Buenos Aires is the capital city of the Argentine Republic. It is also the country’s largest city and port, as well as one of the largest cities in Latin America. It is located on the southern shore of the Río de la Plata (the River Plate), on the southeastern coast of the American continent. Geographically the city lies in the province of Buenos Aires, but is politically autonomous.
Over 3 million of people live in the City of Buenos Aires, whereas almost 13 million live in the entire metropolitan area, making it one of the ten most populated urban areas in the world. Buenos Aires is the industrial, commercial and economical center of Argentina. The city’s port is one of the busiest in the world. As a result the people of Buenos Aires are called Porten~os.
The city is divided into 48 districts (barrios) for the purposes of administration. The most important and visited districts are San Telmo, La Boca, Palermo, Recoleta, Belgrano, Boedo, Caballito, San Cristobal, Puerto Madero, and Retiro. Originally the city was called ‘Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María del Buen Aire’ (City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Wind). The city receives numerous tourists from around the world, and offers a rich choice of nightlife, culture, and restaurants.
Buenos Aires is also the home of Tango. Every year on December 11 – Tango Day -the city pays homage to this sensual dance, which was born in its poor suburbs.
Buenos Aires has a temperate climate. January day temperatures are around 35°C, whereas July temperatures are around 10°C. It is best to avoid the city during the summer heat (December, January, February) as temperatures often climb to 40°C and do as the locals do: head to one of the coastal resorts. Spring (September, October, November) and autumn (March, April, May) are best periods to visit. Rainfall is expected throughout the year.
January average temperature 24 deg Celsius, 93 mm rainfall February average temperature 23 deg Celsius, 81 mm rainfall March average temperature 21.5 deg Celsius, 117 mm rainfall April average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 90 mm rainfall May average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 77 mm rainfall June average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 64 mm rainfall July average temperature 10.5 deg Celsius, 59 mm rainfall August average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 65 mm rainfall September average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 78 mm rainfall October average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 97 mm rainfall November average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 89 mm rainfall December average temperature 23 deg Celsius, 96 mm rainfall
The smaller Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport, also referred to as Aeroparque, handles mostly domestic and regional flights.
The Ezeiza airport is located in the suburban area of Gran Buenos Aires, which lies 30-45 minutes drive from downtown and is connects via highway. To get to the city center, you can use taxis, private cars, buses and minibuses. The coaches are comfortable, leave at least once per hour or even more frequently during the daytime. Smaller vans leave from the Retiro Terminal, and are slightly more expensive. You can also choose prepaid taxis. A ride to downtown costs around 75 pesos. Tourists are not advised to hail non-prepaid taxis.
The smaller Aerpoparque airport lies only 10 minutes drive from the downtown and you can easily arrange a taxi to get to the city center.
Long-distance and international buses arrive and depart from the Estación Terminal de Omnibus in Retiro. The terminal features many different providers serving all sorts of routes.
‘Subte’ is the underground public transport. It has a large network; services are inexpensive and efficient, if crowded during peak hours. ‘Subte’ runs from around 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. transmetro.mobi/bai/
‘Colectivos’ are the city buses connecting the barrios as well as the outer city areas. This is the main transport mode in the city, as there are over 100 lines. Buses operate 24 hours a day. During holidays and late at night services are less frequent. The ride is paid for at the ticket machines onboard, which only take small change so have some at hand.
There are good railway connections to the suburban areas. The main railway terminals are Retiro, Constitución, Once and Federico Lacroze. You can choose from several providers:
The passionate Tango was born in the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires and became the national dance of Argentina. The ‘milongas’ are places where tango lovers go dancing. They have an orchestra playing and some even offer tango lessons. The afternoon milongas take place around 8 – 10 pm. The night milongas start around 11 pm. The most popular are Salon Canning, El Beso, Porteňo y Bailarin. There are also tango dinner shows available for the tourists. The official Buenos Aires Tango portal: www.tangodata.gov.ar/
Football is Argentina’s a great passion. The city is home to 24 professional football teams. The greatest rivals are Boca Juniors and River Plate and a game between these two is called “Super Clasico” and is definitely a must-see sporting event. The Argentine National Team is also very popular and tickets can be very hard to come by. As a point of interest, the famous football-player Diego Maradona was born in one of the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires.
Argentineans are passionate about horses. You can go to the horse racing at the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo at cnr Av del Libertador & Dorrego ( www.palermo.com.ar ). The hippodrome itself is a grandiose building dating from 1908. The track is open weekends and Mondays. The peak racing season is November. Polo is also hugely popular. Games are held at the Campo Argentino de Polo. Pato was declared a national game in 1953. It is a game played on horseback, vaguely resembling basketball.
