Buenos Aires

I spent the better part of a month in Buenos Aires working from my company’s office. The guide is far from all-encompassing, but the goal is to help tourists visiting the city for just a couple days.

Neighborhoods (South to North)

La Boca:

Considered Buenos Aires´ most colorful neighborhood albeit poor and dangerous. Recommended to visit with a guide to ensure you stay on the specific streets where tourists are welcome. 

Attractions:

Walking around Caminito – ideally with a guide to ensure you don´t go down the wrong street

La Bombonera – The Boca Juniors stadium is legendary. Go for a tour, but even better go for a game and see the wildest sports crowd

Fundacion Proa – Modern art museum

Food/Drink:

Il Matterello La Boca – Italian

Banchero – Pizza 

San Telmo:

The historic heart of the city. Cobblestone streets, tango bars and historic buildings aplenty 

Attractions: 

Walking around – the neighborhood is beautiful! 

Sunday market – On Sundays San Telmo is packed with stalls. The action is centered around Plaza Dorrego

Tango Show – very expensive and often includes a dinner but this is the place to do it. If you want a free show, there are often performances in Plaza Dorrego

Food/Drinks:

San Telmo Market – Historic market with lots of great dining options

Saigon Noodle Bar – Vietnamese. Located on the outside of San Telmo Market

Desnivel – Argentine

Puerto Madero:

Buenos Aires´s most modern neighborhood is built along the east side of the old port. It feels completely different from the rest of the city. 

Attractions:

Walking around the modern waterfront and fancy apartment buildings

Puente de la Mujer (Women´s Bridge)

Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur – Surprising, but there is in fact an ecological reserve in Puerto Madero. There are a few walking paths through the wetlands

Food/Drinks:

Anywhere along the Rio Dunque- Expect good vibes, slightly better than average food and high prices. I don´t have any specific recommendations, but the best option is to walk around until you see something that looks good

Microcentro:

The city center contains many government buildings and tall office buildings. Packed during the week, but relatively quiet during weekends.

Attractions:

Plaza del Mayo – the central square in the city

Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires – The Cathedral is the former seat of Pope Francis. You can also find the tomb of General San Martin, national hero of Argentina, Peru and Chile. 

Casa Rosada- Argentina´s versión of the White House. The president works here. 

Centro Cultural Kirchner (CCK) – 9-story cultural center in the former post office. Cultural exhibits, art galleries, performance spaces, and more! Named for Nestor Kirchner, a progressive former president, so many of the exhibits are very progressive in nature. 

Palacio Barolo – Landmark office building inspired by Dante´s Inferno. Requires a pre-arranged guided tour

Theatro Colon – Landmark theater. Best way to experience is to go to a show, but there are also guided tours throughout the day 

Obelisco – The most important landmark in the city and rallying point for the people during large or important events. That said, the obelisk itself is pretty boring and cannot be climbed. 

Calle Florida – Popular walking street. Make sure to visit the shopping malls. 

Food/Drinks: 

Café Tortoni – Landmark café for breakfast and tango shows (not at the same time). Expect a huge line and sky high prices

Guerrin – Pizza

Recoleta/Retiro:

One of the fanciest neighborhoods in BA best known for the cemetery

Attractions:

Recoleta Cemetery – Iconic cemetery housing ornate mausoleums including Eva Peron´s

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Art) – The main art museum in town and its free!

El Ateneo Library – Former theater turned into a bookstore. If you like books, this is a must. 

Food/Drink:

El Cuartito – The best of the historic pizzerias 

Santos Manjares Parilla – Argentina bbq

Floreria Atlantico – One of the top 20 bars in the world hidden underneath a flower shop. Cocktails represent the various places around the Atlantic Ocean that influenced Argentina

Palermo:

The center of all the action for wealthier Argentines. Best known for restaurants and shopping

Attractions:

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) – The most impressive art museum in town. Focuses on Latin artists

All the nearby parks – Palermo has a whole bunch of contiguous parks. Don’t skip the Japanese Garden! 

