Buenos Aires city (official name Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, also called Federal Capital) is the capital of the Argentine Republic. It is one of the largest cities in Latin America, with a lot of cultural offerings, and is the point of departure for travelling to the rest of the country.
The City of Buenos Aires has about 50 districts called barrios. The most important and visited are:
The city is geographically contained inside the province of Buenos Aires, but it is politically autonomous. Its coordinates are 34º 36' S, 58º 26' W.
The city extends on a plain covering 19.4 kilometers (12 miles) from north to south and 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) from east to west.
Approximately three million people live in the City of Buenos Aires (the Federal Capital of Argentina with 202 square kilometers equivalent to 78.3 sq miles). The City is divided into 48 districts or barrios. Together with its metropolitan area or Greater Buenos Aires (Gran Buenos Aires) this is one of the ten most populated urban centers in the world with over 10 million people. Most of the country's activity is highly concentrated in this single city and its surroundings.
Buenos Aires constantly receives tourists from all over the world and offers a large choice cultural events, nightlife, restaurants and pubs, so you can expect good services and a wide range of options.
If you want to learn about local issues, there are many newspapers in Buenos Aires, most of them with internet versions. Some of them:
Ezeiza International Airport (EZE)
Ricchieri Highway, Km. 22. Tel. 5480-6111 - International and some domestic flights use the Ezeiza International Airport (referred to as Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini), located in the suburban area named Gran Buenos Aires, about 30-45 minutes from downtown by highway. Planes fly to most countries in South America, the United States, and Europe.
Some flights from Aerolíneas Argentinas to Ushuaia leave from Ezeiza during peak season, so check which airport you fly into or leave from.
There is also a useful Aerolínas Argentinas flight direct to Sydney, with a stop in Auckland and a Malaysian Airways flight to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Direct flights to Europe are available with Lufthansa , Iberia  and Air France . There is a departure tax of $18 USD (about 54 pesos) for all international flights.
From the airport there are the usual taxis, private cars (remises), buses and minibuses.
Trips on the comfortable Manuel Tienda León coaches from EZE to Retiro cost 25 pesos (as of December 2005). The coaches leave at least once an hour - more frequently during daytime. From the Retiro Terminal, a smaller van will deliver you to any downtown address for an additional 2 pesos. Manuel Tienda León also offers transfers between EZE and Aeroparque. Tickets can be purchased from their booth just outside of customs.
Prepaid taxis from EZE to downtown cost about 75 pesos. Hailing a non-prepaid taxi is not recommended for tourists, but if doing so be aware that there is a 2 peso toll and a 0.80 peso toll if the driver goes by the autopista; the driver will inform you as you approach the toll booths.
Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP)
Located in the Ave. Rafael Obligado. 4576-5300 extension 107/122 (Information: 4576-1111). Most domestic flights use the smaller Jorge Newbery Airport ( referred to as Aeroparque), 10 minutes away from the downtown area. You can take a taxi (25 pesos) or bus from there.
There are some long distance domestic services, but the buses are usually quicker. There are several main stations in the BA area (see below).
Theoretically, you can get to Buenos Aires from any of the neighboring countries by car, but it is far away from most of the borders. It is only common to travel there from Uruguay and southern Brazil.
Almost all the long-distance buses use the huge and well-organised Retiro bus station on the northern edge of the city centre. The buses are mostly modern and the roads are good; there are frequent services to most parts of the country and international bus services to neighbouring countries.
You may catch taxis from Retiro bus station, and the subte (underground) also stops there. There are many local buses that stop outside the station as well.
Two companies operate this service.
The services are now coordinated by Buquebus. The ferrytour ship is the slower one, used for Colonia. You may still make a fast trip to Colonia, at a higher price.
From the official city site:
The City is an important destination for the maritime and fluvial cruisers industry of South America. The Benito Quinquela Martín Passenger Terminal, a few blocks away from downtown, at Ramón Castillo street between Avenida de los Inmigrantes and Mayor Luisioni street, has a surface of 7,100 square meters, a boarding room for 1,000 passengers and baggage facilities with capacity for 2,500 suitcases. In addition, it provides tourist information, handicrafts shops, snack bars; and Migration, Customs, Interpol and Prefectura (Coast Guard) Offices.
