If you’re studying abroad anywhere near Argentina, a stop in Buenos Aires should be at the top of your travel list. Typically described as the most “European looking” city in South America because of its distinct architecture, Buenos Aires is a must for both history aficionados and avid foodies.
First things first…
The native language in Argentina is Spanish, and the locals speak quickly and with slightly different pronunciations of vowels and consonants to their Mexican and Bolivian counterparts. But being a cosmopolitan city, just a few Spanish phrases will be enough to get you by. A gracias, por favor and quiero uno will take you a long way. Many Argentinians in the hospitality and tourism industry speak English and a lot of food spots have menus in English too, so don’t worry if you can only muster the basics.
The currency used is the Argentinian Peso which is trading at just over 5 pesos for 1 US dollar right now. Although South America is generally inexpensive, being a major city means prices are typically higher in the tourist-y areas. Luckily there are a lot of free things to do in Buenos Aires and transportation is cheap. If you’re a walker, you’re in luck– Bueno Aires is a beautiful place to stroll around. Saving money on these things will leave more room for vino tinto with a beautiful piece of steak– an Argentinian speciality.
Flights from the United States will land at Ministro Pistarini International Airport, otherwise known as Ezeiza. The airport is 30km out of the city center so the drive can set you back at least half an hour. Because of this the cab fares can be quite high and cabbies typically hike up the price for the vulnerable or naive. Ask for a flat rate before you get in the cab to avoid a heart attack at the end of the journey. Fares of around $40- $45 US are about right– about 200 pesos. There is also a bus service offered by Manuel Tienda Lion which will cost about half a taxi fare, but if you’re traveling with friends a cab can be economical.
If you’re already in South America, your best bet will probably be to fly into the same airport as we mentioned above. There are also some buses available, but they are often overnight trips.
Milhouse Avenue hostel (pictured above) on Avenida de Mayo is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about or do in Buenos Aires. A free breakfast is offered as well as a large kitchen to cook meals. The staff speak English and organize daily tours (some free, others come with a small price tag). The place is a hive of activity so if you’re wanting to meet people this is the hostel for you. Some other hostels in Buenos Aires that are inexpensive and highly recommended are Hostel Estoril, Reina Madre Hostel, and Sabatico Travelers Hostel.
This is where national dignitaries, leaders, and famous families have been laid to rest, including the darling of the nation Eva Person, who is more commonly known as Evita. Even if you don’t recognize any of the names in the cemetery, it’s worth a look because of the sheer detail and size of the grave stones.
Caminito, La Boca
Made famous by the soccer team of the same name, Caminito is a neighbourhood about 20 minutes out of Buenos Aires central also known for its brightly coloured houses. Legend has it the occupants didn’t have enough money to buy paint so whatever they could scavenge ended up being used thus giving a rainbow effect. Just be extra careful about pickpockets around these parts during the day and a visit at night isn’t recommended.
Plaza de Mayo
Buenos Aires’s main plaza is steeped in history with the “pink palace”, or Casa Rosada, at one end and the Piramide de Mayo in the center. On a beautiful day bring some snacks and people-watch. Tours through the Casa are possible at scheduled times.
Travel tip – The city is easy to walk and the underground trains are easy to use when your feet get tired. Buenos Aires is easily conquered within a few days. Keep an eye out for artisan craft markets where the best souvenirs can be found and often have free entertainment.
Eating and partying
If you’re just staying a few days it can be just as cheap to eat out as it is to buy groceries from inner city supermarkets which can be priced quite high. The trick to finding cheap food is seeking small restaurants off the main streets and piazzas.
We always recommend hopping on a pub crawl so you don’t spend your nights wandering around in an attempt to find “the good bars”. Check out the Buenos Aires Pub Crawl, which offers free pizza, beer and wine during the first hour.
If you’re looking to get your dance on, Buenos Aires is a great city to do it in, but don’t expect to be able to do early morning sight-seeing the next day. The Argentinians don’t usually go out till after midnight, and the real party starts around 3am and goes past sunrise. Some popular clubs include Pachá, Jet Lounge, and Crobar. Here’s a helpful breakdown of which clubs are hot on each night of the week.
For something more original and “authentically Argentinian”, find a restaurant with a tango show. All you need to pay for is the price of the meal to see the dancing! Some shows even offer a free dance lesson with your dinner. Here’s some of the highest rated tango shows on TripAdvisor.
Have you visited Buenos Aires? Have any recommendations? Share them in the comments!