Advice for Buenos Aires?
April 27, 2019 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from May 15-June 15. I speak passable but not fully fluent Spanish and am most interested in experiences involving plants, animals, art, and vegetarian food, but am also interested in culturally significant experiences and fun activities. I also like to shop at flea markets and artist fairs for transportable-scale gifts and souvenir decor. Recommendations? Advice?

I will be staying in Barrio Parque and working professionally with the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden for a month as an artist in residence at a collaborating program. Any recommendations for my down time activities and/or advice about how to transit/what to pack/general expectations would be great! This will be my first time in Buenos Aires, and in fact in Argentina, though I have been to South America before by way of the Peruvian Amazon and have also lived in Spain for nine months. I do plan to spend almost all my time in Buenos Aires due to the professional aspect of my stay, but I would be willing to go on day trips or, perhaps, one slightly longer trip outside of Buenos Aires if amazing plants/animals/natural wonders are involved.

So far, I've been told to expect Ireland-esque weather - drizzly, cold, requiring layers - due to the beginning of the winter season, and that the area I'll be staying in is relatively ritzy.
posted by vegartanipla to Travel & Transportation around Buenos Aires, Argentina (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
culturally significant experiences

Tango. See a tango performance. (Take a short-term class or workshop, if that's of interest.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:41 PM on April 27, 2019

If I ever make it to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls is definitely on my list.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mercado de San Telmo is a must if you like flea markets - some good finds for souvenirs can be had there, and it is a BA icon.
posted by ryanbryan at 7:21 PM on April 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Regarding Iguazu Falls, it's 1300km from BsAs. You're correct with the weather prediction, it's going to be quite damp, probably. You can take day trips to Tigre, lots of plants there. There's also a huge reserved natural area, Reserva Ecologica Constanera Sur.
posted by conifer at 11:34 PM on April 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here is an article about the best parks in Buenos Aires. From this list, I can personally recommend a visit to Palmero - a great place if you want to escape to somewhere more open and green - and see what the Porteños get up to in their spare time.
posted by rongorongo at 11:40 PM on April 27, 2019

About side trips: Iguazu is a massive tourist attraction: - with high visitor numbers. For good reason. This makes it easy to visit: many trips heading there, many places to stay, etc. But for me (in low season) it still felt like visiting a Disney attraction a little more than a wild place. There are opportunities to time various parts of your visit so as to avoid the worst of the crowds - and it is also possible to visit some lesser known places. But do your research if you are thinking of heading here: and ask any botanical garden colleagues!

At the other end of the country - and Argentina is BIG - so a 4 hour flight - would be a trip to Los Glaciares National Park - probably staying in El Calafate. - again the Perito Moreno glacier is a huge tourist attraction - and again, with good reason. There are a number of interesting side trips in the region.

Finally - at least in my limited travelling experience: Mendoza is a great place: well known for its great food, great wine and wonderful surrounding nature. The climate is also warmer than Buenos Aires. It is relatively close to Buenos Aires - flight time of less than 2 hours - so would make a plausible weekend/long weekend break.
posted by rongorongo at 12:07 AM on April 28, 2019

You can do day trips to Uruguay via the Buquebus (boat across the River Plate).

I’ve only been to Montevideo that way, but you can get to Colonia for the day too, which sounds more beautiful.
posted by penguin pie at 5:28 AM on April 28, 2019

I was in Buenos Aires a few years ago.
- Iguazu is very touristy but pretty amazing. I did an overnight trip (meant to stay two nights but a transportation strike disrupted plans). There are frequent flights and overnight buses.
- Art: MALBA
- More art: Graffiti Mundo
- I did a day trip to Tigre and it is very easy to get to on the train. It's a weekend destination and seemed very busy/developed to me, but it was nice.
- Markets: San Telmo market
- Lots of people do bicycle tours around Mendoza, the wine region. It's a flight or bus ride from BA.

Other notes: Very few people speak English. It's a continent of Spanish (and Portuguese) speakers. Your Spanish at any level will come in useful (I ended up meeting other travelers who spoke Spanish and had to rely on them quite a bit). It's also a very meat-loving culture, but BA is huge and diverse so you should be able to find vegetarian food. And finally, look into the money situation - there is a lot that goes on with the currency and official/"unofficial" exchange rates with the USD. I went for a short time and didn't bring a lot of US cash, but be clear with place like hostels when you book about what currency they're expecting and at which exchange rate (if that is still a thing).
posted by scribbler at 8:09 AM on April 28, 2019

I stand by all my cultural recommendations in this thread.

Also, the toilet museum (no Duchamp included) is both architecturally and historically cool and interesting.

The variable exchange rate issue is less of a big deal since the current administration lifted caps on buying foreign currency so the "dolar blue" doesn't really exist anymore (or the difference between gray market and legit rates isn't worth the risk for anyone without very trustworthy connections and deep local knowledge, anyway) .

+1 to the Feria de San Telmo -- very touristy, but some of the best antiquities/flea marketing around. Parque Lezama and Parque Centenario also have pretty good ones on the weekends -- they're a hodgepodge of artisans and people clearing out their attics (and since the economy is headed straight into the toilet and people are desperate to make ends meet, probably more of the latter at the moment than usual). For 100% artisan stuff (of varying quality and taste) the Feria de Recoleta is probably the best, and you can stop by the fantastic cemetery while you're there.

I expect you'll already know about the Jardín Botánico, but don't miss the nearby Jardín Japonés too.
posted by dr. boludo at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Colonia, across the water in Uruguay is very pretty and definitely worth a visit, it’s very quaint and sleepy in comparison to BA itself.

It’s been a while since I’ve been but one of my best memories of BA Zoo was that it was actually possible to buy food to feed the animals. Feeding a hungry Pygmy Hippo literally made a made a childhood dream come true, though things may have changed in the fifteen years or so since.

I don’t know if it’s relevant for you, but the Gay scene was very suave, and cultured, and definitely worth looking out if you’re interested. Coming from an Anglo gay scene where things are a bit more rough and ready, it was quite a revelation.
posted by Middlemarch at 2:42 PM on April 28, 2019

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