Known as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires lives up to its nickname thanks to its popular café culture, grand boulevards, and an incredible food scene that rivals its European counterpart.
Argentina’s capital and largest city is a hotspot for music, food, the arts, and dancing. The city is one of the most diverse cities in Latin America, home to beautiful, warm, and friendly people from all around the globe.
Visiting Buenos Aires is an incredible experience. I loved my time there. The city is filled with rich history, beautiful architecture, verdant parks, quirky bookstores, and a fantastic nightlife — particularly if you like lively clubs that party until dawn.
Because Buenos Aires is a city that sleeps in and stays out late!
The quality of life is very high and during my stay I just floated from cafe to cafe, park to park, and wine bar to wine bar, taking in the amazing cuisine and enjoying the local pace of life. I especially loved the growing international expat community in the Palermo district.
This Buenos Aires travel guide can help you plan your trip, save money, and ensure you make the most of your time in this cosmopolitan city.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Buenos Aires
1. Visit the National History Museum
2. Meander the San Telmo Market
3. Tour the Casa Rosada
4. Wander Recoleta Cemetery
5. Learn to tango
Other Things to See and Do in Buenos Aires
1. Take in a fútbol game
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. Plan ahead because tickets can be hard to come by but the crowds are lively and the matches entertaining!
2. Visit Museo Evita
Eva Perón (also known as Evita) is perhaps the most famous Argentine, known for her labor rights activism and position as First Lady (a film starring Madonna was made about her life in 1996). This museum explores her life from childhood through her career as an actress, onto her role as the First Lady and ultimately, ending with her early death. You’ll leave with a better appreciation and understanding as to why she is such a significant figure to the Argentine people.
3. Admire 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. Today, the building is home to a social club for retired Argentine military officers. Visitors can view the elaborate, gilded interiors via guided tour and visit the National Arms Museum housed in the same building. As one of Argentina’s most beautiful buildings, this is an essential stop on your city tour. Admission is around 200 ARS.
4. Pay your respects at the Monument to the Fallen in the Falkland Islands
Under the military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, Argentina declared war on Great Britain in 1982 by invading and occupying the Falkland Islands. The ensuing 10-week undeclared war ended in Great Britain retaining sovereignty over the islands, yet many lives were lost in the conflict. The monument is inscribed with the names of the 649 Argentines killed in the four months of conflict over the Falkland Islands (or “Islas Malvinas,” as they’re known in Argentina). To learn even more about the conflict, visit the free Malvinas Museum.
5. Stroll around the La Fería Mataderos
The Mataderos fair is an interesting and less touristy alternative to the other Sunday markets. Located on the southwestern edge of Capital Federal, Mataderos is very popular with locals. Over 15,000 people attend each weekend to enjoy the live music, great food, and handmade crafts. Best of all, the tango dancers here are not doing it for show — they are dancing because it’s their pastime and passion. The fair is open from April to December from 11am-8pm.
6. Tour Palacio Barolo
Tour this landmark building of Argentina, designed by Italian architect Mario Palanti and themed around Dante’s Inferno. When the building opened in 1923, it was the tallest building in South America, remaining so for over a decade. Visit to learn about the fascinating architecture, interesting history, and get the best panoramic views over the city. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-8pm by guided tour only. Tours cost 3,000 ARS.
7. See Temaiken Park
This zoological park spans almost 200 acres and offers a huge variety of animal exhibits, with large, open-air habitats and African, Asian, and South Americas zones as well as an aquarium. The park, which is the only AZA-accredited zoo in the country, focuses on research and conservation, and many animals here are protected endangered species. Just a short (35 minute) drive outside of the city, it is one of the major attractions of the area. Admission is 3,540 ARS.
8. Explore Recoleta
This is a high-class, expensive, and fashionable neighborhood, lined with boutiques, cafes, galleries, and fine arts museums. As a central location in the city, it’s a great area to check out and explore while catching your breath. There is also a bohemian street fair every weekend with musicians, performers, and artisans selling traditional Argentine products like leather goods and mate gourds. Located near the Recoleta cemetery, it’s open from 11am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
9. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
This fine art museum is host to many significant works, from European masters to pre-Renaissance days, including Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Goya, among others. 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. It’s open 11am-7pm daily but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The museum is in the Recoleta neighborhood and admission is free.
