Buenos Aires is a modern city with more European influence than most South American cities. The capital city has much to offer to travelers in terms of sights, culture, and gastronomy. With the decreasing value of Argentine pesos, Buenos Aires has also grown to become an attractive digital nomad hub in recent years.
This vibrant city is hands down one of my favorite cities in South America. Here is a comprehensive nomad travel guide to plan your visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina. General travel information are all at the top and more digital nomad specified information are at the back of the article.
The cost of living in Argentina used to be on a comparable scale with the United States. It is still more expensive than other South American countries like Colombia and Bolivia. However, with the consistent fall of the pesos, the cost for visitors has dropped significantly.
Some imported items continue to be costly or hard to find, but most daily necessities are very affordable. If you follow the rule of buy and try local, you can travel and live comfortably here.
Travel budgets vary according to each individual’s travel style; an average monthly budget of $1000 – $2000 is sufficient. You can get a rough idea of cost of items here.
Things to Know About Money
There are two rates on the market: the official rate and the blue rate. The rates can have a big difference, and you want to try to get your money at the blue rate as much as possible. If your home currency is USD, you are definitely affected by this. For other currencies, check Google for the official rate and Western Union (for a rough gauge of the blue rate).
When using an international debit/credit card for payment, there is a high chance you will get the official rate. In my experience, even cards from new fintech companies like Revolut will give a rate that is closer to the official rate.
Furthermore, some merchants offer discounts for cash payments as they prefer cash since the peso fluctuates quickly. Some merchants don’t take card payments, so it is still best to have cash on hand.
So then comes the question…
How does one get cash?
For travelers, avoid ATMs as much as possible because there is usually a low withdrawal limit and a withdrawal fee charged by the local bank (+ any additional fee your home bank might charge you). And you are likely to get the official rate. Use this only in case of an emergency.
Common ways to get cash:
Azimo is currently only available for users in certain European countries. Like other money transfer services, you can basically send money to yourself (pay in home currency, converted to Argentine pesos and sent) and pick it up from select merchants and retail stores. This is a common channel used by some expats and nomads.
Western Union is an international money wiring service that most of us should be familiar with, or at least heard of. In general, Western Union provides a good exchange rate. You can check the rate on the website before you transfer. After you make the transfer, simply head to one of the branches or authorized agents to collect the cash.
Depending on your country and the method of funding the transfer, there may be a fee for the transfer.
Note that some branches can run out of cash. If you are withdrawing a large amount, you might want to break it down into multiple smaller withdrawals or go for bigger official branches (over small authorized agents).
You can check the rates at money changers. They are usually not superb, but this is better than ATMs.
You will sometimes also find some random dude on the street doing money exchange. The rates are usually slightly better than your licensed money changers. I am not going to advise for or against doing it. Exchanging money with a random dude on the street comes with its own risks of getting scammed and all. Some people have advised against it, some people have done it. It is up to your own discretion.
Most expats using money exchange as their method of acquiring cash will have their go-to person. Head to the BA expat group and see if you can get any recommendations.
Most Argentines are also looking to exchange their pesos for USD because the peso is too volatile to be kept as savings. However, there is a limit in Argentine for the amount of USD a typical local can buy per month (it’s $200 the last I checked). As such, your landlord might be interested in exchanging his/her pesos to USD as well.
That said, you want to avoid withdrawing too much money at once because the peso is devaluating rather quickly. Withdraw cash in shorter periods based on your expenses.
Is Buenos Aires safe?
Buenos Aires is one of the safest cities in South America. You still have to take common-sense precautions, but I feel safer here than in some other South American cities. There are definitely dodgy areas that you should avoid, but these are not in the usual touristic zones.
A few districts that travelers will likely visit and might hear people warning to take more caution at night will be San Telmo, La Boca, Retiro (where the main intercity bus terminal is). However, things can happen anywhere, even in the so-called “safer” districts. Just stay cautious and take the usual precautions.
Where to stay in Buenos Aires?
Popular neighborhoods for travelers are Palermo, Recoleta, El Centro, Villa Crespo, Las Canitas Belgrano, and San Telmo.
Palermo and San Telmo are common choices for travelers.
Palermo is the hip District where you find a bulk of the cafes, bars, restaurants, and clubs. Nightlife here is also bustling. This is the place to be if you want to be in the center of the action.
One of the biggest reasons for choosing San Telmo is the cost. Accommodation costs in this area are generally cheaper, and San Telmo itself has some must-visit attractions as well. People staying here also claim that you get a more local vibe compared to other touristic districts.
Recoleta is a more upscale neighborhood, where you find the stores of some luxury brands here. This area gives you easy access to some of the best parks and attractions in Buenos Aires.
El Centro is the city center of Buenos Aires that spans across several neighborhoods. It is busy during working hours as that is where the government buildings, offices, and shopping areas are. It gets quieter during the night and weekends. There are many attractions in this area as well.
