Buenos Aires, nicknamed the Paris of South America is a vibrant city well worth a visit! The people are friendly, the food is amazing, the city is walkable and feels like you're walking through the world - different areas feel like you've stepped into Brooklyn, Madrid, Paris, Italy, and then eventually, South America. Read on for my no-nonsense, non-touristy guide to experiencing the city like a local - no bus tours included.
- Language Spoken: Spanish - however Argentinian Spanish has a very different pronunciation. Getting by with English is mostly easy and seamless, however locals were always very excited when we spoke in our limited Spanish to them.
- Weather: Buenos Aires is significantly South of the Equator, making seasons reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. You probably already knew that, but it's worth mentioning in case. Average high temperatures in January are 84 degrees F, and average highs are only 59 in July, so pack accordingly.
- Currency: Argentinian Peso, which recently had a sharp decline against the dollar, making the city very affordable to visit. 59 Pesos currently equal $1 US.
- Safety: While generally a safe and vibrant city, you should practice the same amount of caution you would in any new city. Watch out for pickpockets especially on public transportation and generally be aware of your surroundings. We felt extremely safe walking in the Palermo neighborhoods even late into the night, however the more central city areas with large skyscrapers felt somewhat desolate and a bit spooky later in the evenings. The city is generally safe for female residents and travelers. The one piece of caution I did receive was not to wander off the main streets of La Boca, as that is still a developing part of town.
There are a couple of airports that service the Buenos Aires area:
- Ministro Pistarini International Airport (usually called Ezeiza) - This is the airport that most international flights coming from outside of South America arrive at. From here, the cheapest way into the city is to hop on the #8 bus. Only do this if you have two hours to spare. Taxis and private shuttles are also available for around $50, and Ubers are closer to $25.
- Jorge Newbery Airfield (AEP) - This is a smaller airport for mostly domestic flights and neighboring countries within South America. This airport offers the same transportation options.
- Direct flights are available from LAX, New York, Miami, Houston and a few major European cities. The direct flights from LA were well-scheduled night flights and an absolute breeze.
One of the biggest benefits of going to Buenos Aires right now is how low their currency is against the dollar. Unfortunately for the people, this has caused a lot of struggle, however you can enjoy the power of your dollar while helping the locals by coming to the city and spending your money at local shops, restaurants, and bars. Here are some average costs we found
- Uber around town: $2-$5
- Lattes and breakfast for two at a nice cafe: $10
- Nice Dinner for two with a bottle of wine: $25
- Very high-end steak Dinner for two with a bottle of wine: $90
- Cocktail at a fancy bar: $5
- Pint of Beer: $2-3
- Airbnb: $30 - 70/night
- 3 - 4 Star Hotel: $50 - $125/night
- 5 Star Hotel: $100 - 500/night
WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD TO STAY IN:
We can cut to the chase here, Palermo Soho is where we stayed and was BY FAR the right decision. After a lot of research and talking to a few people we knew you had spent a good amount of time in the city, everything came up with Palermo, and we were so happy that this is where we based ourselves. The neighborhood is young, vibrant, and full of bars and restaurants that are open late and filled with locals. The tree-lined streets are beautifully cobblestoned and full of colorful street art - check out my Instagram Guide here. Palermo has a wide mix of local favorite restaurants, beautiful cafes offering vegan meals, kale salads, and almond milk lattes, and high end steakhouses. AND the neighborhood is very walkable - everything was right outside the front door on our Airbnb. Check out our exact AirBnB here, and use my link to get $40 off your first stay!
Getting around Buenos Aires is fairly efficient and easy. Here are a couple of options to consider:
- Uber - There are some legal issues with Uber in the city, however Ubers are available everywhere and are very affordable (our rides all over the city cost between $2-6). We pretty much took Ubers or walked everywhere because the prices were so low! Some drivers will ask you to sit in the front seat, as to not get flagged as Ubers. This is not unusual or unsafe here.
- Subway - The subte (subway) is the fastest way to see the city. You will need to get a reusable SUBE card at a “Kiosco or the airport.
- Bus - The buses, known as bondis, are a cheap way to get around the city. They run 24 hours, 365 days a year, and cover the whole city.
- Train - The train is available for long distance travel to other areas of Argentina or South America.