You may also take a boat from nearby Tigre to Nueva Palmira in Uruguay. Trains leave from Retiro Station to Tigre frequently. Boat services to Nueva Palmira also connect to Colonia del Sacramento by bus.
There is also a service from Montevideo-Carmelo-Tigre-Buenos Aires. It costs around 10 dollars one way for the whole shebang. Get the tickets and depart from Tres Cruces in Montevideo. The price includes bus to Carmelo, boat to Tigre and bus to the centre of Buenos Aires. The official website is http://www.cacciolaviajes.com and they often have very good special offers that include some nights in hotels in Buenos Aires.
The public transport in Buenos Aires is very good, if crowded during the rush hours. There is a fairly large metro network (one of the longest in Latin America), a large range of bus routes and many suburban railways used by commuters.
Finding your way around is easy. Most of the city grid is divided into equal squares with block number in the hundreds. Most streets are one way with the adjacent parallels going the other way, so beware that the bus or taxi won't follow the same route back. Going by taxi, you simply need to tell the driver the street and block number, eg. "Santa Fe 2100"; or two intersecting streets, eg. "Corrientes y Callao".
City maps are issued by many different publishers (Guía T, LUMI) and the local tourist authority. They are indispensable for those wanting to use public transportation, since they include all bus routes.
Taxis are not the quickest option for moving around in the most congested areas at rush hours, as traffic jams are common. Still, you will find that taxis are usually very inexpensive, convenient, and exciting (in a white-knuckled, the roller-coaster-seems-to-have-some-pieces-missing kind of way.)
It is safest to have your hotel or host call for a radio taxi. If you must hail a cab on the street, watch out for private operators disguised as commercial services. Also avoid paying in large bills as there have been cases of counterfeit change.
If a taxi driver says that your money is counterfeit and says that he will take you to an ATM, just tell him you want to get out there. I worked at a hostel in Buenos Aires and heard many stories of travelers (especially when they spoke little Spanish and were coming from the airport) being robbed under this premise. It also helps if you see a police officer nearby because if they are trying to rob you they will probably be scared off. If you are headed to a hostel or hotel, the receptionist will usually understand the situation if you honestly do have counterfeit money, and will lend you money to pay the cab.
Also, if the cab "breaks down", I would recommend just getting out and finding another cab.
I would also recommend keeping your luggage in the seat with you if possible in case a situation arises in which you want to get out of the taxi.
The principal means of public transportation within the city, are the buses (colectivos). They have a cheap maximum fixed price as long as you are moving inside the city borders (0.80 pesos, approx. 0.2 euros); be sure to have coins for the ticket (they don't accept bills).
There are more than one hundred lines, covering the whole city. They work 24 hours a day, the whole year; but run less frequently on holidays and at late hours. For each route the bus is painted differently to make them easier to distinguish. The best way to figure out the bus system is to buy a Guía "T". It's essentially a little book with a directory of streets, which correspond to map pages, and have a bus listing on the facing page for each map. Once you get your hands on one, it's very easy to figure out. These can be bought for about three pesos (the smaller one that only covers the Ciudad Autónoma is three pesos, not the larger Gran Bs As one) at many kiosks around the city.
Otherwise, visitors who are comfortable with speaking a little Spanish can call 131 toll-free from any phone for help finding which colectivo to take. You just have to tell the corner (or the street and the number) where you`re at and the one you want to get to.
On many services, board the bus and tell the driver your destination (or do what Argentines do -- just say "ochenta, por favor" meaning you'll be traveling a normal distance and want to pay 80 centavos); he will press a button instructing the coin machine to take a certain amount of money for you, which will then appear on the machine as the amount to insert. Step a bit further back into the bus and insert coins into the machine which now knows your destination and has calculated your fare because the driver punched it in. You will receive change and your ticket automatically, collect it at the bottom of the machine.
If you see a little metal knob on the coin machine, it's not for dispensing your ticket like the candy/toy machines in grocery stores in the U.S. ... it's the door to the inside of the machine to change the paper and whatnot. Don't turn it!
You can also use buses to move to and inside the suburban area (Gran Buenos Aires), but the fares are higher (up to 2 pesos, depending on the distance and service). The suburban-only lines (you can differentiate them because their line numbers are above 200) have lower standards of confort, and many of them don't run after 11 pm.