RESERVA ECOLÓGICA COSTANERA SUR
Take a break from the city and relax in the beautiful nature of the National Park Costanera Sur, lying to the south of the port. There you can find some great roads for biking. These can be rented just outside the entrance. The green and tranquil park is also a great place to go walking or strolling.
Teatro Colón is a magnificent seven-storey building and the biggest cultural center of Argentina. It houses opera, ballet, and classical music performances. The building was constructed in 1908 by Italian architect Francisco Tamburri and is designed in Italian Renaissance style. The Teatro has 2,500 seats and has room for additional 1,000 standing spectators. Guided visits are available of rehearsal rooms, workshops, the stage and the seating areas. If you have a chance, see one of the performances as they are truly majestic.
LA RECOLETA CEMETERY
Address: Calle Junín, Plaza Francesa Open: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm Admission free
One of the city’s top tourist destinations, the Cemetery gives the last resting place to Argentina’s rich and famous. The cemetery is situated in the city’s swanky neighborhood, the Recoleta and is surrounded by high walls. It is interesting to wander through the ornate cemetery, among its tombs, statues, and sarcophagi. The cemetery is also the last resting place of the national idol Evita Peron - her grave is among the most frequently visited ones.
MUSEO DE ARTE LATINOAMERICANO DE BUENOS AIRES (MALBA)
This magnificent museum, which opened in 2001, forms one of the cornerstones of the city’s cultural life. It houses the art collection of the museum’s founder, Argentinean multimillionaire Eduardo Constantini. The museum features exceptional works of art by Latin American artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Riviera, Antonio Berni, Xul Solar and Emilio Pettoruti. The museum also features temporary installations and exhibitions also well worth a visit.
Address: Avenida Rivadavia y San Martín Phone: (0)11 43312845 Access: Metro (Bolívar, Catedral, or Plaza de Mayo stop) Admission free
The Neoclassical Cathedral was finished in 1862 and features the tomb of Argentina’s liberator, General José de San Martin in the mausoleum in front. The Cathedral’s interior has recently been renewed, so the splendid gilded columns, silver plated altar and Venetian mosaic floor shine in all their glory. The Cathedral also features art works by 18th century artists. The Cathedral sits in the Plaza Mayo, which also features several important buildings, such as Casa Rosanda and the Presidential Palace with the famous balcony from where Evita Peron delivered her speeches. On the other side of the square there is the splendid colonial building, the former Spanish Town Hall, Cabildo.
Address: Caminito, La Boca
La Boca is the most colorful barrio in Buenos Aires. It was here that the famous football player Diego Maradonna was born. It is also the birthplace of the world-famous dance Tango. The area is characterized by low wooden and metal houses, painted in bright colors. The main street Caminito is full of painters, performers, and tango shows. You can also find numerous low-key cantinas in the area.
The museum is dedicated to Eva (Evita) Perón, the most controversial figure of Argentina’s recent history and the wife of the populist president Juan Domingo Perón. Among other artifacts, the museum features videos of Evita’s speeches delivered to a screaming crowd subtitled in English. On display is also a huge number of her designer dresses. Excellent guided tours are available in Spanish and English but only with prior arrangement.
You can find plenty excellent dining options in Buenos Aires and eating seems to be a national pastime. Porten~os take eating seriously, meals are usually eaten slowly - the eating itself usually lasts several hours. Dinners are eaten quite late; eating at 10 pm is nothing unusual. The city is home to numerous immigrants who have all contributed to the city’s cuisine, making it very diverse.
The main dish is Argentinean beef. Steak houses are called parillas. There are numerous beef steaks available: bife de lomo (sirloin steak – lean meat, very expensive), bife de chorizo (meat taken from the rib near the rump), bife de costilla (T-bone steak), tira de asado (roast rib), vacio (the bottom part of the sirloin, very juicy).
Other common dishes are matambre (flank steak rolled around vegetables and boiled eggs) and parrillada (mixed beef meat, organs, and sausages). If you prefer your meat rare, order it ‘juogoso’, medium is called ‘al punto’, and well done is ‘bien hecho’ or ‘cocido’. Meat is rarely accompanied by vegetables, potatoes, rice and other side dishes. Salad and bread are traditional accompaniment. Salads can be either simple (sliced tomato) or enriched with eggs and artichokes.
Argentina is also famous for its superb wines. These are either red - ‘tinto’ or white -‘blanco’. You can also try ‘matte’ tea, the traditional gaucho drink.
National desserts include ‘dulce de leche’ (milk jelly) and ‘alfajores’ (sweets made from dulce de leche). There are also the delicious ‘heladerías’ (ice-cream shops).
