Buenos Aires: Essentials
TO / FROM THE AIRPORT
Airport Bus Service
Manuel Tienda León buses run between the international airport and the downtown Retiro station. Its kiosk is located inside Arrivals. Buses into the city leave every half hour until 9 p.m. (Call for the night schedule.) The ride takes 40 minutes. $8.70, one way.
Avoid the cabbies who holler at you, and go straight to a remises booth to book a car. Drivers take up to four people per car and operate on a flat rate. $20 for a ride to the city center.
The bus, or collectivo, system is complicated and chaotic, so don't waste your time trying to figure it out if you're only in B.A. for a few days. Newspaper kiosks sell city-bus guides (Guias T) for 70¢. Buy your tickets onboard (28¢ per ride).
Commonly referred to as the subte, this small subway network makes convenient tourist stops, including Plaza Serrano, the Bosques of Palermo, and Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. It runs 5 a.m.-10:20 p.m., so it's not an option for late-night transportation. Ask for a free map (mapa) at any station. 24¢ per ride.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful. To avoid hailing an unlicensed cab, look for a certified 'Radio Taxi' (written on the car doors). Available cars will have the 'Libre' sign lit in their front windows. Four people per taxi. Rides from $1. (If you need to call: Radio Taxi Ciudad, 011-54-11/4923-7007, radiotaxiciudad.com.ar)
WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND TOWN
Buenos Aires Outdoors
Low-impact outdoor tours, including day trips to Tigre, and to traditional ranches (see Escapes box on page 8). $50 for a half-day tour of the pampas (the provincial grasslands) and local ranches; includes horseback riding.
Fall in Love With Buenos Aires
Run by a couple with extensive experience, these historical walking tours put a refreshing emphasis on the porteño perspective. Pedro Porqueras's specialty: Recoleta Cemetery. His five-hour tour by minivan also includes a coffee break at the historic Café Tortoni. $10-$15/person for three-hour walking tour, $30-$50/person for van tour.
Free city tours
Buenos Aires Undersecretary of Tourism, 011-54-11/4114-5791, bue.gov.ar/recorridos
Guided walking and bus tours. Themes are varied and include a good mix of neighborhoods and topics, such as "Notable bars of Recoleta" and "Eva Peron." English tours take place as indicated on the online schedule. Call the office for more information (in English). Space is limited on bus tours; call Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to reserve. Free.
La Bicicleta Naranja
Pasaje Giuffra 308 (corner of Balcarce), 011-54-11/4362-1104, labicicletanaranja.com.ar
Tours leave from San Telmo and focus on the southern or northern sections of B.A., or the riverbank and coastal grassy wetland Reserva Ecológica. Rentals include comfortable orange bikes with helmets, locks, storage bags, maps, and a drink. $19 for four hours with a guide.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
FUNNY MONEY: HOW TO SPOT FAKE PESOS
Counterfeit bills are common in B.A., so you should always exchange currency at a reputable place. But to detect phonies, hold the bill up to the light. If it's real