Villa Crespo, Las Canitas are areas near Palermo and Belgrano, respectively. They are cheaper in accommodation costs compared to Palermo and still very well equipped with daily necessities. Belgrano is another family-oriented area. You get easy access to Barrio Chino where you find all your Asian ingredients, and the Belgrano C station is where you catch a train to Tigre. For nomads staying for an extended period, these neighborhoods are good options.
Airbnb is a good option if you are looking for accommodation before you are in Buenos Aires. For tourists, this is one of the best platforms without dabbling in too much admin stuff.
For long-term stays, the price is likely not as good because Airbnb prices are targeted at “gringos” (tourists and foreigners). However, it is safer to book through Airbnb simply for the added protection in case things don’t turn out as expected. You can then negotiate an extended contract with the host directly after that if you wish to stay longer.
Alternatively, you can go on Facebook groups to find longer-term rentals once you are in the city. I do not recommend doing long term rentals without seeing the place beforehand.
Here are a few great Airbnb options I’ve stayed in:
Private Room in Alto Palermo: The apartment is in a great location near 2 main streets and metro line D. The room is not big but sufficient for one, and you can use the common area freely. Great price for a single traveler, since it is not easy to find rooms just for 1 anymore these days. Ana and Juan are really helpful and friendly.
Apartment in Palermo: The apartment is located next to Distrito Arcos – an open outlet shopping mall. This place is also at the edge of Palermo Soho and Hollywood, so you get easy access to both areas. Felipe stays nearby and is available to help with anything. The apartment faces the street and gets good sunlight, so it is fantastic for the morning person.
Apartment in Alto Palermo: The apartment is near the main street splitting Palermo Soho and Alto Palermo. The apartment faces the back of the building, so it is quiet. It is suited for relaxing at night. There is a comfy hammock chair in the patio. The host doesn’t stay nearby, but the building manager lives on the top floor and is very helpful.
Apartment in Villa Crespo: This is the most well-equipped apartment I’ve stayed in Buenos Aires. Located just behind the main street, you get easy access to basic necessities like supermarts, bakeries, groceries etc. It is also near metro line B and an outlet store shopping area. Palermo is a 10 minutes walk away.
Note that this apartment is on the ground floor so it can get noisy. The host, Cristian stays nearby and is very responsive to any questions. He also has other apartments in the same building and across the street from this one.
If you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up with my referral link here and get free credits for your first Airbnb booking and experience.
Hotels and hostels can be considered for short term visits and budget travelers. You can also use them as a temporary base as you scout for a long term accommodation. Here are some nice options.
Selina Palermo: Selina has expanded quickly across Latin America, and they are like a more luxurious form of a hostel. Selina is a popular choice among nomads for staying or hanging out. The one in Buenos Aires is located in a great location in Palermo. It has a comfy ground floor café and rooftop bar.
Infinito Eco Hotel: Infinito is a minimalistic design hotel in Palermo. The best thing about this place is that it has a jacuzzi and sauna, as well as a terrace to chill.
Art Factory Soho: Classy looking black exterior with clean design interior. Great for fans of minimalist design. Located in a convenient location in Palermo.
Viajero Buenos Aires Hostel: If you have traveled around South America, you might have heard of Viajero. They have hostels in various cities in Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay. Viajero Buenos Aires is a great budget option that comes with not 1 but 2 pools in the hostel. They are in the San Telmo neighbourhood.
America del Sur Hostel: Another nice budget option with social vibes in San Telmo. America del Sur also has another popular branch in El Calafate.
Leisure and Culture
There are no short of places to visit in Buenos Aires when it comes to leisure and cultural activities. Buenos Aires has a few prominent districts worth visiting, each with their own unique neighborhood vibes.
The city is filled with parks where you can hang out or exercise. It is a very vibrant city with energetic vibes. It is not surprising to see multiple exercise boot camps /groups in the parks in the evenings and weekends. You can also easily find gyms and classes such as Crossfit or Yoga around the city.
For great nightlife, you can get easy access to some great nightlife in Palermo or around the Bosque de Palermo.
For cultural events, check out theatre colon and the cultural centers’ websites. Theatre Colon also sometimes give out free tickets for weekend shows (usually limited to 2/pax). You can collect the ticket beforehand at the booth.
There is a tremendous amount of things to do in Buenos Aires that it warrants a separate article. Here you can find some of the best things to do in Buenos Aires.
Food in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has a very international food scene. Apart from cuisines from around Latin America, you can also get international cuisines worldwide. Asian, European, and Middle Eastern food are easy to find.
Local Argentina cuisine has a mix of European and Latin American flavors. Argentina has some really awesome local stuff, and here are 10 must-try local food and drinks to try when you are in Argentina. If you are a big fan of ice cream, you are in luck! Buenos Aires has many ice cream parlors, and here are some heladerías to try.
I generally like cities with a metro/subway system because they are much easier to figure out than buses. Buenos Aires has an excellent metro system that is also very affordable. The metro will already be able to take you to most of the attractions, either directly or within reasonable walking distance.
The transportation card in Buenos Aires is called SUBE. It is convenient to get a SUBE card for transport. You can recharge at any metro station or street kiosks.
