Argentina is a country in South America known for its European influence, gorgeous wetlands and metropolis capital Buenos Aires. Whether you are learning to appreciate the diverse wildlife or enjoying the museums and restaurants in Buenos Aires, the following basic rules of etiquette will assist you in blending in with the locals.

Greeting and meeting

Usually a hand shake and a nod to show respect are a general greeting when you meet an acquaintance or someone you are meeting for the first time. A hug or kiss on the cheek is reserved for friends and family. Argentina has a European influence so you may get a kiss on each cheek.


Gift giving

If you are visiting a home it is good etiquette to bring a small gift. Something from your home country is ideal. Wine is often avoided as a gift idea as it may be considered common – however imported liquor or champagne is fine. Avoid giving personal items such as clothing or fragrance. Do not give knives or anything sharp that may resemble the severing of a relationship. Gifts are generally opened upon receiving them to show appreciation to the gift giver.

Don’t turn up on time if invited to a home

Try turning up around 30 minutes late. It’s considered rude to turn up on time.

Expect a late dinner

Locals may be used to having dinner around 9 pm or 10 pm. If you’re heading out for a big night in the city, bars don’t generally start getting filled until around 11.30 pm and buzzing by well after midnight.

Say hello and goodbye to everyone at a party

When you arrive fashionably late to a party, ensure you say hello to each person in the room – starting with the eldest first out of respect. When you leave the party, do the same thing and say your goodbyes to everyone individually, not a quick wave “Bye everyone!” before you leave.

Table manners are Continental

Wait until a host directs you where to sit if you are invited to a dinner party at their home. Ensure that elbows are off the table, hands are always visible and cutlery is used. Burping, using a toothpick or blowing your nose at the dinner table is frowned upon.

Wine time

Pouring wine with your left hand and/or holding the bottle by the neck is considered rude.

Don’t talk business at the dining table

If you are invited as part of a work function, talking business whilst trying to enjoy a meal may be frowned upon. If a business associate brings business up first it will be excused if you enter the discussion.

Dress code

A smart dress code is welcomed in Argentina. Like any country, there are times to dress up more and times to dress more casual – always pay attention to what the locals are wearing. The rule of thumb is to dress well when you want to make a good impression. In general, the people of Argentina are very sophisticated and have a great sense of style.

The thumbs-up may get the thumbs down

Some people in Argentina find the OK or thumbs up hand gesture vulgar and offensive, akin to “giving the finger” in Australia.

Don’t be easily offended. The people in Argentina are commonly known as having a very open and blunt personality type. They are very expressive and may not be afraid to even make jokes at your expense. Don’t take offence to this – it is part of their nature.

Don’t be easily intimidated

People in Argentina also like to stand close when talking to each other. They may be very animated and sustain direct eye contact – however, this is a sign of interest and respect for the person they are speaking to. So if you’re in this situation – don’t be intimidated.

Try the yerba mate.

This is a national drink and part of their culture. The drink is passed clockwise around a group and is a sign of friendship and respect. It is a herbal drink similar to tea but do not call it a tea in front of the locals. It’s yerba mate.

Learn some Spanish

Many residents in Argentina don’t speak any English. By attempting to speak some basic Spanish to the locals, they will be more than happy to try and go out of their way to communicate with you.

Ensure you keep change on you

Small notes and coins are useful for tipping at restaurants and you will not be a welcomed traveller if you try paying a shart taxi fare or buy a bottle of water using a 100 peso note.