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17 Myths About Argentina – We Uncover the Truth!

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Think you know what to expect when you visit Argentina? Think again. Here we unravel the prevailing stereotypes about this fair land.

 

#1 – It’s not safe!

Police in Buenos Aires

Police in Buenos Aires. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Alejandro.

Argentina, like much of South America, unfortunately suffers from this lazy and outdated stereotype. While the worry is fueled by fear of the unknown and a lack of awareness, it’s also easy to see where it comes from.

The thing is, the widespread concern about safety in South America creates a self-perpetuating myth. Because people are worried about safety, when something happens it’s widely talked about among travel circles and attributed to the climate of the place it happened.

Compare that to, say, pickpockets in Paris. No-one tells you France is unsafe because someone got their bag snatched, yet if the same happened in Buenos Aires you’d have everyone telling you to be extremely careful.

Common sense, as always, should prevail. Argentina is a very safe place for those who take care and respect the risks inherent in all travel, so don’t let fear define your experience.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#2 – It’s just like Europe!

Art and architecture in Buenos Aires.

Art and architecture in Buenos Aires. Photo courtesy of David Berkowitz.

It’s true that Buenos Aires is perhaps the most “European” of South America’s cities, but it’s also lazy to simply disregard it as “The Paris of South America” as travel writers are wont to do.

Indeed, to do so strips Buenos Aires of its own, singular personality and suggests it is indebted to Europe for its identity. The truth is spectacularly different, and visitors will find a city that blends a multitude of cultures to produce something entirely unique.

Nice buildings, a love for culture and a penchant for good food might be common points between the two cities, but we never call New York “The Paris of the US”, so why do the same with Buenos Aires?

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#3 – The food is the best in the world!

Argentina Food

A comer! Photo courtesy of Pablo Gonzalez

Ok, there’s certainly some truth in this because as anyone that’s enjoyed an authentic parrilla in Argentina knows, there’s no better place on earth for steak. Wash that down with a glass (or 5) of Malbec and you’ll swiftly be proclaiming Argentina’s cuisine to be the best on the planet.

But (and it’s a big but) once you move away from the inexplicably delicious barbecues and into the day to day meals the story becomes quite different. Because of the Italian influence inherent in society you’ll find a lot of “Italian” dishes, but if you’re expecting Italian quality think again, because, frankly, the pizza and pasta is not up to scratch.

Despite what locals might tell you (repeatedly). The pizza here is little more than cheesy bread, while the pasta is said to have caused Italian visitors to try to come up with a new name for their own pasta so the two will never be associated again…

VERDICT: FALSE! (But the steak is the best in the world)

 

#4 – Pizza in Argentina is terrible!

Argentina Pizza

Not bad, eh? Photo courtesy of Pedro Alonso.

…That said, if you separate your idea of what pizza should be from the reality of what you find in Argentina (i.e., cheese and bread) and just appreciate the pizza for what it is, you’ll find yourself enjoying a delicious drunk snack. This is not fine dining and it’s not Italian, but it is a definite guilty pleasure for visitors (at least after 3am).

Still, the fact that locals often speak about how great the pizza is in Argentina builds your expectations up to such an extent that when you try it you can’t help but be disappointed. I was once told by a table full of Argentinians that their efforts at making this dish surpassed their Italian cousins’.

For shame.

VERDICT: TRUE! (Though it can definitely be ok)

 

#5 – Argentinians are arrogant!

Lionel Messi.

Professional footballers don’t come much more humble than Lionel Messi. Photo courtesy of 2top.

I’m yet to meet one Argentinian that’s arrogant, and I’m always slightly confused as to where this stereotype comes from. Without exception, I’ve found locals warm, inviting and incredibly funny.

Not just that, but also self-deprecating and passionate. Perhaps its the extremely lazy interactions with each other that bring this stereotype about (locals don’t often say please and thank you to each other, which can be jarring at first), or their patriotism (show me a South American that isn’t patriotic!), but either way this stereotype is the most confusing I’ve found.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#6 – There’s not much to do other than Patagonia and Buenos Aires!

Are you serious? At one end it looks like this:

Patagonia

Awe-inspiring views. Photo courtesy of pclvv.

In the middle it looks like this:

Mendoza

Mendoza. Photo courtesy of Mark Surman.

And up north it looks like this:

Iguazu

Iguazu Falls. Photo courtesy of Kristen Miranda

And this:

The Mountain of Seven Colors

The Mountain of Seven Colors. Photo courtesy of Jesus Dehesa.

