The ultimate Buenos Aires city guide and tips according to a local

por Postcards from IvI

 Buenos Aires is Argentina’s capital city and the second largest city in South America. I was born and raised in the “ciudad de la furia” and put together this complete Buenos Aires city guide, including useful information, tips and personal recommendations based on local knowledge to help you plan your trip to Buenos Aires. 

POST UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 2020

 

 Anything can happen in Buenos Aires. Sometimes it is a completely chaotic city with traffic, protests and public transportation strikes. But there are also moments when you discover a peaceful city, where people stop and sit to have a coffee and read the newspaper as if time stood still.

Buenos Aires is an electric but also melancholic city. There will be times when you love the city, and times when you hate it too. Buenos Aires does not go unnoticed. 

 Buenos Aires city (and Argentina) is commonly associated with tango, steak and red wine. And that certainly are things that you can see and experience in the city, but Argentina’s capital city has so much more to offer. Buenos Aires isn’t a city where you need to rush from one main attraction to the other to see them all. There are no top 5 museums or things to see. Visiting Buenos Aires is more about experiencing the different neighbourhoods and its contrats, enjoying local food, visiting different bars, the parks, the coffee, and just walking around the city.

 

When to visit Buenos Aires

In mi opinion, the best months to visit Buenos Aires are from September to November, during spring. The temperatures are great during this time (around 20ºC) and all the purple jacaranda flowers begin to bloom, giving the city a unique look.

Fall is also a good time to visit the city (March to June). Summers can be really hot and humid in the city, but it’s also a quiet season because locals leave to spend their summer vacations in cities like Mar del Plata or Punta del Este (Uruguay). December and January are the hottest months.

June to August are the winter months in Buenos Aires. The average temperature during winter is around 10ºC. 

How many days should you spend in Buenos Aires?

 Buenos Aires is a very large city, so I suggest you stay for at least a few nights as there’s no way of seeing everything in one day or two. I suggest a minimum stay of 3 days. If you’d like to do some day trip to Colonia in Uruguay or to the Delta in Tigre, you need to add a few days. 

If you need help for planning your itinerary read: How to spend 3 days in Buenos Aires

After visiting Buenos Aires you can visit other regions in the country like the beautiful Patagonia Argentina or one of the 7 natural wonders of Nature: the Iguazu Falls 

Currency of Argentina

 The currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso. We’ve suffered a big devaluation in the last years so it is convenient for almost any country to visit Argentina right now. Click here to check the day’s exchange rate (you should regularly check it as it fluctuates a lot). 

The current government has restricted currency exchange in what is referred as the “cepo” or “clamp”. Locals can only buy US$200 per month and with a 30% increase as a tax. 

This has opened a black market where you can buy dollars at a most convenient rate (refered as “dollar blue”). In this black market you can exchange your dollars at a more advantageous rate than you’d receive from a bank.

Do you need to have pesos?

Yes, you will need to have some cash in argentine pesos. In Buenos Aires almost every shop accepts debit or credit cards but in some other provinces, many shops are small and won’t accept debit or credit cards. We are quite behind compared to first world countries when it comes to the use of cards.

You can use your card to get cash at any ATM in the city but the fees are usually high.

The ultimate Buenos Aires city guide and tips according to a local

 

Language: Argentine Spanish

Spanish is Argentina’s language. Well, it’s actually Argentine spanish. We use so many unique words and phrases that you probably won’t hear in any other spanish speaking country. The accents vary according to each region of the country.

Buenos Aires locals are known as “porteños”, in relation to the port of Buenos Aires in Río de la Plata. We pronounce the “ll” like a Y, with a strong SH sound. We don’t say TU, like in other latin american countries, we say VOS. There are thousands of words we use everyday as our own slang, called Lunfardo. 


