Here are some Tips for Toursits about visiting Buenos Aires Argnetina.

Buses – The Buenos Aires buses are called colectivos. This is an original Buenos Aires invention and the older versions sat about 25 people. They were made from a small truck chassis and each one was painted by the owner to signify something. They were each very unique.

Today the buses in Buenos Aires are superior to the subway in terms of routes and frequency. They are no longer as small as the colectivos but still called by the name, in fact they are quite large and loud and there are thousands of them. Often you may find several different lines running the same route. The best way to find a bus is to pick up a little bus guide at one of the many newsstands. It is called the GUIAT. The price ranges from 2 pesos to 6.

The price of bus depends on where you are going. If you stay in the same neighborhood the price is 75 centavos. Most rides are 80 centavos. The longer rides to the suburbs can be 150 centavos. The important thing to know here is that when you get on a bus, you must tell the bus driver how much you are going to deposit in the coin machine. The best advice is to simply say, “ochenta” which means 80 centavos. And the coin machines only take coins, no cash.

Buenos Aires buses drive fast and it can be a thrill to ride one of them. They stop a great deal though and can be slow in heavy traffic. Most people agree the toughest job in Buenos Aires is driving a bus.

Subways – The subway or (subte) in Buenos Aires is the oldest is South American and built by British engineers around 1900. The oldest line still requires you to manually open the door yourself. We have witnessed people being mugged on this line. At the last second, a couple of guys can grab you, open the doors and roll you out and nobody can stop them. However the first car is great. You can actually look down the subway tunnel. So try not to ride on the last car. But overall the subways are relatively safe for a city of this size.

The subway stops are very frequent and on the C line, the stations are works of art. Currently there are 5 lines, and a 6th one is set to open in a year. The cost of a fare is 70 centavos (cheap). You can purchase a card for 2 trips or 5 trips or a monthly pass. The price is still the same. The subways stop running early at night around 11pm and start again around 6am.

If there is heavy traffic, the subway is the preferred method of transportation. The heaviest times of traffic are around 7pm, which is rush hour in Buenos Aires. If you are riding the subway, and you pull into a station and see an ungodly amount of people about to get on, it is best to get off as soon as possible. If you choose not to, you will be sorry.

The transfer system is decent in the Buenos Aires subway. You will transfer underground but it can get confusing because the signs are small. Usually to correctly navigate the subway, it may take you a few days.

Taxis – Buenos Aires taxis are relatively cheap. They are not regulated by the city very well so there is never a short supply. The official ones are called Radio Taxis. However they all have a reputation of trying to take advantage of you so you must pay attention to the meter. To get in a taxi is about 2 pesos, and to go about 10 minutes ends up being around 7 pesos. No tipping required however it is good to round up for the driver. Buenos Aires taxis, and everyone else, are notorious for not having proper change. There is a shortage of change in the city. So before you get into a Taxi, make sure you have the right cash to cover it. No 50’s or 100’s.

The taxi drivers in Buenos Aires are excellent drivers. However almost none of them speak English, so you will have to be able to communicate with them somehow in Spanish or by writing the address down and showing it to him. By the way, almost all the Taxi drivers and bus drivers are men in Buenos Aires.


Walking – Walking in Buenos Aires is the preferred method for tourists, and many locals alike. The city is very dense and vertical, and the best way to truly see it and feel it is by using your feet. Most people come here and end up walking so much they get blisters. The reason for this is that all the great neighborhoods are spread out from each other. In the days of carriages, it was a nice carriage ride or a long walk. Today it is still a long walk but plenty of things to keep you going. So make sure you bring a comfortable pair of shoes. However, there are some things you should know about walking Buenos Aires.

Personal space is not the same in Buenos Aires as it is in most US cities. So be prepared to bump into people on the street and have them move out of the way at the last second. Also, in many parts of the center of the city, the side streets are incredibly tiny. Barely enough room for two people to pass. Add a few million people and buses going inches from your arm, and you can get unnerved easily. There are rules for walking in Buenos Aires. There are very competitive walkers too. It is best to get out of the way of locals so you can enjoy the scenery. The best times to enjoy the center of the city or the Microcenter, is on the weekends.

