Buenos Aires is by far the most liveable and advanced city in South America.
Although off the tourist route for a lot of travellers due to it’s rather distant proximity compared to other South American cities, Buenos Aires should most definitely occupy a week of your next venture into the Latin continent.
Founded by the Spanish in 1532 as an initial attempt at colonization, which was initially was thwarted by yellow fever and indigenous revolt, Buenos Aires is now a thriving city of 3 million people, most of whom enjoy a rather high standard of living compared to most others on the continent.
Boasting some of the most beautiful classical buildings in the world, town planning design that caters for a rather frequent (if not erratic) transport system, and the most passionate football supporters I’ve ever witnessed, it was an absolute breath of fresh air reside in Buenos Aires, enjoying a first-world lifestyle for the first time in a number of weeks.
In fact, of all the cities I’ve been to, only Manhattan ranks higher in places I’ve been compelled to want to experience actually living in for an extended period of time.
13 Things You Need To Know About Buenos Aires Before Booking A Ticket
#1: Best Areas To Stay In Argentina
Recoleta & Palermo
The most regal and architecturally stunning part of Buenos Aires, no, South America, is called Recoleta.
When BA was first settled, all the rich aristocracy set up camp here on higher ground in order to stay away from the yellow fever near the river. Ever since then, some of the most beautiful European-inspired building line the streets. With golden lamp posts, and black gates, this is the home of today’s wealthy, and they’ve done a good job of making it an extremely livable and hip place to be.
San Telmo is the oldest part of town, with the first colony setting up here centuries ago. Whilst the buildings may not be as regal as Recoleta, they are still beautiful in their design, and accompanied by cobblestone streets throughout.
You’ll find many cafes and restaurants in the area, as well as art galleries, parks and flea markets on the weekends.
The most colourful part of town, La Boca is the home of the working class. The buildings are all painted in various pastel colours, and the streets are lined with tourist stores filled with Boca Juniors memorabilia.
There is a certain energy about La Boca that you wont find anywhere else.
Centro brings the city together. It has it all, from central pedestrian shopping malls to cafes, hostels, nightclubs, salons, and major international offices.
#2: The Currency Black Market Isn’t Worth It Anymore
Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually no cheaper to use USD or change your USD in Buenos Aires with the ‘blue dollar’ peso on the streets anymore. In fact, using my bankcard at the ATM was about 10% cheaper. In the end, the ATM always wins.
#3: Public Transport Is Ridiculously Cheap
The public transport system is ridiculously cheap here, with each ride only costing the equivalent of USD$0.25. Use google maps to find the next bus and don’t waste your money on taxis.
#4: The Nightlife Is Top Notch
Nightlife in Buenos Aires is quite impressive, with major clubs open every night of the week, and each club having their own feature night.
#5: Get Around Milhouse Hostels For A Good Time
Milhouse hostels are the place you want to go if you want to party. They also organize a number of very affordable walking tours around the city.
#6: Get Around The Dead
The cemetery in Recoleta holds some of the most impressive crypts I’ve ever seen. Some would be worth more than an average US home.
#7: If You Have To, Sell Your Kidney For A Boca Juniors Ticket
You can’t purchase Boca Juniors tickets from the stadium. Due to the membership policy, you need to access a black market system that has members avail their passes to foreigners for inflated prices.
#8: You Wont Find Louis Vuitton Here!
Due to the issues with the Argentinian currency, you find a single international designer brand store here. That’s not to say the locals don’t dress extremely well.
#9: Be Prepared For Dawn Of The Dogs
Buenos Aires locals have a weird fetish for owning and walking purebred dogs of all types. It’s a status thing. Nowhere else in the world have I seen so many people with dogs.
#10: The Steak Is OK, But You’ve Had Better
Whilst Argentinian steak is good, it’s no better than steak I’ve had in USA, Australia, or Brazil.
#11: Don’t Bother With Colonia
Although it may be tempting to take a day trip to Colonia to say you’ve been to Uruguay, I found the town to be extremely underwhelming and took an early ferry back to BA.
#12: Get Around The Flea Markets
San Telmo is a beautiful part of town where you will find the streets filled with flea markets on weekends. Remember, everyone’s asleep before midday.
#13: Don’t Miss La Boca!
A visit to La Boca is a must for those interested in seeing a bit of tourist-trap culture. The colours, restaurants and Maradona impersonators make an afternoon wandering these streets extremely enjoyable. Don’t forget to buy a Boca Juniors shirt!
BONUS: Salsa, Salsa, Salsa!
If you want to take a salsa lesson, join the locals. Buenos Aires Dance School is a great venue for relaxed and enjoyable classes where you’ll be the only one that doesn’t speak Spanish. For only ARS$70 per class on Saturday’s, it’s well worth a crack!
- What’s your take on Buenos Aires?
- What’s your top tip for a break time in the city?