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Useful Facts About Buenos Aires
Useful Facts About Buenos Aires
Read some useful facts about Buenos Aires and learn the basics before your arrival in Argentina to ensure you make the most of your time in the city.
Learn a lot about Buenos Aires, it will help you during your trip
The official language in Argentina is Español (Spanish) or Castellano, as the Argentinians call it. Both names are valid, as they are synonymous. The porteño dialect adapted some words from the Italian and Spanish immigrants,, which developed into a slang called ‘’Lunfardo’’. The most noticeable difference in the Argentinian Spanish is the use of "vos" instead of "tu" or "usted". The interjection ‘‘che"is widely used to get another person’s attention, like the English exclamation "hey", and can also be used to mean 'dude', 'man' or 'brother'.
Argentina experiences all four seasons at opposite times of year to the Northern hemisphere. Winter officially begins on June 21st and goes on until September 20th, with an average temperature of 46°F (8°C) making July the coldest month. Summer officially begins on December 21st and ends on March 20th, with an average temperature of 76°F (23°C). Between January and February, the temperature has been known to reach 110°F (40°C), although this is rare. The humidity level varies between 75% and 90%, and while there is no specific rainy season, it rains more frequently during the spring and autumn months. To see the local forecast, visit Infoclima.
Although it is naturally located in the UTC-4 time zone, the National Congress of Argentina determined the official time to be within the UTC-3 zone and the federal states were once free to use the official time or not, according to their geographical location. It was only in 2009 when daylight saving time was suspended that all the provinces unified their time with the GMT-3. During the winter, the sun sets around 5pm, while during summer it doesn´t set until 9pm. Throughout the year, activities that take place in the city go on until much later.
☑ WORKING HOURS AND HOLIDAYS
Businesses and call centers in Buenos Aires usually cater to customers between the hours of 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. Typically, retail stores are open all day until 8pm and many are open on weekends too. However, the most important tourist attractions and activities in Buenos Aires are available seven days a week!
An important tip: don’t forget that lunch time is between midday and 4pm. If your travel itinerary doesn’t allow you to eat lunch during that time, you'll have to settle for a sandwich and wait until 8pm, which is when the kitchen service in restaurants resumes. For further information, click here to know the national holiday.
The official religion of Argentina is the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, Argentina recognizes and guarantees the freedom of religion, and you can find Synagogues, Mosques and most other places of worship here. Argentina has the second largest community of Muslims and Jews in Latin America, with approximately 400,000 Muslims and 300,000 Jews. There are other cults such as Gauchito Gil, popular among the gaucho community and other churches like the Evangelical, Pentecostal and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that have gained a number of believers in the last decade.
☈ BANKS AND MONEY EXCHANGE
To exchange currency in Buenos Aires you can go to one of the many Casas de Cambio, which are usually open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 15:00, but you will also find a 24 hour currency exchange service at Banco Nacion in Terminal A at Ezeiza International Airport. Bear in mind that to exchange money, you will need to present your passport.
ATMs are available 24/7 and the most common services are provided by Banelco and Link. Take note that ATM's usually have a low daily limit and it's not unusual to find cash machines out of cash during holidays and weekends in the most popular travel destinations.
① ARGENTINE CURRENCY
The local Argentine currency is the Argentine Peso (ARS$). Bank note denominations are ARS$100; ARS$50; ARS$20; ARS$10; ARS$5 or ARS$2 and coins come in ARS$2; ARS$1; ARS$0.50; ARS$0.25; ARS$0.10 and ARS$0.05. Some stores in touristy areas also accept dollars, and some offer a 10% discount for paying in cash. See official Dollar exchange rates and a compilation of the Argentine Bank Notes.
↑ ↓ TAX FREE
The VAT in Argentina is 21%. When making purchases in stores with the "Tax Free" sign, you can request a tax refund at the airport by filling out a form and presenting the receipts or invoices. Before making the payment, ask ths shop staff for the Tax Free Formulario to make sure they have the tax refund system and don't forget to keep the ticket to present it at Customs.