Visiting Argentina? Read: 20 photos that will make you want to visit Patagonia Argentina


How to get to the city from Ezeiza International Airport

If you’re traveling from other country, you will most probably enter the country through Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires. Ezeiza is located about 30 km outside the city (depending which part) and unluckily there is no good public transportation to get there. These are the options to get to Buenos Aires from Ezeiza Airport:

  • Taxi: Inside the airport you will find official taxis from the airport called Taxi Ezeiza. They accept credit cards and the price will depend on where you are going. This is the safest way to get a taxi from the airport. If you exit the airport and stop for a taxi there, they will charge you whatever they want.
  • Uber: Uber is not completely legal in Argentina. I take Ubers all the time in the city but I don’t recommend taking an Uber from the airport since they usually can’t stop at the entrance and it will be difficult for you to find the car if you don’t have internet or don’t speak spanish.
  • Manuel Tienda de Leon Bus: a shared bus that gets you from Ezeiza to Puerto Madero or Aeroparque Airport (from where most of the local flights depart). The price is ARS$490-580. Click here for more information
  • Airport transfer: the best thing to save time and be comfortable is to book an airport transfer before your trip. This shared airport transfer costs just USD$12 and gets you from Ezeiza to your hotel in Retiro, Recoleta, Balvanera, San Telmo or Puerto Madero. 

Click here to book an airport transfer for your arrival.

How to get around in Buenos Aires 

 Public transport is the most common way to get around Buenos Aires. You will need a magnetic SUBE card to get on buses (bondis or colectivos), subways and trains. The SUBE is a rechargeable card available at post offices, kiosks and tourist assistance centers.

The cost of the card is $90 pesos and you can load money on it at subways stations, national lottery spots, convenience stores, etc. Click here to see where you can buy your SUBE card. Select CABA as “provincia” and choose the neighborhood in “localidad”.

  • Bus: in Buenos Aires, buses are known as “colectivos” or “bondis” and are the most common transport. Buses are identified by a number and sometimes also a color which may indicate a different route. To know which bus you should take, you can just use Google Maps.

Once on the bus you must tell the driver where you are going and pay by placing your SUBE card in a machine. The price depends on the distance traveled and is around $18-23 pesos (prices updated in February 2020).  

  • Subte (metro): The subway system in Buenos Aires is not to big but is useful for moving around as a tourists as it connects the city’s main attractions. The subte ticket costs $19 pesos (price updated in February 2020).
  • Train: There are different train lines in Buenos Aires. The most common train line that you’ll most likely use is Mitre. The Mitre line Ramal Tigre goes from Retiro Train Station to Tigre (a beautiful city located just outside the autonomous city of Buenos Aires). The price of the train in Buenos Aires is around $12.25 – 18.5 (prices updated in February 2020).  
Buenos Aires city guide and tips according to a local

Retiro train station

 

Buenos Aires City Guide: Neighborhoods

 Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina. It is an autonomous district, this means it is not part of Buenos Aires Province, although it physically is. It is also named Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires) or Capital Federal (CABA). 

Greater Buenos Aires (In spanish: Gran Buenos Aires) is the urban agglomeration comprising the autonomous city of Buenos Aires and the adjacent districts over the Province of Buenos Aires. If you visit Buenos Aires, you’ll probably visit the barrios (neighbourhoods) marked in the map which are: Belgrano, Palermo, Recoleta, Retiro, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, La Boca, San Nicolas and Monserrat

 

 

Buenos Aires, “the Paris of South America”

 Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America” because of its beautiful European-style buildings. The architecture of the city was influenced by European immigrants that came in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, in search of a new home. Immigration came mostly from Spain, Italy, Britain, France and Germany. It is true that there are many buildings that can remind you of Paris but believe me, Buenos Aires is nothing like Paris

You will find all styles of buildings in Buenos Aires, from neoclassical to modern and contemporary, just remember to look up. In the last 20 years large immigrant crowds have arrived in the country from Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay, Colombia, China and other countries so the city is a blend of Latin lifestyle with a strong European influence. There is no other city like Buenos Aires and I believe that’s what makes it so attractive for tourists.

