Buenos Aires Insider's Guide
We cannot wait for you to dive into life and work in your new home city. So that you can become a pro on navigating the ins and outs of la vida porteña, you can find below information on important aspects of getting settled in and making the most of Buenos Aires.
MONEY AND IDENTIFICATION
The national currency is the Argentine peso (ARS). You can check the current exchange rate here. You can withdraw pesos from bank ATMs, which are marked with a maroon colored sign that says “Banelco” or with a green sign that says “Link.” It’s recommended to use ATMs during banking hours (10am to 3pm) so that, if there should be an issue with the machine, you can go inside the bank for assistance. Puentes Pista: Between 3 and 4pm bank ATM’s are offline, and you will not be able to withdraw money.
Most major businesses allow credit cards, with Visa and MasterCard being the most widely accepted. However, Argentina is a cash culture, so you should also always have pesos in cash on hand. It's also recommended to have smaller bills with you, as small businesses and taxis typically do not take AR$500 or ARS$1000 bills. You can usually get change in supermarkets, restaurants, or larger stores.
You do not need to have your passport with you when in Buenos Aires, so you should leave it in a safe place in your home. You can keep your driver’s license, your student ID card (for possible museum and activity discounts), and a photocopy of your passport with you to use in case you need identification. It is also a good idea to memorize your passport number because you will need to know it when signing credit card receipts or completing other documents. Do note that you should remember to take your passport with you when traveling outside of BA on buses or planes.
If you requested a local SIM card in your Pre-Departure Form, Puentes will provide you with one in your Welcome Pack once you arrive in Buenos Aires. Similar to AT&T’s pay-as-you-go cell phone plan in the US, you can buy cell phone credit to be used as needed for your local calls, texting, and data. Such cell phone credit can be purchased in kiosks, supermarkets, pharmacies, and other commercial locations throughout Buenos Aires. Some places will offer you an actual physical card with cell credit, and some others will offer recarga virtual (meaning they charge credit through the internet, and for that, you simply need to tell them your local cell phone number). Buenos Aires phones have the prefix 11.
We don’t recommend making international calls from the phone with your Argentine SIM card because it is very expensive. An excellent way to keep in touch with family and friends while abroad is Skype. It’s easy to set up and free to use. Simply download the program and register a username online. You can use Skype to make video calls for free, and you can make calls to landlines for a fraction of a penny. Another option is FaceTime on iPhones or Macs, and you can also try Google Hangouts. For free international texting over wifi, WhatsApp is an excellent mobile app, which also has free voice and video call functions. WhatsApp is also very frequently used locally in Buenos Aires as an alternative to texting and phoning. To call BA cell phones from abroad, dial the country exit code +54 9 11 then the eight digit BA phone number, and to dial BA landlines from abroad, dial the country exit code +54 11 then the eight digit BA phone number.
The three main postal carriers in Argentina are Correo Argentino, Andreani, and OCA. You can buy postage and send items wherever you see a sign for Correo Argentino (in blue and yellow), Andreani (in red and blue), or OCA (in purple and orange), often located within kiosks or other businesses. Postal mail sent from Argentina typically takes about ten days to two weeks to arrive to international destinations. FedEx, UPS, and DHL also have locations throughout the city. Sending valuables through the mail is strongly discouraged. Also keep in mind that packages shipped internationally to Argentina are often held at customs upon arrival and taxed heavily, so we recommend that you do not receive international shipments in order to avoid burdensome costs and logistics. If you would like to receive postal mail letters while in Argentina, you can have them sent to the Puentes office, and we will deliver them to you. Puentes office address:
Care of: Ann Glotzbach Noguer, Puentes Abroad
Rodriguez Peña 1686 17B
Buenos Aires, CABA1021
BARRIOS (NEIGHBORHOODS) AND MUST SEE SIGHTS
Buenos Aires Capital Federal is spread out over various barrios: Microcentro, San Telmo, La Boca, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo, Belgrano, Las Cañitas, and others. Click on each teal icon in the map below for more information on each neighborhood and its must-see sights or open the full view map here.
Local Transport within Buenos Aires
Multiple means of public transport allow you to travel around the city: five lines of subtes (the abbreviation for subterráneo, or subway), more than one hundred lines of colectivos (buses), and interurban railways (or trains). The subway and buses are excellent options for daytime travel but are not as frequent or as safe at night. The subway stops at 11:30pm, and you may find yourself waiting much longer for your bus at night. Luckily at night there are other options, such as taxis and Ubers.
The SUBE card (Unified Electronic Ticket System), which we will give you upon arrival in your Welcome Pack, enables you to travel through the entire city by public transportation. Most subte (subway) stations will be able to charge your SUBE card, but many kioskos, and other shops can do so as well. Locations that charge SUBE cards here.
