JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ERICA BODNAR FROM BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA !
Erica Bodnar is a wife, mother, computer systems analyst and travel blogger from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She works as a freelance IT consultant. She is an avid traveler and has visited more than 25 countries. When she is not dreaming about her next trip, you will find her planning trips for her friends and family, reading, practicing yoga or taking photos.
Buenos Aires is the capital and most populous city of Argentina. The city is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata. It is said that before becoming the Pontiff, Pope Francis I was a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires.
The Plaza de Mayo is a city square and main foundational site of Buenos Aires. On the eastern side of Plaza de Mayo, stands Casa Rosada, the Presidents’ Mansion which is a massive pink mansion with gorgeous architecture.
“Buenos Aires” means “fair winds”, or literally “good airs” in Spanish. The average temperature in Buenos Aires is 15 degrees Celsius year round.
When is the best time to visit Buenos Aires?
The best time to visit Buenos Aires is during fall (March through May) and spring (September to early December). During these shoulder seasons you can find the best climate, good hotel deals and less crowd.
Fall is a beautiful time in the city. Days are warm, with occasional rain and cool comfortable nights. Spring is sunny with warm days, cool nights and and pleasant temperatures. Springtime is my favorite time of the year, with the streets filled with blossoming jacaranda trees.
January and February is summer peak tourist season, with extremely hot and very humid days. It´s school holiday’s time when most locals leave the city and go on vacation to the beaches or mountains.
Winter – from June to August – is low season, except for two weeks of July during the school winter holidays. Weather is chilly and rainy, but you won’t usually find freezing temperatures or snow.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Buenos Aires?
Buses and metro are the best way to move around the city. You’ll need to buy a rechargeable transport card called “SUBE” at any city information booth or kiosks. However, it’s extremely crowded during rush hour, so try to avoid public transport between 7 AM – 9 AM and 5 PM – 7 PM.
In case you need private transport, always call official taxis or radio taxis, identified with their licence number painted on the vehicle. You can ask your hotel to call it for you, or use apps like Easy Taxi.
Uber operates in Buenos Aires and it´s usually cheaper than a taxi. There are frequent conflicts with taxi drivers associations who complain about Uber not being regulated. Sometimes the drivers will have you sit upfront to avoid conflict with the taxi drivers. The ride can only be paid with cash or foreign issued credit cards
Ezeiza airport is located 20 km away from Buenos Aires city centre. From the airport, the best way to go to the city center is by shuttle. The most popular is “Manuel Tienda León”, it will take you to Retiro terminal. You can also take a taxi but make sure to use official companies which have booths inside the airport. There are some buses but the ride lasts near 2 hours with many stops and is the least comfortable way to get to and from the airport.
What are the top three must visit places in Buenos Aires?
There is a lot to see and do in Buenos Aires, but these are my top three must visit places:
The “Obelisco” is Buenos Aires icon, the most famous monument and the epicenter of the city. It stands at “Plaza de la República” at the intersection of 9 de Julio Avenue, “the widest avenue of the world” and Corrientes street, called the Broadway of Argentina. Festivities, conmemorations, political demonstrations and all kind of public gatherings take place here.
“La Boca” is a colourful neighborhood that represents two of the argentine passions: football and tango. Top attractions of this area are “Caminito”, a little street with local artists exhibitions, the old houses of the inmigrants that arrived to Buenos Aires in the early 1900, and the La Bombonera stadium, which is called so due to its shape, with a “flat” stand on one side of the pitch and three steep stands round the rest of the stadium. It has a capacity of 40000 people and is owned by the Boca Juniors, one of the most famous football teams in the world.
“Puerto Madero”, the most modern waterfront neighborhood of the city, with glass walled skyscrapers, fancy restaurants and shops. Top landmarks of the area are the “Puente de la Mujer”, a bridge designed by famous architect Calatrava and the recovered historic port docks. Puerto Madero is an ideal place to walk along by the water enjoying the view.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Buenos Aires?
My favourite day trip is the town of Tigre (or El Tigre), a beautiful place on the banks of the Paraná River, just an hour away from Buenos Aires by train. This town boasts great restaurants, museums, vibrant markets and a lot of islands and waterways to explore. Take a boat or catamaran to cruise the river or rent a kayak or canoe from one of the rowing clubs along the river. “Puerto de Frutos” market is worth a visit, with a wide variety of handmade artisanal crafts and food.
A daytrip to the “Pampas” is a relaxing excursion. There are many “estancias” (ranchs) within a couple of hours driving that offer horseback riding and typical activities and local food like “asado” (barbecues). San Antonio de Areco and San Miguel del Monte are historic towns with many estancias.