The city has a long metro network (subte', short form of subterráneo, which means underground). It is very efficient - you can gain a lot of time by using it - and very cheap too (0.70 pesos for any combination, approx. 0.175 euros).
The lines converge to the downtown area and connect the main bus and train terminals. The tree-shaped network extends almost to the outer limits of the city.
In the southeast branch (the E line), the service is extended by a nice trainway known as premetro, but beware, it goes to some of the least secure places in the city. Premetro is 0.60 pesos (approx. 0.15 euros), or 0.70 with a Subte Transfer.
The subte works approximately from 5 am to 10 pm, except on Sundays, when service starts at 8 am.
The A line is a destination on its own because of the old wooden carriages. It is the one of the oldest lines in Latin America. The subte article on Wikipedia has some information on this. Many subte stations have interesting murals, tiles, and artwork. Transferring between lines is indicated by combinación signs.
You may purchase magnetic stripe tickets encoded with more than one fare. This saves the time of individual cashier transactions; and you may also buy a rechargeable card at some stations. Tickets are not swiped upon exiting stations, therefore you may use one magnetic stripe ticket for more than one traveller, as long as it has the required number of fares.
There are a good deal of railways connecting the suburban area in a star shape. The quality of the service ranges from excellent to very bad, depending of the line; ask before using them at nighttime.
The main railway terminals are Retiro, Constitución, Once and Federico Lacroze. From all of these you can then use the metro and bus network to get right into the centre. The suburban fares are very cheap.
If one is truly adventurous (and has a bit of a death-wish), cars are available to rent in Buenos Aires. There are several major reasons that this is not a great idea. First, Buenos Aires is such an excellent city for walking that if something is within 20 or 30 blocks, it is often worth the extra effort to go on foot and get to know the city on a more intimate level. The terrain is flat...get out there and put those legs to work! Second, if you aren't (or can't be) much of a walker, the public transportation system in Buenos Aires is cheap and efficient. It can get you anywhere, and fast! Third, and perhaps most importantly, is that the citizens of Buenos Aires drive like lunatics. Stoplights, signs, traffic laws...for many porteño drivers, those are just *suggestions.* Picture trying to get several thousand head of cattle to move down the street and stay inside the lanes, and you have a decent idea of driving in Buenos Aires. Surprisingly, one witnesses very few traffic accidents there, because traffic flows more by custom and intuition...the porteños understand the customs of driving and somehow manage to know what everyone around them is doing. As a tourist, *you* probably won't. My advice? Take the bus! Otherwise, lots of luck to you.
If you are a fan of walking in open green spaces and parks in big cities like Buenos Aires, be sure not to miss a promenade in Palermo, a beautiful area in the eastern part of the city. Here you will not only find open spaces to walk in, but a large lake where you can rent paddle boats and an immense flower garden with free entry!
Another great place to walk along and experience Argentine street life in a safe area (during the day only, folks - interesting characters emerge here at night!) is El Puerto de Buenos Aires.
The National Immigration Museum is not open on the weekends like Moon Guidebooks says. Use the Retiro subte.
La Boca has the Caminito pedestrian street with arts and crafts. There is also a river cruise you can take from there. There is a huge metal structure across the river which is picturesque. Tango dancers are in the cobblestone streets. You may try to catch a rowboat to Avellaneda on the other side of the water for 0.50 pesos (0.125 euros), but the rower may not allow you to if you are a tourist, citing it´s dangerous (peligroso). There is no subte to La Boca, but many buses go there. In addition to tango, La Boca is famous for its football, and you may also take a tour of the La Bombonera Stadium. The buildings are painted in bright colors. You can also take pictures with you and a tango dancer for a small price!
The Cementerio de la Recoleta: This is where all those of "good families" in Buenos Aires go to be buried. Be sure to visit the grave of Eva Peron (who, despite having the most visited tomb in the cemetery, is considered by many of the Buenos Aires aristocracy to be too "low class" for eternal interrment in Recoleta.)
The Palermo Viejo district: This is a trendy neighborhood with charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars and boutiques; definitely better than the touristic San Telmo area for a nightime excursion. The Plaza Italia station is the closest metro stop.
