Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Argentina for 90 days.
Security: Buenos Aires is a relatively safe city, but do not carry large amounts of cash or credit cards or wear flashy or expensive-looking jewelry. Keep your important documents in the hotel safe, and do not walk around with purses or briefcases hanging loose.
Time: Buenos Aires is one hour ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard time from March to November, two hours ahead during Daylight Savings Time.
Money: The currency of Argentina is the Argentine peso. Closely controlled by the Argentine government, the peso usually hovers at three pesos per U.S. dollar. For current rates, go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: The country code for Argentina is 54, and the city code for Buenos Aires is 11. For phone calls from the U.S. to land lines in Buenos Aires, dial 011 54 11 the eight-digit number. To call Buenos Aires mobile phones, dial 055 911 the eight-digit number.
When to Go: Summer in Argentina is from December to March and winter is from June until September. The weather in Buenos Aires ranges from extremely hot and humid with highs at times in the 90sºF (30sºC) during summer and mildly chilly during the winter, with high temperatures often in the 50sºF (10-15ºC).
Getting There: Several airlines offer international flights from the United States to Aeropuerto Internacional Ezeiza (EZE), which is located 23 miles (37 kilometers) outside the city of Buenos Aires southwest of Buenos Aires. The Aeroparque Jorge Newberry (AEP) is a hub for most flights within Argentina.
Getting Around: Driving in Buenos Aires is chaotic and scary at times, with drivers rarely obeying the traffic rules, lights, or lanes. Trains, buses, and taxis are good alternatives, although subway hours are limited. Black and yellow taxis are metered; travelers are advised to take only cars marked “radiotaxi” for safety.
Comfortable Walking Shoes: The best way to experience the city is to walk it, whether you are downtown or strolling in Puerto Madero or Palermo or antiquing in San Telmo. “Something I really love to do is just wandering… simply getting lost and letting the architecture pull you away.”—Michael Luongo, author, Frommer’s Buenos Aires. Pause often to look up at the marvelous buildings, but pay close attention to where you step. Most sidewalks in the city are deteriorated, uneven, and full of cracks and holes—and pet owners in this dog-loving city often don’t clean up after their pooches.
Map It: If you are short on time, pick the neighborhoods you plan to visit ahead of time. “To visit the city well, you need to prepare a little, to plan and choose where it is you want to ‘lose yourself,’ because it’s an enormous city, and can be difficult to master.”—Gonzalo Álvarez Guerrero, longtime resident and co-author, Guia Total Buenos Aires.
Taxi Safety: Take taxis marked “radiotaxi” and carry small bills. Some unscrupulous drivers will claim not to have change, and will even swap your legitimate cash for fake bills.
Carry Cash: Many restaurants or stores do not accept credit cards, and most do not allow you to charge the tip (usually 10 percent)—it must be left in cash. Some stores and restaurants will give a discount if you pay with cash (efectivo). Confirm prices are quoted in pesos. Ask for the menu before ordering and the actual bill, or ticket, when it’s time to pay.
Forget Your Watch: Everything starts late in BA. Most restaurants don’t even open for dinner until after 8 p.m., and most Argentines don't eat until about 10 p.m.—that’s why they have a coffee and snack (la merienda) in the late afternoon. Don’t be surprised to see babies and young children out with families well past midnight in restaurants. Also, Argentines are habitually at least a half-hour late to parties and social gatherings.
Layer, Layer, Layer: “Buenos Aires' weather is constantly changing.”—Soledad Olaciregu, co-owner, Maneras Argentinas. Bring clothing you can add or shed according to the moody climate, or to compensate for the often unreliable air conditioning and heating systems.
City of Buenos Aires Ministry of Tourism
Excellent tourist-focused website with information ranging from basic culture and security, to hotels, restaurants, useful phrases, and detailed self-guided tours. Spanish, English, and Portuguese. www.bue.gov.ar
Handy online guide features basic information, directions, diner reviews, and ratings on most of the restaurants in the capital. The limited English version is spotty, but still useful. www.guiaoleo.com
One of several sites offering local apartments for rent—a convenient and economical alternative to staying in hotels. apartmentsba.com
Comprehensive listing of estancias, or ranches, throughout Argentina, for a day or side trip outside of Buenos Aires. www.estanciasargentinas.com.ar
The Evita Perón Historical Research Foundation
The foundation’s website offers details on the life and work of Eva Perón, the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. Includes photos, a detailed biography, and historical documents. www.evitaperon.org
If you understand a little Spanish, this is a useful guide for finding your way around Buenos Aires. Choose whether you want to walk, take a bus or train or cab, enter your location and destination, and the site will show you how to get there and about how much it will cost. www.comoviajo.com
Clarín newspaper and the Clarín group that owns it are the largest newspaper and media conglomerate in Argentina; Spanish tabloid-size publication; national and international news, entertainment, sports, and many other daily and weekly sections. www.clarin.com
Second largest newspaper in the country, known for its more conservative editorial voice; international and national news, travel, entertainment, and other sections. www.lanacion.com.ar
Buenos Aires Herald
Founded in 1876, the Herald is the only daily English newspaper in Buenos Aires, and one of the few publications that dared to report on the people who were tortured, killed, and missing during the Argentine military dictatorship from 1976-1983. www.buenosairesherald.com
Time Out Buenos Aires
Magazine-style publication compiled mostly by young ex-patriates; latest and hottest places to stay, eat, and go out. Available at many newsstands and some hotels around the city and online. http://www.timeout.com/buenos-aires/
What’s Up Buenos Aires
Website and network of Buenos Aires ex-pats sharing tips, ranging from the coolest restaurants, cafés, and art exhibitions to apartments for rent and good psychotherapists. English and Spanish. www.whatsupbuenosaires.com
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