- Argentina’s capital (and largest city), with a population of almost 13 million people.
- Founded by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in 1536. Given the name Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire (“Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air”).
- Nicknames: BA, La Reina Del Plata (“Queen of the River Plate”).
- Buenos Aires locals are referred to as porteños (“people of the port”) because so many of the city’s inhabitants historically arrived there by boat from Europe.
- Currency: Argentine peso (ARS).
- Spoken languages: predominantly Spanish.
- Best time to visit: from September to May (cool in spring/fall, hot and humid in the summer).
- Arriving via airport: airport shuttle to downtown Buenos Aires costs about $20.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to be in walking distance of the old city, the Microcentro is the place to be. If you don’t mind taking a cab or other transportation, the Macrocentro is another viable option. Recoleta and Palermo are great neighborhoods to stay in.
- The systems for getting around town include the Subte (subway) and city buses. The Subte will take you to most centrally located sites of interest. There are also city buses – if you need to take one, make sure you have a map of the route. Don’t be shy about announcing your destination to the driver beforehand.
- Though you will be able to see much of the city on foot, a “radio taxi” is your best bet if you need taxi service. Either have your hotel call you one or hail one on the street, and make sure the cab says “radio taxi” on the side. Citytax is a clean, reliable service.
BUENOS AIRES NIGHTLIFE
- Drinking age is 18, no official last call (bars are open until early morning).
- Hip/local scene: bars in San Telmo and Palermo Soho.
- Night entertainment: casinos, arcades and bingo halls can be found along Lavalle Street.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Plaza de Mayo. Founded in 1580, it is the city’s first central plaza.
- Check out Casa Rosada (presidential offices), built in 1862.
- Cementerio de la Recoleta. Fascinating cemetery, where you can find acres of crypts, tombs and statues. Look for the burial site of the mythical Eva Perón.
- Jardín Japonés. A picturesque Japanese garden with a teahouse, koi ponds and more – right in the middle of the city.
- Borges’ house: See where legendary Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges lived.
- Take the train out to the river delta, El Tigre. Once there, you can take a boat tour.
- Downtown Buenos Aires is the easiest area for walking. Be sure to see the Obelisco, an obelisk that can be seen from different points of the downtown area.
- If you want to go anywhere else and want a guided explanation while you are strolling, a walking tour is always a good option.
- Bring a sweater and/or light jacket if you are visiting in spring or fall. Drink plenty of liquids if you are there in the summer, as it can be quite hot and humid.
- The city has friendly, outgoing inhabitants. Most people are willing to engage you in a conversation.
- BA has a distinct European and cosmopolitan flavor to it. Don’t be surprised if the city’s architecture reminds you of that of a major European city.
- Do not carry any valuables on you. Take only the cash you need with you. Never take your wallet out in public to count money.
- Do not rely on credit cards as there are some shops that do not accept them or only certain kinds. With cash, the best strategy is to take U.S. dollars and exchange them at a money exchange. You will get a better exchange rate than if you pay directly in dollars.
- Where to find good cheap eats: don’t miss this chance to eat some of the best steak in the world. Ask for a bife de chorizo. And don’t forget to pair it with some good wine. All of this is very affordable in Buenos Aires.
- Dangerous areas: Buenos Aires is generally a safe city. The main danger in the city’s tourist area is theft. Avoid straying from the main tourist areas at night.
The Best Buenos Aires Guide Books:
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days