More information is available at the Buenos Aires official tourism website, including suggested itineraries.
Employment is available for Spanish-speaking visitors who plan longer stays in Buenos Aires.
Nowadays call-centers are very common places for foreigners to work at. There are companies that provide Customer Care and Technical Support services to many big American and European companies like Microsoft, Verizon, Vodafone, Motorola and others. If you speak just a bit of Spanish you can get this kind of jobs and get a good deal.
Another option is to teach your mother tongue (English, German, French, or whatever you speak) in private institutes.
If you are interested in buying goods, you have a lot of shops in the downtown area, and many shopping centers, but beware, you can get much cheaper goods if you walk around the city.
If you want a souvenir, the most popular are:
The Florida Street and the Lavalle Street (from 500 up to 1000) are for pedestrians only, where the main tourist's shops are located. At the intersection of these two pedestrian streets, there is often some sort of interesting street performance going on, especially at night. The Palermo Viejo district is the SoHo of Buenos Aires and has many shops that will appeal to young or artsy people. Nearby is Murillo Street, a block full of leather houses.
There are many artisans' fairs, most notably the weekend Recoleta fair located in the Francia park, near Recoleta cemetery (which is an excellent place for photography) and on Sundays the San Telmo market. In every fair you will find some excellent hand made products, but beware, also there are industrialized products disguised as "hand made".
In the Corrientes Ave. from the Obelisco (big obelisk landed in the intersection with 9 de Julio avenue) up to Callao Ave., you will find a lot of cheap bookstores where you can find many books mostly in Spanish. "El Ateneo," a massive bookstore with a reasonable offering of books in English, is at Santa Fe 1860.
The Último Taller at Jorge L. Borges 1975 (between Soler and Nicaragua streets) sells funky candles and street address plates and markers; there are charming cats, and photos can be etched onto these plates as well. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm; and its telephone number is 4831-4135. There are other stores that sell nice candles in this area as well.
Exchange money: The peso exchange rate is currently 3 pesos to the dollar or almost 4 pesos to the euro. You can exchange at Banco de la Nación Argentina at the airport, but there are many safe places downtown where one can find better rates of exchange. Before you change your money check out rates and fees!
ATM: There are several Banelco or "Red Link" ATMs all over the city that can dispense cash in pesos. This is probably the best way to get pesos in your hand, as they are more convenient and the exchange rates are usually better. Fees depend on your hometown bank and so there are few hidden surprises because the ATM can switch to English. Sometimes the machines also dispense dollars for international bank cards that are members of the Cirrus and Visa Plus/Visa Electron networks. Visitors from Brazil can find many Itaú agencies all over the city. Remember: banks open from 10 to 3 pm., only on weekdays.
Saturdays and Sundays are great days for the outdoor markets, especially in the summer. The Feria Recoleta (in Plaza Francia) is an assortment of all sorts of artesania, from jewelry to shawls; and Plaza Serrano in Palermo viejo comes alive in the afternoon with a feria of artesania in the plaza and freelance designer clothes in the bars surrounding the plaza. Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo offers tango and antiquities.
If you're not vegetarian you want to eat asado (beef/steak barbecue); if you want to try the meat specialities on offer, you should go to a parrilla, one of those are restaurants that specialize in roasted meats. You have fancy expensive parrillas, and more simple ones. Everybody eats a lot of meat here, it is really very tasty. The bife de lomo (tenderloin) is unbelievably tender in comparison to US beef and more like European cuts.
The Italian and Spanish food are almost native here, as the cultural heritage is mostly from there. Other popular meals are pizzas and empanadas (traditional meal, small self-contained pasties, stuffed with various ingredients; the traditional one is the meat empanada), you will find it comes in many varieties. They are quite a popular home delivery or takeawy/takeout option.
The Café Tortoni on Ave. de Mayo is famous in its own right; it is an old, classic and luxurious cafe. There is also a pool hall; buy a token (ficha) from a waiter for 2 pesos (0.5 euros). Coffee is 4 pesos (1 euro).
La Biela is another very nice cafe, located near the Recoleta cemetery.
