Truth be told, Buenos Aires wasn’t on my bucket list. Well, initially, but dubbed as the Paris of the South, how could I not visit? I decided to stay a few days en route to my trip to El Calafate. I did not regret my decision. Buenos Aires is a vast city with forty-eight barrios, each characterized by its distinct beauty, rich history, and tons of attractions. Also, if you love the charm of narrow cobbled stone streets lined up with outdoor cafes, quaint shops, and old architectures, then this is the next city for you.
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How to Get There
There are direct flights between the United States and most major cities in the world. For budget travelers like me, the question is “How do I get there cheaply?” Here is an inside tip. From any major city, you may fly in first into Santiago, Chile and from there, hop into another airplane to Buenos Aires. You could also get to the city by land from its nearby countries, but that’s if you have the luxury of time and patience for long-haul road trips.
How to Get Around in the City
Subte and Bus – The cheapest way to get from one barrio to another is by taking the underground subte or metro. Buses are also reliable and convenient. You must purchase the SUBTE card available at the metro stations and convenient shops.
Taxi – If you only have a limited time of stay and if your budget allows it, by all means, use the cab to get around. The good news is cab fares in Buenos Aires are generally cheap. However, there are taxi drivers in Buenos Aires that are known to rip off their passengers. Keep your eyes on the driver’s meter!
By foot – Can you go around the city by foot? Absolutely! In fact, this option is even better. Not only will you burn loads of calories from consuming too many empanadas, but you will also enjoy many beautiful Roman and French-inspired architecture along the way.
Where I Stayed
Infinito Hotel, Palermo – I wanted to stay in the city center, that is, a few miles to and from the (AEP) airport, and a stone throw away to some of my points of interest. Bravo! Infinito Hotel was exactly I was looking. The quiet and safe vicinity of Palermo is a plus!
Best Time to Visit
Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are the best seasons to visit the country due to the mild climate during these months. June to August, however, are the months when airfares from North America sells like hotcakes because who wants to travel when it is almost freezing? Me, apparently. I made sure I packed that cute, stylish hot pink pea coat!
Visa Requirement – Yay! There is no visa requirement to enter Argentina for a 90-day stay. But make sure that your passports are valid at the time of entry, with one blank page required for an entry stamp.
Safety – Like any other big city, crime is prevalent, so be extra careful. If you visit the tourist spot in Barrio La Boca, stay within the perimeter of El Caminito. You can use your expensive camera openly in this zone, but still, be extra cautious. As a female solo traveler, I felt very safe in all the barrios I visited.
Credit cards – The use of credit cards in Buenos Aires is widely accepted, contrary to what I read on the net. Even in a small bakery shop, if you purchase a small piece of alfahores, they will still swipe your card.
Currency – 1.00 US$ is to 27.00 Argentine Peso. So, you can splurge on your dinner with the US$ buying power! Now is your chance to indulge in that modestly priced dinner of tender, juicy, and thick-sliced Angus steak with sides and a glass of Malbec wine for less than $30.00 (per person!)
How to Spend Two Days In Buenos Aires
My first impression of the city as I peeked through the airplane window was that Buenos Aires is such a tremendously big city. We had been descending for over twenty minutes, and sites of buildings, roads, houses, bridges, etc. were never-ending. That is when I thought “How will I ever explore this sprawling metropolis in just two days?” Believe it or not, I did! Well, not exactly. I had to prioritize the places I wanted to see. This way, I managed to visit those sights in a short amount of time. Proper planning is key.
Visit Barrio Recoleta
Recoleta may not be exactly like the Beverly Hills of Los Angeles, but this barrio is the home of the Argentine elite! It is the most peaceful place among the rest of the neighborhoods. I was surrounded by plush hotels, high-end malls, fine-dining restaurants, lavish homes, and ornate old architectures. Have I mentioned that barrio Recoleta was home to Evita and Juan Peron? Keep reading because what I am about to write are the places you can visit while in the neighborhood.
Do you like the combination of art, atmosphere, and history? Recoleta Cemetery should be on your list. The thousands of elegant mausoleums are evidence that those buried were some of Buenos Aires’s most prominent figures. One of them is Evita Peron. I am not a big fan of Ms. Peron, but an aunt of mine is. So, for her sake, I paid a visit. To get to Evita’s mausoleum is very easy. Just follow the crowd! Entrance is free.
La Recoleta Cemetery should be considered a must-see by any tourists. The magnificent monuments are more than fascinating enough to keep you engage for a couple of hours and walk you through many of city’s most famous residents resting here in peace.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
The El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore will leave you speechless! Why? Because this book-lovers’ place was a former opera house, transformed into a grand bookstore. The colossal seating areas are now shelves of volumes of book titles. It gets even more splendid if you stop to gaze at the ceiling. It’s the original romantic-style frescos from the old theater, while the previous stage is now a café. El Ateneo is the most beautiful bookstore I have ever seen. It has an average of three thousand gawkers daily!
No, not the Palermo city in Italy. I am referring to the Palermo, one of the barrios in Buenos Aires. Century-old trees, outdoor cafes, family-owned shops line the streets, easily explored by foot. The walk is a tour by itself with sights of vibrant murals and lush gardens. Here, the old and modern architectures standing on each side. The city of Buenos Aires has a very diverse neighborhood. I am glad to have chosen this safe area for my base camp.