Whatever you’re looking for in a vacation, it’s pretty certain that a tour of Argentina can provide it.

VERDICT: SO FALSE I THINK I MAY HAVE JUST MADE THIS STEREOTYPE UP MYSELF IN ORDER TO PROVE IT WRONG!

 

See all this and more on an unforgettable Argentina tour!

> Nature’s Wonder Tour of Argentina
Highlights of Patagonia Tour

 

#7 – Argentinians love Maradona!

Maradona

Maradona

We British have a pretty passionate relationship with this diminutive anti-hero, and we often make the mistake of assuming the extent of our love/hate feelings are matched by Argentinians. This may be true in some cases, but many locals regard him as excessive, egotistical and generally a little bit boorish – even if he is phenomenally talented. Which is to say, unlike the Brits, they have a pretty balanced and fair opinion of him. Huh, who knew?

Still, it’s hard to deny when you walk around the streets of La Boca and San Telmo that he’s adored with a passion that goes beyond simple celebrity. This is idol worship for many Argentinians; just look at the reaction when he was appointed coach.

VERDICT: TRUE!

 

#8 – Argentinians love football!

Argentina football fans

Boca fans depicted in urban art.

Again, there’s a large amount of truth to this stereotype because many Argentinians love football more than anything else in the world, but the mistake is to think that all Argentinians are like that, or that there’s little else in the way of local passions. In my time in Buenos Aires I found more people indifferent to the world of football than people who would die for their team.

The locals I met would light up when discussing theater, or art, or economics. Football? Less so.

Of course, anyone that went to the Brazil World Cup will know just how loud and passionate Argentina’s football fans can be…

“BRAZIIIIL DECIME QUE SE SIENTE…”

VERDICT: TRUE!

 

#9 – Argentinians are like Brazilians/Colombians/Mexicans/Chileans etc etc.

No, no, no and no. Latin America is a vast, complicated and varied area of the world. Moreover, whereas most other countries in the region contain obvious traces of indigenous culture, Argentina’s indigenous population was more or less wiped out by bloodthirsty Europeans, meaning their lineage is almost entirely European.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#10 – Argentinians hate the English!

England.

England.

If hating the English means being able to recite all the words to every Beatles, Smiths, New Order and David Bowie song then yes, it’s true that Argentinians hate the English.

Of course, don’t go to Argentina and spark up a conversation about the Falklands/Malvinas with people you barely know as it’s a sensitive, complicated topic. But if you go expecting some antagonism towards the English you’re going to proven very wrong.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#11 – Argentina = Sun, Sun, Sun!

The sun shines in Buenos Aires. Photo courtesy of Brian Allen.

The sun shines in Buenos Aires. Photo courtesy of Brian Allen.

People tend to associate South America with the sun, and certainly if you look at Argentina’s flag you might be forgiven for thinking that the sunshine never really stops shining on Argentina’s shores.

Even in Buenos Aires, however, it has been known to snow, and of course the icy climes of Patagonia speak for themselves. If you’re packing for a tour of Argentina, you’ll need to prepare a whole range of clothing.

VERDICT: FALSE!

#12 – Argentinians love tango!

Tango on the streets of San Telmo.

Tango on the streets of San Telmo.

There’s certainly a section of Argentine society that loves tango, but my expectations were blown into smithereens when I discovered this section is somewhat confined to specialists and older generations. Indeed, like many of the things I expected to be Argentine passions I found the reality was that people were largely indifferent, if not appreciative of it as a particular part of the local character and culture.

Still, it’s nice to pretend, and visiting Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires is a great experience for anyone visiting.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#13 – Argentinians hate the other South American countries!

Messi and Neymar battle it out.

Messi and Neymar battle it out.

There’s a rivalry between most South American countries, but the myth that Argentinians hate the rest of the continent is often repeated among travelers.

You just have to carry on exploring, however, to realise that the Argentinians are perhaps the most eager travelers in the continent. While other South Americans are drawn to the US and Europe, a surprising amount of Argentinans backpack around their neighboring countries.

Relations may not always be perfect, but show me one continent that doesn’t have a wealth of rivalries in its borders.

VERDICT: FALSE!

 

#14 – Buenos Aires is full of expats!

Taking in the sights. Photo courtesy of Juanedc.

Taking in the sights. Photo courtesy of Juanedc.