There is also a bus system that is more comprehensive in coverage, but I have never gotten around using it. This is because Uber and other taxi apps, like Cabify are also available in the city. The cost is cheap enough to make it worthwhile for the time savings. So anywhere that I can’t reach by metro, I usually just go by Uber.
Uber is still not fully legal, so you might find that the driver asks you to sit in the front if you are alone. This is so you appear more like a friend than a passenger.
Getting to town from Airport
International arrivals usually come through the main Ezeiza Airport (EZE). The Airport is located 32km from the city. There are a few options to get from the airport to the city.
Taxi and Uber
The most comfortable way is to order a car/taxi from the Airport. You can make the order at the booths in the Airport. Taxiezeiza have been known to provide reliable services.
Uber is another option, and I have found it cheaper than the airport taxi. However, since they are still a controversial service, the pickup is not right in front of the airport building. There are a few pickup areas located a short walk away. Sometimes it will involve having to converse with the driver on the specific pick up point. If you don’t speak/understand Spanish, then this might not be the best choice.
If you like to save on the transport and catch the bus, Bus Line 8 takes you to Plaza de Mayo (City Center area) in around 1.5-2 hours. You can then find your way to your accommodation in other ways.
These are shuttle buses or vans that bring you from the Airport to a specified location in Buenos Aires. You will need to find one that suits where you need to get to. Tienda Leon, which takes you to Puerto Madero, near the city center, is a popular option here.
Cafes and co-working spaces
Argentina has pretty decent internet speed. It is possible to find accommodations or working areas with high speed. The only thing to note is that upload speed in Argentina is not very fast. Even connections with 100mbps of download speed can just be providing 10mbps of upload speed. This might or might not be sufficient, depending on how you work.
You can also find plenty of great cafes to work at, with great coffee and prices. Here are some of my top cafe picks around the common districts. If co-working space is your jam, here are the co-working spaces in Buenos Aires.
Digital Nomads and Expat Communities in Buenos Aires
As the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires already has an active expats community. Furthermore, it has grown into a digital nomad hub in recent years. If you are looking to information for foreigners or a community to hang out with, there are certainly options in Buenos Aires.
A common place to start is on facebook groups. Here are a few that will be of interest to digital nomads in Buenos Aires.
Around Buenos Aires
One of the things you might think about is doing day or weekend trips around Buenos Aires.
Tigre, touted as the Venice of South America, is a great option. Take a boat trip or canoe down the Tigre Delta.
For a beach getaway, Mar de Plata can offer a relaxing vacation by the coast.
Lujan is another beautiful city northwest of Buenos Aires. The main highlight here would be the exquisite Basilica of Our Lady Lujan.
Buenos Aires also offers a convenient channel to get to Montevideo or Colonia in Uruguay via the ferry in Puerto Madero.
Visa Run for Digital Nomads
Visa requirement depends on your passport. A good number of countries get 90 days for Argentina, with a possibility of another 90 days extension at a fee.
For digital nomads, there are many options for doing a visa run that fits nicely with visiting amazing places both in and around Argentina.
The fast option is to take the ferry to visit Montevideo or Colonia in Uruguay from Puerto Madero. There is also an option to head to Uruguay from the port in Tigre.
Other popular options include visiting Iguazu falls up north and crossing into Brazil (to see Iguazu Falls on Brazil’s side). To the west, you can visit Mendoza and head to Santiago, Chile. Alternatively, take a trip to visit Patagonia on both the Argentina and Chile side. Or fly to Sao Paulo or Rio for a quick Brazilian holiday.
Nature around Argentina
That said, Buenos Aires can be a great base to explore Argentina and surrounding regions. You have many options of diverse yet incredible landscapes, all accessible at a short flight away.
Many of them made it into my bucket list experiences.
While the International Ezeiza Airport is far from the city, Jorge Newberry Airport is located only about 15 mins drive from Palermo. This is where most domestic flights will depart. There are also plans to move some international flights to Jorge Newberry airport as well.
Here are some popular options:
Looking to get into nature? Patagonia is almost right at your doorstep. Most people fly into the city of Bariloche. Here you can do the scenic Refugio Frey hike or catch some lovely greenery at Llao Llao.
If you have more time, head into the small town of El Chalten. Breathtaking views await you at the heart of Patagonia. This is often combined with a visit to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate.
Have you been to Ushuaia? Widely known as the Southernmost point of the world, this small, quaint town is a total contrast to the bustling city. Don’t forget that it is also the gateway to Antarctica if you are up for the adventure. This is definitely one for the books.
Is Patagonia too cold for winter? Head up to see the tumbling Iguazu Falls. This is the most incredible falls I have seen since Niagara falls. The Argentina Iguazu Falls is worth a full day visit; some even come back for a second day. Don’t miss it! You can find a complete guide to the Argentina Iguazu Falls here.
Fly over to Brazil for some crazy New Year’s Eve celebration or the famous Brazilian Carnival. Not at the right time of the year? Brazil still offers some of the most amazing beaches in South America.