Trains – There are trains that run to the suburbs and to El Tigre, which is a wonderful site to see outside of Buenos Aires. There are two main train stations in Buenos Aires. Once and Retiro. Retiro is your best bet. To purchase tickets for a ride, there is an automated machine like a coke machine. It takes exact change and the price will vary depending on where you are going. Usually about 2pesos. (coins only) When you have your ticket, walk onto the terminal and make sure the train you get on says the final destination for your route because there are about 5 routes. The signs are not always correct either so be careful or ask someone if you are unsure.

Hotels – Plenty of Buenos Aires hotels to choose from. My advice is narrow it down to two things. Location and amount of time you are spending in that location. If you are spending less than two weeks in Buenos Aires, then get a hotel or try a hostel. My first choice for location would be Recoleta because you simply can’t go wrong there. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages for most people.

If you are staying longer than 2 weeks, rent an apartment. There are thousands of these and for tourists, they are a good deal. However for locals, they are 3 times over priced. Whoever you rent an apartment from is going to be very happy. You are paying there rent for three months. The apartments are usually small and require a large deposit that you usually get back. For more information about recommendations of hotels and hostels, go to the hotels page on the website menu. If you have any questions about a neighborhood, please write to us.

Money – Often the pesos in cash here should be used for bathroom tissue rather than a form of currency. And I mentioned before about the shortage of change here. It is the most precious thing you will have. Almost every time you buy something, the clerk will ask you for correct change. Sometimes, they will turn your business down if you don’t have it. That’s Argentina. But you can always go to a bank or a restaurant for change.

It is a good idea to bring US dollars with you when you come to Buenos Aires. Forget the US coins. We can’t use them here. Sometimes people will accept US cash instead of pesos, but remember the exchange rate changes daily. It is about 3 pesos to 1 US dollar on a good day.

It’s a good idea to get some pesos at the airport for the ride into the city but you can get by with dollars. To get pesos in the airport you can use your ATM card, however there might be a processing fee. You can also exchange for pesos but besure to shop around. Currently there is a blue banco tucked away to the right after you leave the sliding glass doors. Once in the city, there are lots of places to exchange your money for pesos. They are called cambios. You can usually exchange at the hotels but the rate is not the best. For the best places, go to the banking district. Mitre and San Martin. There is an excellent place on the corner of Florida and Lavalle which is open late and on Saturadys. When exchanging money, you must have your passport and an address where you are staying. And on Sundays, you cannot exchange money.

The ATM’s. It will vary from where you are coming from but generally; you can withdraw pesos, (and sometimes US dollars) from the ATMs at a nominal fee. Check with your bank and the ATM. There is 24 hour ATM’s on the main city streets like Corrientes and Sante Fe.

If you are wondering about how much cash to bring to Argentina, that all depends. The major credit cards are accepted here but everyone prefers cash. Always keep track of your wallet here due to the amount of people bumping into you, on Florida Street or the subway for example, you must be careful. The majority of crime in Buenos Aires these days is pick pocketing or purse snatching and it is relatively low.

Learning Spanish – There are a lot of people from all over the world that come to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish. Largely due to how inexpensive it is to live here using other currency. There are many schools to choose from. The best being the University of Buenos Aires or UBA. The cost can vary but generally about 600 pesos per month for an intensive study. There are also private lessons, which are often preferred. The average cost for these are 25pesos per hour and we have a number of good recommendations for this. You can also contact a language school and pay a little higher price.

The Spanish dialect in Buenos Aires is Castellano. Castellano is very different from Mexican or Spain Spanish. And it may take some time to get used to the accent. “ll” becomes shhh, and and “y” becomes shh.

What to bring – customs. Usually you are allowed 2 large bags and a laptop computer without having any trouble. My advice is don’t take more than this. If you are bringing in large boxes or anything that will attract attention, then you may get hit with some heavy customs fees. The fee is usually half of what the item is worth.

Strangely, Argentina is very pet friendly. If you decide to bring your dog Spot or your cat Fluffy, you must have a document from the vet at home for the animals required shots. Ask your local vet for the documents needed and check the airline you are flying. The tax on animals is less than $10 each but subject to change. There is no quarantine time.

Once in Argentina, most short-term apartments don’t like the idea of pets, but you can sneak them in. Some hotels don’t mind but may charge a deposit. I recommend leaving them at home.

