Top 8 Argentine Culture and Traditions You Can't Miss


Argentina is a country with a vast cultural legacy. It is a place with a particular fusion of indigenous and Latin American traditions. Of course, the alluring tango may be Argentina’s most well-known cultural export, but the country’s culture includes so much more. They can be found everywhere, from urban centers like Buenos Aires to the towering, snow-capped Andes highlands and the tropical rainforest that surrounds the Iguazu Falls. Here are the highlights of some of the most popular cultural elements that you should not miss while you visit Argentina, so you can prepare yourself for a fully immersive experience when you travel to this beautiful South American country. 

1. Tango Dance

Couple performing Tango dance in Buenos Aires.
Argentina's most famous cultural contribution is the tango, which is characterized by passionate movements.

Tango occupies a revered spot on the list of popular culture in Argentina, and rightly so. Tango’s origins can be traced to the twentieth century when immigrants invented the dance as a means to escape loneliness and connect with their roots. To this day, the dance holds its seductive appeal. It will be a crime to miss the evocative music and sultry steps on your visit to Argentina.

Where: Tango is best experienced in any of the neighborhood milongas scattered around Buenos Aires and other major cities. There, you can marvel at the graceful movements of dancers of all ages as they whirl around the dance floor. For a more upscale experience, look no further than the glitzy tango palaces in the country’s capital.

2. Gaucho Culture

Argentine Gaucho riding his horse in Patagonia, Argentina.
The wide-brimmed hats worn by Argentine Gauchos, frequently paired with wool ponchos, are part of their distinctive attire.

The cowboy culture is deeply ingrained in Argentine history. No trip to Argentina is complete without experiencing the Gaucho culture. A visit to any of the country's working estancia (ranches) should expose you to the Gaucho way of life while engaging in fun activities like horseback riding, dancing to folklore music, and, of course, eating classic Asado, Argentina’s own take on the barbecue.

When and Where: The annual Gaucho festival in San Antonio de Areco is the perfect place to experience the best of Gaucho culture. The festival takes place every November and brings thousands of Gauchos of all ages together for some nail-biting excitement.

3. Kiss Greeting

Two friends greeting each other with a kiss in Argentina.
A kiss on the cheek is a common way of greeting and a farewell in Argentina.

Unless you are Latin American, you are likely to regard the idea of greeting someone with a kiss as slightly over the top. But that is the way of life in Argentina. It does not matter if they are a family member, an acquaintance, a love interest, or a stranger, a kiss on the cheek is a standard way of saying hello and goodbye in Argentina. So, whenever you enter a room and see everyone planting kisses on each other's right cheek, do not be surprised. Instead, present your right cheek for the same, and feel free to reciprocate the gesture. No wonder Argentinians are some of the most affectionate people in the world.

4. Sharing a Mate Gourd

Mate Gourd at Argentina
Mate Gourd is a classic Argentina drink made from dried yerba maté leaves from the same gourd.

Mate drinking is another classic Argentine culture and traditions. It involves sharing a drink made from dried yerba maté leaves from the same gourd, which is passed around counterclockwise among the group. Beyond the drink, there are some nuances that every participant should observe. For example, remember to pass the gourd back to the person in charge after taking a sip and say gracias if you do not want the brew anymore. Also, you should know that sharing a mate gourd is an honored tradition among the Argentines. So, if you have the privilege of being invited, do well to honor the invitation.

Where: Sharing a mate gourd is best done with locals. There are several agencies that can connect you with an Argentine family and learn how to prepare mate and empanadas, and, of course, experience the ritual of mate gourd sharing.

5. Argentine Empanadas

Deep fried buffalo chicken Empanadas with red hot sauce on a plate.
You would notice a distinctive flavor and taste in each empanada if you traveled through Argentina and tried one in every city.

Empanadas are a quintessential part of Argentine food culture, and it is hard not to fall in love with them on the first try. Although they may come in different variants, the typical empanada comprises mouthwatering flavors of meat, vegetables, spices, seafood, and occasionally fruits wrapped in layers of pastry. If you travel through Argentina and sample empanadas in every city, you would notice a distinct flavor and taste in each one. But one fact you will easily agree with is that there is no such thing as a bad empanada.

When and Where: If you want to sample empanadas with fanfare, the annual National Empanada Festival in Famailla, a city in Tucuman, is the place to be. The festival celebrating everything good about empanadas takes place every September.

6. Football Match

Fans supporting Argentina during a football match in the country's stadium.
Did you know? Millions of ardent fans in Argentina consider football to be more than just a sport.

In Argentina, football is more than a sport; it is a religion with millions of passionate adherents. Week in and week out, devotees troop to magnificent stadiums to support their favorite teams in an atmosphere of unmatched fervor—and sometimes tension. The extreme love for the beautiful game should come as no surprise in a country that has produced two of the greatest players ever – Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona – and countless other stars.

Where: The Argentine football season typically runs from late January to early May and from August to mid-December. A competitive match between River Plate and Boca Juniors is your best bet to witness the raw passion at play. Although the tickets may be hard to come by, if you are lucky enough to watch the two rivals play at the La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, you can rest assured that you are in for a treat. You can also watch other first-division matches at other iconic stadiums like Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Estadio Libertadores de America, El Monumental, etc.

7. Wine Tasting

Argentine wine in the glasses on a wooden table.
Argentine wine has a unique wine heritage as well as ideal growing conditions for premium grapes.

An interesting fact about Argentina's culture is that it offers some of the best wines in the world. This is due to a combination of an authentic wine heritage and favorable weather for growing high-quality grapes. The country is home to renowned wine brands like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Syrah, and the world-famous Malbec. A wine tour in Argentina exposes you to not just the best wines in the world, but the stories behind them. You will discover the highest vineyards in the world. Stargaze among the famous vineyards in Argentina and enjoy exquisite wines.

When and Where: The Bodega Tierras Altas is one of the best wineries in Buenos Aires, and they offer an all-encompassing wine-tasting experience. You can also embark on an exploration of Mendoza, by far the country’s most important wine-producing region. There, you will visit wineries like Familia Zuccardi, Bodegas Lopez, The Vines of Mendoza, and many more.

8. Carnival and Typical Festivals

Oktoberfest menu involving Bavarian sausages with pretzels and beer.
The Oktoberfest, which includes a beer festival and a traveling fair, is the biggest Volksfest in the entire world.

Typical Argentine festivals are boisterous affairs with colorful attire, loud music, energetic performances, and a great deal of fanfare. From the drinking fun and frolic of Oktoberfest to the local wine tours of Vendimia to the sensual dancing of the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, there is never a shortage of carnivals in the bustling South American country.

So there you have it. Now that you know about some of the most popular Argentine culture and traditions, you can properly explore the country and create lasting memories. Keep the location and time of these traditions in mind when planning a trip to Argentina, and you will certainly have a truly wonderful experience. For a seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit Argentina. For ideas on what you can do on your trip to Argentina, see our guide on things to do in Argentina. Our article on how many days to spend in Argentina will also come in handy.

Other Related Articles:
Places to Visit in Argentina
Three Weeks in Argentina
Seven Days in Argentina

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