✈ BUENOS AIRES AIRPORTS
Buenos Aires´ international airport is commonly referred to as Ezeiza Airport (EZE) due to the province in which it is located. Ezeiza Airport is located 22 miles (35 km) southwest of the city of Buenos Aires. The most common way to get to the city centre is using a private shuttle, Ezeiza taxi service or a Remis. As rates may vary according to the provider and the type of service, if you want to book your transfer in advance make sure you are booking with licensed agencies. Public buses are super cheap, but they are not recommended if you have lots of luggage, also because it can take up to 2 hours to get to the city centre.
The other airport mostly used by domestic flights and international flights to neighbouring countries (some flights to Chile and Brazil are allowed to operate here) is called Jorge Newberry Airport, AKA Aeroparque (AEP) Airport. It is located northeast of the city of Buenos Aires at the Rio de la Plata shore. It is more comfortable as is located only 15 minutes from downtown. Transfers from international flights to local destinations often require moving from one airport to another. If you plan on doing this, take into account that you are going to need at least one hour to travel in between Buenos Aires airports, Ezeiza and Aeroparque.
Getting around in Buenos Aires is pretty simple using public transportation due to its long and grid-patterned streets. Taxis are cheap compared to other capitals around the world, just take few basic precautions before taking a cab such as learning a bit about the main avenues, as it is not unheard of for taxis to take the longest route with travellers. If you are going out late at night, it is always better and safer to order a taxi service by phone instead of hailing a cab on the street.
Most Buenos Aires public bus lines, or colectivos operate 24/7 and travelling in them is pretty secure and comfortable. Tickets are paid with a Sube card, or if in cash, ONLY with coins. Fares depend on the length of your trip, but inside the urban area, the price is usually between AR$3.00 and AR$3.50 if you have the Sube card, or AR$5.00 if you want to pay with change (coins only). Once you get on you must tell the bus driver your destination and he will mark the amount you will need to pay into the ticket machine. Insert the coins and get back a receipt that you should keep with you until you get off the bus, or simply swipe your Sube Card (Read how to get a Sube Card). If you plan to stay longer in Buenos Aires, the Guia T is a very useful and common pocket guide that will show you all the routes and bus network of Buenos Aires. (You can buy the Guia T at most newspaper stands).If you prefer the web services, then ComoLlego and ComoViajo are popular sites, which will give you a number of options to navigate by public transport.
The other popular means of public transport in Buenos Aires is the Buenos Aires Subway service, or Subte (a shortening of subterráneo), which is very reliable and secure. It consists of 6 underground lines (A, B, C, D, E, H) that connect the entire city with the downtown (Microcentro). The Subte is definitely the fastest way to move around the city and its routes cover almost all the tourist attractions in the capital. The subway system in Buenos Aires runs Monday to Friday from 05:00 to 22:00, and Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from 08:00 to 22:00 (10.00pm). One ride costs ARS$4.50.
There is an interurban train service that connects the city of Buenos Aires with its suburbs and the remaining province of Buenos Aires. The most common among the tourists is the Mitre Line that will take you to the north side of the Buenos Aires province to Tigre or San Isidro. The train is not as popular for long distances because the long-distance buses in Argentina are usually a lot more reliable, comfortable and faster. The railway stations and the subway are connected to the Central Bus Station, Terminal Retiro, which is the main place to buy bus tickets to other destinations in Argentina and neighbouring countries, as well as the place for arrivals and departures when you are travelling by bus. Transportation to Uruguay by boat is available by travelling across the Rio de la Plata.<
☏ PHONES AND CALLING CODES
Public phones are all around the city of Buenos Aires and operate with Argentine peso cents. You will find communication centres all over Buenos Aires (Locutorios) with internet access and phones to make national and international calls at a better rate. There is a wide range of international phone cards as well, just make sure that the one you choose is available also for cell phones abroad in case you need to call one.