Taxis are also a very common means of transport within the city. Taxis use meters to determine the price and typically offer fixed prices for long distance travel. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but it’s common to round up to the nearest peso. Although you can hail a taxi from the street, it is recommended to take a “radio taxi,” which you phone in advance to ensure that the driver will take the most direct route and charge a fair price. You can also recognize radio taxis by the posted company logos on the passenger side doors. Several recommended radio taxi companies are Paris Taxi (11 4308 0001), Buen Viaje (11 5252 9999), and Premier (11 5238 0000).
Finally, you can use Uber or Cabify to request and pay for car transport in and around the city. Puentes Pista: It’s common for Uber drivers to request that you sit in the front seat because many taxi drivers are still against Uber in Buenos Aires.
EcoBici is the city's free system of bikes that can be used 24/7. You can register online and review how to use it. Download the app “Eco Bici” in order to use the bikes in each station, and use the “BA Como Llego” app to learn how to get from point A to point B using the different bike lanes around the city.
Traveling from Buenos Aires throughout Argentina
Argentina is a wonderfully diverse and engaging country, with many different options for travel – the Pampas in the center of the country, the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in the southern half down to Tierra del Fuego, the subtropical flats of the Gran Chaco in the north, and the rugged Andes mountain range along the western border with Chile. You can find overviews of key Argentine destinations, with recommendations for travel plans, in our Puentes Guides.
Due to the country’s large size, planes are an excellent option for long distance travel. Aerolíneas Argentinas and LATAM operate domestic flights, which typically depart from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport (airport code AEP), located to the north of the city beside the Río de la Plata. International flights typically depart from Ezeiza Airport (airport code EZE). Puentes Pista: While there are usually more international flights leaving EZE, if you are lucky enough to find one from AEP, it is a far more convenient option because it is within the city.
Traveling by bus in Argentina is also reliable, very comfortable, and safe. Most long distance buses have toilets and air conditioning and provide meal services. You can search for bus schedules and fares at Plataforma 10 or Central de Pasajes. You can also purchase bus tickets in person at the main bus terminal - the Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro - or at bus company offices throughout the city. Some of the major bus companies include Via Bariloche, Chevallier, Plusmar, and Flecha Bus.
If you do travel outside of Buenos Aires, please complete the Puentes Travel Form so that we can reach you for any emergencies. Also, don’t forget to take your passport with you when you travel outside of BA.
Gyms and fitness centers are very common in BA. Prices and amenities vary, so it’s a good idea to explore several options before purchasing a membership. Three very good fitness centers with locations throughout BA are WellClub, Sportclub, and Megatlon. You will likely be required to bring a medical certificate, so it is a good idea to bring one from home.
There are many lavanderias (laundry centers) where you can drop off your clothes to be washed and dried, normally in twenty-four hours or less. LaveRap is a major chain of reliable lavanderias throughout the city. You will be charged either by the size or by the weight of the load being washed. Do keep in mind that lavanderias are not known for their attentive care in handling clothes, so if you have delicate items, you might prefer to wash them by hand at home. Most lavanderias also do dry cleaning (tintorería) too.
The city has several shopping circuits, each offering different items: antiques in San Telmo, books on Corrientes Avenue, leather items in Retiro neighborhood, and souvenirs in La Boca. The avant-garde in objects, clothes, and decorative elements is in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. Be sure not to miss the ferias (markets) in San Telmo on Sundays and in Recoleta on Saturdays and Sundays. Buenos Aires also offers extended shopping hours, with the main malls staying open until 10pm. Some top malls are Galería Pacifico off Florida Avenue, Paseo Alcorta in Palermo, Alto Palermo in Palermo, and Patio Bullrich in Recoleta.
Buenos Aires has quite a bit of green within the city. The Costanera Norte is located along Avenida Rafael Obligado and has recreational complexes that offer tennis, swimming, golf, basketball, soccer, windsurfing, sailing, and others sports. There is also the Bosque de Palermo, which extends east from Palermo to Belgrano and has tons of jogging and biking trails. Within the park, there are a planetarium, several lakes, the Rosedal (rose garden), the Jardín Japonés, and the horse racetrack. There is also a span of green space east of Palermo heading toward Recoleta, near the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and don’t miss the amazing Reserva Ecologica in Puerto Madero.
Argentina is known for its steak and its Malbec (a type of red wine), but it also hosts a variety of international cuisine, thanks to its immigrant population. Breakfast typically consists of coffee and medialunas (croissants), toasts or cereal and is much lighter than most US-style breakfasts. Lunch is around 1pm and includes a sandwich, a tarta (similar to quiche), or a salad. Argentines then enjoy a “merienda” (snack or tea) of coffee or mate and pastries in the late afternoon. Dinner is around 9pm, with restaurants becoming crowded near 10pm.
Disco, Coto, Día and Carrefour are excellent chains of supermarkets. You will also find many very good local supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as fruit and vegetable stands (verdulerias) in your neighborhoods. Puentes Pista: The smaller, local supermarkets are not likely to accept credit or debit cards.
