Whether you’re planning your first trip or you’re thinking of going back, these Buenos Aires travel tips will sure come in handy!
The coffee culture is vibrant in Buenos Aires. There is a handful of cafes that have been declared part of the city’s historic and cultural heritage. Make sure visit at least one to soak up their old-world atmosphere. Cafe Tortoni is the most famous and touristy. If there’s a queue outside the door, head to Los 36 Billares (Avenida de Mayo 1265) or any of these. Expect a bite of something sweet with your coffee.
Unfortunately, not all bars and restaurants take credit cards. Ask the waiter before ordering (or make sure you have enough cash).
Walk, walk, walk! Buenos Aires is a pedestrian-friendly city (even if some motorists are most definitely not.) Its grid pattern makes it easy to find one’s way around the place.
Tips. You’re not expected to tip taxi drivers. If you’re feeling generous, you may round the fare up. The standard tip is about 10% of the bill in restaurants and bars. Leave more if service was great. Some places add it to the bill when there’s a party of eight or more people.
Haggling is not a common practice in this part of the world. Don’t even try.
Taxes are already included in the final amount.
Taxis are relatively cheap. You can flag one down on the street (just stand on the corner and put your arm out), call a taxi company, or use apps like Easy Taxi. You can also order a remis, a sort of hired car. There is a remisería in every neighbourhood. You can use Uber, but bear in mind that it’s not quite legal yet. They may refuse service in central Buenos Aires because there have been instances of attacks by enraged taxi drivers. I still use Uber, though. Cabify is another option (this one is legal). Download the app and go!
Just like in any other big city, pickpockets target tourists. Take a few sensible precautions: don’t carry valuables in your back pockets, don’t hang your handbag from the back of the chair in a restaurant, don’t walk and text, carry your backpack or handbag in the front rather than your back when travelling on public transport.
Buses are cheap and will take you absolutely everywhere. Try to get hold of a Guia T, which lists every bus line, bus stop and bus route in the city (Caveat: it’s available in Spanish only). The bus stops on some avenues, like 9 de Julio or Juan B. Justo, are in the middle of the road. You’ll find them very easily, as they are clearly marked and they all have maps with each line’s itinerary and stops. The system is called Metrobús.
You’ll need a SUBE smartcard for buses, trains, and the underground (Subte). You can buy one at casas de lotería (and buy a lottery ticket as well, why not?), underground (Subte) stations, and kioscos (newsagents). You can top up with pay-as-you-go credit. There’s no need to register your SUBE card, as you probably won’t be eligible for a government discount.
Argentina is known for its beef. Parrillas, local steakhouses, range from little holes in the wall to establishments. Most are somewhere in between. If you can’t wait to get stuck in, you may want to learn how to order beef: vuelta y vuelta (rare), jugoso (medium rare), a punto (medium), bien cocido (well done). Some of the most popular cuts are bife de chorizo, vacio, lomo, asado, entraña. Beef lovers, rejoice! You don’t eat meat? Here’s what you can eat instead!
Our Italian ancestors heavily influenced our culinary tradition. Thus, pizza and pasta have become staples. The basic Porteño pizza is thinner than deep dish, laden with cheese, and topped with olives. Other favourite kinds are fugazza (cooked onions, oregano, and black olives), fugazzetta (onion and cheese pie), fugazzetta rellena (a real gut bomb! the pizza dough is stuffed with ham and cheese and topped with more cheese, cooked onion, and black olives). El Cuartito and Los Inmortales are among the most traditional pizzerias.
Order a picada, Argentinean-style tapas, and wash it down with craft beer. There are many microbreweries around the city. The oldest and most established ones are Cervelar and Antares.
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