What to pack – If you only listen to one thing, bring a pair of comfortable shoes. You will walk a lot. The next thing to pack is of course your passport, an address of where you will be staying, cash, and a change of clothes. You should try to realize that all clothes you buy here are a third cheaper, so why not stock up? You might also want to bring your lap top however don’t expect to get wireless Internet.

In winter, a decent long coat should suffice. In the summer, it can get hot but it is still mild so a pair of shorts is enough.

The women wear tight clothes all year round, and the men wear casual clothes all year round. In general people dress well but do not flaunt wealth if they have it. At the same time, women’s fashion is taken very seriously.

What to leave with – Well you can usually get away with leaving with a whole lot of stuff without trouble in customs. My advice is to bring back some Argentina wine, a leather coat, Mate, and lots of clothes.

 

Shopping – The most important thing you can know about shopping is that if the store is duty free, and many are, and your purchase is over $200pesos, then you can get about %20 back at the airport if you keep your receipts.

There is a Walmart but it sticks out in Buenos Aires. Everything is mom and pop shops. EVERYTHING. Little stores tucked away in a low rent district that will astound you. There are very few chain stores. There are some major global companies in Recoleta that are pointed out on the Recoleta walking tour. In order to find stores that you are interested in, it is always best to ask a local because usually there are districts for various items. And there are places that will take advantage of you. The two most common types of stores that you will see are the kiosks (convenience stores) and the locotorio (cyber cafes without the cyber and without the café). For more information about Buenos Aires shopping, please click on the shopping page in the website menu.

Food – The main Argentine diet is Argentina beef, pizza, ice cream, empanadas, hotdogs, and pasta. If you want to cook, be prepared for limited variety in the grocery store. If you go to restaurants, you can find a wide variety at the higher end. Otherwise expect the staple foods on every corner. Nothing is spicy.

Argentina beef and steak is fantastic due to the mild climate and excellent grazing soil in Argentina. They cut the cow up in about 20 different ways and eat every part of it. Befe lomo is the favorite. But the blood sausage and the chorizo are worth trying. My advice, try the Chorizo with chimy chury sauce. It’s like Italian sausage but superior.


Traditions and Culture – The men kiss each other on the cheek when greeting informally and with close friends. They usually do not shake hands unless doing business with people that do. The women also kiss in this way.

Argentines love their coffee breaks and there are plenty of street cafes to sit and grab a coffee. The sizes of the coffees are small compared to Starbucks. (There is no Starbucks in Buenos Aires.)

Sundays are family days and days to cook Asado. Asado is a form of slow cook barbecue.

The men let ladies go first and will often offer their seat to them on a bus or hold the door for them.

There are long working hours in Buenos Aires and no naps. A working day begins around 8 or 9am and ends at around 7pm.

Argentines are not heavy drinkers although the wine in fantastic. The drinking age is 18 as well as the driving age. There are not obvious drug users or drug dealers walking the streets.

When you eat outside at a café, be prepared to be approached by street venders many times.

There is a distinction between people from the city, the portenos, and people from the province, the bonaerenses.

People like to drive fast and often speed limits are not enforced.

Currently there is a system of trash collection completed by the Carteneros. These are people who collect the trash from buildings, arrange it into piles on the street and sell it to independent trash collectors. You will surely see the sidewalks turn into trash piles in the evening and then cleared by about 1am.

One of the more iconic things about Buenos Aires is the amount of dogs here. It’s a dog town. Certain neighborhoods often smell like dog most of the time. The local superstition is that if you step in Dog feces, it is good luck. My advice is to not step in dog feces. You will see one guy walking about 20 dogs at once. And you will see about 20 guys doing this.

Family is a large part of the culture here and this spills over into all areas of Buenos Aires life. The portenos of Buenos Aires are surprisingly warm for a city of this size.

Doing business. Buenos Aires has a reputation for dirty business and in fact this is somewhat true. If you are going to be doing any kind of serious business with locals, make sure you are informed about who they are and their reputation.

Argentina weddings are big and last until dawn. If you saw the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, imagine that…..but bigger!!!

MATE – This drink originated in Uruguay but is very much an Argentina tradition. Mate is ground up herbs with hot water added which resembles a rather large tea. It is an acquired taste. It is a social drink and often a celebrated event in the day. The mate cups are sold everywhere and make great souvenirs.

