February 17-20, 2019
BA general tips:
— You have likely already heard the warnings. Keep a close eye on your personal belongings. Theft of phones and wallets is rampant in South America and Buenos Aires is no exception.
— There is no need for a local sim or roam like home cell phone package, free wifi is everywhere and you don’t want to be pulling your phone out in public anyway.
— Initially I had planned to take bus 8 from the airport. Once I realized it didn’t go directly to Palermo, I opted for a taxi. Good call. I can’t even imagine riding the Subte (underground metro) with bags. Maybe it isn’t so wild at off peak times but better to splurge and take an Uber or a taxi. Rumour has it, if you prebook your taxi you can save some pesos. I was not this organized. I paid 1300 pesos from the airport to Palermo (Feb. 2019)
— Last Buenos Aires airport public transit tip: the Express #8 doesn’t run on Sundays. I was advised it would be a long joirney if I chose to stick to my public transit plan. If you land on a Sunday you want to get to town quick to not miss the San Telmo market.
— Despite this, I recommend taking public transit everywhere else for the rest of your time in BA. It is cheap, fast, and easy to use. You need to purchase a Sube card and put credit on it. They do let you run a significant negative balance which offsets the price of the card. Keep an eye out the little blue Sube signs, or buy one at one of the Subte (metro) stations.
— Many things in Buenos Aires are closed on Mondays.
— based on my research, Seacat seems to be the best ferry to Colonia. It is exactly the same as the Burquebus (I was even checked in by a Burquebus agent) but a little cheaper. The third ferry option, Colonia express, leaves from La Boca which may or may mot be more convenient for you which should be the ultimate decision. Pro tip: when you buy your Seacat ticket online with a credit card, it will ask for an 8 digit number unique to nationals of Argentina. I’m not suggesting you do this but rumour has it that if you enter any 8 digit number in the ID spot with your credit card number, it should work. Or you can go buy a ticket in person at the Seacat office. Since you do need to print the ticket off, you may want to do this anyway. There is no wifi on the ferry.
— It is best to use cash everywhere. US is widely accepted in places like restaurants and accommodations since the peso is so unstable but do have some pesos for small purchases and things like public transit.
— leave plenty of time to get anywhere. It took over 45 minutes from palermo to the ferry terminal by taxi mid day. Traffic is wild.
After 2 flight connections from Vancouver and a 10 hour flight from Houston, I arrived in Buenos Aires.
Getting through passport control and customs took approximately one hour.
I was staying at Selina Palmero and according to their website, I could take the public bus #8 to get there. Turns out bus #8 does not go directly to Palmero, nor does the express bus run on Sundays leaving me with the option of taking the super slow bus into the city and then a taxi or subway to Selina, a shared shuttle to the city then a taxi, or forking over the 1300 pesos for a taxi. I opted to take the taxi. When you arrive at Buenos Aires you will notice at least 4 different taxi companies. I opted for the VIPcar as it could leave immediately.
If you do opt to take public transit, buy the SUBE card at the tourist information stand amongst all the taxi booths immediately after customs and then there is a little convenience store in the airport you can load the required SUBE card.
The directions on the hostel website were terrible but thanks to offline google maps and my very limited Spanish, the taxi driver and I found my hostel, 45 min after leaving the airport.
Since the San Telmo market was meant to be very cool on a Sunday I went straight there. The Subte (underground metro) was simple to figure out. I loaded a Sube card with 100 pesos (I believe 85 was the minimum) and was on my way!
The market was massive, busy, but not crowded. There were separate parts for antiques, art, food, clothes, etc. but I focused my energy on empanadas and beer.
I wandered around the centro area a bit before heading back to Palermo. I accidentally got off at the wrong Subte stop and found myself in a very modern North American style outlet mall. Random.
I explored Palermo for dinner and found an outdoor market at parque plazoleta julio cortazar on serrano.
Although my hostel was only a few blocks away from where I had dinner, I got lost.
My first night in South America and I’m lost after dark. I ducked into a store and checked google maps (I previously had downloaded the BA offline map) and sorted myself out.
The next morning I checked out the free walking tour. It was fantastic!!! I highly recommend this tour! The tour ended in the Recoleta Cemetary at Evita’s grave. Next to the cemetary is a cultural centre which is a converted mental hospital. Unfortunately like many other things in BA, it was closed (Monday).
Next stop for me was the botanical gardens. Also closed on Mondays. Fml.
I spent the rest of the day checking out the Palermo street art and food. This became my favourite area for evenings and food.
The next day I planned to do a daytrip to Tigre but received a message the trains were delayed or cancelled due to construction. Instead, I went to La Boca for another walking tour. This one was 400 pesos and so worth it.
I ended up running out of Sube credit and a girl on the bus paid for my fare to La Boca. It was near impossible to find a Sube kiosk in La Boca but the tour guide showed me one tucked into a very back corner of a tourist plaza.
After La Boca I spent some additional time in the plaza de mayo area and wandered over to Puerto Madero, a new and trendy area. I didn’t find it particularly interesting so went back to my favourite neighbourhood Palermo for the evening.
The following morning I did a morning rooftop yoga class (thank you Selina Palermo!) before heading to Uruguay. Details on that journey here.
My favourite site for itinerary ideas for BA was this one: