Dad Post: Buenos Aires on a Budget

Angelina is cracking her whip again!  Some readers sent her an email wanting to know of any budget bed & breakfast recommendations in Buenos Aires. So after her constant nagging and text messages, I caved in and I am writing another post. After all, she is my favorite daughter (only one).

In October 2010, my wife and I celebrated our 25 year wedding anniversary with a trip to South America. We visited Buenos Aires, Argentina and Colonia De Sacramento, Uruguay. We used 80,000 BA miles and paid $123 in fees on LAN economy round trip. FYI: When you land at Buenos Aires airport, be prepared to pay a $160 reciprocity fee if you’re American, Australian, or Canadian (which is good for 10 years). You can even avoid the fee all together if you fly into Cordoba or Mendoza airport, or Uruguay and bus or boat to Buenos Aries.

As you probably know from my previous posts, I prefer to stay in budget, clean lodging options instead of 5-star luxury hotels. In my opinion, there’s no better way to experience a new country than to “live as a local”,  and the prices are much better than the touristy places.

We found a great bed and breakfast that cost less than the annoying reciprocity fee called Giorgio’s House.

Staying at Giorgio’s house was like staying at a friend or relatives’ house. Ana was an incredible host; she was always ready to help us with directions, restaurant suggestions, always had a nice smile on her face. She also had the patience of a saint at the milonga while we were attempting to learn to Tango. We really enjoyed our stay at Giorgio’s House. The flat offers incredible value, complete with a private room and outdoor patio to eat our breakfast. Though the bathroom was shared, they were always clean, and we never had to wait to use.

My wife enjoying breakfast on outdoor patio at Giorgio's House

My wife enjoying breakfast on outdoor patio at Giorgio's House

We were also fortunate to have some incredible house mates during our stay. In fact, we all made plans to go to a local parilla one night. We had a great night sharing wine, beer and meats with some new-found friends from Canada, the U.S. and the UK.

Enjoying a night out with Ana (our host) and house mates Roger & Mary from Vancouver, Canada.

Enjoying a night out with Ana (our host) and house mates Roger & Mary from Vancouver, Canada.

The location is excellent – the “A” train directly across the street gets you to Plaza de Mayo in about 15 minutes. There are many local buses nearby as well. In fact, we used the 55 bus on Acoyote to take us to the Matadores fair (cowboy festival). We felt the area of Cabellito was very safe, and would stay here again in the future. To get to Giorgio’s House, you can take a bus from airport; however, we arranged for airport pick-up and drop off at a great price.

Useful Links for Buenos Aires on a Budget -We used the free greeter service to visit the “boca” area. Donations are suggested. – We used the ba free tour. Tipping is recommended. – The cowboy festival – what a great time!

How to get from Buenos Aires to Colonia De Sacramento Uruguay

To get to Colonia del Sacramento, which is the closest Uruguayan city to Buenos Aires, there are two options: an express ferry that takes an hour to get there and another that takes 3 hours. The 3-hour one is of course a lot cheaper, in fact almost half the price, but you will find it eats into your day and there isn’t much to see from the boat other than lots of water. Most people take the 1-hour ride.

Same day return tickets are at cheaper rates and there are also special offers of return tickets plus a tour and lunch thrown in. Unless you like being herded along like sheep with others, I found the tour not to be necessary in Colonia since it is relatively small and easily done by yourself at your own pace. Doing it by yourself all means you can stay longer at or leave quicker from the main attractions and you can also find your own hidden nooks and crannies. It’s also easier for photos where you don’t need to fight with others for the perfect shoot (and there won’t be another 50 people in it).

Immigration officials from both countries are surprisingly in the same room (and sometimes even at the same desk!). You get your exit stamp from the Argentina side of immigration and they point you to the Uruguayan immigration official in the same room (or next to them) who will give you the entry stamp. That way once you get off in Uruguay, you don’t have to queue up with the hoards as per usual and are free to run out of the terminal in no time at all. The same happens on the way back, you get the Uruguayan exit stamp and Argentine entrance one at the terminal in Uruguay. What a great time-saving system!

Since the ferry is an international ride, they say you should be at the terminal at least an hour and a half before the boat leaves for immigration purposes etc.

For up-to-date prices and schedules for the Buquebus Ferry, you should check their website:

As always, you may leave any questions in the comments section below, and I will be happy to email you.

Happy planning,

The Dad.

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  1. Rita says

    Angelina’s Dad – Thank you for another wonderful post! I am actually in Buenos Aires right now and appreciate the tips.


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