Brazil or Argentina: Which South American Country To Visit?

Brazil and Argentina falls
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On top of their longstanding football rivalry, Brazil and Argentina are also Latin America’s most popular travel destinations, but this might have you wondering which is the better country to visit. From the mountains of Patagonia to the exotic jungles of the Amazon, both countries offer diverse experiences, and choosing just one will be a challenge. Nevertheless, we’re here to help you decide. 

Brazil is South America’s largest country and is synonymous with incredible wildlife, lively carnivals, samba, and sandy beaches. Its tropical climate makes it a great place to escape the winter blues. On the other hand, Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and boasts a stunning natural landscape, vibrant nightlife, and exceptional local cuisine

Whether you’re yearning for a party-fueled escape, something a bit more laid back or the best of both, one of these countries is certain to deliver. From the beaches to the cultures, our guide explores everything that makes Brazil and Argentina worth visiting. Let’s dive in.

Brazil or Argentina: The Culture

Brazil culture
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Although they’re both Latin American countries, there’s an undeniable European influence running through Argentina and Brazil’s cultures. You can find elements of African, Andalucian, and even Italian influences and both have been heavily influenced by their former colonizers, namely, Spain and Portugal. As a result, there’s a strong presence of colonial architecture throughout both countries. 

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These European influences extend to other aspects of Brazilian and Argentinian culture as well, which has given way to the vibrant atmosphere Brazil is known for. For example, the Roman Catholic faith is the dominant religion in both countries, which means strong family values are a big part of local life. You’ll spot these influences in their social customs and art scene too. Brazil is also greatly influenced by the culture of Indigenous Americans, and the African migrants who settled there, and this influence extends to its traditional dances and music. 

In Argentina, you’ll find a decidedly Spanish and Italian vibe that mingles with a strong Latin American flair. This is particularly visible in its friendly, engaging, as well as community-driven locals, and traditional dances like the Tango. Of course, you’ll see it in its striking architecture and world-class cuisine too.

At the end of the day, both countries have a lot to offer when it comes to culture, but in our opinion, Brazil has the upper hand, since it offers a broader variety of cultural experiences. 

Winner: Brazil

Brazil or Argentina: The Beaches

Patagonia beach
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Brazil boasts a seemingly endless stretch of idyllic beaches, and with approximately 300 sunny days a year, it has the perfect climate to enjoy them in. As an added bonus, the shores are usually lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, and luxury hotels.

Nestled in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the gorgeous Copacabana is Brazil’s most popular beach and one of the most famous sandy spots in the world. With bustling music, lively celebrations, and crystal clear seas, stretching as far as the eye can see, it’s the perfect place to lounge out. There’s also the slightly more laidback Ipanema Beach nearby, which is home to outdoor gyms, and a favorite among surfers. If crowded beaches aren’t your thing, you could even pay a visit to the solitary Praia do Espelho Beach, which is located in tropical Trancoso and offers rentable chairs and tents.

In contrast, Argentina has a much colder climate, even though it’s fairly sunny. Still, there’s no shortage of pristine beaches, and they’re very popular among whale watchers. For starters, you could visit Playa Bristol Beach. Situated along the Mar Del Plata region in Buenos Aires, it’s one of Argentina’s most popular and eclectic beaches with many opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking, and other water sports. The breathtaking Villa Gesell Beach is another option. With its six-mile shoreline, soft sands, and revitalizing spas, it’s one of the most charming beaches in Argentina, and well worth a visit.

Be that as it may, Brazil will have to take this one, since its sunny climate allows you to enjoy the beaches year-round, while Argentina’s southern coastline can be quite cold during the winter months.

Winner: Brazil

Brazil or Argentina: The Nightlife

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Whether it’s bustling nightclubs, sleek restaurants, trendy cocktail spots, or samba jazz bars you’re after, it’s safe to say that Brazil has a breezy drinking spot for every taste and occasion. In fact, its nightlife is one of the things the country is best known for, along with its art, culture, and breathtaking beaches.

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are undeniably the best cities to experience this. Here you’ll find everything from extravagant clubs with antique interiors to bars mirroring the traditions of European countries, and hillside, live music hotspots. Brazil doesn’t have any shortage of theatres or world-class restaurants either, and we highly recommend trying out its distinctive cuisine, which combines European, African, Asian, and Portuguese influences.

