Destination guide: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South America. Its main tourist attractions are the historical Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisk and the neighborhoods of San Telmo and La Boca. The latter is home to La Bombonera stadium and Caminito, a typical Argentine street that is full of handicrafts and souvenirs.
Dancers and tango groups in the majority of public spaces are also common. Purchase your tickets to Buenos Aires and discover everything Argentina has to offer.
Buenos Aires - Practical Information
Buenos Aires is a huge city, but most places of interest to travelers are concentrated in just a few easily accessible neighborhoods. At the heart of the city is the Microcentro, the downtown business center; it’s small enough that you can walk around it fairly easily. Further south is San Telmo, known for its tango and its Sunday antiques market. South of here is La Boca, famous for its colorful houses clad in corrugated metal.
West of the Microcentro is Congreso, BA’s seat of politics. To the north is Retiro (with the city’s main train and bus station) and northwest, Recoleta, upscale areas of museums and fancy stores. Further north are Palermo and Belgrano, upper-middle-class suburbs with spacious parks and plenty of shopping.
BA’s Ezeiza airport is about 35km south of the center. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport is northwest of downtown BA.
There’s no admission price to check out edgy art at the Centro Cultural Recoleta, and MALBA is free on Wednesdays. Tango performances in Plaza Dorrego or along El Caminito won’t cost you a penny; entrance to parks like the Jardín Botánico are also gratis. How to dine on the cheap? Look for affordable menus ejecutivos (set-lunch menus) or head to a budget-friendly San Telmo steak-house like La Vieja Rotisería. If all else fails, a box of freshly baked empanadas (savory-filled pastries) only costs a handful of pesos.
1L petrol: AR$4.00-4.50
1L bottled water: AR$5
1L Quilmes beer: AR$4-6
Double scoop of ice cream: AR$10
Souvenir T-shirt: AR$20
Midrange hotel AR$180-250
Five-hour bus ride AR$75
Slice of pizza AR$4
Sirloin steak AR$30
Average in-city cab ride AR$20
Nationals of the USA, Canada, most Western European countries, Australia and New Zealand do not need visas to visit Argentina. upon arrival all non-visa visitors must obtain a free tourist card, good for 90 days and renewable for 90 more.
Dependent children traveling without both parents theoretically need a notarized document certifying that both parents agree to the child’s travel. Parents may also wish to bring a copy of the custody form;
Weights & Measures
Metric; Rural areas may use the legua (league, about 5km).
Argentine officials are courteous toward tourists. Electronic items, including laptops, cameras and cell (mobile) phones, can be brought into the country duty free, provided they are not intended for resale. If you’re over 18 you may also bring in up to 2L of alcohol, 400 cigarettes and 50 cigars. If you’re entering with expensive computer, photographic and/or other electronic equipment, you should play it safe and declare it.
Traditionally, business hours in Argentina start at 8am and break at midday siesta (rest) for three or even four hours, during which people return home for lunch and a brief nap. After siesta, shops reopen until 8pm or 9pm. This schedule is still common in the provinces, but government offices and many businesses in Buenos Aires have adopted a more conventional 8am to 5pm schedule.
TelephoneTwo companies, Telecom and Telefónica, split the country’s telephone services. For emergencies dial [tel] 107, for police [tel] 101 (or [tel] 911 in some larger cities) and for fire [tel] 100. Directory assistance is [tel] 110.
The easiest way to make a local phone call is to find a locutorio, which has private cabins where you make your calls, and then pay all at once at the register. Locutorios can be found on practically every other block. They cost about the same as street phones, are much quieter and you won’t run out of coins. Most locutorios are supplied with phone books.
To use street phones, you’ll pay with regular coins or tarjetas telefónicas (magnetic phone cards available at many kiosks). You’ll only be able to speak for a limited time before you get cut off, so carry enough credit.
The cheapest way to make an international call is to use a phone card. International calls can also be made at locutorios. Faxes are inexpensive, widely used in Argentina and available at most locutorios.
Calling OnlineServices like Skype (www.skype.com) and Google Voice (www.google.com/voice) make calling home cheap. It’s easily done at many internet cafes in Argentina.
Cell (Mobile) Phones
Argentina operates on the GSM 850/1900 network, so, if you have a triband GSM cell phone (sometimes called a ‘world phone’ in the USA), you should be able to use it in Argentina. If you plan to use your own provider, you probably have to contact the company to have your phone unlocked for international use. Unless you have a plan tailored specifically toward international use, your rates on calls made and accepted in Argentina will likely be high.
The best option with an unlocked triband GSM phone, however, is to purchase a SIM chip/card (about AR$15) and insert it into your phone; you’ll get a local phone number this way. Then you pay to add credits as you need them. Both SIM chips and credits can be bought at many kiosks or locutorios; look for the ‘recarga facil’ signs. Many Argentines use this system with their cell phones. Phone unlocking services are available; ask around.
If you plan to travel with an iphone or other G3 smart phone, prepare yourself – you may need to purchase an international plan to avoid being hit by a huge bill for roaming costs. Do an internet search for ‘iphone international use’ for current tips.
Another option is purchasing a new cell phone in Argentina. You can pick one up for as little as AR$150, usually with some minutes already on the phone – but most companies require you to sign a contract. Cell-phone rentals are also available in Buenos Aires.
Finally, you can rent or purchase an international phone or a prepaid international SIM card from one of numerous companies that likely operate in your home country.
This is a fast-changing field so check the current situation before you travel; take a look at www.kropla.com or do an internet search on GSM cell phones for the myriad of products on the market.
When dialing abroad from Argentina, you must first dial ‘00,’ followed by the country code. The característica (area code) for Buenos Aires is [tel] 011, and all telephone numbers in the Greater Buenos Aires area have eight digits. Area codes vary wildly throughout the provinces; those of larger cities have four digits (always beginning with a zero), followed by a seven-digit telephone number. Smaller towns have six-digit telephone numbers and five-digit area codes (again, always beginning with a zero). Basically, when calling from outside an area code, you’re always going to dial 11 numbers.
Cellular phone numbers in Argentina are always preceded by ‘15.’ After that simple fact, it gets confusing Usually you just dial the regional code corresponding to the person’s location, regardless of where the phone was purchased. Other times, the regional code you must dial depends on where the person bought the cellular phone. So you may have to try more than once to get through. Your best bet is starting with the regional code where the person is located, followed by ‘15’ then the number. If you’re calling a cell phone from within the same regional code, you don’t have to dial the regional code.
Toll-free numbers begin with [tel] 0800.
Telephone calling cards are sold at nearly all kiosks and make domestic and international calls far cheaper. However, they must be used from a fixed line such as a home or hotel telephone (provided you can dial outside the hotel). They cannot be used at most pay phones. Some locutorios allow you to use them, and although they levy a surcharge, the call is still far cheaper than dialing direct. When purchasing one, tell the clerk the country you will call so they give you the right card.
Calling Argentina from Abroad
To call a number in Argentina from another country, dial your international access code, then the country code for Argentina (54), then the area code (without the zero) and number.
When dialing an Argentine cell phone from outside Argentina, dial your country’s international access code, then 54, then 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number – leaving out the 15.
European plug with two circular metal pins
Australian-style plug with two flat angled blades and one vertical grounding blade