10. Relax in Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays
Inaugurated in the late 19th century, the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden is the perfect place for an enjoyable, relaxing afternoon outside. The 17-acre garden is full of winding paths, statues, creeks, and 5,000 species of plants from all over the world. There’s a French Garden, Roman Garden, Asian Garden, and Argentinean Indigenous Americas Garden, each with distinct landscaping styles and a diverse range of plants from each area. Take a stroll alongside the resident cats or stop by for a quick picnic to get out of the hustle and bustle.
11. Reserva Ecologica
Trash turns into treasure at this former dump-turned-oasis in the middle of the city. This ecological reserve is made up of nearly 865 acres of green area and lagoons. It’s home to over 300 species of birds and is a great spot for birdwatching, jogging, biking, or simply walking. Expect to spend over an hour getting around the reserve on one of the well-trodden paths, but it’s tranquil and a great escape from the noise of the city. Be sure to bring water. Guided tours are available on weekends and the reserve is closed on Mondays. Admission is free.
12. Day trip to Tigre
Dubbed “The Undeveloped Venice” with its plentiful canals, this city is only 45 minutes away from central Buenos Aires. It’s green, lush, and seemingly a world away from the chaos of the city — which is likely the reason why it’s a common retreat for Buenos Aires’ more affluent residents. Tigre makes for a great day trip and has museums, a market, artist workshops, restaurants, and even an amusement park to explore. Getting there is cheap, too: the train is around 12 ARS and the ferry is about 200 ARS.
13. Enjoy La Bomba de Tiempo
This must-see captivating 17-person percussion group provides 3-hours of lively, wild, pulsing musical entertainment each Monday night. Nearly 1,500 people pack into the Konex Cultural Center as the group performs improvisational music with African and South American rhythms. Doors open at 7pm with an opening act playing until 8pm. You don’t need to buy tickets in advance (though you can) but get there early to avoid standing in long lines and possibly missing the beginning of La Bomba’s set.
14. Relax in Jardin Japones
In a city as noisy as Buenos Aires, the Japanese gardens provide a beautiful, calm retreat. Maintained by the Japanese Argentine Cultural Association, the gardens have peaceful lagoons adorned with bright red bridges and a variety of Japanese flora. At 5 acres, the park is one of the largest such gardens outside of Japan, and contains a Japanese Peace Bell, Buddhist temple, traditional stone lanterns and sculptures throughout. For a small fee, you can buy food to feed the koi fish. Admission is 416 ARS.
15. Country-hop to Uruguay
Pop over to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, just one hour from Buenos Aires via ferry. The historic quarter, rife with Portuguese influence, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a big change of pace from Buenos Aires. It’s the perfect town to meander about, with tons of quaint houses, plazas, and cobblestone roads. Make sure to see the lighthouse while you’re here. The ferry cost can seem steep at 9,300-19,000 ARS round-trip (depending on timing and ferry company), but you can save money by taking the slower one that gets you there in three hours.
16. Peruse El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is housed in an old theater from La Belle Epoque period (1871-80) and is one of the biggest bookstores on the continent. It’s impressively grand, there’s a huge English language section, and the old stage is now a cafe. It was named the “most beautiful bookstore in the world” by National Geographic. Don’t miss it.
For more information on other cities in Argentina, check out these guides:
Buenos Aires Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels start around 900 ARS for a large 10-person dorm room, though dorms with 6-8 beds are much more common, costing 1,350-1,800 ARS per night. Private rooms with a private bathroom start at around 4,000 ARS per night. Pricing stays consistent through the seasons.
Free Wi-Fi and lockers are standard, and linens are typically included. Free breakfast is not common, though a couple (like Art Factory) do offer it. Most hostels also have a shared kitchen so you can cook your own meals, an outdoor terrace or bar, and many offer free walking tours as well. Some hostels even have extra amenities, like a hot tub or pool.
For quieter hostels, check out the ones in San Telmo or Palermo.
Budget hotel prices – Centrally-located hotels start around 6,300 ARS for a double room. Most include breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and many include air-conditioning. As with hostels, pricing doesn’t fluctuate much with the seasons.
There’s a good number of Airbnb hosts here and you can get a private room for around 1,050 ARS. Entire homes/apartments start at 2,100 ARS per night.
