Although Argentina was not the first country in South America that I visited (It was Peru and Brazil), the trip to Argentina felt very momentous, as the trip to Argentina and Chile was actually a detour before I went to Antarctica! The trip to Antarctica was planned a year in advance and I added Argentina and Chile to the list of exploration.
I went to Argentina and Chile with my cousin and then we went separate ways as she continued her journey to Peru, and I to Antarctica. We only had 11 days to explore the vast area of Argentina and Chile, and therefore we allocated 5 days for each, with additional one day for travelling time in between countries. The trip was taken place from 6th of November 2018 to 16th of November 2018.
Of these 5 days in Argentina, we explored City of Buenos Aires for two days, Glaciar Perito Moreno for one day by foot, Hiked Mount FitzRoy in El Chalten for a day, and another one day spent in Glaciar Perito Moreno kayaking. If I am to rewrite the journey, I would’ve exchange the city days to Patagonia days, although the city of Buenos Aires was amazing and we had so much, much fun going around in the city. In this blog I will share some of the best places I visited in Buenos Aires and how to get around Buenos aires.
How to get to Buenos Aires City
Although there are several ways to get into Buenos Aires City, not all options are cheap and practical, especially if you travel with big luggage and on a budget. There are three airports in Buenos Aires:
- Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Ezeiza (EZE)
This airport is the biggest and all international travel uses this airport, along with domestic and regional flights. Journey to the city from this airport takes 50 minutes by car
- Jorge Newberry Airport or Aeroparque (AEP)
This airport serves domestic flights and those to neighbouring countries and located in the city with about 20 minutes to the city center
- El Palomar airport (EPA)
This airport serves low cost domestic flights within Argentina such as Flybondi and JetSmart. The airport is both for military and commercial airport.
I arrived at Ministro Pistarini Airport (Ezeiza airport) from Singapore with six hour transit at London Gatwick. 13 hours flight from Singapore to London, and another 14 hours from London to Buenos Aires before I landed safety at Buenos Aires. From Ezeiza airport, there are few options:
1. Using Public Bus (Colectivos)
In order to use this public bus, you need to purchase the SUBE card, Buenos Aires electronic card system. The card can be purchased at Tourist Service Center in Terminal A for 99 ARS (1.5 USD). To reach the city, it cost around 55 ARS (0.72 USD/ IDR 10,500) one way and takes about 1,5 to 2 hours. The bus will make stoppages along the way and it can takes hours during the busy time of the day.
To catch the bus from the arrival Hall A/B, you have to walk to terminal C by following the direction sign to the Terminal C. The bus stop is in the front of Terminal C with the sign Collectivo. Hop on Bus number 8 to get to City Center (Plaza de Mayo) which also pass Liniers, Mercado Central, Congreso, Facultad de Ingenieria (UBA) and Paseo Colon. The cost of one way from Ezeiza to City center is 38.5 ARS (7000 IDR/0.62 USD). Make sure you hop on the Bus that says “por autopista” (by highway), which means it will take faster route and take you to Plaza de Mayo in one hour. (source: 3 days abroad)
This option is surely the cheapest, but if you bring a lot of luggages, it can be challenging.
2. Using Shuttle Bus (Colectivos)
One of the frequent means of transportation to get to the city is using this paid shuttle bus. The bus is run by several provider and one of them is Tienda Leon and the counter is right in front of Arrival hall of Terminal A. Tienda Leon also has regular schedule from/to City Center to Jorge Newberry Airport.
The shuttle bus will bring you to its main office at Eduarto Madera Avenue, and from there you can walk/using public transport/ride a cab to your final destination. It costs 450 ARS (85,000 IDR/ 5.8 USD). For me, I used Tienda Lion and bought the ticket on the airport, and paid additional cost to be transferred to my Airbnb in Avenida Belgrano. For more information, you can visit Tienda Leon Website here.
3. Remis (Private Taxi) (Colectivos)
This transportation charges based on fix price instead of using meter. It usually costs 1900 ARS (360,000 IDR/24 USD) and takes about 40 minutes to reach city center. The payment is upfront and can use credit card. (Source: 3daysabroad). If you’re travelling with groups of three or four, this could be a great alternative.
4. Official Airport Taxi (Colectivos)
The official Airport Taxi is black and yellow, and located at arrival area. To ride taxi, passenger should go to Taxi kiosk and pay there. The official taxi in Ezeiza Airport is Ezeiza Taxi and Buenos Aires Municipality Taxis. It takes about 40 minutes to get to city center and costs 900 ARS (170,000 IDR/11.6 USD).