- Taxi - There are also tons of taxis on the streets for when you are in a hurry. When you call a taxi, make sure the taxi has a “RADIO TAXI” sign and a visible phone number.
- Bike/Scooter Share - if you're up for an adventure, rent a public bike and explore the city on wheels. We took a few rides on Lime Scooters and has a blast!
- BE Jardin Escondido by Coppola - If you're wondering if the hotel has any connection to the Coppolas yes, you have guessed correctly. Turns out Sofia Coppola is a big fan of Argentina and created an upscale boutique hotel in Palermo. The overall ambiance of the hotel is stylish and relaxed, making you feel like you can escape the bustling energy of the city. It's also in a prime walking location.
- Hotel Palermitano by DON - Also located in Palermo Soho, this upscale hotel's selling point is its rooftop pool with spectacular views over the city. The place is known for its avant-garde architecture and decor.
- Home Hotel - You'll feel like you're staying in a chic magazine ad. There's an outdoor swimming pool, spa facilities, and a chic garden with tons of greenery. What more could you ask for?
- CasaSur Palermo Hotel - A modern, 4-Star hotel with a beautiful outdoor pool for summer visit. From $170/night
- Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires - One of the most iconic properties in the city, the Four Seasons is located in the Ritzy, Parisian neighborhood of Retiro. The marble bathrooms and pool area exteriors look like you just stepped out of a European Palace. From $440/night
- Infinito Hotel - A beautiful, Art Deco hotel perfectly located between Palermo and Recoleta neighborhoods, from $60/night.
- Duque Hotel Boutique & Spa, Buenos Aires - A Palermo located adults-only hotel with an on-site spa and a chic, European feel. From $82/night
- Rendez-Vous Hotel Buenos Aires - Boutique hotel with a cool bar/lounge, beautiful outdoor patio area with a hottub, and fun, colorful rooms. From $86/night
- Hotel Costa Rica, Buenos Aires - a hotel so cute, well-reviewed, and well located that you would never believe it starts at $28/night! That price is for a private room with shared bathroom, small rooms with private bathrooms start at only $35/night!
- Master Hostel, Buenos Aires - Look at the photos of the cute courtyard and you won't believe this beautiful space is a hostel! Prices start from $27/night
- Airbnb - Renting an Airbnb is a great option if you're looking to travel on a budget, and there are countless options in Palermo Soho. You can get a cute and clean rental for around $50 a night, or a deluxe beautiful apartment for around $100. To be close to the center with easy access to food and shopping, try to find an Airbnb near Plaza Armenia or Plaza Serrano. Use my link for $40 off your first stay!
CAN'T MISS EATS:
- Las Cabras - The trendy neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood has no shortage of good eats, but this steakhouse is known for serving some of the most delicious and authentic plates, all for a reasonable price. The portions here are generous and it's usually filled with locals, which means its that good! Las Cabras is perfect for a date night or reunion with friends. It's the kind of place you can sit for hours and enjoy the company while people watching and enjoying your meal. When you get to the corner of El Salvador and Fitz Roy, chances are you will start to see a line wrap around the door but don't let that stop you!
- La Frabrica Taco - If the neon lights of La Frabrica Taco don't draw you in, their delicious tacos will! Located just a block from Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho, this small joint serves up some quick and authentic Mexican street food and margaritas! Being from Southern California, we have a very high expectations for Mexican food, especially tacos. It was nice to see that they had most of the traditional menu items like tacos, flautas, and guacamole. Prices are cheap and the atmosphere is festive!
- Bulls BBQ Smoke House - There are only two restaurants in Buenos Aires that serve authentic BBQ like the kind we're used to in the United States. So when we came across Bulls BBQ Smoke House, we had to try it and it was surprisingly good! They offer smoked meat dishes as well as smoked beef and pork sandwiches. They also offer all the traditional sides you would find at an American restaurant like cole slaw and fries.
- Bugertify - Burgers and arcade games - what more could you ask for? Everything about this burger joint is arcade themed, from arcade game related burger names like the Game Over burger and the Atari 600. It's super casual and affordable with all the basic burger ingredients to satisfy your cheeseburger craving.
