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Argentina is famous for having the best steak, tango and leather in the world, and Buenos Aires is no exception. Areas such as Palermo and Puerto Madero have incredible restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Expats will have no problem finding a restaurant to suit their taste and a shop to suit their budget.
The large expat population in Buenos Aires is mostly concentrated in Palermo, which is Buenos Aires’ largest and most expensive barrio, and the shops and restaurants in the area reflect that. It's also encouraged to break away from expat life in Buenos Aires, and one can easily branch out and mingle with the locals in various quirky bars and cafes around the city.
Keep in mind that everything happens a bit later in Buenos Aires. Locals will rarely have dinner before 10pm and most clubs don’t open until 1am. Expats should be prepared to be out until the early hours of the morning.
Shopping in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires’ most famous shopping districts are Palermo Soho and Recoleta. This is where expats will find many trendy cafes, designer stores and outdoor markets.
For those who prefer shopping malls, there are a number of options. Alto Palermo Shopping Mall is one of the largest malls. It offers hundreds of shops and restaurants as well as a cinema. Galerías Pacífico is another popular shopping mall in Buenos Aires.
Most shopping malls and supermarkets in Buenos Aires are open every day of the week. Smaller stores outside of shopping malls may close earlier and are often not open on Sundays. Buenos Aires also has plenty of 24-hour convenience stores.
Outlet shopping is another option for expats in Buenos Aires. The main outlet stores can be found on Avenue Córdoba and in the Aguirre district of Villa Crespo. These stores are known to offer international designer brands at discounted prices.
Speciality shopping districts
When looking for something more specific it is good to know that Buenos Aires is divided up into areas where certain items are sold. For example, there is an area where expats can find leather, another for electronics and another for imported foods.
China Town in Belgrano is the best place for expats to find exotic foods and spices. This is also where expats can get their hands on peanut butter, something that is not readily available in Buenos Aires.
There are also some great flea markets in Buenos Aires, with Mercado de San Telmo being one of the largest. The market has an eclectic mix of goods. Expats who have the patience to browse will be able to find some amazing deals there.
For leather, expats should visit Calle Murillo in Villa Crespo. This is the main leather district of Buenos Aires, and expats who visit it will be amazed by the quality and variety of leather items available.
Eating out in Buenos Aires
It will not take long for expats to realise that having dinner at 10pm or later is the norm in Buenos Aires. Eating this late can cause some culture shock at first, but new arrivals will be relieved to know that there is no shortage of excellent restaurants in Buenos Aires that will make dinner well worth the wait.
The most popular area for good restaurants in Buenos Aires is Palermo, specifically Palermo Soho. There is also a wide range of international dining options available, such as Korean, Chinese, Thai and American. And though Argentinian cuisine is mainly focused on meat, expats with a vegetarian diet will be happy to hear that the city has seen a boom in vegetarian and plant-based restaurants.
Nightlife in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has a bustling nightlife scene. Porteños (Buenos Aires locals) like to stay out late, and clubs are usually open until the sun rises. Clubs in Buenos Aires are known as boliches and are busy from around 2am to 7am every night of the week. Interestingly, Buenos Aires does not have a big drinking culture so things tend to remain civilized.
Expats who like to go out dancing should join their favourite clubs’ mailing lists. This will allow them free entry and other special discounts.
For those not interested in staying out until the wee hours, there is no need to fret. Expats wanting to start socialising a bit earlier in the evening will find a number of Irish bars and pubs in Reconquista. This is where many people go for a drink after work.
Sports and outdoor activities in Buenos Aires
Expats in Buenos Aires will be able to enjoy a diverse selection of outdoor activities. As it is a coastal city, water sports such as sailing, fishing and kayaking are popular among locals and foreigners alike. Horse riding is also popular and there are many riding trails in the areas around the city. The Argentina Polo Day is a popular annual event which attracts tourists from around the world.
Nature enthusiasts moving to Buenos Aires will have access to the unspoilt natural landscapes of the many national parks and pristine botanical gardens in and around the city. Expats can also make use of the extensive network of running paths and circuits within Buenos Aires' many parks. Beaches, golf courses and public swimming pools are all easily accessible. All of these options offer a brief but welcome escape from the bustle of the city.
Argentinians are a sports-loving people. Buenos Aires contains world-class sports stadiums for local and international sports fixtures and events. Porteños also take great pride in their local soccer and rugby teams. As such, going to a local game is a must for anyone looking for an authentic Argentinian experience.
►For more information about how expats can keep themselves busy, read See and Do in Buenos Aires.
►See What's On in Buenos Aires to find out about annual events and festivals in the city.
"I love the city. I have a great life. There is always something to do and see. Buenos Aires is full of culture, and lots of it is free. I think I am much healthier because I live here." Read about Deby, an American expat, and her experience of living in Buenos Aires.
Are you an expat living in Buenos Aires?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Buenos Aires. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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