If you like to see cities from above, there are some buildings in Buenos Aires that you can visit for stunnin views. My favourites are: Galería Güemes (entrance ticket to the lookout point is $200 ARS) and Palacio Barolo (tours available from USD$16).

Buenos Aires Travel Guide by a local

The view from the top of Galería Güemes

 

Things to do in Buenos Aires

  • Avenida 9 de Julio and Calle Corrientes

 Take a stroll along 9 de Julio Avenue. It is the widest avenue in the world! Located in this avenue is the Obelisco, the icon of the city and a postcard you can’t miss. From the Obelisco, stroll down Avenida Corrientes, an emblematic street of BA. It’s full of cafés, theaters, pizzerias, and bookstores.  

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Colón Theatre

Teatro Colón is one of the world’s best opera houses, prestigious for its exceptional acoustics and architectural features. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. I really recommend taking the guided tour of the theatre.

  • Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo

Casa rosada (the pink house) is the office of the President of Argentina and one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires. Tours in English are available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at 12.30 and 2.30 p.m. Casa Rosada is located in Plaza de Mayo which is the city’s most famous square, being the scene of the 25 May 1810 revolution that led to independence. Plaza de Mayo is often used for local protests, so I suggest you check the news before you plan your visit.

  • Recoleta Cemetery

Are graveyards on your list of “top places to see” when visiting a city? They should if you’re visiting Buenos Aires. Recoleta Cemetery is home to Buenos Aires’ most famous tombs including Evita’s. The cemetery is located in the neighbourhood of Recoleta, one of the most beautiful and also priciest in the city. Floralis Genérica is located in this barrio: a giant flower made of steel that closes its petals at night and opens up again in the morning.

Buenos Aires Travel Guide by a local

  • Puerto Madero

 Puerto Madero is one of the newest barrios of Buenos Aires. It used to be a port and now it’s the area where all the modern offices and luxury buildings are located. The landmark of this district is the Women’s Bridge, designed by the famous architect Calatrava. Puerto Madero is also the location for Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve: A 865-acre reserve bordering the Río de la Plata River which shows a great contrast.

  •  MALBA Museum

The Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires is the best art museum in the city. It owns a unique collection of work by artists such as Antonio Berni, Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo and Fernando Botero. It also houses pretty good temporary exhibits and the building itself is worth a visit.

  • El Ateneo Gran Splendid

 I know you’ve probably been to many bookstores before but have you ever visited a book shop inside of a theatre? El Ateneo Gran Splendid is a unique bookstore, located in a building that used to be a theatre. In 2019, it was named the world’s most beautiful bookstore by the National Geographic! You can choose a book and read it while you enjoy a coffee. 

The ultimate Buenos Aires city guide and tips according to a local

  • San Telmo

 Along with La Boca, San Telmo is one of the most traditional barrios in Buenos Aires. This historic neighbourhood is really worth a visit: colonial houses, quaint paved streets, street antique markets, vinyls and tango. Every Sunday an antiques fair takes place in San Telmo, where you can find the most weirdest objects(and people). It is definitely one of the nicest neighbourhoods in the city. 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • La Boca and Caminito

 This neighbourhood is famous for its colorful houses which are probably one of the most popular attractions for tourists. La Boca beautiful houses have a story behind: it was the place where immigrants first established themselves when they arrived in Buenos Aires around 1830. They didn’t have much money so they lived in these shared houses called “conventillos” which were made of sheet metal mainly.

 The most famous street in La Boca is Caminito, a pedestrian street bordered by many colorful houses. La boca is mainly a place to walk, enjoy some food, buy souvenirs and see tango artists perform on the street. 

La Boca is immersed in fútbol (soccer) because of Boca Juniors Stadium. This was Maradona’s local team. The club offers guided tours to the stadium which is a great experience if you’re a futbol fan. Boca Juniors main rival team is River Plate (Monumental stadium). If you’re into fútbol, you should try to catch a match between these teams, a “superclásico” as we call it.  

