Academic Trips & Language Classes
Argentina I.L.E.E., Callao 339 (3rd floor at Sarmiento; tel. 11/4782-7173; www.argentinailee.com) opened in 1986 and offers a cultural immersion program. They can arrange housing with families for students who attend their classes. All teachers have a master's degree in education or literature from the University of Buenos Aires. They also offer tango classes and other local outings.
Español Andando (tel. 11/5278-9886; www.espanol-andando.com) uses a cultural immersion program in a 4-day crash course and fights what it calls "boring" ways to learn Spanish. Rather than a classroom, students travel around Buenos Aires with professors to also use their new language skills in real situations. The school doesn't have an office for drop-by visits, but the first class meetings are at a cafe in San Telmo. World Class Language School, Ciudad De La Paz 2476, 1A (at Monroe, in Belgrano; tel. 11/4781-5891; www.wclass.com.ar) is a great choice whether you know Spanish well or not at all; you'll find several levels of classes with this school. The school is open to tourists and also has many business clients.
GraffitiMundo (tel. 11/15-3683-3219 [cell]; www.graffitimundo.com) was among the first of the street art tours, with a focus on the Palermo district. They offer a variety of tour themes and locations, looking at artists from Jazz to PumPum and many others.
Juanale (tel. 11/15-3120-9255 [cell]; www.juanele.me) runs art tours focusing on young, emerging contemporary galleries, street art, history, and culture, particularly in San Telmo. Tours depart Tuesday and Thursday 3pm from Balcarce 1150 (Centro Cultural de España Buenos Aires) and run for a few hours. Other times can be arranged.
Buenos Aires Urban Biking (tel. 11/4568-4321 or 11/15-5165-9343 [cell]; www.urbanbiking.com) has four different biking themes, including Buenos Aires by night and the Tigre Delta region. Trip lengths vary from half-days to full 8-hour days. Equipment is provided. The organization also operates in La Plata, capital of the Buenos Aires province. Guides speak English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
La Bicicleta Naranja (tel. 11/4362-1104; www.labicicletanaranja.com.ar) has two offices and four route formats. One begins in San Telmo and looks at the origins of the city in its southern section; another focuses on the northern area, another on the Palermo park system, and a fourth, called "Aristocratic Buenos Aires," is a comprehensive tour of Recoleta.
Lan and Kramer Bike Tours (tel. 11/4311-5199; www.biketours.com.ar) leads group tours, which generally meet and start their trips in Plaza San Martín. There are several tour routes, some of which pass through the Ecological Reserve along the Puerto Madero waterfront. Rates vary, depending on the length of the itinerary.
Buenos Aires Boats, La Boca Docks, at the base of Caminito (tel. 11/4303-1616; www.bueboats.com), leaves four times daily from the port in La Boca near where Caminito hits the waterfront. Trips last about 1 1/2 hours and go from La Boca to the Río de la Plata. Tours cost about $4 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and children, and are free for children under 3. Group discounts are available. Only cash is accepted.
Puro Remo Boats and Kayaks (tel. 11/15-6397-3545 [cell] or 11/15-3218-6540 [cell]; www.puroremo.com.ar) leaves from the Puerto Madero Yacht Club and offers various tours in which you do all the paddling. Tours vary in length, price, and required skill. Only cash is accepted.
Sturla Viajes (tel. 11/4314-8555; www.sturlaviajes.com.ar) offers boat trips between Puerto Madero and Tigre, a river resort near Buenos Aires. Trips by boat allow for a beautiful daytime view of Buenos Aires's waterfront, and a spectacular view of the waterfront by night.
In addition, La Boca also has small ferry boats at the base of the now-closed Puente N. Avellaneda (that big rusty bridge locals insist is a UNESCO heritage site, but is not). These are the boats used by locals to cross the river to and from Buenos Aires from the very poor suburbs in Avellaneda. Costing only a peso, they are fun to ride, but I suggest crossing and coming back instead of exploring the other side of the river, because Avellaneda is considered dangerous if you don't know it well. Few tourists take these boats, so you will be especially welcomed onboard by locals who rarely meet foreigners. Though it seems far-fetched considering the setting, some locals half-jokingly call these boats the La Boca Gondolas. Whatever you do, do not touch the heavily polluted water full of industrial waste and sewage. Only cash is accepted.
Travel Line (tel. 11/4393-9000; www.travelline.com.ar) offers more than 20 tours with various themes in Buenos Aires and its suburbs. Participants are picked up at their hotels and tours can last anywhere from 4 hours up to a full day; some include meals. Themes include Eva Perón, tango, gaucho culture (including trips to estancias), the city by night, and the Tigre Delta, among others.
