Buenos Aires, for most of the team, is our favorite city in South America. It features a great mix of everything, from good food to good shopping. Varud of Bicoastal Cooks, an ex-Management Consultant, traveled throughout South America last year. Here are his practical tips for Buenos Aires.
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If Argentina has ever been on your bucket list, now is the time to go. After Obama’s recent visit, Argentina has temporarily lifted the reciprocity fee ($160) that was previously required. And if this country wasn’t on your list, it is time to reassess your priorities — from the capital city of Buenos Aires to the beautiful landscapes of Patagonia, this country makes for an amazing journey. Here is a bit of insight to the complex and diverse city of Buenos Aires.
Day to Day Costs
All costs were calculated when I traveled in October 2015, when the blue dollar rate of $1 USD was around 15 Argentine Pesos (depending on negotiating ability) and the official rate was 9.5 Argentine Pesos. Due to recent policy changes, the blue dollar economy might not be a concern for you going forward.
There are three types of meals that you will typically eat in Argentina: Lunch By Weight, Street Food, and Parilla. Lunch by Weight at a “Chino” is a great option, where you can go to a restaurant and fill a plate up with what you want, ranging from Argentine to Chinese options; the cost varies by how much you eat but will average 25-60 pesos. The second option will be street food: from my favorite (the greasy Choripan) to a local favorite (the Argentine Hamburger, which will be about 30 pesos). And lastly, and the most important, is the Parilla or Argentine grill, where you will dine on the best steak of your life for around 200 pesos with wine.
For the most part, you will be using a combination of the Subte (Metro) and Collectivos (Buses) for about 5 pesos a trip. For buses, you have to either own a “Subte Card” or be able to pay with coins. Connectivity for subways is quite limited, so use this website for route options. If you are headed out for the night or in a rush, a cab from the Centro to Palermo will run around 80-100 pesos, which is a bit pricey. (Editor’s Note: For Uber users – Uber is in Buenos Aires as of April this year. However, there is a ongoing legal battle whether or not they are allowed to operate so it could shut down).
The only experience I had was with hostels, which run around 150-190 pesos a night depending on the time of year. Hotels on the other hand will not be too far from typical costs in other major cities. Laundry is typically 60-75 pesos a bag.
Free Events and Sights
As in most major cities, these tours are an excellent way to get a guided perspective of the city. Buenos Aires Free Walks has theirs at 10:30AM for Recoleta and 3:00PM for the City Center; BA Free Tours has tours at 11:00am for the Center Area and 5:00pm for Recoleta. I took one with each and they both were excellent.
- Recoleta Cemetery – free English tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00AM
- The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – free English tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1:00PM
- Museo de Arte Latinoamericano – Wednesday is half-price for adults and free for students, teachers and persons with disabilities
- Museo de Arte Decorativo – free on Tuesdays
- Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA) – free on Tuesdays
The Neighborhoods (Or “Barrios”)
Without a doubt, my favorite part of the city is walking around the different neighborhoods to get a feeling for the culture and vibes.
- Palermo: Trendy, Brooklyn-esque area with the nightlife and restaurants. (Editor’s Note: We stay in this neighborhood pretty much exclusively in either boutique hotels or AirBNBs every time we visit Buenos Aires.)
- Recoleta: A posh area where the upper class used to live, now mostly associated with a Parisian vibe, museums, and great parks.
- La Boca: A small area where the port operated and lower class used to live; very colorful and has a great vibe despite being touristy—the area surrounding is unsafe so please don’t walk there!
- San Telmo: Historic area with cobblestone streets, many parillas, and a local feel with a popular Flea Market on Sundays (and my favorite area).
- Historic: Montserrat & San Nicolas are the areas with the government buildings, such as Casa Rosada, the Opera House, and 9 de Julio (the widest street)
- Porto Madero: Trendy area where locals now live; eco-reserve to escape the city, Costanera Sur with a Sunday Market, and an abundance of street carts to feast on
About The Author:
Varud’s life is food–eating, reading, exploring, and creating. Voted Forbes 30 Under 30 for ‘Most Clueless Individuals’, he jumped ship from his management consultant lifestyle in October 2015 and embarked on a culinary journey to learn about cuisines around the world. His first book documented an experiment in Recipe Development (how to create and gain inspiration for original recipes) while his most recent novel narrates the journey of leaving the US to travel to Argentina and learn about Asado, or Argentine BBQ. Follow him on his blog, Bicoastal Cooks, instagram or Twitter.
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