Of course Buenos Aires has a fair share of expats – it’s a great place to live! Still, if what you’re looking for when going to Buenos Aires is a slice of authentic porteno life then you shouldn’t worry about bumping into tourists and expats all the time – it’s very easy to be taken under the wing of a local who’ll be more than happy to show you all their favourite haunts.

VERDICT: TRUE! (But that’s no bad thing…)

 

#15 – Argentina has no decent beaches!

A beach in Argentina. Photo courtesy of @jmm.

A beach in Argentina. Photo courtesy of @jmm.

Ok, I’ll admit that Argentina isn’t exactly Brazil or Colombia when it comes to pristine beaches, but to disregard the beaches here is a mistake – especially if you’re staying for a while! Try Mar del Plata or Pinamar for size, or for spectacular views (if not swimming), you’ll find the south coast stunning.

Plus (cheating a little bit) you can take a ferry from Buenos Aires to neighbouring Uruguay and there you’ll find plenty of stunning beaches to enjoy.

If it is beaches you’e after, however, you’ll be best of heading to other areas in South America.

VERDICT: TRUE!

 

#16 – Argentinians are just like Italians!

argentines like italians

It does say ‘Paulo’, not ‘Pablo’…

Che! Argentina is a meld of different cultures and backgrounds, with people of Italian, German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese descent being just the tip of the iceberg. Italian influence is the most obvious and perhaps pervasive of these, but the Argentines undoubtedly bring their own flair to the gestures, the passionate outcries and the food.

The link is, however, undeniable, and makes for some pretty engrossing people watching.

VERDICT: FALSE! (But a little bit true)

 

#17 – Argentinians love wine!

Wine, yum!

Wine, yum!

Well, ok. Some stereotypes are simply true… And why wouldn’t they, with such an affordable, delicious selection? Ah, take me back to Mendoza…

VERDICT: TRUE! SO TRUE!

So what do you make of the stereotypes and myths about Argentina we’ve looked at here? What are the most outrageous myths you’ve heard spouted about Argentina? Let us know in the comments below…

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23 Responses to “17 Myths About Argentina – We Uncover the Truth!”

  1. NICOLAS ROLDAN says:

    Nice review! Thank you for this good step forward against racism and xenophobia. Greetings from Tucumán, Argentina ;)

  2. Bruce Andrews says:

    THIS IS SO STUPID, DON’T BELIEVE THIS CRAP, TOTALLY FALSE AND FAKE. BEEN TONS OF TIMES IN ARGENTINA AND HALF OF THE THINGS THAT ARE WRITTEN HERE ARE WRONG, PROVE IT FOR YOURSELF, GO AND VISIT, THAT COUNTRY IS BEATIFUL! AND YES, IT’S EUROPE IN LATIN AMERICA.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Bruce, I’d be interested to know which you think are wrong?

      I also think, as I stated in the article, that calling Argentina “Europe in Latin America” is unfair, as it deserves to be appreciated on its own merits, not constantly compared to Europe.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, glad we share the love for Argentina!

  3. Marcela says:

    Hi Paul!

    This is a very good article, congrats!!!
    I am Argentinean and I agree with all, except for the food! (putting aside the steak, which is unbelievable good)… I find our food very good, even the pizza! There are a lot of types of them, may be you didn’t find the right place (although I am very curious about the taste of the pizza that you had tried that you consider is much better, to be fair at a comparison level)… Also there are ‘empanadas’ (like a meat pie) that when you have them with a good red wine… are very close to the placer of eating the steak… I sincerely recommend you to try it…
    Thanks and regards!

    • Paul says:

      Hi Marcela,

      Thanks for your comment! I did actually love Argentinian food, especially empanadas!

      My experience of the pizza was that it wasn’t as good as in Italy, for example, but it’s true I didn’t go to any “fancy” restaurants. I was taken to restaurants by locals though, so I think I tasted the authentic thing!

      To each their own ;)

      Cheers!

  4. Marcela says:

    *placer = pleasure!

  5. Ezequiel says:

    I agree with almost everything except one thing: NO DECENT BEACHES? are you kidding!? its obvious that you didnt have the chance to travel to southern beaches, specially Puerto Madryn, and all the Peninsula Valdes region!! An amazing pack of places to relax, camp, swim or dive. In fact Puerto Madryn is known as the Diving Capitol of Argentina. There you have the chance to dive, freedive, spearfish, snorkel with sealions, and even dive near whales! Just bring a tent, your diving gear, and food and drinks and you will have the most amazing time in faraway, wild beaches! (On a side note I can tell that alongside wine we also love beer and fernet!)