International cuisine is also widely available. The city abounds in pizza and pasta restaurants. There are many excellent pizza eateries. Pizzas come in many different varieties: ‘al molde’ - cooked in a pan, ‘a la piedra’ - baked in a stone oven, and ‘a la parilla’ - cooked on a parilla grill. Modern Mediterranean and Asian food is also very popular. Italian and Spanish cuisine is very much at home here.
The cheapest bites can be bought at ‘al paso’ (walk through) eateries where you eat standing up or at high chairs at the bar. The food available includes hot dogs, beef sausages, sandwiches, pizzas, milanesas (bread fried cutlets) and more.
Date: late February – early March Location: various Web: http://www.festivaldetango.com.ar
Buenos Aires is where the sensual tango was born. During the annual tango festival the dance is celebrated for six days and nights. Over 150 performers gather to give 100 free performances and concerts. World-renowned dancers and musicians come, performances are held throughout the city, there are also demonstrations and free lessons, people are dancing in the street, especially on the Corrientes Avennue. The festival also features the finals of the Metropolitan Ballroom Tango Finals.
ANNIVERSARY OF CARLOS GARDEL’S DEATH
Date: June 24 Location: various
Each year the anniversary of the famous tango vocalist Carlos Gardel is celebrated. A week-long festival features many events around the city. Hordes of worshippers flock to his tomb at Chacarita.
POLO ARGENTINE OPEN
Date: November 17 –December 8 Location: Palermo Stadium
Even though introduced by the British, polo has become a major national sport. Argentinean players are among the best and the Argentina Open is world’s fifth oldest championship.
BUENOS AIRES GAY PRIDE WEEKEND
Date: first Saturday in November Location: Plaza de Mayo
Buenos Aires is home to one of the largest gay communities in the Latin America. The festival commemorates the first gay assembly held in 1969. Today thousands participate in this extravagant parade of colorful floats and queens. The parade starts at Plaza de Mayo, continues to Plaza Congresso and ends at Avenida de Mayo.
INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FESTIVAL
Date: October Web: http://www.festivaldeguitarras.com.ar
Incredible guitar talents gather from all over the world on this annual festival held since 1995. Musicians specialize in many different genres, resulting in a varied display of guitar performances at the free public performances.
Partying is a way of life in Buenos Aires. Porteños just love going out and it is nothing unusual to party until 6 am and go to work at 8. There is a wide variety of bars, clubs, discos, many of which are open until the morning hours (6-7 am). Alcohol is not the most important element of nightlife, but good music and gorgeous dresses are. Note that night life kicks off very late. Dinners are eaten at around 11 pm, then people usually move to outdoor cafés and bars, and continue to clubs only around 2 or 3 am.
The best areas are Palermo, La Recoleta, and Costanera where numerous clubs can be found within easy walking distance. Many good places are found also in El Centro and San Telmo. The trendiest places are located around the Plaza Serrano in Palermo Viejo.
But Buenos Aires has more to offer than just bars and clubs; the hub of cultural scene is Teatre Colón, where the National Opera, Ballet and Symphony are located. There are also numerous other theatres, most located along the Avenida Corrientes where Broadway hits, Argentine plays and music reviews are performed.
When visiting Buenos Aires, a tango show is almost a must. The majority of tango venues are located in San Telmo.
The area of today’s Buenos Aires was first reached by Juan Diaz de Soli´s in 1516 but he was killed during a clash with the natives. The city was established on February 2, 1536 and was initially named Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre (‘City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds’). Further attacks by the natives followed and the settlement was abandoned. It was re-established in 1580 by Juan de Garay. During the next two centuries the city remained relatively insignificant. The settlement was dependent upon Asuncio´n (today the capital of Paraguay).
Early on, Buenos Aires depended on the trade. The Spanish, however, demanded that all trade with Europe must go through Lima so that taxes could be collected. As a result, smuggling became a lucrative business. The Spanish, however, were dissatisfied with how things took turn. In late 1700s Buenos Aires was finally proclaimed a free port, the trade restrictions being eased by the Spanish King Charles III.
The British attacked twice, in 1806 and 1807, but were repelled. On May 25, 1810 the dissatisfaction with the Spanish rule led to a revolution. The citizens were successful in eliminating Spanish influence and established their own provisional government. Today, this is celebrated as a national holiday. Formal independence followed in the year 1816.
After the independence internal conflicts came to light. There was a clash between the Federalists, the landowners, the Catholic, and the conservative who were in favor of provincial autonomy and the Unitarists, the city-dwellers, who argued for the central authority of Buenos Aires. During the 19th century the issue became quite heated on several occasions until matters were finally settled in 1880 when the city was federalized and became the seat of government and the Mayor was appointed by the President. The changes in economy and society led to massive migrations in the second part of the 19th century.
