allergic. It is also sometimes used as a medicine, mostly used as an antibiotic during cold infections.
If you love fancy, exotic cocktails, Argentina will be the perfect place for you. The locals love colorful drinks, and some of their creations are famous all over the world. One of such creations is Canelazo, which is an aromatic punch drank mostly during the cold winter to keep locals warm. The exact recipe of Canelazo varies with every region, as the drink is popular not only in Argentina, but also in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. The staple of the recipe is unrefined cane sugar and sugarcane liquor, usually mixed with water and cinnamon. To add some flavor, locals usually also add fresh juices to the cocktail. While the famous cocktail can be found in most bars and pubs in Argentina, be careful with the amount you drink – it is quite strong!
Don’t get creeped out by this unusual tradition while on your journey to Argentina. T’anta Wawa translates loosely to “baby bread”, and is exactly what you might have expected – bread in the shape of a baby. However, T’anta Wawa is a very important part of Argentinian tradition, not just a regular snack. Traditionally, it was made by grieving families and displayed as mementos at child graves. Nowadays, the baby bread is consumed to celebrate life, instead. It is a traditional dish made during All Saints’ on November 1st, and it is often made sweet with cinnamon, raisins, and fruits. There are even baby bread festivals, during which local bakers compete against each other to see who makes the best T’anta Wawa!
Argentinians are known for their bizarre cuisine, with items such as Nachi, which is a jelly made out of the blood of a freshly killed lamb. Even though mortifying to most tourists, locals love such dishes. Another popular Argentinian snack is the Sanguche de Potito, which is a sandwich favored by football fans, filled with cooked cow’s rectum. However, the most recognizable item of Argentinian cuisine is the Ubre Asada, which is a grilled udder of a cow, cooked freshly after slaughter. The udders are then usually served with chimichurri and can be found in most restaurants that serve Argentinian cuisine.
If you're looking for gorgeous sights and unique landscapes, make sure to visit the Catamarca province, which features the famous Laguna Grande, located nearby a volcano. The uneven terrain can usually be only visited in an off-road vehicle, so unless you already own one, your best bet would be to rent it from one of the nearby rental services, or get tickets for a guided tour. While Laguna Grande's geography is beautiful on its own, it is not the primary reason for its fame – that would be the twenty thousand flamingos, to which the lagoon is a natural habitat. Most tourists do not know about this gem, making Laguna Grande a perfect escape from bustling cities.