Budget Friendly Guide
13 Budget Friendly Things to do in Buenos Aires
Dates Visited: November 2018 - December 2018
Buenos Aires is a vibrant and fashionable city that brings a bit of European flare to Latin America. Though the city has a reputation for its rich culture, the Argentinian Peso does not have as good of a status. As of 2018, it was one of the worst performing currencies in the world. Unfortunate for Argentinians, but good for foreigners looking to have a favorable exchange rate.
During our stay in Buenos Aires we ended up renting two Airbnbs. The first was in Recoleta, which is a fairly posh and affluent neighborhood known for its European architecture and boutique shops. It's a very walkable neighborhood home to the famous Recoleta Cemetary. The second area we stayed in was Palermo which is a collection of small trendy neighborhoods like Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. It's home to assorted restaurants, eclectic fashion stores, and art museums.
In our opinion, Palermo was alright, but we preferred Recoleta since we got a real steal on our Airbnb ($39/night for a whole apartment). Since we ended up going a bit over budget during our time in Peru and Chile we were happy with the cheap lodging. To go along with it we were on the hunt for cheap things to do. So here is our list of free and budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires.
1. Visit Casa Rosada
If you're going to the capital of a country, you might as well see where the President works, right? Similar to the White House for the President of the USA, Casa Rosada is the executive office of the President of Argentina.
However, unlike the White House, Casa Rosada is not the official residence of the President. Instead, the official residence is called Quinta de Olivos, located in the Olivos neighborhood of Greater Buenos Aires.
2. See the BA Verde Sign
The BA Verde is an icon of Buenos Aires. It's located in the right in the heart of the city, near to the Bus Terminal De Combis Obelisco. The BA Verde is in the San Nicolás neighborhood, which is smack dab in the city center. There's no entrance fee so its another one excellent budget friendly thing to do in Buenos Aires.
3. Go to La Boca
Located in the Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, La Boca is a working class neighborhood, and is home to the famous Caminito walking street. Along Caminito there are plenty of market stalls and restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Another attraction in this neighborhood is La Bombonera, the local 'fútbol stadium' that has an unforgiving concrete field.
To be quite frank, we wouldn't recommend walking much further into La Boca than these two attractions. It is known for being kind of a sketchy spot for tourists to visit, but its another side of Buenos Aires that's worth seeing. If you're going to take an Uber or taxi to La Boca, be specific that you want to be dropped of at Caminito which is the safer part of this neighborhood.
4. Walk through Recoleta Cemetary
Visiting the Recoleta Cemetery made our list of budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires since there is no entrance fee. The entire cemetery is free and open to the public to walk around each day from 7:00am-5:30pm. Located in the middle of a city neighborhood, its takes up an astonishing 14 acres with over 4600 vaults!
In fact, 94 of the tombs have been declared national monuments and are protected by the government, which makes sense since past presidents are buried here. In addition to former presidents, other prominent Argentine figures lie to rest here including diplomats, wealthy businessmen/women, and famous actors/actresses.
5. Say Hi to Frida Kahlo
Located in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires is a large painting of the late Frida Kahlo. She was a Mexican artist known for her folk art style that carried themes of gender, class, race, and self identity in her work. She was quite active in Mexican politics during her life but it wasn't until the 1990's that she became an icon of the feminism and LGBTQ movement.
6. Go thrifting at El Mercado de las Pulgas
If you're looking for budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires then look no further than El Mercado de las Pulgas. It's a large flea market located only a few blocks from the Frida Kahlo painting. It's open every day (except Monday) from 10:00am-7:00pm and is even connected to a few restaurants that have happy hours deals.
7. Walk by the Water Company Palace
On the ride from the airport to our Airbnb we saw this gorgeous building along the way. Eventually we made our way back to see what it was, and it turned out to be a water pumping station. The building constructed from 1877-1894 in order to replace an older unsightly water tower. Interestingly enough it still functions today!
8. Read a book at El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Another great budget friendly thing to do in Buenos Aires is paying a visit to El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Originally constructed as a theatre in 1919, it had a seating capacity of just over 1,000 people. In 2000, the theatre was closed down and renovated into a bookstore.
Since then, it has become an award winning bookstore for its beauty. In 2008 it was named the second most beautiful bookshop in the world by the Guardian. Then in 2019, it was named the world's most beautiful bookstore by National Geographic.