Food – Argentine food is a mix of Mediterranean influences: first from Spanish colonizers, and later Spanish and Italian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Empanadas, pizza, polenta, and pasta all heavily feature in Argentine cuisine. But Argentines are most famous for their asado (barbeque) and consumption of beef, especially steak and ribs. In terms of veggies, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, eggplants, squashes, and zucchini are the most common. Dulce de leche, a caramel spread made from condensed milk, is the favorite national dessert.
For drinks, nothing is as famous as yerba mate, a caffeinated herbal drink that is prepared in a traditional gourd. It is consumed in social settings by passing around the gourd and its accompanying metal straw.
In most of the cafes around the city, you’re looking at 540-780 ARS for a light lunch of a sandwich or salad, though you can find lunch specials at the cafes downtown for 360 ARS. Light breakfast specials including a coffee and toast can be found for 150-400 ARS.
Pizza is popular in the city and costs around 250-400 ARS. Steaks begin at 1,000 ARS but are often more like 2,500 ARS and more. A vegetable-based pasta dish is 500-700 ARS, while pasta with meat or seafood starts at 900 ARS.
At a traditional Argentine steakhouse, expect to pay at least 2,700 ARS for a nice sit-down meal with good steak and wine. Bottles of wine start at 700 ARS and go up from there.
In terms of drinks, beer is around 300 while a glass of wine is 200 ARS, a cocktail is around 450 ARS, and a cappuccino is 175 ARS.
For super cheap food, be sure to eat at the choripan (sausage and bread sandwiches) stalls for 500 ARS. Empanadas, the staple of to-go food in the country, cost around 50-75 ARS for one. A fast-food combo meal (think McDonald’s) is around 730 ARS.
A dish at a Chinese takeout restaurant is around 500 ARS, while a dish at a sit-down Indian restaurant is around 600-800.
Some good restaurants to eat at are Don Julio, The Burger Joint, Origen Cafe, La Cabrera, and Freddo for ice cream.
You can buy a week’s worth of groceries (including bottles of wine) for around 2,515 ARS. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, and some meat.
Backpacking Buenos Aires Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker’s budget, expect to spend 3,600 ARS per day. On this suggested budget, you’re staying in a hostel dorm bed, limiting your drinking, taking advantage of street food (empanadas!), cooking most of your meals, using the subway to get around, and doing mostly free activities like walking tours and free museum visits.
On a mid-range budget of 7,100 ARS per day, you can afford a private room at a hostel or Airbnb, eat out at cafes or cheap restaurants for most meals (including the occasional steak), take the occasional taxi to get around, and enjoy more paid attractions and activities like day-trips to Uruguay or Tigre.
On a “luxury” budget of 13,700 ARS or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink more, rent a car or take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in ARS.
Buenos Aires Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Here are a few hacks to cut down your costs — because all those tours, wine, and steak dinners can add up if you aren’t careful!
- Learn to tango for free – 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. On Sundays, the San Telmo market has free tango lessons at 8pm. Many of the hostels also offer free tango lessons too!
- Get discounts on attractions – Most museums and attractions offer either discounts or free entrance to students, teachers, and seniors. Always ask if there are any discounts available when you arrive just in case.
- Buy discounted fútbol tickets – If you’re going to a fútbol (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.
- Use specialty discount cards – La Nacion Club and La Nacion Premium Club Cards are associated with the La Nacion Newspaper, one of the biggest newspaper publications in Argentina (written in Spanish). Every week La Nacion Club Card website lists participating establishments that give discounts to cardmembers. Although many of the restaurants offer the deals on Tuesday or Wednesday only, the discounts can range from 5-50% off. It’s definitely worth it, especially considering it only costs 165 ARS to get the card for a month.
- Take a free walking tour – There are a number of companies that offer free walking tours throughout the city. They are comprehensive and the best way to learn about the history of the city. Just remember to tip at the end! Two companies to check out are Buenos Aires Free Tour and Free Walks Buenos Aires.
- Eat at restaurants for lunch – Most of the cafes (especially those downtown) offer a set lunch menu for around 500-700 ARS. If you want to eat at the city’s many restaurants, it’s best to do it during lunch.
- Stay with a local – Couchsurfing connects you with locals who can give you a free place to stay and share their insider tips and advice. It’s the best way to meet locals and save money.