One incredible and typical Argentinian kind of "cookie", is the alfajor, which basically consists of two round sweet biscuits joined together with a sweet jam, generally dulce de leche (milk jam), covered with chocolate, merengue or something like that. It's just delicious and can be easily found in any kiosko(their convenience store). Those sold at Havanna coffe shops, found all over Argentina (check their site to get the exact addresses), are just fantastic. Don't forget to try their coffe and the other kinds of candies they sell.
There are a lot of al paso (walk thru) places to eat; you eat standing up or in high chairs at the bar. Meals vary from hot-dogs (panchos), cow sausages (chorizos, or its sandwich version choripán), pizzas, milanesas (breaded fried cutlets), etc.
You can go to a huge variety of small restaurants, with cheap and generous servings, most notably the ones owned by Spanish and Italian immigrants. There are also many places which offer foreign meals, mostly Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian.
The most expensive and luxurious restaurants are found in the Puerto Madero zone, near downtown, heading to the River Plate. Sometimes they are worth the price, sometimes not. Fixed price menus (three courses) can be had with drink and coffee for 25 pesos (approx. 6.25 euros); these restaurants have outside seating areas with excellent views of the dársenas, the Fragata Sarmiento and the old European-style warehouses. But the nicer places in terms of decoration, food and personality are mostly based on Palermo Viejo, Palermo SOHO or Palermo Hollywood neighbourhoods.
The main areas to go out are: Puerto Madero, close to the Casa Rosada, renovated harbour full of restaurants, some hotels and nice for a walk. Safe during the day and night. Recoleta area close to the famous cemetery, restaurants, bars, cinema complex, used to be trendy, now mainly for tourists. Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, full of trendy stores, restaurants, and bars; young and trendy, nice for a walk, eating and drinking. Palermo Las Cañitas is another nice area close to the Polo stadium.
Buenos Aires has a popular cafe culture.
You may want to try lágrima, a "tear" of coffee on a cup of milk.
Try mate: You can buy a mate in any Coto or Norte (these are the names for two of the many supermarket chains available, like K-Mart or Wal-Mart; anyway, this last one you can find in Buenos Aires as well) for 3-5 pesos (0.75 to 1.25 euros) and then a metal or bamboo "straw" (called a "bombilla") for around the same. Don't forget the yerba, the actual "tea" you drink; an excellent brand is Nobleza Gaucha, "Taragui", or "Rosamonte". Anyway, ask a local to help you in preparing and drinking the mate, since it's not as easy as it seems. Many visitors take mates as a gift when they go away and they become big fans (locals tend to drink it bitter (amargo), but foreigners generally like it sweet (dulce)). Outside the country, you can find yerba in Argentine stores in big cities like New York, Madrid, London, Paris, Miami, Tel-Aviv, and others.
Clubbing: Buenos Aires has a great variety of night clubs and discos, that are opened until late hours. For more info on open clubs, check the city government official webpage.
Try the Niceto Club, Cocoliche, Bahrein, Mint, Lost, and El Living. Other popular hangouts are the omnipresent Irish pubs. You can try Kilkenny´s in Reconquista 600 in the Retiro area or The Shamrock in Rodriguez Peña 1200, in the Recoleta area. These places are very popular with local and foreign crowds. El Milion, in Parana, between Santa Fe and Marcelo T. de Alvear is a very nice upscale bar. It is located in a refurbished petite palais from the beginning of the century. It is also very popular with foreigners.
Sonoman Bar y Resto Fitz Roy 1655 @ Honduras - Pretty hip and trendy bar with loads of Argentines dancing and drinking the night away till around 5am on weekends (maybe later who knows). There's a restaurant as well as an outside area, but you can smoke inside and outside, so prepare! Bartenders are nice and check out the disco ball, it's not like any other I've seen before. Music is a mixture of beloved 80s and dance. The drinks ain't cheap either! The Palermo Barrios (SoHo, Hollywood, Las Canita or simply "PalVo") have many fantastic restaurants that turn into bars as it gets later. New bars are always opening, so look for an updated map or guidebook when you arrive. "Bar Uriarte" is always a favorite, though.