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Palermo

 Palermo is the bohemian, chic neighbourhood of the city. It’s a great place to enjoy cool restaurants, bars, outdoor markets, fashion boutiques and street art. Palermo is also home to a series of immense gardens worth checking out: Buenos Aires Botanical garden, rose garden, Japanese gardens and Palermo woods. Palermo is awesome for foodies, street art lovers and digital nomads!

Don’t forget to check out the best street art in Palermo Soho

 
 
 
 
 
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  •  Planetario Galileo Galilei

When you visit Palermo woods, stop by the planetarium, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Inside the Planetario visitors have the opportunity of contemplating simulation of eclipses and meteor showers. Tip: see it from the outside at night, when all the stars turn on. 

Buenos Aires Travel Guide by a local

  • Parks in Buenos Aires

 Buenos Aires is full of big parks where you can just sit and relax. Take a break from the city sounds at Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur or meander through Palermo woods or Jardín Botánico. My favorite park is Plaza San Martin in Retiro, which is sorrounded by many emblematic buildings like Kavanagh, which was once the tallest building in the world. 

Buenos Aires Travel Guide by a local

Malvinas Monument and Kavanagh building in Plaza San Martín

  •  “Barrio Chino” Chinatown

I love visiting Chinatown in every city I travel to. As any other Chinatown in the world, the “Barrio Chino” of Buenos Aires is the  place where you can find a lot of stuff to buy (things you don’t really need), grab some chinese food and have some fun. 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Other Museums

 Other museums in the city which are worth visiting are: MAMBA (modern art museum, located in San Telmo), CCK (A cultural centre located in the former Buenos Aires Central Post Office) and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (An art museum that contains paintings from the most famous painters in the country). If you like flea markets take a look at Mercado de las Pulgas in Palermo. 

  • Other things to do in Buenos Aires
 

 

Where to stay in Buenos Aires

 Buenos Aires is a huge city so there are many areas where you can stay depending on what you like. For a complete guide, I suggest you read my guide on where to stay in Buenos Aires including the best neighborhoods, hotel, hostels and apartments.

 Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Hostels: Hostels start at about USD$10). I recommend Caravan BA, a boutique hostel located in Palermo or Benita Hostel, located in the heart of Recoleta. Check out the latest prices and more details.
  • Budget Hotels: Hotels start around USD$18 for a twin/single room. I recommend Hotel Viejo Telmo located in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo or Hotel Prince, which has an excellent location in Recoleta. 
  • Mid Range Hotels: There is a great variety of mid range hotels in the city, prices go from USD$50 to USD$200. For modern comfort I recommend Pulitzer Hotel, located in the heart of Buenos Aires. Check out the latest prices and more details. I also recommend L’adresse Hotel Boutique, which is located in modern Puerto Madero and Esplendor Plaza Francia in Recoleta. There’s also a good amount of Airbnb hosts in the city, you can get a private room from around USD$20.
  • Luxury Hotels: If you’re looking for a luxurious experience there are some amazing hotels in BA. Palacio Duhau is an exclusive hotel located in Recoleta inside an actual palace. Alvear Palace is another unique luxury hotel in the city, decorated with french style. And if you want to have the best view of the city, you should stay at Hotel Panamericano, a hotel located just 300m away from Obelisco.

What to eat in Buenos Aires

Argentina has delicious food, and you can’t leave the country without trying the following:

  • Asado – It may look like a barbecue but it isn’t! Meat is cooked in a “parrilla” (grill) using carbon and wood. The best place to eat an asado is in a house really, because it is a social gathering for us, but there are many “parrillas” that also serve good asado.
  • Dulce de leche – A thick caramel, result of condensed milk. We put it in everything. Try dulce de leche ice cream.
  • Empanadas – A typical food served as entry. A pasty stuffed with beef, chicken, veggies, cheese, etc.
  • Alfajores – Sort of a biscuit, usually made with chocolate and dulce de leche. Try it in Havanna Coffee with a submarino (Argentine hot chocolate).
  • Milanesa – Basically breaded beef, chicken or soy. Everyone loves milanesas.
  • Mate – A herbal drink, typical from latin america. We drink mate everywhere: at work, in the park, at university,etc.
  • Ice-cream – If you thought Italian gelato was the best, you need to try Argentinian helado! My favorite ice cream shops are: Rapanui and Freddo. 
  • Pizza – We have an amazing pizza culture in Argentina. You should try it at least once. One of the most popular pizza places in Buenos Aires are Guerrín and Kentucky. 