Museo Evita – Museum about Eva Peron, the most famous president of Argentina

Walking around – Palermo is a great neighborhood to stroll

Food/Drink:

El Preferido – Eclectic very high-quality food. Often a line so try to go early or make a reservation

Sarkis – Armenian food is quite rare, but this is a very popular spot and delicious. Go during a weekday lunch to avoid the wait

Don Julio – Considered to be the best steakhouse in Argentina. If you want to go, line up 1 hour before they open. Otherwise, you will not get a table

Las Pizarras – Eclectic

Mishiguene – High end Jewish 

Tres Monos – Cocktail bar

Rapa Nui – Ice cream with Patagonian flavors 

Belgrano/Núñez:

Wealthier neighborhoods further out. Tourists are unlikely to come here without reason

Attractions:

Rio Plate stadium and museum – Buenos Aires´s other football team. The atmosphere isn´t quite as good as in La Boca, but the place is considerably safer…

Espacio Memoria y Derechos Humanos (ESMA) – Former naval  school where thousands were secretly detained and killed during the Argentine dictatorship from 1976-1983. Now operates as a museum. Grounds are open late, but make sure to visit when the museum is open

Food/Drink:

La Mezzetta – Pizza

Cowi – Eclectic 

Parilla El Pobre Luis – Steak but with unique Uruguayan cuts

Strange Brewing – Brewery popular with young people

Heladería Gruta – My favorite ice cream in the city

Other:

Attractions/Day Trips:

Tigre – River delta town 1 hour away by frequent train

Colonia, Uruguay – UNESCO World Heritage Site colonial town accessible by 1-hour ferry. Ferries do not run frequently and are not cheap, so plan ahead

Food/Drink:

El Ferroviario Restaurant Parilla- Way far from everything, but this is the best steakhouse I visited in BA

Itineraries:

In 1 day: Start in Recoleta. Visit the cemetery and art museum, walk to Theatro Colon and into the Microcentro and wrapping up the day in San Telmo for dinner at the market.

In 2 days: Add in Palermo

Logistics:

Money:

At the time of writing (December 2022), Argentina is experiencing extreme inflation around 70% each year. The exchange rate changed 7% during the 1 month I was there. While the government has an official exchange rate, money can be easily exchanged on the black market.

Therefore, exchange your money on the black market and pay for everything in cash.

The easiest place to do this is at a very official-looking Cambio store. Another way to get money is to wire it to yourself at Western Union, which will give you the best rate.

ATM fees are exorbitant. Therefore, I would highly recommend bringing in large amounts of cash (USD or Euro) and exchanging to pesos as you need.

Airport:

Buenos Aires has two airports.

Ezezia (EZE) handles all longhaul flights. you will most likely land here when entering Argentina. The airport is an hour or more from the city. Taxis cost about $50 since you can only exchange at the less favorable official exchange rate here. The best bets are the private bus into the city center or an Uber which can be as cheap as $30. Ubers do accept credit card payments at this time.

Aeroparque Newberry (AEP) handles most domestic flights and some regional flights from nearby countries. It is located near Palermo. Since the distances are short, taxis or Ubers are your best bet. A taxi to most places in Buenos Aires will be less than $10. Maybe even less than $5.

Transport:

Subway – Buenos Aires has a fantastic subway system. Tickets are exceedingly cheap (20¢ at the time of writing). Trains run often and are crowded. To ride public transport in Buenos Aires, first buy a SUBE card at any station and top it off with money. The card can be used for the subway and the bus.

Bus – The bus system is also extensive and cheap. To ride the bus, first buy a SUBE card in any subway station and top it off with money. The fares are so cheap, even $1 can go a long way here.

Taxis – Taxi drivers are known to scam tourists. I have been scammed by 100% of the taxis I have taken in Buenos Aires. So, avoid taking taxis if possible.

Uber: Uber is a safe way to get around the city. You also will not be scammed. You can pay using either a credit card or with cash (change the payment setting in the app)

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