Argentina's dialling code is + 54, Buenos Aires’ area code is 11 and a mobile phones prefix in Buenos Aires is usually 15. Mobile phones in Argentina usually need the area code as well. Many travellers ask how to call to a mobile phone in Argentina and the answer is not so simple. If you are trying to call to a mobile in Buenos Aires from another city in Argentina, you should dial the Buenos Aires code before the mobile number (11 + 15...); but, if you are trying to call to a mobile phone in Buenos Aires from abroad you should dial 54 + 9 + 11 + the mobile number without the 15 prefix. If you are calling abroad from a Locutorio, be sure you dial ‘‘00’’ before the country code.
The Buenos Aires Government has a connectivity plan on which installed hundreds of wifi free areas. The network is called BA WiFi. See on Buenos Aires Free Wifi website for all the places, museums and parks where you can connect to free internet to keep connected with your friends and family.
The metric system is used (grams, metres and litres) and the wattage in Buenos Aires is 220 volts, 50 Hz. Plug outlets in Argentina are with 2 cylindrical or 2 flat holes with an Earth wire. If you are travelling to Buenos Aires with your laptop or other electrical equipment make sure that they work with 220 volts, or buy a power adapter in any electricity store.
No vaccination is required to visit Buenos Aires and public water is reliable and drinkable. In some tourist spots you can find clean public toilets and sometimes you must tip the person in charge to get toilet paper. Public hospitals are available for tourists and free of charge. Local physicians are reliable and recognized worldwide, and a free ambulance emergency service is available by dialling 107 (SAME Ambulance). If you need emergency assistance, you can ask any taxi to drive you to the "Guardia" - Spanish for "Emergency Room." For further information see the list of Health Services and Public Hospitals in Buenos Aires.
When you’re on vacation in Buenos Aires, don’t forget to keep basic precautions in mind to avoid a bad experience as in any other capital or big city in the world. Remember that Latin American countries have big social differences and even if you are wandering around fancy neighbourhoods with well dressed people, there is also a high chance that on the same block you will see part of the population from less favourable conditions.
Protect your personal belongings at any popular tourist destination, where pickpockets often take advantage of distracting landmarks to snatch travellers' wallets, passports and cameras. This also holds true in crowded subways and buses.
Keep your camera out only when you are using it; store it in your bag or pocket in between photos as to not attract attention.
Be careful with purses and backpacks while sitting at cafes or restaurants. These are prime spots for quick robberies, and try to tie your bags to the tables or chairs whenever possible. At night, limit the amount of cash you carry and always know exactly where you are going. Know which areas to avoid after sundown, such as La Boca, and try sticking with a larger group instead of walking the streets alone. Only use cabs labelled "Radio Taxis," as these are known to be safer than independent drivers and if somebody tries to take your belongings, remember that nothing is worth more than your own safety, so let it go.
There is a police branch for tourists, "Policia Turistica", a special unit that you can find at the most important landmarks. Visit the website of the Tourist Police Unit in Buenos Aires for their safety tips. Following these simple guidelines will ensure you can enjoy your holiday in Buenos Aires to the full, without having to worry about your belongings and personal safety. You can contact the Buenos Aires Tourist Police Station, if needed, on 4346-5748. You can get assistance in Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian and French.
♨ ARGENTINE CUISINE
In spite of the porteños' great physique, Buenos Aires cuisine is far from the world´s healthiest. It has the best of Europe mixed with Gaucho roots and irresistible recipes high in protein, that are a great temptation for any tourists, however at times a living nightmare for vegetarians. Vegetables and fruits are available but usually more expensive and less popular than meat. Grilled meat like the Asado is the staple of their diet. Steak is the specialty, but pastas, pizzas and the delicious empanadas are also part of their Italian heritage. Their favourite drink is a traditional infusion prepared with Yerba Mate , a bitter herb that contains stimulants similar to caffeine. This is often combined with a selection of pastries and medialunas (croissants).
Buenos Aires’s cultural diversity is evident in people‘s faces, manners and habits. This cosmopolitanism is a product of a government that encouraged European immigration during the 18th century, which brought mainly Spanish, Italian, British, Jewish and German settlers, among other ethnic groups. This shaped the Porteño idiosyncrasy represented by tango, and opened the door to many years of prosperity and wealth in Buenos Aires, as well as in the surrounding regions.