Information & Facts
Buenos Aires has a temperate climate with average temperatures ranging from 94°F (35°C) in January to 50°F (10°C) in July. The heaviest rain falls during autumn and spring, though rain can be expected at any time of the year. Many locals leave Buenos Aires during the hot summer months (December, January and February) and head for the coastal resorts.
Beef is king in the Buenos Aires food world; Argentina is famous for the best, juiciest, tastiest and most tender steaks served in its parrillas(steak houses). These are followed closely by various Spanish and Italian pleasures, as well as sushi, fusion, and vegetarian cuisine.
There are numerous al paso(walk through) places in the city, selling hot-dogs ( panchos), beef sausages ( chorizos), and milanesas(breaded, fried cutlets). You can buy a mate, the most traditional social non-alcoholic beverage, in any Coto or Carrefour supermarket. Be sure to try a gourmet helado(ice cream) and empanadas(small pastries stuffed with combinations of cheese and meats), or the alfajor, an Argentinean cookie.
Various small restaurants offer foreign meals, mostly Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Spanish and Italian. Expensive and luxurious restaurants can be enjoyed at Puerto Madero and Palermo. The main areas to go out are Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, home to trendy stores, restaurants and bars. Most locals head out to dinner around 9pm.
The street structure, organised in a grid pattern, makes it easy getting around in Buenos Aires, and the best way to explore the city and take in its character is on foot. However, the city is serviced by an efficient, widespread and cheap public transport system that consists of buses and an excellent underground rail service (the Subte). Although it services most of the city centre, the Subteis not very extensive beyond the central core. The Subte costs ARS$1.10 per journey. Pre-paid Subte cards or passes can be purchased from the ticket booths ( boleterias) at each station in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 or 30 journeys. It gets very hot and crowded in summer especially during peak hours, and closes between 10pm and 5am.
The bus ( colectivo) network is huge and covers the city, and although very useful for getting around, the overwhelming amount of routes makes it confusing for tourists. Bus fares are paid in coins into an automatic ticket vending machine when boarding the bus and cost a minimum of $0.80. Many services run all night but with less frequency. There are also urban train services that can be useful for reaching the outlying suburbs.
Taxis are everywhere and relatively inexpensive, but although generally safe, visitors should be aware that there are fake taxis that pick up tourists and rob them. It is safer to phone for a radio taxi or remise, a fixed-price radio cab booked in advance that acts like a chauffer-driven car and can be cheaper than taxis over longer distances. They are more useful than renting a car for excursions from the city and even for a day's tour of the suburbs.
For many children travelling in Buenos Aires, the chaos and hum and drum of the city can be quite intimidating, but look just a little further and you'll find an attraction tucked away in almost every corner and in just about every barrio(neighbourhood). Buenos Aires is a great city to explore by foot, but for the more active, it is also extremely bicycle-friendly. Rent a bike and pedal your way round the leafy suburbs and side streets stopping off for the occasional attraction. Take the kids to the Nueve de Julio Avenue, claimed to be the widest avenue in the world, and admire the 220-foot-tall (67metre) obelisk in the centre, marking the heart of Buenos Aires. Or for a slightly more cultural experience, take a stroll in Recoleta with the children past the Floralis Genérica, a working metal sculpture of a flower that opens and closes with the sun - the kids will be in awe! For those days when the sun isn't shining, head to one of the many indoor playgrounds or museums dotted around the city, such as the Museo de Los Ninos, or even the Galileo Galilei Planetarium where children will have a great time stargazing and learning about the solar system.
Spanish is the official language of Argentina but English is understood in the tourist areas.
The Argentinean Peso (ARS) is divided into 100 centavos. The recent devaluation of the Peso has made Argentina more affordable for travellers but there is still much economic uncertainty and travellers are advised to keep an eye on the exchange rate. Currency can be exchanged at banks and cambios(bureaux de change) but it is easier to use ATMs, available in most urban towns, which reflect the current exchange rate. Credit and debit cards are generally accepted, and US Dollars and Euros are normally taken everywhere, but some international cards place limits on transactions. Cirrus cards sometimes aren't accepted. There can be problems using travellers cheques in rural areas, although most banks in major cities should accept them. It's best to take travellers cheques in US Dollars to avoid additional exchange rate charges.
