Visiting Argentina had been on my bucket list for the longest time, but I never went because it was so expensive to fly there! But, an opportunity came up where the fare was cheap and my friend was living in BA at the same time. I'm so glad I pulled the trigger and thought this was one of my more interesting trips!
I ended up staying with my friend for a week and spending most of my time in Palermo, which is one of the neighborhoods a little further out of the city. It reminded me a little of West LA, where there's a lot of hip cafes and restaurants. My friend and I ate out a lot and I was pleasantly surprised at the food scene! If I were to come back to BA, I would stay around Palermo again. Some other popular areas are San Telmo, Puerto Madero and La Boca (which I recommend seeing) but they're more downtown and they lack that charm.
A big thing to know is exchanging money. You may have heard of the "blue rate" because Argentina's economy is bananas. But, all you really need to know is to bring US dollars to Argentina and then exchange them when you get there. If you exchange money at an ATM or use your credit card, you get a worse exchange rate. So, ideally you'll exchange money at pretty much any place in town (we went to a place near Palermo called Berlin Cambio). It's important that the dollar bills are nicely crisp (no folds or rips) and ideally in $100s. One of my bills had a very small rip at the bottom and the lady told me it was only worth $60 (better than the official exchange rate, but still). So, before your trip, mentally project how much you'll need and then bring that in cash. I would also still bring a credit card as a backup, since a select few places only take credit cards in USD.
I had to stay in a hostel 1 night, and I highly recommend Viajero Hostel Buenos Aires, which is centrally located in the downtown neighborhood of San Telmo. Everything around it is kind of stale, but the hostel was pretty nice. Beds were comfortable, big common areas to sit in, and there was even an indoor and outdoor pool.
In terms of safety, I never felt too unsafe when I was there, especially in Palermo. My friend and I would walk home past 12am after eating dinner and nothing happened to us. However, there are definitely some areas that are dodgy. Just be smart about what you're doing on the street and if it's super late, call an Uber (very cheap in BA and always elect to pay the driver in cash when you call the ride) or a taxi. A local we met discouraged taking public transportation at night.
In terms of public transportation, it was actually fairly easy to get around. Besides walking, I would recommend getting a SUBE card, which is the city's public transportation card. The subway and bus system is very extensive and is very affordable. It also wasn't very sketchy, although I would keep your possessions within line of sight at all times. There are a few things to know:
Overall, I loved Buenos Aires and can't wait to go back to Argentina (maybe even hike Patagonia)! I highly recommend visiting if you have the means to do so!
*** bolded bullet points below are ones that are highly recommended (in my opinion).
Most of these places are in Palermo, since that's where my friend and I were based. BA is very affordable if you're exchanging money at the blue rate. We were probably eating out for dinner every day for 7 days, and plus other incidentals it only came out to ~$125 USD or so. Not bad!
Side Trip: Tigre
My friend and I did a half-day trip to Tigre, which is further north of BA. We went to do a boat ride around the city and its surrounding islands, which was super pretty and we had a great time.
We got the tour off of WhatsApp (through my friend's friend) and it was only $75 USD for a private tour (me, my friend and his other friend). We basically took an Uber to Tigre (although, it's cheaper to take the train using the SUBE card). The driver picked us up, took us to his boat, and we spent the rest of the time looking around the islands where some of the people live. The only way around these areas is by boat, so that was cool to see!
The guide also took us tubing, which was an incredible experience. It's really hard to hold on to the tube and you feel like you'll fall off while the boat is running, but I would recommend doing it! Then, the guide took us to see the sunset and gave us mate (a classic drink) to try. That was basically the tour, but if you have time I would definitely recommend visiting here!