5. Private Transfer
This is probaby the easiest thing, but definitely the cheapest. It costs 50 USD for one way trip, and 90 USD for return trip. If you have lots of luggage and travel in groups, this is the probably the most convenient way to get to the city. The driver will have your name printed and wait for you on the arrival hall holding a paper with your name on it.
How to Get Around in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has three public transportation visitors and rely onto, they are the subway (subte), the bus, and the tram. Although the timetable might not be exactly precise, both metro and bus can help you reach places in Buenos Aires. As I mentioned earlier, to use public transportation visitor shall have the SUBE card, the electronic card system.
There are 6 line Metro namely A, B, C, D, E, and Line H. You can see the map here. It operates from Monday to Friday from 05:30 am to 11:30 pm, and then 06:00 am to midnight on Saturday, and 8:00 am to 10:30 pm on Sundays and public holidays.
The other way is using Bus (also known as colectivos or bondis), which runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and covers the whole part of the city. However, knowing their schedule is another thing. Confirm with the bus driver your destination before hop on to ensure you are on the right side of the bus stop. (source: Worldnomad and Tripsavvy)
Top 10 places to visit in Buenos Aires
We were amazed by Buenos Aires. And although two days were all we had, we drain ourselves out visiting these places and had a great time getting lost in it. These places/experience were combination of few selected places we picked prior to the travel departure. We visited them (we only passed by several place) within two days. There were so many other amazing places we would like to visit but ran out of time.
Buenos Aires has 48 neighbourhoods (barrios), and the most visited barrios are Palermo, Recoleta, Belgrano, Monserrat, Puerto Madero, La Boca, San Telmo, and San Nicolas. It would be good to select your accommodation near these neighbourhoods as it will save amount of time to travel around the city center. I Would suggest San Nicolas, Monserrat and San Telmo as it close to the “city center”, plaza de Mayo, and other main attractions. Without further delay, this my version of 10 Best places to visit in BA!
1. Torre Monumental
Type: Historical Landmark | Neighbourhood : Retiro
This monument is also called Torre de los Ingleses (Tower of English) and it’s near Plaza General San Martin. The building is a gift from Buenos Aires’s British community to celebrate the centenary of Argentina’s independence and built in Palladian style. The bricks and stones used in this building comes from England. Its height is 75 meters and has eight floors. The building is decorated with Symbol of British Empire and feature the thistle of Scotland, the English Rose, the Welsh Dragon, and Irish Shamrock. (Source: Turismo Buenos Aires)
The clock tower open from Monday to Friday from 10:30 – 16:00 pm (the last ascent). The entry costs 100 ARS, except for Wednesday, which is free. To reach this place, simply hop on metro C (blue) line and hop off at Retiro or General St Martin. If you have plenty of time, don’t miss strolling around the Plaza General St Martin.
2. Plaza de Mayo
Type: Plaza/Square | Neighbourhood : Monserrat
If there’s one historical place in Buenos Aires, it’s Plaza de Mayo, which is the oldest in Buenos Aires. The plaza is named after the Argentine revolution that took place on May 25th, 1810. In the center of this public square is the May Pyramid, while surround the plaza are so many notable buildings. May pyramid was erected on May 1811, a year after the May Revolution to commemorate the event.
Some notable building surrounds the plaza are Casa Rosada, Hacienda Palace, Federal Administrative of Public Revenue, Diagonal Sur, Buenos Aires Cabildo, City Hall, Diagonal Norte, Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, Bank of Argentine Nation, and the secretariat of Intelligence.
Try to visit Casa Rosada the red brick building that is most noticeable in the complex. It is the seat of Argentine National government and President’s office. Casa Rosada was construction on the site of a fort established by Spanish government in 1580. After independence, the fort was redeveloped into custom house. Later in 1862, President Bartolome Mitro chose the building as the seat of his governments. The building later painted pink by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento to diffuse political tensions by mixing the colors of the opposing political parties. (Federal used red and while unitarians used white).
Behind Casa Rosada building is Casa Rosada Museum that opens from Wednesday to Sunday and on public holidays from 10 am-6pm. The entry is free.
3. Puente de la mujer (Women’s Bridge)
Type: Bridge | Neighbourhood : Puerto Modero
This is the famous bridge/landmark in Buenos Aires, located in the neighbourhood of Puerto Madero. The rotating bridge can rotate 90 degrees to allow ship to pass. Designer of the bridge was Santiago Calatrava (the architect of New York’s Oculus) and the bridge itself is a representation of couple dancing tango, with the mast is a symbol of a man and the curve of the bridge symbolizes the woman. The construction of this bridge started in 1998 and finished on 2001. (source: Wikipedia)
We visited the bridge during daytime, and it was a nice neighbourhood to stroll along the river. I think It would be worth visiting during the night as the lights will be on and the bar and restaurants along the river will come to life. Puente de la mujer is just steps away from Plaza de Mayo. It’s a great package to visit both in one day including Laguna de los Coipos, Laguna de las Gaviotas and Laguna de los Patos, which is another steps away from Puente de La Mujer.
