Budget Travel in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted on June 13, 2009 by

While I’m out dancing tango and enjoying a steak or two with my dear Argentinean friends, kind folks over at  Hostelbloggers have whipped up some travel tips for travelers to enjoy Buenos Aires on a budget. Check out their site to find some huge hostel bargains and budget travelling tips!

Tango in Buenos Aires


Tango by Guilhermo C FreitasThe hedonistic capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires has all the elegance of Europe coupled with the fiery passion of Latin America. Whether you want to wander down leafy streets of French buildings, party in the pounding nightclubs, or browse dusty antique shops in San Telmo, Buenos Aires caters to any budget, and despite a shaky economy in recent years, is still an affordable city break.

Cheap Sightseeing

If you’re traveling on a budget, one of the best free things to do in Buenos Aires is to explore the ‘barrios’, the city’s patchwork of neighborhoods which each have their own distinct character. This visitor-friendly layout is perfect for aimless wandering on foot – saving you on public transport as well!

Photo by Javier DorenNorthern districts – Recoleta & Palermo

The North is where you’ll find Argentina’s moneyed class browsing the upscale boutiques or posing outside funky bars. The chicest districts are Recoleta, with its boutiques and galleries, and green Palermo, packed with landscaped parks. La Recoleta Cemetery, in the grounds of a Franciscan Monastery, is where one of the city’s most famous residents, ‘Evita’ Eva Peron is buried.

Palermo is home to some of Buenos Aires’ best museums and monuments, such as the Museo Hernández, a museum of folk heritage, and the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, packed with modern and contemporary Latin American art. If museums aren’t your thing, explore the pretty Parque 3 de Febrero, or sit on terrace of the trendy cafés in the lively Plaza Cortázar.

Southern districts – San Telmo & La Boca


For a grittier taste of Buenos Aires, visit the historic southern barrios Monserrat and San Telmo. Both are a maze of cobbled streets lined with grand colonial mansions. San Telmo is famous as the birthplace of tango, and the tango bars still come alive after dark in Plaza Dorrego, the district’s main square. San Telmo’s antiques markets are also a great place to pick up a cheap souvenir.

Scruffy port La Boca is full of local character and is what gave the residents of Buenos Aires the name ‘Porteños’. The stomping ground of football legend Maradona, you can visit his old football stadium with La Boca Juniors, before heading on to Caminito, Buenos Aires’ most famous and colourful street of houses.

Where to Stay

Whilst the city has its fair share of luxury hotels, there are plenty of comfortable and affordable hostels in Buenos Aires if you don’t have much cash to burn. The city’s budget accommodation is surprisingly chic and well-designed, and it’s easy to find an artsy Buenos Aires hostel in San Telmo and Montserrat, close to the cheapest bars and restaurants.

Cheap Eats

Argentineans love to dine out, and Buenos Aires is packed with gourmet restaurants, many serving up the country’s famous succulent beef and steaks. A cheaper alternative are the ‘Asado’ barbeques at ‘Parrillas’ restaurants, where huge plates of meat are served with mountains of fries and salad.


If you aren’t that carnivorous, Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city with restaurants from all over the world – waves of Italian immigrants mean that it’s easy to find a well priced pizza or gelato stand on every street corner. The cheaper and more atmospheric restaurants can be found in La Boca with its ‘bodegones’ (inns) and in San Telmo, but remember the ‘portenos’ eat late and well in to the night, with most restaurants opening their doors from about 8.30 onwards.

Street food and snacks are also a bargain way to fuel up. Empanadas are pastries that come stuffed with anything from cheese to chicken, and the national delicacy Dulce de Leche is delicious spread on bread or the small and sticky ‘Media Lunas’ croissants.

After Hours

A late-night city, going out is a way of life in Buenos Aires, and there’s something going on every night of the week (although Thursday-Sunday is when the party really starts). If you’re in town when the River Plate or Boca Juniors are playing soccer, the city streets vibrate with energy when night falls. Argentineans aren’t big drinkers, but the city is rammed with bars – most are concentrated in trendy areas like ‘El Bajo’, the Plaza Cortazar or by La Recoleta Cemetery – perfect for sipping a hip cocktail or three.

The liveliest clubs are tucked under the railway arches around the Arcos del Ferrocarril, and in Costanera away from the chic northern nightspots. For a more traditional night out, tango is very much alive in Buenos Aires – join in at a ‘Milonga’ (tango club), or head to Plaza Dorrego on Sunday evenings (after the street market has finished), and watch an impromptu performance for free. More local vibes can be heard at ‘Bailantas’, club nights playing infectious ‘Cumbia’ music.

Further Afield


Most travelers stay rooted in Buenos Aires, but with good bus and coach links and plenty of hostels in Argentina, it would be shame to miss out on the rest of this fascinating country’s scenery. A trip through Argentina could take you past the peaks of the Andes, the plains of Patagonia, huge Glaciers and the immense Iguazu Falls, with a stop-off in cities like Cordoba, with its fine colonial architecture, and Salta, tucked away in the mountains.


Lauren Smith writes for HostelBloggers, the Insider’s Guide to Budget Travel. She is passionate about cheap (and chic) travel, and has been all over North and South America.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

14 Responses to “Budget Travel in Buenos Aires, Argentina”

  1. Mary R June 14, 2009 4:43 am

    I visited Argentina a few years ago without really knowing anything about it! I only chose it because I loved the musical Evita since a child.

    Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be one of the most interesting and beautiful places. I'd have to say it's one of my favorites in all my travel experiences around the world.

    We had a great experience at a small boutique hotel called the Art Hotel, which was a great value for the ambiance, location, amenities,etc. It's a bit more pricey than a hostel, but still reasonable if sharing with another person (about $90 US total for a twin). I want to recommend this hotel because I know some people may want to "splurge" a little bit one night or so and still get a good value for money…

    • Nellie June 16, 2009 10:37 pm

      I really appreciate your comments Mary! Yes Buenos Aires was a big surprise for me, a city with its own personality and strength. We stayed at the America del Sur hostel since we are on a tight budget, but man it was good. Modern decor and friendly staff! Nonetheless, when we have kids, we'll definitely check out boutique hotels like the one you mentioned, and come visit our old friends again!

  2. Lisa Lubin June 21, 2009 8:20 pm

    Yes! Buenos Aires was one of my favorite cities during a 2 1/2 year trip around the world. It's sexy, cosmopolitan, and cheap! I loved the neighborhoods and could live there…in fact, why am I not there right now?? Thanks Nellie!

  3. Encarna June 25, 2009 6:19 pm

    Hola Nellie y Alberto, estoy viendo vuestras fotos en este viaje, a pesar de que os echo de menos he de reconocer que es una gran experiencia la que estais viviendo. ¡Disfrutad del momento! Espero veros pronto, Cuidaros mucho
    Vuestra madre

  4. andrew October 21, 2009 11:29 pm

    Can you provide more information on this?


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