 The best neighbourhoods to eat are Palermo and Belgrano, there are plenty of restaurants to choose. I know you probably think we eat meat all the time but it turns out there are a lot of healthy food restaurants so don’t panic if you’re vegetarian! Some of my favourite veggie restaurants are: Estilo Veggie and Artemisia. 

Tips for dinning in Buenos Aires: Dinners in Argentina are late compared to other countries. We eat around 9 or 10 pm. Most restaurants in Buenos Aires open at 8 pm. Tipping is around 10% and it is kind of a tradition to leave it on cash. It is not a common thing to add your tip on a credit card like it is in U.S. 

Check out: Where to find the best burgers in Buenos Aires

Where to shop in Buenos Aires

 Buenos Aires is a really expensive place to do shopping compared to other countries. But I still suggest you visit Galerías Pacífico shopping centre, at least just to see the beauty of its beaux arts building. You can also go shopping at Av Cabildo or Av Santa Fé, Alto Palermo mal and around Palermo Soho area.

Things to do in Buenos Aires Argentina

Galerías Pacífico

Nightlife in Buenos Aires

 Buenos Aires is also known for it’s nightlife. If you still have the energy after visiting every neighborhood, coffee and bookstore during the day, you can go to a “boliche” (disco) and dance until 7 am. You should know that we start our nights really late. If we are going out, we usually gather with friends for the “previa” around midnight and go to the boliche around 2 am. 

 There’s a craft beer revolution happening in Buenos Aires and the city is full of bars offering really great beer, specially in the neighborhoods of Belgrano and Palermo. Plaza Serrano is a notable spot for bars and restaurants in Palermo Soho. Happy hours are usually offered between 6-8 pm. 

One of the most known attractions for young travelers in Buenos Aires is Bomba de Tiempo (The Time Bomb), a percussion show with unique environment and an awesome party that happens every Monday.

Day trips from Buenos Aires

 I strongly suggest you get outside the city and go to the north of Buenos Aires to cities like Tigre, San Isidro or Vicente López. Just an hour away by train, you can escape from the hustle of Buenos Aires and enjoy a lunch by the river, or visit Puerto de Frutos in Tigre (a local market with crafts, furniture and food). Another day trip could be getting a one hour ferry to the beautiful city of Colonia in Uruguay. 

For more information read: The best day trips from Buenos Aires

 
 
 
 
 
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I hope my Buenos Aires City Guide has helped you plan your trip. Is there anything else you want to know about my city? Please let me know in the comments. Have you been to Buenos Aires?

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The Globe Trotter August 11, 2017 - 6:24 am

What a comprehensive and nicely put together guide! I find that insight from locals are always more honest and reliable. I have bookmarked this for future reference – hopefully, we will visit one day!

Reply
Postcards from IvI August 14, 2017 - 4:27 pm

Thank you! I hope you do, Buenos Aires is a beautiful destination, I’m glad my guide helps 🙂

Reply
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Agness of aTukTuk July 19, 2017 - 4:10 pm

I love getting tips from locals! Excellent travel guide for an amazing destination!

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Postcards from IvI August 14, 2017 - 4:26 pm

Thanks Agness! I’m glad it helps 🙂

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Kate Brissette July 10, 2017 - 8:52 am

This is so comprehensive and thoughtfully put together! We are planning a trip later this year. Pinned this to use as a planning tool! Thanks so much!!