Just and hour by ferry ride from Buenos Aires is Colonia del Sacramento, a beautiful destination by the Río de la Plata, in Uruguay. This colonial town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The historic town is within walking distance of the ferry terminal. Enjoy getting lost in the old town cobbled streets, walking along the beach and discovering local restaurants, cafes and artisan crafts shops. Don´t miss the sunsets full of colour and magic!
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires is a never sleeping city. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are great times in Buenos Aires. The city is beautifully decorated and we enjoy the celebrations. Christmas is more oriented to family gatherings but New Years´s Eve is plenty of options for the occasion: restaurants, bars and rooftops offer special parties and packages and there are many open air events around the city, including firework shows at Puerto Madero..remember here is summer and this time of the year means not only the beginning of a new year but the summer vacations!
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Buenos Aires? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
Asado or parrilla (barbecue) is our most loved local food, they are held in homes around the country on a weekly basis. Asado consist of different cuts of meat grilled over a low flame with wood or natural charcoal. This delicious food can include chorizo (sausage), “ojo de bife” (ribeye), “bife de chorizo” (sirloin) , “vacío” (flank), “asado de tira” (short ribs) and other cuts.
“Dulce de leche” or milk jam is part of our local identity. It can be find in cakes, snacks, desserts, “alfajores” and in our local pastries called “facturas”.
Even though Buenos Aires is the beef capital of the world, there are many veggie options around the city.
Where to head for shopping in Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires has many big shopping malls like Galerías Pacífico, Paseo Alcorta, Patio Bullrich and Alto Palermo where you will find variety of international and local brands.
The best place to find independent vendors is around Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho neighborhood and along Defensa Street in San Telmo, the city’s oldest neighborhood. On Sundays you can find the famous San Telmo Fair around Plaza Dorrego and surroundings, full with booths with street vendors selling antiques, crafts, artwork and leather goods. The fairs offers plenty of free entertainment and is a great people watching spot.
For discount outlets, head to Villa Crespo. The main outlet area is centered around Aguirre and Gurruchaga streets.
The city has the highest number of bookshops per person than any other city in the world. A wonderful un-missable place is bookstore “El Ateneo Grand Splendid” , a former theatre converted into a bookstore in 2000, situated in Avenida Santa Fe.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of your city?
Buenos Aires and the whole country is famous for its leather and for traditional silverwork. Leather jackets, belts and bags , polo themed products and handmade “mate” (cup for drinking local mate beverage) are typical local products.
Which are the best streets in Buenos Aires worthy of taking a stroll on?
Santa Fe Avenue, running along 3,5 km is lined with lots of stores offering clothes, bags, shoes and accessories.
Pedestrian Florida Street is a great place to buy leather goods. The famous Galerias Pacifico is situated in this street and it offers upscale top chains stores.
Córdoba Avenue between Lavalleja and Juan B Justo offers many brand name factory outlets.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
Galeria Guemes – situated on Florida pedestrian street – is a popular shopping spot which has a fabulous lookout tower at the 14th floor. You can see many domes and classical buildings of the city.
Hotel Panamericano situated on the famous 9 de Julio Street right across the Obelisco, offers a magnificent viewpoint at the 23rd floor where you can get an amazing view of the city and its most known icon: the Obelisc. Access is only allowed to hotel guests or spa day guests.
Do you suggest any shows on music, culture or art performed by the locals? Where can one spot street art in Buenos Aires?
Tango music and dance represent the essence of Buenos Aires and is an expression of the porteño identity. There are many stage shows, tango schools and tango-themed restaurants and cafés. Traditional venues include “El Viejo Almacén”, “Señor Tango” and “Madero Tango”.
The Teatro Colón, the main opera house in Buenos Aires, is considered as one of the best opera houses in the world and is acoustically considered to be amongst the five best concert venues in the world.
Regarding urban art, the city has many areas with large scale murals and graffitis as there are almost no restrictions on painting walls. La Boca and Barraca neighborhoods boasts great colourful murals.
The Paseo de la Historieta (Comic Strip Walk) is dedicated to graphic humour and features sculptures of local popular comic strip characters, as Mafalda and Patoruzú. The sculptures are located around San Telmo, Montserrat and Puerto Maderno.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Buenos Aires?
Good apps for exploring the city are Travel Buenos Aires with great information about city attractions and BA Planner, ideal for building customized itineraries.
Do you want to give any suggestion/tip to tourists coming to Buenos Aires?
Regarding safety, take care in just any big city. Be aware of pickpockets and be discreet.
Buenos Aires is renowned for its nightlife, be prepared for nights that never end! Be aware of the city common eating hours, a bit different from other cities. Lunch is held around 1.30 PM and around 9.30 PM is dinner time.