    • Paul says:

      Hi, thanks for the correction! I was trying to make the point that, like you say, there ARE decent beaches in Argentina. I guess I didn’t make it clear! The thing is, the beaches don’t compare to Colombia or Brazil (for example), so if it’s purely a beach vacation someone is looking for, maybe go there. However, if they want culture, food, wine and an incredible time, Argentina is the place!

  6. Ben Rosenblum says:

    Bruce is kinda right.
    Let’s see here…
    -Argentinians are arrogant…false? wrong… they are.
    -Argentinians hate the English!, false?… they hate british, americans not so much.
    -Argentinians love Maradona! true? think again.
    -Pizza in Argentina is terrible! Depends on your point of view, i gotta say pizza in America (continent) is pretty bad, but South America have some good ones (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile)
    -It’s just like Europe!, yeah (compared to other countries in south/cental America).
    -Argentinians hate the other South American countries! as i said they are arrogant, so they don’t mind anybody else, that cannot be said for the opposite… every country in america hates argentinians.
    Cheers

    • Paul says:

      Well I guess you had a very different experience to me! I found Argentinians very warm and welcoming towards everyone, including me (English)!

      And I think although a lot of Argentinians have a nuanced opinion of Maradona, it’s fair to say that with the graffiti everywhere in Buenos Aires, as well as the media treatment of him, he’s seen as something of an icon in Argentina.

      Anyway, glad you had fun in Argentina, and thanks for the comment!

      All the best

    • Octavio says:

      Mmm… I’m from Argentina and I can tell you that some people are arrogant but some other not, also there several diferences between the “Porteño” and the people from the interior, known as “Gringos” (because most of the people living there have italian heritage).
      Not everybody hates Brits, I do respect them a lot, I realise that Argentina Military Goverment went to war against UK and they didn’t have trained forces like UK, or military equipment like UK. We don’t hate British, as Paul said if you don’t came on talking on Falkland war you should be fine.
      About Maradona I strongly agree with Paul, I think Maradona was the greatest soccer player in the world, but the way he carries his private life is disgusting, always saying bad things of people, or supporting every single goverment because of money no matter the ideology of the head of state.
      Emm about Pizza, I think that argentinean pizza is the best, but mainly because I didn’t have the chance to try an Italian pizza, US pizza, and Argentine pizza at the same time to compare.
      About compairing with Europeans or thinking that we are europeans is because argentina is a country made of immigrants, mostly european immigrants, that still aren’t able to shape union, is just like lots of individuals that feel the pathriotism when Argentina’s soccer team is playing, time will fix those things.
      Emm about our neighbors I think that we do respect a lot Brazilians (even tough our rivalry on soccer), and Uruguay. But what we don’t like is that Peruvians, Bolivians and people from Paraguay enter ilegally to my country and start to use argentinean welfare state (subsidies, pensions, free university, free medicine) on their benefit.
      Greetings from Argentina, sorry for my english

    • Laura says:

      Hey!!! I’m an argentinian and I think Paul is quite right. I strongly disagree with what Ben Rosenblum says about us being arrogant! Maybe you met a people from the capital city who are like that, but us from the rest of the country are nothing like that! I think you shouldn’t make generalisations about us if you know only one place. Particularly, I don’t hate the British (in fact, I love their culture) and even if we do make jokes about the brits and others we don’t hate other latin american countries!!! luckily, I’ve had the chance to meet Panamenians, Chileans, Uruguayans, Paraguayans, Bolivians, Brazilians, etc who came to live or study here and they were accepted as any of us. An finally, we are nothing like Europe!!! mabye Buenos Aires is reminiscent of the european architecture but trust me, the rest of the country is nothing like Europe…
      Anyway, I just wanted to make that clear since I think your depiction of us is kinda wrong, Ben.
      Paul, great article!!!

  7. Sebazo says:

    I have to disagree with #3 (the food).
    I had better italian, spanish and french dishes here (in Buenos Aires) than in their original countries… The pasta is way better in some restaurantes in Buenos Aires than in most places of Rome.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Sebazo,

      Glad you had some great meals! I was a little limited by budget I suppose (working as an intern there for 6 months), so perhaps my opinion is a little skewed.

      Steak and wine reign supreme though, which is no bad thing. I found some of the other dishes to left a little to be desired at times, but as I say I wasn’t exactly eating in the best places!

      Cheers!

