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Why Go to Buenos Aires

Skirting the border of Argentina and Uruguay, Buenos Aires lures visitors with its blend of European charm and South American flair. Featuring wide boulevards, neoclassical architecture and a cache of avant-garde museums, this sophisticated city has earned its title as "the Paris of South America." But don't think of its resemblance as anything other than a marker of its ancestry. Fashionable and friendly residents – known as porteños – have customized the city, from their colorful art-laden barrios (districts) to their world-class soccer (fútbol) stadium to their street-side tango sessions.

But you can do more than just join artists, dancers, and enthused soccer fans in this cosmopolitan capital. Shop San Telmo's boutiques, explore the National Museum of Fine Arts, meander through the ornate Recoleta Cemetery, or catch a horse race at the Palermo Hippodrome. Just save time to enjoy the simple pleasure of sipping a cafecito (espresso) and snacking on churros (fried dough strips) at a cozy café, taking a romantic stroll along Palermo Woods' Rose Garden Walk (Paseo del Rosedal), and staying up late to revel in the sultry tango sessions that give the city its evening zest.

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Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Buenos Aires is from April-June (fall) or from September-December (spring). These sweet shoulder seasons usher in mild temperatures, thin crowds, and colorful foliage. Fall and spring also boast reasonable hotel prices. During January and February—Buenos Aires' summertime and peak tourist season—crowds as well as hotel room rates start to swell. While this season remains a popular time to visit, temperatures often rise into the 90s and a muggy heat hangs in the air. The off-season starts in June and ends in August and is usually filled with rainy days, cold winter temps, and few tourists.

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What You Need to Know

  • Don't ride in an unmarked taxi Travelers should only hail yellow and black radio taxis to ensure reliable and scam-free rides.
  • Don't expect tango sessions to start until 3 a.m. The nightlife tends to start later (much later), so if you came to dance, you should schedule an afternoon siesta.
  • Do leisurely sip your coffee Just as their European counterparts, Argentineans enjoy their time spent at cafés. Prepare to linger at a table and soak up the scenery while savoring your coffee and churros.

How to Save Money in Buenos Aires

  • Bring your savvy bargain-hunting skills Instead of hitting the racks of the upscale shopping districts in Recoleta, visit the eclectic boutiques in Boca and San Telmo for better deals. Also, many shops do not accept credits cards, so make sure to have cash on you.
  • Bring your dancing shoes Instead of paying to watch an elegant tango performance, check out one of the milongas (dance halls) where you can partake in classes or watch locals heat up the dance floor.
  • Bring a student ID Many top attractions offer discounts for students; however, you'll need to present a valid student ID, such as an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). Consult the U.S. State Department's website for more information.

Culture & Customs

Porteños (the Spanish term for Buenos Aires residents) are friendly and welcoming individuals. TTheir European heritage (heightened by the influx of Italian, Spanish, and other European immigrants who flocked to Argentina during the late 1800s) distinguishes porteños from other Latin American populations, like Brazilians. There are a few cultural cues you'll want to keep in mind. First and foremost, Spanish is the spoken language here. But in Buenos Aires, Español is replaced with Castellano, a dialect that sometimes sounds more like Italian than Spanish. Luckily for English-speaking visitors, most porteños comprehend key English phrases and will try to communicate with Anglophone travelers. But making an effort to speak the language by using simple phrases such as "buen día" ("good morning") and "gracias" ("thank you") will go a long way.

Another traditional custom you'll pick up on is how locals greet one another. Instead of shaking hands, Argentineans acknowledge each other with a kiss. Porteños also don't shy away from maintaining direct eye contact during conversation, and as a sign of respect, visitors should do the same. Though some visitors find Argentineans' intense gaze off-putting (particularly when men stare at women as they walk past), here it's considered a high form of flattery. Female travelers should also not be put off by flirtatious glances and piropos (catcalls).

When heading out for a night on the town, it is important to note that meals and evening entertainment start later than in the United States. For an authentic experience, you won't want to sit down for dinner until about 10 p.m. When deciding on what to eat, you'll have your pick from Buenos Aires' array of cuisines, ranging from delectable sushi to Italian pasta to scrumptious steak dishes cooked to perfection on parrillas (grills). You also will not want to miss out on savoring a cafecito (espresso) and a sweet churro (a fried-dough pastry) at one of the city's European-style cafés. You should note waiters typically expect a 10-percent tip. Only leave more than 10-percent gratuity if the service was exceptional.

Argentina uses the Argentinean peso (ARS), which is much weaker than the United States dollar (USD). One Argentinian peso is equivalent to about $0.15 USD.

Getting Around Buenos Aires

The best way to get around Buenos Aires is by subway, also known as "the subte." The subte is quick, affordable, and easy to navigate with maps, easily attainable at subte stations. Bus lines are also efficient, although they are less trotted by tourists. Taxis are another convenient way to get around the city; however, taxi drivers are known to scam foreign visitors by taking longer, more round-about routes to increase the fare. Look for black and yellow radio taxis, which are metered. With an efficient public transportation system and abundance of taxis, there's no need to rent a car in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires' major airport, Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini (EZE), with many international carriers sits 45 minutes west of the city by car. There are several direct flights offered daily between major U.S. cities such as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Domestic flights sometimes fly through Jorge Newberry Airport (AEP), which is located just 15 minutes north of Buenos Aires by car. While some visitors may opt to hop on a Leon bus (which runs roughly every 30 minutes between the city and both airports), taxis are the most hassle-free means of getting into town. Flagging a taxi will only set you back about $35 ARS (roughly $8 USD).

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Entry & Exit Requirements

A valid passport is required for U.S. residents traveling to Buenos Aires. U.S. citizens do not need a visa unless they plan on staying longer than 90 days. Those arriving into Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) or Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP) with tourist passports are required to pay a 609 ARS (roughly $140 USD) reciprocity fee upon arrival. Visit the U.S. State Department's website for the latest information on exit and entry requirements.

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