Evita Duarte de Peron Museum
Whether you are a fan of Eva Peron or not, this museum may still worth a bit of your time. This European style building was the home of the late Juan and Evita Peron and now the Evita Duarte de Peron Museum. Most of the exhibits show her limelight career before she became the first lady of Argentina. You probably only need a good twenty minutes to look around and read some of the English signage on the exhibits. FYI, photography is not welcome. Except in the blue-tiled courtyard. Entrance fee as of June 2018 is Argentine Peso 120.00.
Take a break at The Evita Museum Café
After spending some time in the museum, I headed to the in-house café for some meals. The dining room is cozy, and the outdoor eating area looked pleasant with overhanging trees. I tried Pastel de Carne topped with white meringue. It was quite sweet but tasty. Excellent!
Visit Floralis Generica
While I was searching on the net for landmarks, Floralis Generica popped immediately. It was love at first sight with this giant steel flower that I did not leave Buenos Aires without seeing it myself. Floralis Generica is very impressive! Make sure to visit it at midday when the bulb is wide open. It floats in the middle of a pool in Plaza de las Nacionales Unidas. Entering the park is free.
Puerto Madero, Puente de la Mujer (‘Women’s Bridge’)
More landmarks? Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge) deserves your attention! The location of the bridge was rundown, but now one of the most vibrant neighborhood, widely diffused by restaurants, shops, bars, offices, and condominiums. The best time to visit the bridge is when the lights shimmer in the dark. It looks so romantic at nighttime that you and your significant other must stroll on the deck together. After all, when you stare at the bridge from afar, it may look like a sexy couple dancing the tango.
Visit Micro Centro
The Micro center is a part of the city where government offices and commercial buildings share a location. I focused on visiting Plaza de Mayo in the very early morning when there were no tourists yet, but the police officers were already visible in the square.
Funny, but I found myself humming the song “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” in front of Casa Rosada. Back in the day, Evita Peron delivered her speeches on the balcony of this pink building to thousands of supporters. My aunt who is a huge fan of the former Argentine First Lady should see this beautiful architecture. Besides its rich history, its pink color is mesmeric. One of the rooms is a free-entry museum, but you must reserve a spot on their website.
Stroll along on Avenida Rivadavia
Northwest edge of the Plaza de Mayo is Avenida Rivadavia, supposedly the longest avenue in the world extending twenty-three miles from Casa Rosada all the way to the suburb of Merlo! Threading this direction led me to the Obelisk.
Openly or secretly admire the Obelisk
While Piramide de Mayo is the oldest national monument, the Obelisk is the most celebrated landmark. Would you believe they even covered it with a giant pink condom in 2005 to observe the World AIDS Day? Its sight is most impressive at daybreak, in my opinion. Although, the locals will urge you to visit it at sunset. At sunrise or sunset, the Obelisk shines in all its splendor.
Have a cup of coffee at Café Tortoni, 825 Avenida de Mayo
Located in Avenida 9 de Julio (the widest avenue in the world) is the historic Cafe Tortoni. It is the oldest coffee shop in Buenos Aires. Its interior is grand interior and very ornate. In the past, this place is an exclusive hangout for Argentine intellectuals and international personalities like Hillary Clinton and even Albert Einstein. Today, celebrity or not you can occupy a seat. I ordered a cup of café mocha and some churros just to brag that I have gone there. It is a must visit on my list.
Visit La Boca
I debated whether or not to visit this neighborhood due to its reputation as the most dangerous barrio in Buenos Aires, but am glad I did. Even though La Boca is where you shouldn’t let your guard down, I must tell that I never witnessed anything unsafe but instead unbridled cheerfulness. I have never experienced a place so delightful as La Boca!
Watch Street Tango
Tango is why Buenos Aires is one of the most romantic cities in the world. I had the chance to watch this very sensual dance in El Caminito, the most famous street in La Boca. Beware though, some of the gals and dudes dressed in the costumes may not be genuine dancers, but posing only to get tourists to have a photo with them. Then they collect “fees.”
Feel the exuding vibe of El Caminito
El Caminito is like a two-narrow cobbled-stone alley. But what lays in between has got to be the most vibrant sight on earth. As you walk down this alley, you are greeted by the intense, vivid lights and shocking colors of the facades of restaurants, bars, and shops. Although I was visiting alone, I was drawn into the crowd and felt like one with them. El Caminito bursts with energy and should be on top of your list of must-see places in Buenos Aires!
If there is one spot to shop for some souvenir items, this is the place. Peeking into the myriad shops and deciding which to buy is the hardest challenge. Better go there with a list and stick to it if you don’t want your pocketbook emptied.
My Observation And Tips
I love Buenos Aires! I wish I stayed for more than two days in this very diverse city. My short visit has made me appreciate the Argentine people and their culture. They are very hospitable, helpful, and not to mention big meat-eaters and sweet-tooth!
When I was researching for my trip, the dominant information I get was that crimes are rampant in Buenos Aires. Honestly, that scared me but hey, don’t let fear keep you from visiting Buenos Aires because of what we hear or read about the city. Does that mean you can be gullible? Of course not, but be sensible and careful. ~
Have you been to Buenos Aires, Argentina? Any additional tips to share?
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge.
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