Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Shopping

Opening times

Shops at shopping malls and Supermarkets are usually open from 10:00 to 22:00 hrs, 7 days a week. Non-chain, small stores usually close around 20:00 and stay closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays except on big avenues and touristic areas. All of the main avenues are full with kiosks and very small convenience stores that stay open 24 hours. You will find no less than 2 for each 100 meters you walk. In the Recoleta area, several bookstores and record stores close as late as 2:30AM daily.

Money

The Argentinian currency is the Peso (Argentinian Peso; ARP). A 100 Pesos bill can be hard to break, so avoid changing round numbers so you get some change (e.g. when changing money change the amount that will give you 90 Pesos instead of 100 Pesos). Coins are rare and they are required for buses, so try not to spend them in stores.

Exchanging money

Money can be exchanged at Banco de la Nación Argentina at the airport and at any of the cambios (changes) along Florida or Lavalle, but, if you have the time, shop around for the best rate at the zone known as "La city". This zone is the banking district of Buenos Aires, and numerous exchange places are located right near one another. This mean fierce competition and options to check the best rates. In addition to this, in this zone is possible not only to change US Dollars or Euros, but also some other major currencies from Latin America (such as Brazilian Reals, Mexican Pesos, Colombian Pesos, etc.), Canadian Dollars, Asian (Japanese Yens, Chinese Renminbis, etc.), and Europe (Swedish Kronas, Swiss Francs, etc.). This can mean a saving of time and money by not having to convert 2 times. Take into consideration that wherever you go to an official money changer, you are always officially required to present your passport and copies are not acceptable.

Traveller's checks

Traveller's Checks are rarely used and may actually be difficult to exchange, but there is an American Express office at San Martin Plaza that will take American Express' Traveller's Checks. Banco Frances will cash them with proper identification, and are located all over B.A., including around tourist attractions such as El Obelesco.

Banks

Banks open from 10:00 to 15:00 and only on weekdays. Banelco or "Red Link" ATMs can be found around the city, but banks and ATMs are few and far between in residential neighborhoods like Palermo. Try major roads near metro stations. ATMs are the most convenient source of cash but should be used only in banks or ATMs that acted as the banks' branches. Just like in most cities, independent ATMs (not affiliated with any bank) are considered less safe.

ATM

ATM limits and fees| Some ATMs strictly limit withdrawals on foreign cards. You may be able to get out only 300 Pesos per day, so plan to visit the ATM often or hunt around for a more relaxed limit. The Citibank multipurpose ATMs are currently the only ones allowing withdrawals over 300 Pesos per day (probably up to the limit of your card). Otherwise, look for ATMs in the Link network. Banco Patagonico has a limit of 600 Pesos. The Visa Plus network of ATM cards have a lower limit of 320 Pesos per withdrawal with U$5–6 fee. Fees vary wildly from nothing to US $5–6. Read the fine print!}} As of July 2011, all ATMs in the Link and Banelco networks are charging a 16 Pesos fee for withdrawals from American cards. As these are the only two ATM networks to be found in Buenos Aires, plan accordingly. Cash exchange rates for US Dollars are very competitive, and it may be advantageous to simply bring a large sum of US currency.

Banking Fees

Fees for banking may be from both your bank and the Argentinian bank. Specific fee amounts depends on your bank and the ATM you use; most ATMs will charge foreign travellers around US $5–7 per transaction, which will be added to your withdrawal amount. Sometimes the machines also dispense US Dollars for international bank cards that are members of the Cirrus and PLUS networks. Visitors from Brazil can find many Banco Itaú agencies all over the city.

Change

Change is a problem in Buenos Aires as there is a seeming shortage of coins. The locals give two basic reasons for it. The first being that the metal is worth more than the value of the coin so people sell their coins to scrap metal merchants, or the other reason is that the bus system requires all trips to be paid for with coins so there is a shortage in a city of 13 million people. Whatever the reason, if you buy an item that costs 4 Pesos and 60 cents, almost always expect to pay with the correct amount of money. Some shopkeepers sometimes hope that the purchaser will simply say 'keep the change'. However, this is not the case if you use larger bills at bigger stores (such as a chain store like Carrefour) for purchases.

Credit cards

As of July 2011, credit cards are very widely accepted in the city center and Recoleta, and it is not an issue to use a card for a small purchase such as lunch.

Credit cards are used less common in Argentina than in the USA or Europe. However, most of tourist-oriented businesses accept credit cards, although sometimes with additional handling fee to offset the fee that the merchants have to pay to the credit card networks.

