Things to Do in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Park PalermoOfficially called "Autonomous City of Buenos Aires" or "Capital Federal", Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and one of the largest as well as one of the "most European" cities in South America.

The name is is a Spanish phrase meaning "fair winds". It is a very stylish city with many interesting building dating from the nineteenth century. The people living in this city are called "porteños" (people from the port).

Here are some things you need to know when traveling in Buenos Aires.

Don’t be put off by its searing poverty – The city has been hit with an economic crisis so bad that people-including very young children-can be seen begging on the streets throughout the day, and also come out at night to look through garbage for things that would help them survive through another day. Be reminded that they are merely victims of a corrupt government, but giving money to them is a bad idea. If someone beg to you, give him or her something to eat instead.

Be at awe at its architecture – Buenos Aires has a variety of colonial architecture especially in the neighborhood of San Telmo, a run-down but appealing area located between the midtown and south part of the city. With cobblestone streets and mansions once inhabited by upper-class Spaniards, it would feel like you travel back in time.

A great place to shop – With the devaluation of the peso, shopping in Buenos Aires (or even the whole Argentina) is great for tourists who can get a lot for the money. Some of the best shops in the city may look expensive for the locals, but tourists can get good deals. You can either spend a few hours shopping along the many small shops and cafes on Florida Avenue or in many shopping malls in the city such as Abasto Shopping, Palermo Shopping, Galerias Pacifico, Patio Bullrich, and Recoleta Galleries. Once is also an shopping area where you can get some good bargains, but may not be the safest.

A large gay community – Buenos Aires has one of the largest homosexual communities in Latin America, which has been accepted in the city’s liberal society. Gay couples can form a legal civil partnership within the city, and there are also businesses catering to gays including real estate, travel agents, language classes, tango classes, bars, restaurants, and even a 5-star gay hotel.

Standard of living is generally cheap – Although it may not be affordable for a lot of locals, the standard of living in Buenos Aires is perceived as cheap by tourist standards. You can have an "all you can eat" buffet for only $20, as well as equally inexpensive public transport.

A walker’s paradise – The terrain in Buenos Aires is mostly flat, making it a feel-good city for people who prefer to walk (as most locals do). Be sure not to miss its open green spaces and parks like Palermo or El Puerto de Buenos Aires. Remember that it is only safe around the city during the day. Although it is not alarmingly dangerous in Buenos Aires at night, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Try the tango experience – Argentina is the birthplace of tango and it spill even onto the streets as dancers sweep their feet on cobblestone roads. You could even take a picture with some of the tango dancers, but if you really want to experience it try going into a "milonga" (tango dance bars) preferably in Confiteria Idéal at Suipacha 384 if you are starting or in "escuelas de tango" tucked hidden in its buildings. Don’t forget to buy some tango shoes over at Zona de Calzados just part Diagonal Norte in Suipacha.

Be careful about eye contact during tango – Here, men don’t go to you and ask for a dance. They express their intentions either by looking at you, nodding their heads or making a "let’s go" gesture. If you look, smile or nod back, it means a "yes". If you accidentally accepted a dance when you don’t want to, politely refuse.

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