5 weeks as a digital nomad in Cordoba, Argentina

Cordoba is Argentina’s second-largest city, located close to the geographic centre of the country. Boasting 7 universities, it’s a youthful town with plenty of natural attractions close at hand, especially in the mountains to the west.

 

In April/May 2016, I spent 5 weeks in Cordoba in a modern AirBnB apartment on Avenida Duarte Quiros, about 6 kilometres from the city centre. Though I am based in Brisbane, Australia as a freelance writer, I travel at least a third of each year, sometimes to conduct remote river explorations, sometimes to have a ‘normal’ vacation and sometimes to play digital nomad in a new destination.

 

As a location-independent copywriter, I’m picky about accommodation. I wanted to see the sights of Cordoba but I also needed to get a solid chunk of writing work done for existing clients. Reliable Wi-Fi was the first priority. Fortunately, I was able to find this AirBnB apartment on the fourth floor of a fairly new building, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area in a pleasant local neighborhood. It was clean, well-maintained and averaged out at less than $40 per night for the 33 days I spent there (it’s cheaper when you book a longer stay).

 

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Cordoba’s tourist office is located in the main square, Plaza San Martin. There was always something going on here. One Saturday it was a procession of shiny vintage cars. Another time, I ran across these traditional dancers putting on an energetic show – an impressive feat, considering their high heels and the rather uneven ground.

 

There were supermarkets, fruit and veggie shops, a butcher and even a gym within easy walking distance of my apartment. The gym cost me $34 for a month’s worth of unlimited workouts. Flagging a taxi or hopping on a bus was as easy as stepping out the building’s front door. There was also a small rooftop pool and deck area, which I put to good use on warmer days. I was always the only person up there.

 

Cordoba is quite spread out and doesn’t have the endless clumps of big skyscrapers than many similarly-sized cities do. It’s a laid-back, friendly place and the Cordobese (residents) love chatting to people from other countries. I was the first Aussie most of them had ever met. On weekends, all the city’s parks are filled with families enjoying the outdoors and ‘cafe society’ is alive and well here. I had no problems with crime and always felt perfectly safe during my stay.

 

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One of my first tasks upon arrival in Cordoba was to get a local SIM card for my phone. This was quickly accomplished at the Claro phone kiosk at Patio Olmos, a shopping complex in the heart of the city.

What to see and do in Cordoba

One of the simplest ways to see the main sights of Cordoba is to jump on one of those red double-decker tour buses that leave from Plaza San Martin. Or just grab a tourist map and walk through town to check out the Cathedral, the Jesuit Block, the Ferreyra Palace, etc. The ‘happening’ neighbourhoods are Guemes and Nueva Cordoba, where you’ll find some inviting cafes, craft markets, antique shops, bars and restaurants. If you’re not used to Argentina nightlife, be aware that it starts late and ends late. Some restaurants don’t even open before 8pm and clubbers don’t really get going until 11pm – and might stay out until dawn.

 

One place definitely worth visiting on a sunny afternoon is Parque Sarmiento, the city’s largest public park. There’s always something happening here on the weekends – running marathons, bike races, dancing competitions and more. There’s also a get-fit circuit with exercise equipment spread around for anyone to use.

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It’s hip to be square. I spent one Cordoba evening at a chess tournament at the city’s historic theatre. There were about 40 people playing ‘blitz’ chess at a rate of 5 minutes on each clock. I managed to come second, won $40 cash and spent my winnings on a pleasant dinner and a taxi ride home.

I loved the food in Cordoba, from the cheap but filling lunchtime empanadas (meat pies) to the superb grass-fed steaks in the ritzier restaurants. If you like Italian food, make sure you try Mamma’s restaurant – it’s exceptional. Another brilliant restaurant is the one at the Windsor Hotel. Speaking of hotels, the best in the city is the Hotel Azur Boutique on Jeronimo Street. It doesn’t look like much from the front but inside it’s world-class. As a Jet-setting Copywriter I can afford to stay in nicer places these days than I used to but if your budget is tight, there are some great hostels and family-run pensiones in the city too.

 

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There are cafes and restaurants in Cordoba to suit every budget. If you’re after fine Italian dining, it’s hard to go past Mamma’s, located near the river. This is their superb seafood lasagna.

 

Day-tripping

For me, the real plus about being in Cordoba wasn’t the city itself but all the interesting places you could get to within 1-4 hours on a bus. Buses are convenient, frequent, comfortable and dirt-cheap. Because I had so much writing work to complete, I didn’t get to half the places I wanted to – but that’s my excuse to go back one day. There’s a good reason so many Cordoba residents jump in their cars and ‘head for the hills’ on weekends – there are some truly beautiful areas in the mountains.

