Soak in some tango, steak, Malbec and culture in Argentina’s capital. Buenos Aires is the second largest city in South America and a popular place for ex-pats to plant roots. The ex-pat community makes it easier for English-speaking foreigners to vacation in the beautiful city. With an exchange rate of about 7.5 Argentine Dollars to 1 U.S. Dollar, you can stretch your dollar a little further and here are some tips on how to do so.
1) Stay at a hostel. Hostels are a cheap way to find lodging and offer a social alternative to regular hotels. I’ve met some amazing travelers from countries all over the world while staying at a hostel but don’t expect to be pampered like a 5-star hotel. During my trip to Buenos Aires, my friend and I stayed at a hostel that has rooms for as little as $9/night. If noise is an issue but price is more important bring some earplugs. Since there are some rooms with shared showers I would recommend bringing some shower shoes or flip flops. I usually pack flip flops even if I’m staying in a 5-star hotel, plus it’s an extra pair of shoes that are thin enough to pack into any suitcase pocket.
2.) Explore a Sunday market. I stayed at a hostel in the San Telmo area and one of the biggest perks was the location. San Telmo is one of the oldest barrios, or neighborhoods, in Buenos Aires. On Sundays there is an outdoor market in a Plaza Dorrego which is a square in the heart of San Telmo. There are show-worthy tango dancers strutting their best moves, antique dealers showcasing their best goods and local artisans selling hand-made crafts. Brush up on your language skills because bargaining is acceptable in these markets. There are also empanada carts lining the streets near the squares. These were some of the cheapest and most delicious meals! Finally, there are great restaurants on the perimeter of the square and it’s a great way to have a cup of coffee and soak in Buenos Aires.
3) Take a bike tour. When you flip through a Buenos Aires guide book it warns you of the dog poop on the streets. I thought maybe it was an exaggeration or possibly a joke but they were not kidding. For the first few days I was so consumed with dodging puppy piles that I could not tell you what the skyline or really anything in the city looked like. A great way to see the city (sans dog excrement) is to take a bike tour. Some of the best parts of the city are spread apart and walking would be an ordeal. Also, Buenos Aires is generally flat so biking is great way to see the city.
4) Visit Eva Peron’s Grave at La Recoleta Cemetery. It might sound odd but I have been to cemeteries on 4 other continents and most of them have been more like beautiful parks than the creepy scenes portrayed in American horror films. La Recoleta Cemetery is beautiful and it houses Eva Peron’s grave. Whether you are a musical theater enthusiast (I loved Evita) or a history buff, the grave of Eva Peron draws a daily crowd. Don’t bother with the map, just ask someone in the cemetery where to go, or if it is a crowded day, just follow the crowd.
Over my years of traveling I have found the best way to save money while traveling is to plan ahead, pack smartly, and keep an open mind.
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