- Pack a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a water bottle with a filter to save money and reduce your single-use plastic usage. My preferred bottle is LifeStraw as it has a built-in filter to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
- Use the free public bikes – Buenos Aires has excellent biking lanes and a free public bike share scheme! With Ecobici, you use a bicycle for up to one hour from Monday to Friday, and up to two hours on the weekends. (This doesn’t limit how often you can use the bicycle throughout the day, though.)
- Stay at a Hola Hostel – Hola Hostels is a network of hostels with locations in South America and Europe. They offer a 10% discount to their members, as well as other discounts for local restaurants, transportation, and activities. Joining is free, and their hostels are also committed to environmentally sustainable practices.
For more tips on budget travel in Buenos Aires, check out these 12 ways to save money in Argentina.
Where to Stay in Argentina
Need a budget-friendly place to rest your head? Here are my suggested places to stay in Buenos Aires:
How to Get Around Buenos Aires
Public transportation – Buenos Aires is the only city in Argentina with a subway system (the Subte). The subway runs from 5:30am-11:30pm on weekdays, 6am-midnight on Saturdays, and 8am-10:30pm on Sundays.
To travel by subway, you’ll need to pick up a rechargeable SUBE travel card and load it with credit. You can find SUBE cards at tourist centers and kiosks throughout the city, and then you can load them at subte stations, lottery outlets, and some kiosks with automatic terminals.
Fares are charged according to how many trips you’ve taken, getting cheaper the more often you travel. Your first 20 trips cost 30 ARS per trip, 21-30 trips cost 24 ARS per trip, and 31-40 trips cost 21 ARS per trip.
The bus system in Buenos Aires runs 24-hours and covers the entire city. Like the subway, you can use your SUBE travel card to get around.
Bicycle – Buenos Aires has excellent biking lanes and a free public bike share scheme. With Ecobici, you use a bicycle for up to one hour from Monday to Friday, and up to two hours on the weekends. To register, simply download the app and put in your credit card information.
If you’d rather have a bike for a longer period, you can rent bikes from companies like La Biclecleta Naranja. A rental costs 900 ARS for the full day or 2800 ARS for a week.
Taxi – Taxis around the city are metered and cost 85 ARS to start, going up by 43 ARS per kilometer. Trips within the city are generally around 300-800 ARS. You can hail taxis as you would anywhere else (and the wait is never too long), or you can use the government’s mobile app named BA Taxi.
Ridesharing – Uber and Cabify operate in Buenos Aires and are usually cheaper than taxis. However, since the subway and bus network are both extensive and affordable, there’s little reason to use ridesharing apps.
Car rental – Similarly, there’s no reason to rent a car in Buenos Aires: it’s expensive and more of a hassle than it’s worth. If you do want to rent a car to explore the surrounding area, expect to pay 7,500 ARS per day. Drivers need to be at least 21 years old.
When to Go to Buenos Aires
The weather in Buenos Aires is most pleasant in the fall (March-May) and spring (September-November). Many people love to visit in October and November when the jacaranda trees are blooming.
The high season is from December to the end of February, while the low season is from June to August. But if you come between April and June, you’ll get the best travel deals and the fewest crowds.
Buenos Aires is the hottest in January and February. It’s humid and temperatures often leap up to 38°C
(100°F) which can be a little unbearable. Be prepared for the heat if you visit during this time.
Winter can be chilly and rainy at times, but it rarely snows. Temperatures do not get extreme, but they can drop to 8°C (46°F) so bring a sweater and rain jacket.
How to Stay Safe in Buenos Aires
Argentina is a safe place to backpack and travel — even if you’re traveling solo and even as a solo female traveler. That said, while violent crime is rare, petty crime is very common. Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or belongings and always keep your valuables secure and out of reach.
Cell phone theft is incredibly common, and thieves sometimes literally snatch the phone right from your hand in broad daylight. If you need to use your phone in public, step inside a store.
Solo female travelers will want to be cautious here at night. Avoid traveling alone and try to join groups when you can. As in any destination, never leave your drink unattended and never accept drinks from strangers.
Be aware of the “mustard scam” while you’re here. This is when someone on public transit points out a stain on your clothes and then tries to wash it out while someone else steals your wallet/belongings.
To learn about other common scams, read this list of common travel scams to avoid.
If you experience an emergency, dial 911 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
Remember, if you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Buenos Aires!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Buenos Aires Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do group tours, go with Intrepid. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts with them too!
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
Buenos Aires Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Buenos Aires Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Argentina to continue planning your trip: