How To Get Around
The easiest way to get around the city is by foot, or by taking the Buenos Aires Touristic Bus, a hop-on, hop-off bus that will take you all along the city. Public transportation isn’t the best in the world, but it’s not horrendous. For buses and the metro subway system, you’ll need a prepaid SUBE card, which you can get at any of these points. To know which bus or train you must take you can download the BA How To Get Around? App, or use Google Maps. Uber is forbidden in Buenos Aires; but the alternative option—Cabify—is legal and works pretty well. Also, the city’s signature black and yellow taxis are easy to spot and flag down, as they’re everywhere.
Where To Stay
In Buenos Aires, there are lodging options for every taste and every budget. Luxury hotels include the Four Seasons, the Alvear Palace Hotel and the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt, all of them in Recoleta. For mid-range budgets, Casa Calma and Casa Sur are good alternatives. For backpacker’s wallets, there are hundreds of hostels and bed & breakfasts all along the city. Malevo Murana Hostel and La Querencia de Buenos Aires, both in Palermo, are nice choices. As far as Airbnb goes, you may also find a huge variety of apartments at a good price, like this studio in Recoleta.
What To Do
There are twelve traditional barrios—or neighborhoods—in Buenos Aires, each of them with its own history, art, culinary options and must-do activities. If you’re short on time, it’s a good idea to choose in advance which of these you’d like to visit, and what you’d like to see while you’re there.
La Boca is the tourist epicenter. Its main street, El Caminito, blossoms every day with beautiful colors and tango dancers in the streets. If you have the chance to be in B.A. on a Sunday, there’s a market in San Telmo that’s worth a visit, eponymously named the San Telmo Market. Even if you can’t make it on a Sunday, the San Telmo neighborhood is still worth visiting during the week. After a yellow fever epidemic in the 19th century forced the wealthiest families out of San Telmo, they moved to Recoleta, which now houses old money, grand hotels and a grandiose necropolis. In Palermo, you’ll find sprawling parks and lakes, with a sweeping variety of vegetation. But it’s much more than just that: over the last couple of years, it has experienced an art, fashion and culinary revolution, becoming by far the trendiest district in B.A. Finally, Puerto Madero is the most recent barrio addition to B.A. Skyscrapers with striking views of the Río de la Plata rise in perfect hallmark with a pure, quiet and fresh natural reserve.
Tango is Argentina’s national dance, and you cannot leave Buenos Aires without having experienced a tango show or tried it yourself. A introductory option is Bar Sur, in San Telmo. On the other hand, Argentina is also the land of soccer or fútbol. Naturally, in Buenos Aires there are soccer stadiums everywhere—La Bombonera and El Monumental are the most important ones—and attending a fútbol match is definitely a memorable experience. You can also take a graffiti tour for a different cultural experience, which can be done by bike. Finally, the luxury Alvear Palace Hotel in Recoleta offers the possibility of a unique high tea every afternoon.
First built in the 1800s, the Colón Theater is the most beautiful stage in Argentina. Legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti reportedly once said the Colón Theater’s only flaw is that its acoustics are so perfect, the audience can distinctively hear any mistakes made by the musicians. A few blocks away, the Plaza de Mayo is home of the Presidential Palace, called Casa Rosada or Pink House, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cabildo (former town hall). The nearby Kirchner Cultural Center is a modern and politically controversial architectonic jewel, worth a visit. The Palacio Barolo offers the best panoramic views of the city and an immersion to its past. As said before, the Recoleta Cemetery in Recoleta is the final resting place of many of the city’s most notable citizens; and trust us, it’s amazing.
Travel Tips From The Pros:
Drink lots of red wine. Chile and Argentina have some of the best red wine in the world. Malbec and Carménère are two can’t miss varietals. Another requirement for all skiers visiting South America is to try a Pisco Sour. Beware, as they go down easy and have a way of sneaking up on you.
Where To Eat
There are definitely some must-have food and drink in Buenos Aires. Asado (BBQ), empanadas, dulce de leche (Argentinian candy), alfajores (cookies made with dulce de leche), dulce de leche ice cream, medialunas (pastries), mate and Fernet are some of them. Yes, obviously, dulce de leche is an Argentinian favorite.
Argentina is a land of meat. For a good steak, you cannot miss Don Julio, a true Argentinian parrilla (grill) in Palermo. In Aramburu Resto, meat specialist Gonzalo Aramburu applies molecular techniques at his eponymous eatery. If you want to try Argentina’s staple chorizo sandwich, the choripán, there’s nothing better than Chori, in Palermo. In the Abasto shopping center, Don Carlos is a reminder of Buenos Aires’ Italian roots. Meanwhile, the I Latina 7-course menu in Villa Crespo is a journey through Latin America. If you liked the 7-course menu idea, you can also give Chila, in Puerto Madero, a try. For the best empanadas in town, go to La Cocina, in Recoleta. And for milanesas, an Argentinean classic breaded meat dish, El Club de la Milanesa is your best bet. For a different alternative, visit Proper and its ever-changing menu. Casa Felix is a closed-door restaurant in Caballito. Jewish and Asian world-class food can be tasted at Mishiguene and Gran Dabbang, respectively. Other award-winner dining options are Tegui and Elena.
At night, a whole new world emerges in Buenos Aires. There are bars everywhere and each of them delivers a unique concept. Florería Atlántico in Recoleta is the city’s preferred speakeasy-style bar. Still, there are many of-the-kind, like The Harrison Speakeasy, where you can only enter after having dinner at Nicky NY Sushi and having asked for a secret password. There’s also Frank’s, where entrance is also only allowed via a secret password. Presidente Bar, also in Recoleta, is known for its world-class cocktails. For a wine tour, Vico Wine Bar is the best. If you want to step back in time, visit Verne Cocktail Club in Palermo, a bar inspired by Jules Verne and his imagined adventures. For an elegant night, don’t miss Gran Bar Danzón, also in Palermo.
Buenos Aires is well-known for having abundant nightclubs, which won’t open their doors until 2 or 3 in the morning, and will stay open until sunrise. Many of them, such as Tequila, Jet Club, Terrazas del Este or Rose in Rio, are located in the seafront Costanera Sur. In Puerto Madero you’ll find Asia de Cuba, while Palermo is home for many others, such as Niceto Club, Kika or Groove. Most of them don’t run on a fixed calendar, so it’s best to check their hours before going.