Climate – It is mild in Buenos Aires. It never snows but can be a wet cold. In the summer it can get hot and humid but still generally mild. In the winter it is often cloudy, while in the summer it is often sunny. The average rainfall in the city is about 20 inches per year. When it does rain, it is rarely a downpour.

Sports – (soccer) Do not underestimate the popularity of this sport. It’s the national pastime. If there is a popular game on TV, the streets will be quiet until you hear screams of “gooooooooaaaaallllllll”. There is a huge rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate. La Boca is the city and River is the suburbs. It is worth going to see a soccer game while in town. However certain games, the fever can get out of control and people have been known to be killed. The fans will put on sideshows worth the ticket. For more information about seeing a soccer game contact us.

Other popular sports are basketball, Tennis, Rugby and field hockey.

Horse racing is great in Buenos Aires. Most portenos learn to ride a horse at some point in life. Due to the cowboy culture of Argentina, and the history of Buenos Aires, horse racing is a very social event and taken seriously with all the classes. The best place to see a horse race is in the neighborhood of Palermo at the Hipodomo Argentino racetrack. Feel free to bet on the horse races all day long.

Another sport is car racing. There is a great tradition here of excellent race car drivers and I am not surprised due to the way in which people drive.

Weekends – There is a fantastic event that happens every week in Buenos Aires. It is called the weekend. When the city becomes accessible and quiet. People open their balconies and generally take it easy. There is a drastic difference between a Friday afternoon and a Sunday afternoon. The weekends are also the best time to take walking tours of the city. The only bad thing about weekends is that most stores are closed. So get your shopping done during the week.

The Airport – There are two main airports that service Buenos Aires. The international airport is referred to as Ezeiza and takes about 40 minutes to get to Buenos Aires from. You can take a shuttle, Manuel Tienda Leon for 25 pesos a persons, or a taxi. A taxi ride is about 55 pesos. Make sure you buy a ticket for the taxi from the big white sign that says “Taxi – Captial Federal” in the airport. The rouge taxis on the street outside the terminal have bad reputations. When leaving Buenos Aires at Ezeiza, be prepared to pay an airport tax of about $18 USD or 57 pesos. Also be prepared to stand in about 5 lines to get all your ticketing and paperwork complete. It’s easy, but it takes awhile. Sometimes there are labor strikes at the airport and they can be very serious. Before you go to the airport, make sure to check about airport protests.

When arriving in Ezeiza from an international flight, you will find two lines. One for those with Argentina passports and one for those with foreign passports. The foreigners line is usually about an hour wait.

The other airport is the national airport called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, which is in the city. If you are traveling from this airport inside Argentina, be prepared to pay a higher fee of about 10% for taxes.

Picketers – If you invest a little time to read the history of Argentina, you will understand why you will encounter so many protesters in Buenos Aires. They call them Picketors here. They can tie up traffic at any given moment and usually do on Fridays around the Congresso area. The picketers are usually peaceful demonstrations and in parade form. They will picket just about everything you can think of. They usually have a few drummers and signs. Many of these people are unemployed, some protest as a social gathering. It is almost a tradition here and you are sure to see the demonstrations around the Ave de Mayo area. There is large police presence but rarely arrests.

Wine – Argentina wine is a real treat for several reasons. The first being price. An excellent bottle is about 20 pesos. ($7 USD.) The cheaper wines are great also. The selection of wine is often superior to the selection of food. The second reason is quality. Most of the wines are grown in the Mendoza region where the Andes Mountains cools the grapes and the soil is high quality. Argentina wine is underrated in the world and just now starting to be properly marketed worldwide. There are interesting variations of white wine and Champaign here that should be tested.

After a lot of research my personal favorite cheap red wine is the Santa Silvia label.

Smoking – Buenos Aires is smoking friendly and you will find that most places have smoking and non smoking sections except for public transportation. Cigarettes are inexpensive at 3.50 for imported labels however most of the brands are made in Argentina and there is a quality difference.

Pharmacies – If you need something from the pharmacy, you won’t have to look hard to find one. Contrary to popular belief most of the illegal drugs everywhere in the world are illegal here too. Some of the drugs used here are being tested on the Argentina population. For aspirin and ibuprofen, there is Bayaspirina and Ibupirac. If you need medical assistance, there is an English speaking hospital. Contact us for more information about this.