Rural areas were increasingly depopulating while massive influx of people streamed into Buenos Aires. The city was not prepared or equipped for such a mass of people. In the 2nd part of the 19th century railroad was constructed, increasing the economic power of Buenos Aires as raw material was easily transported to the factories. Buenos Aires became a multicultural city. At the beginning of the 20th century the city had the first subway network in South America, and the tallest buildings at the time.
MODERN (20TH CENTURY)
In 1920s Buenos Aires received further influx of immigrants from Europe, as well as from the neighboring poor provinces and countries. The industrial areas of the city were soon surrounded by poor shanty towns which brought about severe social problems. At the same time Argentina maintained an image of riches. A high level of unemployment led to a workers revolt in 1919 which was brutally crushed by the military. During the 1930s the city acquired new avenues right through the heart of the city. The city was remodeled after European image.
After WW II the city continued to grow, swallowing up the surrounding villages and towns. The huge city was facing serious problems with the rise of unemployment, inflation and the quick spreading of shanty towns. Peron was elected president three times, and a native political movement Peronism was born. He rose in 1946 with the support of labor unions and lower classes. He gave the lower classes a political voice and redistributed the wealth. His wife Eva Durante (Evita Peron) became a famous controversial figure. She devoted to seeking aid for the poor, who in turn absolutely adored her. On the other hand, the higher classes deemed her an opportunist interested only in power. In 1952 she died of cancer, her husband was later re-elected for the third time but in 1955 he was overthrown.
After 18 years in exile he returned to power in 1973. A year later he died and was succeeded by his new wife Isabel Peron, but the country was left in violence and disorder. Another coup d’etat followed in 1976 which only worsened the conflicts into the ‘Dirty War’ during which the military created a terrorist state which persecuted all who disagreed with the political regime. Children were kidnapped and people killed by the army, resulting in over 30,000 people missing.
In 1982 Argentina declared war against England over the Falkland Islands, but Argentina lost. During this period the tyranny ended and democracy was introduced. However, the country’s problems with unstable economy and military violence continued, the abyss between the rich and the poor was deepening. December 2001 marked another financial disaster, when Argentina failed to pay a loan of 100000000000.00. Social violence burst out with riots, looting and all-round havoc. Political leaders were changed with surprising speed, reaching a climax in January 2002 when Argentina substituted 5 presidents in two weeks.
Argentina’s debt to IMF was repaid entirely in 2006, and the country has made big changes for the better in the recent years. Social struggles have abated and Buenos Aires is finally on its way back to the top.
People are generally very laid- back. Dress is very important for making a good impression. Dress well, as Argentina is a very fashion-conscious country. Dress up for the night out. For a business meeting, dress conservative clothes: dark suits and ties for men; white blouses and dark suits or skirts for women.
Maintaining eye contact is very important. A pat on the shoulder is a sign of friendship. The ‘OK’ sign and the ‘thumbs up’ sign are considered vulgar.
Eating in the street or on public transportation is considered rude. Also, arriving on time if you are invited to someone’s home is considered impolite. It is normal to come at least 30 to 60 minuets late, or even 2 to 3 hours late is considered normal.
Tipping: Tip 10 % at the restaurants, tip porters and ushers, but only tip taxi drivers if they provide extra help like carrying your bags.
Gifts: Don’t give clothes or other items which might seem too personal. Give flowers, candy, chocolate, imported liquor. Open your gifts immediately to show gratitude.
Buenos Aires is a relatively safe city. Violent crime is extremely rare but pickpockets and ‘moto robos’ (bag snatching on wheels) are quite common.
Petty thieves mostly prey in the tourist areas so keep your valuables and passport in a hotel safe. Do not wear flashy jewelry and watches. Although the police patrol major tourist areas frequently, it is advisable to avoid certain areas. Do not wander alone and at night into barrios like La Boca. San Telmo is also popular with pick pockets, bag snatchers and conmen.
Taxis Use only radio taxis. You can call a taxi service from a hotel, bar or restaurant. Women Argentina is a fairly safe country for female travelers. It if advisable not to wear flashy jewelry and walk around under-dressed.
Emergency Phone Numbers Tourist Police: 436 Medical Emergency: 107 Fire Department: 100
Spring (September, October, November) and autumn (March, April, May) are low seasons and also the best times to visit the city. Summers are hot (40°C) but summer nights are splendid. The city has a myriad of events year-round but the majority of them fall within the spring-time. Winters can be quite cold so pack some warm clothes.