Experience Buenos Aires like a local

Discover the real Buenos Aires by exploring the city like a local. Ten tips to get the authentic experience.

“One's destination is not a place but a new way of seeing things,” the writer Henry Miller said. Here are ten ideas for seeing Buenos Aires through the eyes of a local and experiencing the city's customs.

Explore used book fairs

If you like books, you'll love Buenos Aires. Join the local bibliophiles as they while away hours leafing through old volumes at the city's huge used book fairs in Parque Rivadavia (Caballito), Plaza Italia (Palermo) and Plaza Houssey (Recoleta).

Eat at the riverside stands

A popular guilty pleasure in Buenos Aires is to go for a choripan (sausage in bread) or a bondiola (pork) sandwich at one of the many food stands on the northern and southern riversides. These no-nonsense stands open night and day, offer homemade sauces, and some provide great views over the Río de la plata, the world's widest river, and of the aeroplanes taking off from Jorge Newbery Airport.

Drink mate in the sunshine

Mate is more than just a popular infusion like tea or coffee - it's a whole social ritual and communal experience. The bitter drink made from the leaves of a plant cultivated in northern Argentina is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla and passed around the group, often accompanied with savoury biscuits called bizcohitos. Head to any park in the afternoon and you'll find couples and groups of friends with flasks of hot water drinking mate while catching up, sharing stories and relaxing. It's more about meeting up and talking than it is about the drink itself.

Walk and cycle

Walking and cycling will allow you to see the city from another perspective; to get closer to life in the different neighbourhoods, and discover hidden corners in an efficient, fun and sustainable way. Buenos Aires has more than 150km of cycle lanes and a free public bikeshare system called Eco-bici, making it perfect for exploration on two wheels.

Experience the alternative cultural scene

Once you've done the big museums, get off the beaten track and discover the city's frenetic alternative cultural scene: underground theatre, exhibitions and shows at neighbourhood cultural centres, street fairs and events, and free shows in unexpected places. A good place to start is to check the agenda at disfrutemosba.

Order a coffee at one of the city's historic cafes

Time seems to have stood still at the more than 70 listed "bares notables," in Buenos Aires. These are cafes and bars that have been officially recognised for their historic and cultural importance. Order a cortado (coffee with a little milk) and soak up the atmosphere at these timeless classics.

Dine at a traditional neighbourhood tavern

Porteños, as locals are called, love eating out, and one of the most typical experiences is dinner at a bodegón, traditional neighbourhood restaurants offering a warm atmosphere and a range of popular local dishes that blend Spanish and Italian influences, including pasta, seafood and grilled meat dishes. Some of the city's bodegones have been going for more than 100 years.

Go to a match

In Buenos Aires, soccer is more than just a sport. Experience the phenomenal atmosphere at a local match, learn the songs and chants and scream "gol!" alongside local fans, or see if you can get involved in a neighbourhood kickabout.

Dance tango at a milonga

Get closer to the origins and essence of the dance by discovering Buenos Aires' authentic social tango scene. There are dozens of milongas, traditional events for dancing, and many offer classes beforehand - the perfect way to learn some steps and meet local people. There are milongas for all tastes, from the most formal to the most bohemian, and for every level of dancer.

Try the best cocktails - and stay out late!

The city's acclaimed cocktail bars offer world-class mixology with some local surprises and incredible themed settings. Do like a local and head out for a late dinner and then go for drinks into the early hours.


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