 

Here are some of the more fascinating places to check out, whether on a day trip, an overnighter or a longer stay:

 

Villa Carlos Paz

This is an attractive (but touristy) town on a large lake. It’s a quick bus trip out of Cordoba and a popular weekend getaway. If the weather cooperates, hire a kayak or one of those little pedal boats to explore the lake. Shoppers will find plenty of malls and trendy shops to satisfy their need to spend money.

 

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Carlos Paz is perfect for walkers – there are lots of scenic paths running along the edge of the lake. I didn’t have any luck finding a bicycle hire place, but this would be an ideal spot for cycling too. Buses from Cordoba run about every half hour.

 

Cosquin and Cumbre

Cosquin is accessible from Cordoba by train, so it makes a quick little day trip if you want to see somewhere different. Further north up the road you’ll find La Cumbre, where you can walk along the river and (between November and April) try some trout fishing.

 

Capilla del Monte

I quite liked Capilla del Monte. It has plenty of character and a really pleasant vibe. There’s a dam close to town that’s worth a look if you like rugged, rocky scenery. This place is famous for its UFO sightings, apparently.

 

 

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Once you get outside the city limits of Cordoba, you’ll find all kinds of interesting natural environments: deserts, forests, rivers, lakes and mountains. You’re not likely to see too many stray pumas running around, but the bird life isn’t bad at all.

 

Jesuit Trail

If religious history is your thing, you can tour a number of villages featuring beautiful churches and historic homesteads. Canonga and Ascochinga villages and the town of Jesus Maria are all part of the ‘Jesuit Trail’. Take an organised tour if you want to see the most places in one day.

 

Villa General Belgrano

This good-looking town has a heavy German influence with Bavarian-style buildings, German beer and apple strudel all in evidence. There are lakes, vineyards, pleasant hikes and picturesque valleys in the vicinity, so I’d recommend staying at least a couple of nights here.

 

Mina Clavero

The further you get from Cordoba, the better the natural surroundings – and Mina Clavero is worth the extra time to reach. There are some outstanding trekking areas with waterfalls, subterranean chambers and a lot more to choose from. When you’ve had enough of Cordoba’s concrete and need a ‘get-away-from-it-all’ place, Mina Clavero is just the ticket to reconnect with the outdoors.

 

Quebrada del Condorito National Park

This large, high-altitude park has a variety of interesting plant and animal species and majestic views. It also offers a great chance to spot an Andean condor soaring in the thermals above the peaks.

 

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Sunset view from my apartment in Cordoba, Argentina. I made more money from writing here than I spent on the whole trip. True location independence means making enough money to go wherever you want, whenever you want for as long as you want. This is why I love being a Jet-setting Copywriter!

 

 

I had a thoroughly relaxing time in Cordoba and can highly recommend it as a digital nomad destination. Argentina generally allows lengthy visa stays (6 months at a time for Aussies like me) and it’s one of the safest and friendliest countries in South America. Be aware that some of the far northern parts of Argentina have a Zika virus risk, but Cordoba is perfectly okay. Check typical seasonal temperatures before you visit – it gets cold here in winter.

 

My entire 5-week Cordoba trip cost a little over $4000, including return airfares from Brisbane, accommodation in a very nice apartment (plus three days in a hotel), all food, taxis and other incidental expenses. I’m not a drinking or nightclubbing man, so I found it a very economical place to live. I invoiced $6700 worth of writing work while I was there, so I had a nice long vacation, saw some cool sights in and out of the city and made a tidy profit on the journey as well!

 

 


Kevin Casey is a professional freelance writer and author of The Jet-setting Copywriter: How to Fund All Your Overseas Adventures through Freelance Writing.

 

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9 Comments on “5 weeks as a digital nomad in Cordoba, Argentina

  1. Argentina is such an incredible country. I spent May traveling around there though my focus was Salta and the northern provinces. Cordoba sounds like a gorgeous paradise- love how easy getting around on public transport and with taxis is. The freedom you describe is my favorite part of freelancing- you can really work from some badass locations. Thanks for sharing Kevin!

    1. Thanks Sophia! Salta is definitely on my must-visit list for the future. How did you like it? I’ve also spent time in the north along the Parana River and at Los Esteros del Ibera (a 13.000-square kilometre swamp). Argentina has so much variety (jungles, deserts, beaches, mountains), it would be quite easy for me to spend 6 months there!

  2. Thanks for the tips about the day trips! I’m thinking of South America next year, I’ll bear Cordoba in mind as a potential place to make a base camp.

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