At meals, Argentines take their time and linger for quite a while, and the restaurant staff never rush the customer. A restaurant tip is typically around 10%, depending on service. Puentes Pista: Tips typically cannot be added to credit card bills, so carry cash for this purpose. The city has an endless list of amazing restaurants, so please don’t hesitate to ask Puentes staff for recommendations. You can also visit Guía Oleo – the Argentina version of Zagat – to look up restaurants. Another good site in English that reviews BA restaurants is Pick up the Fork. Also to mention is that restaurant delivery is very common in Buenos Aires and can be coordinated online with PedidosYa or Rappi.
Argentines are an active bunch, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to both watch and participate in a wide variety of sports.
Argentina has twenty first division clubs, eight of which are located in Buenos Aires. The local soccer championship is ranked among the five most important events of its kind in the world. You can check schedules and details here, or purchase tickets to watch soccer games here.
Play soccer games with BAFA (Buenos Aires Futbol Amigos). You can sign up directly from their website.
Visit the Museo de la Pasión Boquense, which is the museum for the very popular Boca Juniors Soccer Team (located at Brandsen 805, La Boca, 2 blocks away from El Caminito).
Visit the River Plate Museum and Stadium Tour of the famed River Plate Soccer Team (located at Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 7597, Nuñez).
Club Ciudad is a well-know rugby club (Av. del Libertador 5683, Núñez), which training two or three times a week.
The Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo (Av. del Libertador 4101, Palermo) is Argentina’s main racetrack. Beautiful architecture and free entrance. Check the schedule of races.
Tennis and Paddle
Complejo El Circulo (Av. Sarmiento 4040, Palermo) has tennis and paddle courts. You can rent racquets here as well.
Campo de Golf de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Avenida Tornquist 6397, Palermo) is a good golfing venue in the city.
ARTS AND MUSIC
There are over 130 museums in Buenos Aires, both private and public. Some highlights follow:
- Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Latin American art)
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (national fine arts museum)
- Museo Evita (museum on the life of Evita Perón)
- Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (decorative arts museum)
- La Ene (contemporary art museum)
- Museo Benito Quinquela Martín (fine arts museum)
- Fundacion Proa
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires
- Museo de Arte Moderno
- Usina del Arte
Puentes Pista: It is always good to check the museum’s website for opening hours before visiting.
- Teatro Colon (historic and stunning opera house)
- Centro Cultural Borges (cultural center)
- Centro Cultural Recoleta (cultural center)
- Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires (theater performances)
- Centro Argentino de Teatro Ciego (theater based on sound and taste)
- Centro Cultural Kirchner (cultural center)
Tango and Music
Buenos Aires has a vibrant and eclectic music scene. Don’t miss seeing (and doing!) the tango, as well as checking out other music venues throughout the city.
HOW TO MEET PORTEÑOS
Porteños are very sociable and love to go out and hang out for hours. Whether it’s for a coffee in the afternoon or drinks at night, locals find any possible excuse to celebrate and spend time with friends - or maybe with new people just like you! Here are some ideas and tips on how to meet locals:
- Open up! Wherever you go, don’t stick with a large group of American friends. If you go to a bar or to a boliche (night club), porteños will feel inhibited to join a large group. Some porteños feel shy about speaking in English, especially around large groups of foreigners, so maybe split into smaller groups, and invite them to come over and practice both Spanish and English.
- Take the initiative. Most Argentines will not go out of their way to meet foreigners. You will likely have to approach them and start a conversation. Ask them about fútbol, mate, history, family, and traditions.
- Vos podés! (You can do it!) Reduce your English as much as you can; locals will appreciate your effort to speak Spanish! It’s the best way to practice the language, and it’s a good excuse to talk to new people.
A great and easy option to meet locals is going to Mundo Lingo. These are gatherings of people from every language background that happen every week. The idea is to practice any language you want, not just English and Spanish! Most porteños are looking forward to practicing English. It is a free activity, so you can enjoy a good drink, while meeting new people in a laid back and informal environment.
A great bar where you can play some fun board games is called Jobs, in Palermo, where you can play board games, ping-pong, mini football, darts, and practice archery. There is always a good excuse to play with people from other tables, and maybe they can teach you games you don’t know and the other way around.
If you want to watch fútbol and check out how passionate porteños can get while watching it, you can go to Locos X el Fútbol, Sugar, and El Álamo bars. If you are looking for something more traditional, you can go to El Banderín (Barrio Almagro) where you can smell a perfect blend of coffee and fútbol; what’s more, it’s a traditional and historic bar that has been open since 1929.
During the day but also at night, there are some other trendy plazas to visit, such as Plaza Serrano, Plaza Armenia (both in Palermo), and Plaza Dorrego (San Telmo), which are surrounded by bars and restaurants, and there is a great young atmosphere. They are good places to bar hop and meet locals. These areas are also good for After Offices: porteños hang their suits and ties and go to after offices (like happy hours) as soon as they leave work. Find a porteño to take advantage of 2x1 specials!