Souvenirs
The mate: It is a sort of cup made from different materials, commonly from a desiccated vegetal core (a gourd), sometimes with silver or gold ornaments; which is used to drink mate, the most traditional social non-alcoholic beverage. The mate is drunk in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil.
Other gaucho items: Traditional clothes, knives, etc.
Leather items: The cow is totally used here: meat, milk, sausages, and leather; all high quality. You can find coats and other leather products on Murillo street though the quality of the goods here varies widely. The best place to find high quality leather goods may be the malls and other major shopping streets.
Alfajores: These traditional cake/cookies, often containing dulce de leche, are delicious.
Football Jersey: Football ('soccer' for Americans) is a huge part of Argentine culture, so it is normal to bring home a jersey to represent your time there. Shirts from River, Boca or the Argentine National Team are always very popular and make great gifts.
Tango Shoes The zona de calzados is just Past Diagonal Norte on Suipacha. You will see many shops grouped together that sell tango shoes. As with many things in Buenos Aires shop around and make sure you are not getting the gringo price. Men can buy excellent hand made leather shoes for around US $50. For those of you with time on your hands you can ask them to make you a pair. They will draw your foot on a piece of paper and you can design your own shoe for the same price. Do be aware that if they tell you that it will be ready in a week, that probably means about 10 days (or around 7 business days).
Handmade Ponchos: The Native Americans in Argentina wear ponchos made of handwoven materials, usually distinct from other regions of South America. Some are seasonal, many are considered unisex. A good deal can be found, especially on the outskirts of the city.
A Bottle of Malbec: Argentina is famous for its wine, and Malbec is the signature grape of the land. A fine quality Malbec can be had for 8-10 US Dollars per bottle and makes a fine gift. If you know nothing about wine, go to a liquor store and look for the same brands/years found in nice restaurants.
Shopping districts
Florida Street and Lavalle Street (from 500 up to 1000) are for pedestrians only and is the place to find the majority of tourist's shops in MicroCentro. At the intersection of these two pedestrian streets, there is often some sort of interesting street performance going on, especially at night.
The Palermo Viejo in Palermo has many shops that will appeal to young or artsy people (think New York's SoHo). Nearby is Murillo Street, a block full of leather houses.
Book stores
Santa Fe Avenue offers not only lots and lots of clothes and book shops but also a nice athmosphere where you can walk along. You can start from the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue with 9 de Julio Avenue, and walk along Santa Fe up to the Alto Palermo Shopping (Av. Santa Fe 3253).
In the Corrientes Ave. from the Obelisco (big obelisk landed in the intersection with 9 de Julio avenue) up to Callao Ave., you will find a lot of cheap bookstores with tons of books mostly in Spanish. They remain open as late as 3AM, Monday to Monday.
El Ateneo, originally a theater (Teatro Grand Splendid), has now become in one of the top 5 most beautiful bookstores in the world . It has a reasonable offering of books in English. Located at Santa Fe 1860.
Markets and fairs

Saturdays and Sundays are great days for the outdoor markets, especially in the summer.

Recoleta: The Feria Recoleta (in Plaza Francia) is an assortment of all sorts of artisan products, from jewelry to shawls.
Palermo: Plaza Serrano in Palermo viejo comes alive in the afternoon with more artisan's handiwork and freelance clothes designers. Another nearby Plaza (in Palermo viejo) between Malabia, Armenia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua streets has stalls with items for sale. The Último Taller at Jorge L. Borges 1975 (between Soler and Nicaragua streets) sells funky candles and street address plates and markers; there are charming cats, and photos can be etched onto these plates as well. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10AM-9PM;
San Telmo: On Sundays, Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo offers tango and antique products. Defensa street from Chile to San Juan comes to life with live performers and vendors. The crowds are thick, so keep an eye on your possessions.
San Isidro: Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, the "Feria de Anticuarios" at the train station of Barrancas has a nice athmosphere. It offers nearly 70 stands of antiques, from toys to books and stuff for your home. Check their website for pictures and more info.
San Fernando: Saturdays from 10 to 18 hs., and Wednesdays from 10 to 16 hs. This is a market where you will be buying items directly from producers, with the condition that goods are produced with social and environment ethics in mind. You'll find books, vegetables, hand made clothing, musical instruments, etc. If you plan to buy things, remember to bring your own bag. The market is located at San Fernando train station, in Madero and Rosario streets (between Sarmiento and 9 de Julio).

source: Wikivoyage

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