Buenos Aires Bus, Av. Roque Sáenz Peña 846, 10th floor (tel. 11/5239-5160; www.buenosairesbus.com), inaugurated in May 2009, is a private tour bus system with 12 designated stops that uses the Hop-On-Hop-Off method. Tickets range from $18 to $23, with various discounts, and can be purchased on the bright yellow and black buses, at the stops, in their office, online, and at city tourism kiosks. Information about sites near the stops is provided in English, and the 24-hour or 48-hour bus passes are good for unlimited rides.
Customized & Individual Tours
BA Local (tel. 11/15-4870-5506 [cell]; www.balocal.com) is run by Christina Wiseman, a young, glamorous American expat from New York, who is also the force behind the puerta cerrada restaurant Cocina Sunae. Her tours range from off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods to art galleries, shopping, and other themes. They are particularly good for seeing the city from a young woman's perspective.
CiceroneBA Tours (tel. 11/15-5654-9032 [cell]; www.ciceroneba.com.ar) is run by Buenos Aires native Marcello Mansilla. He offers highly customized and individualized tours on many themes, including gay tourism.
Diva Tours/Bitch Tours (tel. 11/15-6157-3248 [cell]; www.bitchtours.blogspot.com) are run by sassy Buenos Aires-born Agustina Menendez, who also works as an actress and dancer. She'll take you on tours with a twist, to sites from the Casa Rosada to a slaughterhouse.
Disabled, Handicapped & Low-Mobility Tours
BA Cultural Concierge (tel. 11/4777-0581 or 11/15-5457-2035 [cell]; www.BACulturalConcierge.com) is run by Madi Lang, an American from Bethesda, Maryland. She works with those who are low-mobility, are disabled, or have other issues making travel difficult. Easily reachable by cell or Blackberry, she can order special car services, breathing apparatuses, and additional services.
TTS Viajes Independent Living Tourism Division (tel. 11/5941-9694 or 11/15-5646-6269 [cell]; www.ttsviajes.com/viajes-turismo-con-discapacidad.php) is a division of TTS Viajes, overseen by travel specialist Nelida Barbeito, an Argentine native fluent in English. She can arrange all aspects of a trip, advising also on how accessible properties actually are, and assist with emergencies. She also runs a blog (www.nelidabarbeito.blogspot.com) on accessible travel.
Dine at Home Tours (tel. 11/4801-3182, 11/15-6051-9328 or 11/15-5564-9846 [all cells]; www.dineathome.com.ar) organize dinners for tourists in the homes or locals, and are a good way to get to meet English-speaking locals. Edward Goedhart started the tours, which clients can select depending on an occupation. So, for instance, if you're an architect and want to know a local architect, this is a way to do it. Book through an agent or directly with the organization.
Food & Wine Trips
The best wine tours in Argentina are in the Mendoza winegrowing region, in the western part of the country near the Andes. In addition, virtually all tour companies we list above can help organize wine tastings or hire a guide to take you to specialized restaurants. We also list puertas cerradas, in which groups dine at the home of a chef. Most chefs who run puertas cerradas will also offer cooking classes in their homes. In addition, the restaurant Pampa Picante runs an asado cooking class, where you can learn to cook Argentine beef like a native.
Free Buenos Aires City Tourism Tours
The Buenos Aires City Tourism Office (tel. 11/4114-5734 or 11/4114-5791 for tours) offers an excellent array of free city tours. Participants are taken through the city on buses or meet at a designated point and walk through a neighborhood as a guide explains the highlights. Most of the tours are conducted in Spanish; however, a few are in Spanish and English. The possibility of an English-speaking guide being on hand can change at the last minute, but I encourage you to sign up for a tour anyway and see what happens. You can always leave if the tour ends up being in a language you don't understand, or someone will more than likely be able to translate.
Ask for information about tours at the many Visitor Information kiosks. You can also ask for self-guided tour maps at these kiosks, or call the tourism office during its hours, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. The direct number for the tour guides division is tel. 11/4114-5791. Tours are on a space-available basis, so you'll have to register for them.
Another interesting, free, self-guided city tour service offered by the Buenos Aires City Tourism Office is the Cellular Telephone Tours. Ask for the brochure Audio Guía Móvil (currently only available in Spanish). It details itineraries and provides a number that you can call to hear information (in either English or Spanish) about the various attractions. While this information service is free, don't forget that you will be charged for cellphone usage, making the cost of using this service possibly significant. Still, the system's complete flexibility and ability to allow you to hear recordings from the past certainly makes this different from any other tour option out there.
BA Free Tour (tel. 11/15/6395-3000; www.bafreetour.com) offers a variety of 2- to 3-hour tours. The individuals who provide the tours make their living on tips. The company can also arrange private tours.
BueGay (tel. 11/4805-1401 or 11/15-4184-8290 [cell]; www.buegay.com.ar), run by Alfredo Ferrerya, is one of the oldest gay travel companies in Argentina, with tours in Spanish and English. They can arrange all aspects of your trip to Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina, as well as day tours.
