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Free Things to Do in Buenos Aires
The devalued peso makes Buenos Aires a bargain. But if you really do need to save every centavo, there are plenty of ways to make cheap even cheaper.
It costs absolutely nothing to visit what is arguably the best collection of Argentine art in the world: Recoleta's Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is free all week. Entrance to most other state-run museums is less than a dollar or two, but serious penny-pinchers can schedule their trip around free days.
Take in antique furnishings and neoclassical architecture in Recoleta at the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, free on Tuesday. Wednesday is good for the Argentine art and handicrafts of the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívori; it's in the middle of the Palermo Woods, so you can combine your visit with a picnic lunch.
Check out colonial art downtown in Retiro free of charge on Thursday at the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco. The one serious artistic saving you can make is at the MALBA, in Palermo, which reduces its 15-peso entry fee to 5 pesos on Wednesday—expect to compete for floor space, though.
Browsing the choice contemporary Argentine art displayed in galleries like Galería Ruth Benzacar in the Microcentro, Appetite in San Telmo, Daniel Abate and Rubbers in Recoleta, and Braga Menéndez in Palermo Hollywood is totally free, although you'd fork out thousands to buy any of it. Try Palermo Viejo's Ernesto Catena Fotografía Contemporánea for contemporary photography, gratis.
It costs thousands to spend an afterlife in the Cementerio de la Recoleta but nothing to spend an afternoon or morning there. San Telmo is the best barrio for a free local history lesson: churches and traditional houses (many now antiques shops) are some of the historic buildings open to the public. Public protests have made Plaza de Mayo a living-history site. Nearby is La Manzana de Las Luces, a colonial Jesuit complex, where entrance is scandalously cheap.
Turismo Buenos Aires, the city's official tourism body, runs free thematic tours of lesser-known parts of town weekly, and their detailed downloadable audioguides are free, too. The two-hour historical walks run by tour group Eternautas in some parts of town only cost about 60 pesos.
During January and February there are free outdoor concerts and festivals in parks around the city, usually showcasing local rock, folk, and tango groups. Wednesday is reduced-price day at every cinema in town; many also do cut-price tickets Monday through Thursday and for the first screening of each day.
Instead of forking out hundreds at a fancy "for export" tango show, head to a low-key milonga. The cover charge is usually only around 20 pesos, drinks are cheap, dancing is excellent, and the experience is authentic. Tangoing street performers also abound on Calle Florida, in Plazas Dorrego and Serrano, and around the Caminito.
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