Medical consultation is excellent in Buenos Aires with very little wait time and a reasonable cost.

Internet – The locotorio. A Buenos Aires icon. A locotorio is a communication center usually with phones and often with computers too. It’s a cyber café without the cyber or café. No two are the same and there about 5 on every block. If you want to make a phone call, you find a locotorio and ask for a “cabina” or say “telephonica”. The price is measured by the length of the call. You can use a calling card there to call abroad. You pay the clerk when you are done.

Internet can be difficult to get inside an apartment or hotel in Buenos Aires or a wireless connection anywhere. Most people go to the locotorio. Simply find one with computers in it and ask for Internet. The price is about 1 peso per hour and there is no time limit. It is common to find men looking at porn and women chatting with friends over a headset all the while children are playing video games.

Telephones Telephones may be found in your lodgeing or they may not. If they are, you may be charged for the time you spend of the phone. If you are renting a short term apartment, this fee may be included.

The other option for phone is “la cabina” or the cabin or phone booth inside a locotorio. These are the cheapest option to making a phone call. The phone booths on the street are 1 peso for a few minutes, if the phone works at all.(Your cell phone will not work unless it is a South American cell phone.)

Sinply walk into a locotorio, or anywhere you see the little plastic cabins inside a kiosco, and ask for la cabina. They say a number and you will find the correct phone booth. You can watch the amout of the call of the digital display. You can also simply ask for “telephonica” which is the phone company that installs many of the phone booths.

Calling from Argentina to another country will reqire a phone card. The cheapest ones can be purchased at a maxikiosco for about 30 mins for 10 pesos. You will also need the country code. Calling to Argentina will require a country code as well. When calling from USA to Argentina Buenos Aires dial 011+54 11+Phone Number.

Country Code for Argentina is 011

 

City code for Buenos Aires is 54

Argentina Tours – The best way to experience Buenos Aires is the walking tour because of the amount of densely placed attractions. Van tours are often face paced and uncomfortable. 3 to a seat and you really can not see that well. And almost all tours are given in Spanish. The free walking tours the city gives are once a month and in both Spanish and bad English. If you take a private walking tour, they will charge you a good deal of money and I have had some bad ones.

The walking tours we have listed here are of the highest quality in Buenos Aires. The daily Recoleta Cemetery tours and the Daily city tours are always a safe bet.

Other Buenos Aires tourist information – Population – It is hard to get an exact figure. The entire Buenos Aires area is about 16million however most figures indicate 13 million. The city itself is 1.3 million. Women out number men here 2 to 1. The city is growing at rate of 5% per year. Time Zone – the time zone is GMT UTC –3. Which means if it is 12am in New York, it is 1am here except that there is no daylight savings time so that is not always correct. Many people use military time here.Electric outlets – There are three different types here. Most common is the European plug with two circular metal pins. Second most common is the Australian with three flat angled blades. It is easy to find adaptors.

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5 Responses to “Buenos Aires Tourist Tips”


  1. 1 Deborah August 31, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Hi There

    How do I go about getting tickets to a soccer match in BA.

    I live in Australia.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Deb

  2. 2 Jim October 28, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Hello,

    Are the fares for a taxi ride from airport into BA still about 55 pesos as of this date? I’ll be traveling there in a few days. Thanks. Jim

  3. 3 raul January 13, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    hola mi nombre es raul y soy proietraio del hotel sur y despues localizado en buenos aires , capital federal en el barrio de san telmo , y queria saber que debo hacer para publicar mi hotel en su sitio web / desde ya muchas gracias

    saluda atte

    raul

  4. 4 Zeltner November 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Hi
    When does the shops open in the morning (especially Casa Maidana, Av. Rivadavia 1923) an when the Cafes (Tortoni)?
    Thanks for your answer
    Yours
    Irene

  5. 5 Nikki March 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Any information about tourist cards or promotion of the city?
    I need it for a school project but i can’t find it anywhere.

    Gracias


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About the author of this blog.

Tom Wick is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. An expert travel consultant and tour guide offering free travel inforamtion and private guided tours of Buenos Aires.

Contact Me

Please write to me about any Buenos Aires Argentina travel information or about living in Buenos Aires as an expat. tangohistorytours@gmail.com

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