Buenos Aires is known as the ‘Paris of South America’ and lives up to its nickname with an overwhelming café culture to rival its European counterpart. The city is the second largest in South America (after Rio de Janeiro) and is a hot spot for those who love music, food, dancing, and just all around, beautiful people. The nightlife is fantastic, particularly if you’re keen to give the tango a go–you won’t be short of dance partners here as it’s Argentina’s national dance! Reasonably inexpensive transport, food, and accommodation make Buenos Aires one of the most appealing cities in the world, and one I wouldn’t miss.
Hostel prices – Hostels are widespread, and you can expect to pay more upwards of $20 USD for a dormitory room. Private rooms with a shared bath are generally double the price of dorm rooms. More: Tips for finding Cheap accommodation.
Budget hotel prices – Hotels start at $20 USD per night for single, $60 USD for a double room.
Average cost of food – Meal prices for even a cheap restaurant will begin at around $10 USD. Expect to spend about $20 USD for a cheap meal and a drink. If you are looking for a really nice sit down meal with good steak and wine, food and drink for one will start at $35 USD. Plan on $40 USD per week for groceries.
Transportation costs – Taxi prices have increased dramatically, with a ride costing between $2.50-6 USD. Bus transportation is still the best way to go at $0.50 USD for a one-way ticket. The 152 bus route passes by several tourist hotspots including Palermo, La Boca, and San Telmo.
Money Saving Tips
Free tango lessons — Instead of forking over cash for tango lessons, be bold and head to a Milonga where there will be plenty of locals keen to show you the ropes for free.
Discounts on attractions — Most museums and attractions offer either discounts or free entrance to students, teachers, and seniors.
Discounted fútbol tickets — If you’re going to a soccer match, choose tickets in the standing room lower level terrace, called “las populares” seating. These are half the price of the standard seats, and the casual fan atmosphere is much better.
Specialty discount cards — La Nacion Club and La Nacion Premium Club Cards are associated with La Nacion Newspaper, one of the biggest newspaper publications in Argentina (written in Spanish). Every week La Nacion Club Card website lists participating establishments who give discounts to card members. Although many of the restaurants offer the deals on Tuesday or Wednesday only, the discounts can range from 5-50% off and are definitely worth it.
Top Things to See and Do
Tango – The tango is Argentina’s national dance, and you wouldn’t leave with the true local flavor without hitting the dance floor while in Buenos Aires. There are plenty of places offering lessons, and you can even chase down a Milonga, or tango event, that begins in the afternoon and carries into the wee hours of the night.
San Telmo Market – For the best cultural and shopping experiences, make your way to San Telmo and the Sunday antiques fair at Plaza Dorrego. Artisans, musicians, stilt walkers, and other street performers line the streets. Souvenirs such as silver, paintings, and sculptures can be picked up for reasonable prices—sharpen your elbows! This is a great place to test out your bargaining skills.
Fútbol – Soccer is big business in Argentina, and aside from having a fantastic national team, the country also has plenty of top class league teams. There are two great stadiums in the city, La Bombonera and El Monumuenta. For the best experience, try to catch a match between the city’s two rival teams, River Plate and Boca, but plan ahead because tickets can be hard to come by.
Recoleta Cemetery – It might seem a bit morbid to visit a cemetery for pleasure, but Recoleta is one of the city’s most visited attractions. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of the city’s most notable citizens, including Eva Perón and the Paz family. Also worth seeing is the tomb of Rufina Cambaceres, who was tragically buried alive according to legends.
Museo Evita – Argentina is known as the home of Eva Perón or Evita, and this museum explores Evita’s life from childhood through her career as an actress, onto her role as the First Lady and ultimately, ending with her death. This museum will leave you with an appreciation and understanding as to why she is such a significant figure to the Argentine people.
Zoological Gardens – A perfect way to while away an afternoon and get some priceless pictures of the country’s indigenous animals is by visiting the Gardens. Polar bears, flamingos, pandas, and tigers, oh my, are residents of this 45 acre city zoo.
National History Museum – Formerly the Lezama family home, this palatial building encapsulates Argentina’s history from the 1500s to the early 1900s. Most of the exhibits focus on the Argentine War of Independence fought against Spain from 1810-1818 and the May Revolution which also took place in 1810.
Círculo Militar – This is the former home of the Paz family, the wealthy owners of the La Prensa newspaper. Built by a French architect, the building has more than a subtle French influence, but strangely, a few rooms are also in the Tudor style. As one of Argentina’s most beautiful buildings, this is definitely an essential stop on your city tour.
Falkland Islands War Memorial – Under the military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, Argentina declared war on Great Britain in 1982. The museum contains a monument inscribed with the names of all the Argentine’s killed in the 4 months of conflict over the Falkland Islands, or ‘Islas Malvinas’ as they’re known in Argentina.
Casa Rosada – Dominating the city’s Plaza de Mayo is Casa Rosada, arguably the city’s most notable landmark. The building has played a starring role in the country’s history, quite literally. It was where Madonna re-enacted Eva Perón’s addressing of the crowds of workers in Evita.
La Fería Mataderos – The Mataderos fair is an interesting alternative to the other Sunday markets. Located on the south-west edge of Capital Federal, Mataderos offers a less touristy atmosphere. Simply put, the tango dancers there are not doing it for show. They are dancing because it’s their past-time and passion. The fair also offers live music, great food, and plenty of handmade crafts to browse and purchase.
Palacio Borolo – Tour this landmark building of Argentina, themed around Dante’s Inferno, and take in the amazing history and panoramic views of Buenos Aires. This building has fascinating architecture and offers the best viewpoint of the city.
Temaiken Park – This Zoological park offers a huge variety of animal exhibits, with African, Asian, and South Americas zones. Just a short drive outside of the city, it is considered to be one of the major attractions of the area.
Recolleta – This is a high-class, fashionable neighborhood, lined with various boutiques, cafes, and galleries. There is also a street fair every weekend. As a central location in the city, it’s a great area to check out and explore while catching your breath.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – This fine art museum is host to many significant works, from European masters to pre-Renaissance days. Additionally, there is an expansive collection of 19th and 20th century Argentinian paintings and sculptures that make up one of the most impressive collections in the country.
Jardin Botanico Carlos Thais – This garden is full of winding paths, statues, creeks, flora, and fauna from all over the world. Take a stroll alongside the resident cats for an enjoyable, relaxing afternoon outside—or stop by for a quick picnic to get out of the hustle and bustle.