9. Spend the afternoon at Féria Mataderos
One of our favorite budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires is spend an afternoon at Féria Mataderos. Otherwise known as Mataderos fair, this marketplace brings the Argentine history and traditions to the city. It's located in the Mataderos neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, which is about a 30-45 minute drive depending on which part of the city you leave from.
The market is open from 11:00am-8:00pm every Sunday from March through December. Offering over 700 stands selling artisan crafts like mates, paintings, jewelry, clothing and traditional cuisines the market draws a crowd of roughly 15,000 people. There is also a large main stage that usually offers musical and dance performances throughout the day.
10. Walk through Cementario de la Chacarita
Cementario de la Chacarita is another grand cemetery in Buenos Aires. It's actually the largest in Argentina at an astonishing 230 acres and is known as the National Cemetery. Why all the fascination with cemeteries? Each of the cemeteries we visited have historical significance to the country of Argentina.
La Chacarita owes its existence to the yellow fever epidemic of 1871 because the Recoleta Cemetery refused to bury any victims of the disease. In addition to the historical significance, the architecture of each are really something to be marveled over. The intricate detail and meaning behind some of the statues are quite interesting to learn about. Have a look for yourself!
11. Take a Day Trip to Colonia
Although this is not one of the most budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires, we definitely think its worth making a visit to Colonia, Uruguay if you have the means. A round trip ferry ticket is anywhere from $62-$83 USD per person depending on the company/add-on options. However, doing this already put us over our daily budget.
Nonetheless, we really wanted to go to Uruguay for the day because Colonia was highly recommended to us by some friends. It ended up being a cool little city on the sea that has a quite a unique history. Read more about our day trip here including how to get there and what to do!
12. Stroll the Japanese Gardens
Open every day from 10:00am-6:00pm, El Jardín Japonés, or the Japanese Gardens is a public spaces that is managed by the Japanese Cultural Foundation in Buenos Aires, a non-profit organization.
In fact, this space is one of the largest Japanese gardens in the world outside of Japan itself. Admission is only $5 USD/person which we think makes it another one of the great budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires.
13. Wander the Botanical Gardens
Unfortunately we were unable to visit the Botanical Gardens due to the G20 summit closing down most of the city during our last three days in the city. Nonetheless, we decided to put these gardens on our list of the best budget friendly things to do in Buenos Aires since admission is cheaper than the Japanese Gardens.
Where to stay in Buenos Aires
After moving pretty quickly through Chile and Peru, we wanted to stay in one place for a while in Buenos Aires. We were looking for our own place to chill out so we used Airbnb to book accommodations for our entire stay. If you want to follow a similar route, clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
If you're looking where to stay in Buenos Aires, Recoleta is a lovely neighborhood with beautiful architecture. It's known for being an upscale part of the city with posh boutiques and walking distance to several parks.
Full Apartment: $39.25/night
Amenities: Wifi, Excellent Location, Full Kitchen, Free coffee/espresso, TV, Elevator
Lodging tends to be quite pricey, however, we found a great deal on a private Airbnb apartment for a full week that was less than $40 USD per night. We were in BA for about a week and a half and wished we had just stayed here the whole time.
Dorms: $10.00+ USD
Private Rooms: $42.50+ USD
Amenities: 24 Hour Reception, Wifi, Air Conditioning, Free Breakfast, Self Catering Facilities
Dorms: $7.84+ USD
Private Rooms: $22.40+ USD
Amenities: 24 Hour Reception, Wifi, Air Conditioning, Free Breakfast, Self Catering Facilities
Dorms: $8.96+ USD
Private Rooms: $21.28+ USD
Amenities: 24 Hour Reception, Wifi, Air Conditioning, Free Breakfast, Self Catering Facilities, Cafe
If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Buenos Aires with a young, hip vibe then Palermo is for you. Palermo Hollywood and Soho are two popular subsections of the neighborhood. The neighborhoods felt safe and comfortable to walk around with plenty of access to public transport.
Dorms: $9.68+ USD
Private Rooms: $39.16+ USD
Amenities: 24 Hour Reception, Wifi, Air Conditioning, Free City Maps, Bar, Luggage Storage, Tours/Travel Desk
Dorms: $15.81+ USD
Private Rooms: $29.30+ USD
Amenities: 24 Hour Reception, Wifi, Air Conditioning, Free City Maps, Cafe, Free Breakfast, Free Coffee/Tea, Fridge/Freezer, Self-Catering Facilities