During the winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) we usually look to the Caribbean for a warm holiday, or to southern Asia if we have more than a week or so. But right now there is another great alternative that has cheap enough flights to even consider taking a week off soon for those who hadn’t planned on a winter break at all.
Those who’ve read the title of this post have already figured out that I’m talking about Buenos Aires in Argentina. Right now round-trip flights from New York City are only $640, which is similar to the price for flying to Europe in the off season, except this is high season in Buenos Aires so if anything it’ll be too warm for some.
Destination: Buenos Aires
While it’s true that prices in Buenos Aires have gone up noticeably in recent years due to inflation outpacing a declining currency, the city is still quite a travel bargain for tourists. If you’ve been elsewhere in South America you know that the European and indigenous cultures have mixed in many different ways all over the continent, but in Buenos Aires it’s almost 100% European.
This means that the city is like an unusual experiment where cultures from elsewhere in the world have had free reign to build a city the way they prefer. It’s as if Barcelona were shoved out into the ocean a couple hundred years ago and it melded to South America. It’s a rich and interesting mix that has plenty of its own quirkiness even though almost everyone comes from European stock (mostly Italian, Spanish, and German).
The food is fantastic in Buenos Aires, especially if you like beef. You can get a wonderful steak dinner for under US$10 per person that will rival anything you can find in a steakhouse in the US that charges three times as much.
During January and February the hotels are a bit on the expensive side, but they are still cheaper than Europe in the off season. You can get a room at a 3-star hotel for around US$60 per night if you look around and are willing to stay a bit outside the pricey Recoleta neighborhood.
The weather this time of year is much like Los Angeles in its own summer, so it can be quite warm inland but is usually pleasant and breezy near the beach. There are beach resort cities not far away so if you want to just sit in the sun you’ve got some great options, all with fantastic food and nightlife available.
The Uruguayan alternative
Most people prefer to fly into Buenos Aires, but you can also fly into Montevideo for $670 right now, making it another fantastic bargain. The city is just across the delta from Buenos Aires so it can be used as an alternative airport, but Uruguay is an interesting destination on its own. Flying into Montevideo and spending time on a ranch in Uruguay, more time at a beach resort nearby, and a few days in Buenos Aires is a fabulous and reasonably priced way to spend a couple of weeks in January or February.