Buenos Aires is known as the ‘Paris of South America’ and lives up to its nickname by having 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 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.
- 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 $50 USD per night for a double room.
- Average Cost of Food: Meal prices for even a cheap restaurant will begin at around $10 USD and move up from there. Most western dishes will cost about $7 USD for a burger, sandwich, or pizza with something just like home will cost $20 USD for a chap meal and a drink. If you are looking for a really nice sit down meal with good steak and wine, expect to pay $30 USD. It costs about $40 USD per week for groceries.
- Transportation Costs: Taxi prices have increased dramatically. Taxi rides will cost between 20 – 50 ARS. Bus transportation is still the best way to go at 1.20ARS (one-way ticket). You can take the very popular 152 bus from Palermo all the way to San Telmo and see all the major sites along the way.
Top Things to Do
- Tango - The tango is Argentina’s national dance and you’d be a fool to miss out on giving it a go while visiting Buenos Aires. There are plenty of places offering lessons and you can also go to a Milonga, which is a Tango event, these take place in the afternoon or late evening and carry on into the wee small hours.
- San Telmo Market - For the best cultural and shopping experience, 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. Silver, paintings and sculptures can be picked up for reasonable prices and 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.
- Recoleta Cemetery - It might seem a bit morbid to visit a cemetery when you’re traveling round a city, but Recoleta is one of the city’s most visited attractions. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of the city’s wealthiest and most notable citizens, including Eva Perón and the Paz family. Also worth seeing is the tomb of Rufina Cambaceres, who was tragically buried alive.
- Museo Evita - Argentina’s most famous citizen was Eva Perón or Evita and this museum explores Evita’s life from childhood, through her career as an actress and her role as the First Lady and ultimately, her death. This museum will go a long way to helping you understand why she is such a significant figure to the Argentine people.
- Zoological Gardens - One of B.A’s top attractions is its Zoological Gardens and a visit is the perfect way to while away an afternoon and come away with some top photographs of the country’s indigenous animals. Polar bears, flamingos, pandas, tigers are also residents in 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 museums exhibits focus on the Argentine War of Independence (fought with Spain between 1810 and 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 subtle French architecture and decoration, while strangely, a few rooms are also in the Tudor style. This is one of Argentina’s most beautiful buildings and 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 the Casa Rosada, arguably the city’s most notable building. 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 fairs. 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 tourists. They are doing it because they like to dance. The fair also offers live music, great food, and plenty of productos artesanales to look at 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 is a fascinating architecturally and offers the best overlook of the city.
- Temaiken Park – Complete with Africa, Asia, South America zones, and more, this Zoological park offers a huge variety of animal exhibits. 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. This is very central to many other attractions and is considered a nice place to wander around.
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – This fine art museum is host to many significant works, from European masters, dating back to pre-Renaissance days. Additionally, there is an expansive collection of 19th and 20th century Argentine paintings and sculptures. This is considered to be one of the major museum attractions in Argentina.
- Jardin Botanico Carlos Thais – This garden is full of winding paths, statues, creeks, and 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.
Budget Tips for Buenos Aires
- Free Tango Lessons – Instead of forking out for Tango lessons, 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 Soccer Tickets - If you’re going to a soccer match, choose tickets in the lower level “las populare”s seating. These are half the price of the higher seats at 15 ARS, and the 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 (in Spanish). Every week La Nacion Club Cardwebsite lists participating establishments who give discounts to card members. Although many of the restaurants offer the deals Tuesday or Wednesday only, the discounts range from 5 to 50% off.