I remember watching Anthony Bourdain on tv many years ago during his visit to Buenos Aires. There was something about the city that drew me in. Okay, I’ll admit that one of those factors was the steak he indulged in. Anyways, I knew that I needed to go one day.
One of my best friend’s birthday was coming up and I knew that the perfect gift would be a “surprise” trip. I accumulated miles through credit card sign up bonuses (see my favorite travel credit card here), so I decided to use some on a new destination! It took me some time to decide as I searched United’s award chart. I originally focused on European countries thinking any other place would use up too many points. Well, I was wrong. A roundtrip flight to South America used the same amount of points as a roundtrip fight to Europe through United’s Mileage Plus Program. So, I cashed in 60,000 points for each roundtrip ticket and paid only $96 for taxes/fees. I actually couldn’t believe I was going to Argentina, airfare is normally extremely high so I never expected to go any time soon. Needless to say, I couldn’t hold on to the surprise so I told my friend that same day…a month before his birthday.
So, here are some tips and suggestions that I gathered from my 4 night trip to Buenos Aires!
Airbnb: There are plenty of Airbnb listings in Buenos Aires, many for as low as $30/night. My friend, Christian, and I decided to splurge a little and got this amazing flat for $113/night. The view and location pretty much made the place well worth the price. The host was extremely helpful and actually has a bunch of listings, so you can find the perfect fit for you.
But’s lets talk about the view from this amazing building! I never got tired of looking out the window every moment I was in the room. It really made our stay in Buenos Aires so amazing. I won’t say exactly how many times I stepped out onto that balcony.
Neighborhood: Palermo Soho (or Hollywood)
We stayed in Palermo Soho, but Palermo Hollywood is also a good option! This area is full of some of the best restaurants and bars that Buenos Aires has to offer. It’s definitely the more hip area with plenty to do. Christian and I spent most of our time walking from place to place (except when we couldn’t handle the cold and opted for a short Uber ride).
It is no longer necessary to exchange to the Argentine Peso on the “black market.” There’s no longer a big difference between the regulated rate and the underground rate, so you can easily exchange your money at any bank or Western Union. These are located all around the city, so you’ll have no issue locating one or simply withdraw funds from an ATM. While credit cards are accepted in some places, I found that it was best to carry cash on you. Cards aren’t are widely used as you would find in European countries. A lot of restaurants prefer cash and many won’t accept cards at all. I ended up exchanging 300 USD for my 4 day stay and had no issues. Be sure to bring new, crisp $100 bills to exchange as they’re pretty strict with what will be accepted.
Things to Do
These colorful streets are located in the neighborhood called La Boca. For safety reasons, be sure to visit during the day. You do not want to miss these pastel colored buildings and the streets filled with music and art.
2. El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Known as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, El Ateneo was once a theatre called Teatro Gran Spendid. There’s a café located on the stage where you can sit, eat, read, and admire the beautiful details around you. (Address: Av. Santa Fe 1860, 1123 CABA, Argentina)
3. Watch a Tango Show
Witnessing the wonderful, intimate dance of tango in Buenos Aires is an absolute must. There’s something for everyone depending on what type of show you prefer. You can purchase tickets to a performance or just go to an establishment and watch the locals dance. I chose to watch a classic tango show at La Esquina de Carlos Gardel. Tickets can be purchased online and while they aren’t cheap…it includes an amazing show full of talented dancers and singers and unlimited wine/beer. You can also choose to have dinner there, but we opted for the show only option.
4. See the Obelisco de Buenos Aires
This historic monument in Buenos Aires may look familiar to many of us from the United States. What people do not realize is the obelisk is a very popular monument design originated by Ancient Egyptians. So, no they did not “copy” the Washington Monument like many presume.
5. Visit a Speakeasy Bar
I love speakeasy bars, so it was a great surprise to me when I discovered that Buenos Aires was full of them! I was only able to visit one, called Victoria Brown, which was through a hidden door located in a coffee shop. While reservations are suggested, we were able to snag seats at the bar before the place filled up.
6. San Telmo Market
Every Sunday there’s a huge street market located in San Telmo. I first walked into the covered area and honestly, I was thinking…”this is it?” Little did I know that there would be blocks full of vendor stalls offering all types of goods. The perfect place to pick up souvenirs.
7. Stroll the Streets in City Center
I think these pictures speak for themselves. We wandered around the city center for a few hours and gazed into the beautiful streets and buildings.
Where to Eat
I previously wrote a post on the 5 items you must try in Buenos Aires. I still find myself craving those items. Although I could find them in the states…the taste, quality, and price is simply unforgettable. So, where should you go to get these things and more?
Burger Joint: Jorge Luis Borges 1776, Palermo
This juicy, flavorful burger is not to be overlooked. The perfect filling and inexpensive lunch at a hip spot in Palermo with great vibes.
La Carniceria: Thames 2317, Palermo
Known for their steak, which is delicious, BUT you must order this chorizo starter. Probably the best chorizo I’ve ever had.
Yauss Club: Estados Unidos 509, San Telmo
It wasn’t easy to find breakfast/eggs in Buenos Aires, but alas we came across Yauss Club. This affordable breakfast fulfilled our morning cravings.
Ninina: Gorriti 4738, Palermo
This sleek, cute pastry shop serves up a bunch of drink, sweets, and lunch options. Everything on display looks so good. We opted for a classic chocolate cake that was super rich and tasty.
Il Gran Caruso: El Salvador 5805, Palermo
The pasta at this restaurant was actually my friend’s favorite meal during our trip. Crazy right? It really was a spectacular meal with the pasta being prepared perfectly and paired with great wine all at a reasonable price. We always purchased a bottle at every dinner we had because the bottles were priced around $15 or even less.
Chori: Thames 1653, Palermo
A great quick stop for lunch. Order one of their many options of Choripan and I promise your stomach will be happy.
1810 Cocina Regional: Julian Alvarez 1998, Palermo
For only 75 pesos you get two delicious empanadas and a drink. They also start you off with bread with a tomato based spread. Seriously? That’s less than $5 for a solid meal! They offer a wide variety of empanadas to choose from. Every single one we ordered tasted great.
Don Julio: Guatemala 4691, Palermo
Ah the perfect steak that I still reminisce about. Everything from the food to the service here went above and beyond. We didn’t make reservations and arrived around 8PM, the wait was around 30 minutes for a table of two. Honestly, they made the wait completely bearable with complimentary glasses of champagne and empanadas to taste. Simply remarkable. My friend and I each ordered the ribeye, shared a bottle of wine, and two side dishes for less than $40 each including table service fee and tip.
If you couldn’t tell…I’m a HUGE fan of Buenos Aires and can’t recommend it enough. I don’t see many of my friends visit this wonderful city, but that needs to change right away! I fell in love with the culture and the kindness from all the locals.