On the flipside, Argentina is slightly more relaxed, but it’s still quite lively while being highly eclectic, and you’ll find plenty of options to choose from. The most frequented spots can be found in cities like Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Rosario, which house the most happening tango dance clubs in the country, as well as glamorous nightclubs. There are trendy live music venues too, and you won’t find any shortage of restaurants serving its infamous steaks and wines.

When all is said and done, both countries really come alive at night, but we think Brazil’s iconic nightlife scene is slightly more exciting overall. 

Winner: Brazil

Brazil or Argentina: The Things to Do

Argentina salt lakes
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Brazil and Argentina are both incredibly beautiful countries with a lot to offer, but they do have their differences. Here are a few.

When it comes to natural landscapes in Argentina, it truly offers the best of both worlds. You’ll find winter wonderlands like Glacier El Martial and Cerro Castor, in addition to world heritage sites like Glaciers national park sitting alongside popular sunny cities such as Tigre. At the icy attractions, you’ll have the chance to see majestic glaciers dumping chunks of ice into the chilly glacial waters below, and you’ll catch a glimpse of local penguins, seals, and orcas. 

You’ll also find plenty of sporting opportunities in both locations, as well as museums, camping spots, and other tourist attractions in Tigre. As a bonus, Argentina also boasts a relentlessly creative design district in Buenos Aires, along with a wealth of cultural festivals celebrating art, and dance. The addition of incredible cuisine in the city of Salta doesn’t hurt either.

In contrast, Brazil is well known for its exuberant nightlife and having a warm climate year-round. While it might have slightly more exciting nightlife options and a warmer climate, we think Argentina has the upper hand when it comes to outdoor pursuits, since it has a more varied landscape. With its vast, flat pampas, dramatic glacier lakes, and grassland steppes in Patagonia, it offers truly unforgettable geography. You could even visit the dazzling Salinas Grandes, Argentina’s vast salt desert spread, or go horse riding in the Unesco-listed gorge of Humahuaca.

Still, Brazil has plenty to offer as it’s home to a portion of the Amazon rainforest, the iconic Rio Carnival, Argentina shared Iguazu Falls, and a gorgeous, sweeping coastline. However, we can safely say that Argentina offers a bigger variety of experiences, and anything you can do in Brazil, you can do in Argentine too. It’s a close call, but Argentina is the winner here since the country’s scenery is more diverse.

Winner: Argentina

Brazil or Argentina: The Cost

mangoes in Brazil

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Brazil and Argentina are fairly similarly priced. Naturally, there are still some disparities, and comparing the day-to-day costs between the two can help you determine which destination offers the most bang for your buck.

Accommodation in Argentina tends to be slightly cheaper overall. Typically, a modest double occupancy hotel room or hostel will cost around $40 per night in Argentina, and it’ll cost you about $68 in Brazil. Taxi trips and public transportation costs the average tourist about $14 per day in Argentina, while it’s slightly cheaper in Brazil at $10. When it comes to food, the average traveler in Argentina will spend around $20 daily, but prices can vary, and sit-down restaurant prices are often much higher than fast or street food prices. Food expenses in Brazil are a little bit cheaper at $16 per day.

Based on these figures, a week in Brazil can cost you about $486, with a week in Argentina costing around $443, which makes Argentina the slightly cheaper destination, but both are great for a budget break. 

Winner: Argentina

Brazil or Argentina: The Verdict

Argentina is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a fan of wines, the outdoors, or interested in learning about its traditional dances like the tango. Whereas Brazil has a bubbly nightlife, with ​​a diverse culture, and many concerts, and events throughout the year, in addition to a unique culinary scene.

Both destinations offer an incredible range of unmissable experiences, which makes it impossible to choose an overall winner. At the end of the day, the ideal destination for your getaway will depend on your individual needs. If you’re a beach and festival lover, we recommend Brazil, but if you prefer arts, culture, and scenery, you should go with Argentina. Better yet, split your trip and visit both as the countries share a border marked by the largest waterfalls in the world. What better way to experience both nations? 

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Esmé is an English literature graduate and freelance writer. Originally from London, Esmé is lucky enough to call Bali home. Her travels have taken her from the far corners of the East to the islands of the Caribbean. When she's not writing, you'll find her lying on a beach somewhere, lost in a crime novel.