Buenos Aires has one of the largest homosexual communities in Latin America and there is a liberal attitude towards gay society. Within Capital Federal gay couples can form a legal civil partnership. Following the economic recovery, in recent years there has been an increase in gay-friendly businesses such as real estate, apartment rental, travel agents, language classes, tango classes, bars, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses. Year 2006 has seen arrivals of more gay cruise ships, the commencement of construction of a gay 5-star hotel and a general increase in gay tourism.
In addition to the choice of hotels at bargain prices compared to the US or Europe, there are many apartments available for rent for as little as one week at unbelievably low prices as of April 2005. Check out the Buenos Aires Herald website for listings, or just do a search on the internet (many of them have a website).
The InterContinental is on Piedras and Moreno streets, close to the San Telmo and Montserrat areas. Other international-class hotels are the Alvear Palace Hotel (said to be the most luxurious hotel in South America) in Recoleta, the Hilton, the Marriott-Plaza, the Sheraton in Retiro, and the Park Hyatt in Puerto Madero.
Also, individuals rent their upscale apartments by the day, week, or month. Many times these apartments are 3 times the size of a hotel at 1/2 the price. for example, www.buenosairesrealestate.blogspot.com
The local phone code is 11. Long distance prefix: 0, international prefix: 54.
Internet cafes are widely available for 1-3 pesos per hour; and many are open 24/7. Ask for a "máquina", or simply "Internet"; the verb for print is "imprimir".
Toll free call. 107
Taxis: If you have to flag one down on the street, pay atention; there have been robberies taking place by illegal cab drivers. When in doubt, play it safer, and call a Radio Taxi; these are generally a lot safer: you call by phone and a cab is quickly dispatched. Also you can ask when you order a cab for the car number so you know the cab that comes to pick you up is legitimate and actually the one that was dispatched.
Spanish in Buenos Aires--people pronounce things differently there. "Calle" and "pollo" sound very different and the double l´s sound like sh´s instead of y´s or j's. The difference in pronunciation probably reflects the influence of Portuguese traders in the port in the 19th century...many of the words that porteños pronounce differently from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world are pronounced identically to a Portuguese word for the same thing. Much has been written on Spanish language in Buenos Aires. It was influenced by the many Italians who immigrated here as well. If you have studied Spanish you'll find these differences enormous. Also vocabulary differs a lot from Iberian Spanish or other Latin American varieties of Spanish, so may be useful to get an Argentinian dictionary or take some lessons of Argentinian Spanish before getting there. Anyway, most of "Porteños" (inhabitants of Buenos Aires City) speak a little English and some of them are completely bilingual.
Haircuts are available at nice places for 8 pesos, or 10 pesos with a shampoo. A luxurious super-stylish one will be about 30 pesos.
There are national railways, but they are scarce. The terminal stations are the same from suburban transportation. From Retiro station you can take the train to the Tigre Delta. There you can do a boat cruise and see the wetland and recreational area of the portenos.
There are four main highways entering the city, those permit fast communication with the huge suburban area and access to the national routes. As with the trains, the most important routes are centered in Buenos Aires, so you will have no problem driving to and from the rest of the country.
Heading to Rosario city, you can travel by highway all the way (north access highway, then route 9), from here you can keep going to the north by a good route (Panamericana), or turn right about 150km from Buenos Aires and go to the Mesopotamia region.
To the west, you can drive to the Cuyo region using the north access highway, then the route 8.
Going out with the west access highway, you can follow by routes 7 and 5, heading to the west and southwest, respectively. For visiting western Patagonia, the route 5 is a good choice.
There are very good services parting from Retiro bus station, covering the whole country. By buying the most expensive tickets, you can get very comfortable seats and on-board meals.
Terminal de Omnibus de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
There are numerous operators. The basement level is for cargo and package services. The ground level holds waiting areas, cafes, shops and services including a barber. The upper level contains the ticket offices, or boleterias. The upper level is conveniently divided by color into geographic areas for companies which serve the place you want to go, including an international area. Look for the signs.
Cama Suites or Dormi Camas lie completely flat and some have dividing curtains. With these services, the seating arrangement is one seat one side and two seats on the other side. Other Cama services are laid out two and two, and do not recline as far. Companies usually have photographs of bus interiors. Make sure the journey you choose has the service you want. Most buses are double decker.
See also: Buenos Aires (disambiguation)