I just got back from my first vacation to Buenos Aires and I was blown away by how different it was from my expectations. While I knew there would be plenty of beef and Malbec involved, I had no idea that Bs.As. (see? I’m a local now) had much more in common with New York than Cartagena. Now that my Buenos Aires trip is complete, I thought I’d share some of the things I learned along the way.
Buenos Aires is a city.
This place is an urban jungle of crisscrossing streets and people at every turn. The drivers are crazier than cabbies in Manhattan and you need to time your street-crossing just right to avoid ending up on the pavement. There are definitely parks spread throughout the city, but no matter where you go, expect building after building. This is Madrid crossed with New York.
You should go to a soccer game.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a soccer fan. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not a fan of sports in general. Go to see some futbol. It’s a requirement. The people of Buenos Aires live and breath soccer. Getting tickets is a lot more tricky than in other countries, though (especially in the US). To make it a lot easier, hook up with Landing Pad BA. These guys are pros and they’ll take care of every detail to get you in and out of the stadiums. It’s a little pricey, but worth it for a super rare Argentinian experience.
Argentina has the best beef.
That steak you’re gawking at cost around $23 US. That’s about 1/3 the price you’d pay in the States. It was, no joke, over two pounds and absolutely delicious. If you want the same steak, head to my new favorite modern parrilla La Carniceria at the north end of Palermo. Honestly, though, you can eat amazing beef just about anywhere. Ask around and people will point you to their favorite steakhouses, which seem to be on every corner.
Everyone talks about the beef, but the pizza and ice cream are equally amazing.
I realize that I’m one of those people that talk about the beef (see above), but I loved the pizza and helado just as much. Buenos Aires pizza gets a bad reputation for being a cheese bomb, but, um, what’s wrong with too much cheese? Head to El Cuartito for the fugazzetta (the photo a few lines up) and you’ll be thrilled to enjoy a pan pizza with a mountain of cheese and onions. One of my favorite meals in Bs.As. for sure. Also, the ice cream is absolutely amazing. My #1 pick was Rapa Nui. It all makes sense — this city is heavily influenced by the Italian immigrants that came here decades ago and the pizzerias and ice cream shops are the culinary proof.
Uber is a great way to get around.
I didn’t even bother with taxis. Uber is so easy and relatively cheap (my rides were all about $10 US) that it just made sense to use the app. That way you’re not fumbling with cash and trying to figure out if you’re getting taken for a (figurative) ride. My advice is to take Uber in Buenos Aires.
Money is kind of funny.
Argentina has gone through all sorts of currency calamities, but as of right now (December 2017), things are fairly stable. While Buenos Aires used to have a reputation as an ultra-inexpensive place to visit, now the prices are comparable to what you’d pay in a big city in America. That said, many restaurants and stores still accept US currency, so make sure to ask if they do. Check the exchange rates to make sure you’re getting good value for your cash, otherwise you may as well just go to a currency exchange. Be aware that ATMs charge high fees, so take out a large amount at a time and prepare to pay an extra $10 US for the privilege.