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Postcards from IvI July 10, 2017 - 11:47 pm

That’s great Kate, I hope it’s useful 🙂

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Ania Travels July 7, 2017 - 5:14 pm

Gosh I’ve always wanted to go to Buenos Aires. I’m actually going to South America around November and am still trying to figure out where. This definitely pushed it up the list.

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Postcards from IvI July 10, 2017 - 11:50 pm

Awesome Ania! You should definitely include Buenos Aires and Patagonia Argentina, you’ll love it.

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Erin Bast July 7, 2017 - 12:38 pm

Wow, what a wonderful post! I love (and prefer) comprehensive travel guides. Your descriptions of this city are beautiful and honest. The architecture and food look incredible. Is it possible to get around with English or would it be good to learn some Spanish before visiting?

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Postcards from IvI July 11, 2017 - 12:21 am

Thanks Erin! I think you can totally get around with just english in Buenos Aires. It is a really touristic city and there are free walking tours in english provided by the tourist board. It might be good to know some spanish for other less traveled cities in the rest of Argentina

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Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate July 7, 2017 - 8:44 am

The icons on your blog denoting money, etc. are so cute! My best friend is moving to Uruguay so I’m hoping to do an Argentina-Uruguay twofer next year!

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 4:01 pm

Thanks Kristin! You’re going to have an amazing time in both countries. Uruguay has some great beaches too.

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Ketki July 7, 2017 - 6:23 am

This is an amazing guide to Buenos Aires. It truly shows you are a local and know your city inside out. My favorite would be the street art, planetarium and the street food that i would definitely like to explore.

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 4:02 pm

Thanks Ketki! Street art in Palermo Soho is wonderful, I need to go and take more pictures to show them 🙂

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Flo July 7, 2017 - 6:03 am

This is the most indepth guide I’ve ever read on Buenos Aires! I’d love to visit one day to explore all the different neighbourhoods: La Boca and Caminito and Palermo really piqued my interest, I had no idea there was so much to do and see!

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 4:04 pm

Thank you Flo! I’m glad you can get to know a bit of my city and hope you can visit soon 🙂

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Becci Abroad July 7, 2017 - 12:24 am

Well done!! You covered so much stuff in this post – but of course, you are the professional in the city 😉 I loved your description in the beginning that Buenos Aires isn’t about seeing a million museums etc. but about taking it all in.
However, wouldn’t really agree that Palermo is a quiet place to stay. Less at night, haha.
Take care!

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 4:08 pm

Thank you Becci! Haha you’re right, I was thinking Palermo quiet area, not Palermo Soho. I’ll have to correct that, thanks!

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C-Ludik July 6, 2017 - 5:31 pm

I spent 2 days there few years ago and Buenos Aires is a city that truly captured my heart ! Tango and steak, Malbec wine and colourful houses, sprawling theatres and tree-lined avenues… For me, this eclectic and vibrant capital city was the perfect introduction to South America 🙂

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 4:06 pm

Thank you! I’m glad you had a great time here 🙂 Buenos Aires is such a fun and interesting city

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Megan July 6, 2017 - 2:03 pm

Love guides by locals, I always stop and read those first. Buenos Aires seems so bright and colorful and varied, it looks like an excellent destination. And I really appreciate the practical advice on when to go and what neighborhoods to stay in. That’s the stuff that’s so hard to find sometimes!

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Postcards from IvI July 14, 2017 - 3:59 pm

Thanks Megan! Glad you like it and hope you can visit Buenos Aires someday 🙂

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Amanda Bowers July 6, 2017 - 12:26 pm

This looks like an amazing place to visit! Your guide is so thorough and professional! Well done!!!

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Postcards from IvI July 11, 2017 - 12:13 am

Thanks Amanda!

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Anuradha Manjul July 5, 2017 - 2:31 am

Good post. Likes it as didn’t know much about Buenos Aires. This post and and your other post on the city are quite exciting.

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Postcards from IvI July 10, 2017 - 11:55 pm

Thank you! I’m glad you get to know a bit of my city 🙂

Reply

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