FAQ: Driving & Car Rental in Argentina
Argentina is a huge country with many out-of-the-way scenic areas that can only be reached by private car. One popular road trip is the Vuelta A Los Valles through Salta, with stops at colorful natural rock formations and the ghost town of Alemanía. Virtually everyone who goes to Bariloche or San Martín de los Andes does Patagonia’s Seven Lakes Route, whether they take a tour or rent a car to do the trip on their own.
Here are some frequently asked questions about renting a car in Argentina.
• What kind of driver’s license is required to rent a car in Argentina?
-Anyone with a valid license from their home country can rent or hire a car in Argentina, as long as they also have a valid tourist visa and a credit card. Those with an expired tourist visa might encounter problems.
• Can you rent cars at the airport?
-Yes, you can rent a car ready for pick up in Ezeiza (EZE), or Jorge Newbery (AEP) as well as at most other major airports. Make sure to make your car rental reservation in advance or there may not be cars available. Keep in mind that Buenos Aires has pretty aggressive driving. It is worth considering if you will feel comfortable driving from the airport after a long flight. Wander Argentina offers safe and friendly airport pickup in Buenos Aires, if you’d prefer to be driven downtown.
• What type of cars are available?
-Rental cars in the most popular destinations range from compact, lower-budget options to sedans and SUV’s with manual transmission (stick shift). Those who don’t drive a standard will have to make a special request for automatic car, which will cost more as they are rare in Argentina.
• Is it safe to drive in Argentina?
-Driving always involves risks, but this is certainly an area where Argentina is improving. The most challenging driving in the country is in the capital, Buenos Aires, where driving is rather aggressive, such as in New York City or Rome.
While enforcement has improved in recent years, some drivers are reckless and there are many motorcycles and pedestrians on the road, so it is important to be aware. In other areas of the country, driving is less stressful. In relaxed Patagonia people are more civilized drivers, but the mountain roads can be a bit tricky and it is important to look out for wildlife. In some provinces such as Salta and Chubut, the driving is fairly relaxed, but some roads may have potholes or flying gravel. While highways throughout the country are generally in decent condition, driving on two-lane highways at night requires extra care. Headlights are required to be on at all times.
• Which side of the road do they drive on in Argentina?
-While the British did try to invade River Plate region in what is now known as Argentina, they only got as far as San Telmo.
People drive on the left-hand side of the car in Argentina, so anyone who is used to driving on the right-hand side and using a stick shift with their left hand will need to adjust quickly. Only on the Falkland (Malvinas) islands, a British overseas territory, do they drive on the left. As an aside, make sure to never use the ‘F word’ (Falklands) when speaking to an Argentine — it’s a touchy subject.
• Can I leave the country with the car to visit neighboring countries?
-You’ll have to discuss this with the rental agency. If possible at all, this will most likely involve a lot of extra fees. It probably makes more sense to cross the border and then rent another car.
• Renting a car in Argentina is more expensive than I expected.
-Just like air travel, car rental is on the expensive side in Argentina. Those who have the time often take flights or long distance buses to various locations and rent a car in the area they are visiting. The main reason to rent a car is for flexibility, to get off the beaten path and to accommodate time constraints.
• What else should I know about renting a car in Argentina?
-The companies that work with Rentalcars are well-established and credible but always check the interior and exterior of the car and make a note — or even take photos — of any dings or damage to ensure there are no surprises upon returning the car. Because of the limited availability of cars in some areas, it is recommended to make reservations in advance and to get the full insurance. You can also compare rental car prices here with those offered by Cheapo Air.
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