- Juan Pedro Churreria - Break your diet for a day and stop in for a decadent, dipped and filled churro amongst some truly wild and sacrilegious interior design. Churros are always good. Juan Pedros are downright heavenely.
- The Creme Lab - Located in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo Soho, this place is famous for their nitrogen ice cream. Opt for the dulce de leche or be adventurous and try the earl grey flavor! Unlike the $6-8 this would cost in LA or New York, our double cone came to only around $2 - and they stay open late!
- Gratitude divir disfrutar & Regalar - This place is every food instagrammer's dream! The place is beautifully decorated with light and airy tones and gets plenty of natural sunlight. They also serve up delicious and healthy foods with vegetarian and vegan options. Each meal comes out with a reminder to live life in gratitude and enjoy life to the fullest.
WHERE TO DRINK:
- Parque Bar Botánico - This trendy Palermo bar filled with tons of greenery and fresh air feels like going out for drinks in the woods. The outdoor garden is filled with wooden furniture, placed between tall trees with tons of foliage and branches. The drinks are equally woodsy and floral, each being named after famous parks around the world. Skip the food and opt for their drinks instead, like the Hyde Park drink - made with gin, peach, cucumber, tonic, and rosemary. It's the perfect spot to come out and enjoy a warm summer night with a group of friends or cuddle up for a romantic date night on one of their outdoor swings.
- Lattente - Find a cafe that serves decent coffee is a must when we're on the road traveling and that can be hard when you're in a foreign country. So we were so happy that we stumbled across this gem in Palermo. First good sign: the cafe roasts their own beans exported from places like Peru and Guatemala. The baristas serve all the basics and can even do a fancy latte art, if you're into that sort of thing.
- Surray Hill - This is another great option that serves coffee and brunch foods.
- The Streets of Palermo Soho - There are bars and pubs on seemingly every corner and square in the neighborhood, and starting in the afternoon, the tables fill up with locals and visitors alike. Grab a pint or a glass of wine, find a spot at some busy picnic tables, and strike up a conversation!
DON'T MISS OUT ON:
- MALBA Museum - This museum is a must-go for art lovers visiting Buenos Aires. The museum is dedicated to showcasing Latin American artwork, covering the entire 20th century. Even the architecture and design of the museum to the sculptured wood benches where people sit is a work of art. Make sure to check out their website for an updated schedule on which galleries are open or sign up for a guided tour.
Hours: Thurs - Mon from 12-8PM, Wed from 12-9PM. Closed on Tuesday.
- Boutique Shopping in Palermo - Palermo is filled with sidewalk cafes, bars, and every shopaholics dream: a wide variety of boutique stores. Wandering through the shops in this trendy neighborhood, you will come across something for everyone: hand-crafted fine leather, to books, and coral jewelry. The area is also filled with delicious eats and nightlife if you want to make it an outing for a day.
General shopping hours: Tuesday - Friday 9AM to 1PM and 4 to 7PM or 7:30PM, Saturday 4 to 8PM. Closed Monday.
- Colonia Day Trip - If you have time, plan for a day trip to Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay, located just across the river. The charming city is just a one-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires across the Río de la Plata, making it pretty easy to squeeze in. Set within a UNESCO World Heritage site, Colonia de Sacramento is quaint, filled with narrow cobblestone streets and vibrant buildings. Make sure to check out the Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse. Once you climb the 111 steps up the staircase to the top, you will be rewarded with some pretty amazing views.
Getting There: An hour's ride on the BuqueBus boat from the city's port takes you straight to the city. Arrive 30 mins - 1 hour before your boat departure time to clear customs, and don't forget your passport
- La Boca - This colorful, iconic area of Buenos Aires may be a bit touristy, but it is not to be missed! The vibrant life on the street spills from the music and people everywhere. And while there are many street vendors and many foreigners here, it is still unlike anywhere else in the city.
- Taking in a fancy dinner - Especially if you are a meat lover, the fine steak dinners in Buenos Aires are legendary. If you're looking for an extra special, reserve a table at Francis Mallman's Patagonia Sur restaurant is a foodie's dream from a world renowned chef for around $180 a person. While not cheap by any means, if you are someone that seeks out this level of fine dining, Patagonia Sur is great option, as similar restaurants in other countries will cost at least double the price.
Don't skip the passionfruits and avocados at the produce stands.