Carlos Melia Travel (tel. 11/15-5760-6959 [cell] in Argentina and 347/944-0026 in the U.S. and Canada; www.carlosmelia.com), run by Carlos Melia, specializes in luxury gay travel and can arrange all aspects of your trip to Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina, as well as day tours. Carlos has the distinction of having been Mr. Gay Argentina, and Mr. Gay World.
Duques del Plata (tel. 11/3221-2629 or 11/15-6144-9639 [cell]; www.duquesdelplata.com), run by Damian Gatto, offers full-service tourism booking and various city tours, from wine tasting to tango.
Mister Papi Tours (tel. 11/4372-4578 or 11/15-5995-8531 [cell]; www.misterpapi.com.ar), run by Fabian Fuentes, offers tours in Spanish and English. He only does them for individuals or very small groups of friends, in a combination of walking, taxi, or rent-a-car, depending on what people want.
The Royal Family Argentina (tel. 11/5353-2047; www.theroyalfamily.com.ar), run by Dutchman Erik Hovenga, offers a variety of tours, along with full service tour booking, and a language school catering to gay and lesbian and other travelers. He also runs PinkPoint, Lavalle 669 (tel. 11/5353-2046; www.pinkpointbuenosaires.com), a private gay tourism information center.
Gay travel agencies that organize trips to Buenos Aires include San Francisco-based Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com); Chicago-based Zoom Vacations (tel. 866/966-6822; www.zoomvacations.com); New York-based Steele Travel (tel. 646/688-2274; www.steeletravel.com) and California-based David Travel (tel. 949/723-0699; www.davidtravel.com).
Horseback Riding Tours
Caballos a la Par (Lima [9 de Julio] 549, 2E; tel. 11/4384-7013; www.caballosalapar.com) organizes horseback riding tours in Parque Provincial Pereyra Iraola, about half an hour from Buenos Aires, allowing a quick half-day trip. They work with various tour companies, including Tangol Tours (tel. 11/4312-7276; www.tangol.com).
TravelJewish (tel. 877/TANGO-SI [826-4674] in the U.S. or 11/5258-0774 in Buenos Aires; www.traveljewish.com; firstname.lastname@example.org) will plan trips from beginning to end, including flights, high-end hotels, adventure kayaking, and a day in Tigre, or simply Jewish-themed day tours. They also organize South American trips and tango and Spanish instruction.
Susana Alter (tel. 11/15-3214-4432 [cell] or 11/4555-7297; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), a native of Argentina who spent several years in Israel, is a private tour guide who conducts Jewish-themed and other tours for individuals and groups. She speaks several languages, and offers tours in English, Spanish, and German.
Al TunTunno Tours (tel. 11/15-4197-2381 [cell] or 11/4806-7115; www.altuntunno.com) is run by Argentine natives Julieta Caracoche and Sofia Lanusse. They'll take you shopping for anything, especially shoes.
While Conocer Buenos Aires (tel. 11/15-5565-0348 [cell]; www.conocerbue.com.ar) only offers tours in Spanish, its in-depth themes are not found in most English-language tours. They cover major cultural figures in Argentina, immigration, off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods where tourists rarely venture, and other themes, using a combination of walking and minibuses, depending on the tour. Check the website for new tours, which are definitely worth taking if you understand Spanish.
Go Football Tours (tel. 11/4816-2681 or 11/15-4405-9526 [cell]; www.gofootball.com.ar) will help you purchase tickets to various sporting events (not just football) and provide round-trip transportation between your hotel and the stadium. Visit their website to find out which games fit into your travel schedule. Visa and cash are accepted. Prices vary, beginning at about $60, including tickets and transportation.
Argentine Golf (tel. 11/15-6892 9451 or 877/753-3155 from the U.S.; www.argentinegolf.com.ar) is perfect for busy executives who don't have the time to plan a day of golf but want to squeeze in a few holes before leaving Buenos Aires. This company will pick you up, take you to a local golf course, provide lunch, and then bring you back to your hotel.
There are dozens of tours for people interested in tango here in Buenos Aires, the city where it all began.
Voluntario Global (tel. 11/15-6206-9639 [cell]; www.voluntarioglobal.org.ar) is an association that promotes responsible tourism. It offers visitors a chance to see how the other half lives, with trips to villas miserias, or slums, surrounding Buenos Aires, where you work alongside nongovernmental agents helping the poor. In some cases, you see where the cartoneros, or garbage pickers, live -- the ones you've avoided during your trip -- and can better understand their lives.
Buenos Tours (tel. 11/3221-1048; www.buenostours.com) offers various walking tours, calling themselves "The Private Walking Tour Specialists in Buenos Aires." Tours range from downtown walking tours to barhopping adventures.
IN VIP Visit BA (tel. 11/15-5063-6602 [cell]; www.invisitba.4t.com) also offers customized tours, some of which are strictly walking, others of which are bus-and-walking combinations. Prices vary by itinerary, but can range from $20 to $40 or more per person, depending on the group size and itinerary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.