Famed for its huge selection of trendy clubs, fashionable music bars and attractive restaurants, it's no wonder the city of Buenos Aires never sleeps. From the dimly lit tango bars and mainstream hard house dance clubs to the Teatro Colón and smaller independent theatres, there is something for just about everyone in this buzzing city.
In typical Latin fashion, dinner is very late and usually taken between 10 and 11pm so clubs only really get going at around 2am. Recoleta, Palermo, Puerto Madero and Costanera are the trendiest neighbourhoods for dance clubs and all the hippest locals can be found sipping on long drinks in the surrounding bars. It is not uncommon to find residents walking home at sunrise after a big night out on the town.
Culture vultures will simply adore the arts and culture scene here and plenty of Broadway-style hits can be found in both English and Spanish shows at most of the 30-odd professional and underground theatres in the San Telmo and Abasto neighbourhoods.
Other than the usual run-of the-mill watering holes, there are also many bars in Buenos Aires offering shows such as flamenco dances, readings, tango and folkloric dance shows, and live acoustic music, providing a twist and bit of entertainment to accompany your usual evening drinks. The gay scene is Buenos Aires is thriving and rivals only that of Rio de Janeiro's in South America, with San Telmo being the main strip catering to this market with small gay bars and restaurants.
Buenos Aires offers a wealth of authentic local treasures, from fine leather goods found in Murillo Street to alfajores(traditional cake/cookies, often containing dulce de leche). Shops are generally open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
Florida Street and Lavalle Street are for pedestrians only, in the zona de calzadosthere are many shops that sell tango shoes and the Palermo Viejo, in Palermo, has various shops that will appeal to young, artsy people. There are also numerous fairs and markets to be explored, including Recoleta Fair (located in the Francia Park) and the San Telmo market.
Feria Recoleta, in Plaza Francia, boasts an assortment of artisan goods. Take in the Plaza Serrano in Palermo Viejo and the Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. Defensa Street is enticing as it comes alive with performers and vendors. Funky candles, street address plates and markers are available from Último Taller.
Shopping malls are a regular attraction and convenient shopping locations for many Porteños(people from the port). The most famous stores in Buenos Aires can be found in these vast malls, along with restaurants, cafés, arcades and movie theaters. Shopping malls are open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm.
Popular Buenos Aires souvenirs include tango music, mate cups, leathergoods and Argentine wine.
Buenos Aires (meaning fair winds in Spanish) has several enthralling attractions. Most siteseeing is best done by day, for aesthetic and precautionary purposes, and walking is the best (but by no means only) mode of transport in this intriguing city.
Visit the Cementerio de la Recoleta, home to the tomb of Eva Perón, the actress married to Argentina's President Juan Perón and subject of the musical Evita, or wander under the magnificent facades of the downtown area, favourable for its marvellous old European buildings. More enthusiastic sightseers can take a paddleboat from the promenade in Palermo and stroll through a prolific flower garden.
An absolute must for culture vultures is a trip to the Palermo Viejo district, with its charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars and boutiques, or an afternoon exploring the Caminito pedestrian street's arts and crafts in La Boca. Enjoy watching tango dancers in the cobblestone streets and take a tour of the La Bombonera Stadium, experience El Puerto de Buenos Aires during the day, or for a taste of history, visit the National Immigration Museum.
Visitors wanting to catch a show can do so at the Recoleta Cultural Center. Built in 1732, it was originally a convent connected to the Basílica del Pilar. Today it is a cultural center hosting concerts, live performances and screenings. The historical building also accommodates sculptures, paintings and photographs in different exhibitions, providing a fantastic sightseeing experience for any visitor to this exciting city.
Local time in Argentina is GMT -3.