  8. Loki says:

    Bullcrap on #3 and #4, if you have only visited touristic restaurants or pizza places you cannot talk about everyday meals,
    Unless you have gone to a local house and watched as a grandma makes pasta from scratch or a nice pizza, you can’t talk.
    And don’t get me started on nacional dishes like milanesas or empanadas, we aren’t the ones to blame if u have visited shitty touristic places.

    • Paul says:

      I lived there for 6 months and hung out primarily with locals… I also couldn’t afford to go to touristic places! I’m glad you enjoyed the food, I loved (almost) all of it, but felt the love for the local pizza and pasta wasn’t quite matched by the product itself!

      Saludos!

  9. Caro says:

    I’m Argentinian myself and I can assure not all Argentinians are arrogant, but most porteños are. The mistake is believing that just because porteños are arrogant, all Argentinians are.

  10. #05: Yes, we are.
    #10: We don’t hate british or english. We love other cultures…And, we really love rich cultures like yours.
    #17: Actually, we love any kind of alcohol.

  11. Philipp says:

    just great stuff to read, paul, thanks bro!

  12. Ariana says:

    This is a very good article Paul. And I quite agree with almost everything you said. I was born Argentinian and I’m very proud of it. Sometimes people confuse our patriotism with arrogance. We really do believe in our country but that doesn’t mean we hate the rest of the world or think of them as inferiors.

    We love traveling, that’s true, whether it is flying to Europe or going to Peru by bus. The only thing I don’t agree with, and I’ve noticed I’m not the only one, is that our pizza is bad. I have to admit that most restaurants tend put some cheese on a pre-made pizza and let me tell you it actually I would be lying if I say I like it. But we have a lot of different kinds on pizza, like pizza a la piedra for example (my personal favorite). I’ve also been to USA a couple of times and the pizza I tried there wasn’t really good, but as I said before, I ate it at a restaurant so I cannot be sure if homemade pizza also tastes like that.

    We do love Maradona as a football player, though some of us think of him as arrogant.

    Security is an issue in Argentina, but I can assure you it is not worse than the rest of the world. In my sixteen years in this country I haven’t been robbed once, but in one of my travels to Miami my bag disappeared (but I’m sure that was just bad timing and bad luck). What I’m trying to say is that I agree with you in that point too.

    When you talked about our landscapes it really meant a lot to me (and I’m sure every Argentinian feels the same way). We have been criticized about not being a very interesting place to visit, it’s true, we have very few attraction parks, and none of them is even near the size of Disney world, actually none of them is bigger than magic kingdom. But we do have a lot of places to visit. And goes from deserts to forest and from mountains to beaches, you just have to know where to visit. So I have to say thank you for realizing it’s false.

    I’ve recently seen an episode of “bones” (I’ve only watched it twice and it was already translated to Spanish so I had no chance of recognizing the accent and by that, were it was produced) and I was very much insulted by their description of our country, they seem to divide us in two groups, the high society (which are all corrupts according to them) and the extremely low society, were most of them are illiterate, and they are mostly people of color. So there you have another myth, and let me tell you it is FALSE. Most of us are middle class working people and we have a high level of literacy, whether they go to public or private school. And we also have public universities unlike most countries, the most popular being UBA which has produced more Nobel Prize laureates (four) than any other Spanish-speaking institution. They also had minor mistakes like the cars’ license plates but I don’t really care about that. So yeah, I got pretty mad with that episode,

    Sorry about that but I really needed to get it out and see if anybody else thinks like me.

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you!

  13. PurlsOf says:

    Tiffany – Hey, those pictures are uneibbevalle! it reflects what Buenos Aires really is. I went to Buenos Aires last year and let me tell you that the Ecological Reserve and the Botanical Garden are one of the most beautiful places. After doing some research to I found one in Palermo which was near the zoo and also the downtown.I had a great time!Tiffany

  14. vlad says:

    Hello Paul your article is impressive!. and really convincing i am a Argentinian and im not afraid to say that your article is somewhat true but there are 2 things hat you are not right
    the pizza is delicious better then the ”stuff” that i eat in Canada and also in Argentina it is unsafe as a matter of fact one of the biggest problems in Argentina is that people are afraid of the streets if you visited Argentina you would probably see alot of houses with metallic fences because they are scared of burglers but other then that no else to say gj man

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Author Spotlight

Paul Fowler

I'm just a small town boy, born and raised in south Stevenage. 6 years ago I took a midnight flight to Buenos Aires, which then led me to Colombia. After years on the South American continent I'm ... Read Full

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