4. Learn Tango! (and take a stroll in Abasto Historical Tango Area)
Type: Activity | Neighbourhood : Balvanera
Okay, let’s get real. You are in Buenos Aires, so why not taking tango?!
I search through Airbnb Experience various Tango class from1,5 hours to 4 hours with varying time throughout the day. Some offered dance with visiting Tango bar (with live music) and some combined with dinner in restaurant with Tango performers and stage shows. There are also package that offer dance lesson with a stroll in historical tango places in Buenos Aires.
Over so many experiences, our pick narrowed down to Catalina’s dance class. It’s a half and an hour class which combined the walks in Abasto neighbourhood and then gathered in a class where we were taught basic Tango.
We took subway and stopped at Carlos Gardel Metro Station before heading to the meeting points. We were met by friendly Catalina and met with other couple. It was the best experience I had in Buenos Aires.
5. Obelisco (and that BA symbol)
Type: Landmark | Neighbourhood : San Nicolas
This monument stands all in the intersection road of Avenida Corrientes and 9 de Julio, the main streets in Buenos Aires. It’s 71,5 meters in height. The monument was built in 1936 to commemorate the quadricentennial of the first foundation of the city. It is the exact spot where Argentine flag was erected at the first time, and three of the city’s underground metro line intersect underneath this spot as well. Inside this monument is 206 steps ladder.
I think it’s compulsory not only visiting Obelisco, but also walk along the Avenida 9 de Julio to get the feels of the city center of Buenos Aires. If the touch of spring still exists, you will be lucky to find the road painted purple by the magical jacaranda trees.
Type: Shopping Mall | Neighbourhood : San Nicolas
In the full intention to immerse in one of the fine architecture in Buenos Aires, we visited Galerias Pasifico. It’s hard not admire its interior once you’re inside, the dome, the details and sculptures are just amazing. The historical building was built on 1890 and home to Parisian store, Le Bon Marche. Over the years, the building has functions rom National Museum of Fine Arts, Offices, a hotel, as well as shopping venues.
7. Museo del Agua y de la Historia Sanitaria (The Water Company Palace)
Type: Museum | Neighbourhood : Balvanera
The magnificent building was built on 1877 and completed on 1894 to supply city water amid cholera and Thypoid pandemic. The architecture of the building was a Norwegian Architect Olof Boye. The tiles and bricks were all shipped from England and Belgium. Inside the building are twelve 6000 m3 iron water tanks distributed over three floors.
Nowadays the building functions as administrative office for the city water company as well as museum with collections of tiles, faucet, and old toilets and pipes. (source: Turismo Buenos Aires). When we arrived at the palace, it was closed, so we just took pictures from outside of the building.
8. Plaza Lavalle
Type: Plaza | Neighbourhood : San Nicolas
This square in the city is a smaller version of Plaza de Mayo. This green space is surrounded by historical building such Palace of Justice, Teatro Colon, El Mirrador Masue, and Cervantes National Teather.
9. Teatro Colon
Type: Theatre | Neighbourhood : San Nicolas
What drawn me into this place was the inner architecture. It is considered one of the best opera houses in the world along with La Scala in Milan, Opera Garnier in Paris, and Royal Opera House in London. It took 20 years to build the house started in 1908.
Guided tour in this place takes around an hour, and costs 1400 ARS (267,000 IDR/ 18 USD).
The tour takes in the following rooms: Foyer, Bustos Gallery, Golden Hall and Main Hall. Foyer is the important double-height entrance hall dominated by an honor staircase with marbles of different colors and crowned by French stained glass. Golden Hall is a permanent center for concert chamber music, conferences and parallel exhibitions to the activity of the Main hall. And Main Hall is The most important hall in the country, famous throughout the world for its acoustics and decorative richness (source: Teatro Colon). The Guided tour is available at 11am, 1pm, and 3 pm.
10. Centro Cultural Borges
Type: Cultural Center | Neighbourhood : San Nicolas
We were supposed to visit this place, but we were too caught up in Puente de la Mujer that we missed several places we intended to visit. It opens daily from 10 am to 9pm on Monday to Saturday, and from 12 am to 9 pm on Sunday. The entrance ticket costs 150 ARS
So that was my version of 10 best places/experience you should have in Buenos Aires. Let me know what you think and drop a comment/questions if any!