Don't be fooled by nicknames like "the Paris of the South," Buenos Aires is still very much a feisty Latin city; it just boasts more cultural treasures than most South American cities. The capital of Argentina is known for its passionate populace and filled with beautiful architecture. However, the city's cosmopolitan lifestyle leaves something to be desired for budget travellers. Although, no matter how expensive a city may seem, there are always cheap and free ways to enjoy it to be found.
Paul Keller via Flickr/paulk/24649672/ (CC by 2.0)
Buenos Aires is a city that loves its meat. It is a bad place to be a vegetarian and if travellers truly want to enjoy all their meaty offerings, it can be a bad place to eat cheaply. However, there is one saving grace for the budget and it comes in the form of parillas. Parillas are essentially like a meat buffet. Huge haunches are roasted and brought to the table where slices of the flavourful, succulent meat offerings are carved off for consumption. They offer side dishes like pasta, pizza and the occasional salad to create an all-you-can-eat sort of establishment. They are by far and wide the best places to sample the Buenos Aires meat scene on an affordable buffet budget.
Dance the Tango
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There was once a time when tango was ubiquitous with Argentina. Visitors would fly down to this unique country to try the dance only to discover that many Argentineans weren't exactly as enthused about it as visitors may have thought. The tango mania has died down a bit abroad, but that has inspired the younger generation in Buenos Aires to foster a love for it. While visitors can enjoy watching this clever amalgamation of passion and grace during dinner shows, it is much more fun - and cheaper - to learn it. Tango schools are well advertised in Buenos Aires, specifically around colleges and nightclubs, as well as cheap since many are taught by young, poor dancers. Visitors who are confident in their skills can give them a try at a Milonga, a sort of club where people come specifically to dance the tango.
Mombojó Oficial via Flickr.com/mombojooficial/ (CC by 2.0)
The nightlife in Buenos Aires is almost as legendary as Rio de Janeiro, but it can be just as expensive if not carefully thought out. Those looking for a party can expect to leave later in the evening and not return until well into the morning. The smart way to go about clubbing is to browse schedules and decide where to go first. Many clubs, like Zizek or Asia de Cuba will allow free admission providing visitors e-mail ahead of time and arrive before 2 AM (when things start heating up). For those willing to pay the door fee, the outlandish Pancha is a must on a Saturday night. Pancha is where the big name DJ's spin heart-palpitating beats all night long. Providing visitors don't drink heavily or require too much water, the clubs won't cost more than CA$5.
Go Graffiti Hunting
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Although Buenos Aires has some stunning art museums, the true connoisseur will never find the time to go in. The city is a haven for street art and graffiti, almost every building that is not a glorious landmark has some sort of tag or mural on it. There are specific graffiti tours like Graffitimundo Street Art Tour, but looking for street art is also a great way to see the city on your own. Every barrio has some; it is just a matter of taking a turn off the main thoroughfare. Both San Telmo and Palermo are particularly renowned for the art.
Browse San Telmo Market
Jon Gilbert Leavitt via Flickr.com/photos/jglsongs/ (CC by 2.0)
Looking for a cheap and haggle-friendly place to get a souvenir? Every Sunday, San Telmo holds its weekly feria, or market. Not only are stalls packed to the ceiling with antiques and old junk from Buenos Aires homes, but the tango dancers and musicians serve to add even more colour and entertainment to the barrio's old cobblestone quarters.
Score Cheap Soccer Tickets
Eddy Milfort via Flickr.com/eddymilfort (CC by 2.0)
If there is one place as serious as England or Brazil about their soccer, it's Argentina. During futbol games, the city is near silent save for the roar of the crowds from the stadium. For those visiting during the season, it is one of those cultural activities that just can't be missed - even if you aren't a sports fan. The unfortunate downside is that tickets can get absolutely outrageous. For tickets even cheaper than standard seats, choose lower level seating in terraces referred to as "las populares" seating. This can cut ticket price in half and the casual fan atmosphere is generally a little less intimidating.
Enjoy a Free Museum
Buenos Aires is not only a home to a number of fascinating museums that are well worth the visit, but many of them also host their free days. What's more, unlike many cities that have museum free days all lined up on one day, the days are spread throughout the week. This allows visitors to tour museums at their leisure and not spend a cent or have to maintain a packed schedule. A must visit is the National Fine Arts Museum that holds the finest collection of Argentinean arts in the country as well as insight into the city's rich street art culture. This particular museum is free every day of the week. Alternatively, the Enrique Larreta Spanish Art Museum is free on Thursdays. Across the city, visitors can learn about the turbulent past of Buenos Aires in the Museum of the City, which is free on Mondays and Wednesdays.
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