Buenos Aires is a massive city and arriving can be quite overwhelming at first; everything is new and you do not know where to go. Acquiring some tools for manoeuvring around big urban centres like this one is a good idea for travellers who want to get the most of their visit. But not only tourists run the risk of feeling overwhelmed here. Having been in town for a while you might not want to admit that there are still plenty of porteño jokes you do not get, some activities you still cannot participate in, and secrets you have not been able to figure out and feel stupid asking about.
These days, there is another option. Whether you are a tourist spending a few days in the city or have moved here for an extended period of time and have unlocked your smartphone, there are some useful apps to download to learn more about the city, its people and traditions. Here are The Indy’s suggestions for five of the smartest phone apps to use here.
If you were wondering why everyone’s name seems to be ‘boludo’ in Buenos Aires, you better download this app.
Porteños probably swear and use more slang than any other citizens in the world, or at least that’s how it may seem on the city streets. Their lunfardo jargon contains more than 5,000 words and is unique to the city. It emerged from the lower classes and criminal world of Buenos Aires during the late 19th century and is said to have reached higher social status through the lyrics of tango. A boludo (asshole/dude) can be your best friend, your worst enemy, or just yourself when doing something stupid. Knowing words like these, and how to use them correctly, is key to understanding the colloquial Spanish spoken here.
This app provides you with an ample list of porteño slang used in Buenos Aires on a daily basis. It is perfect for understanding your porteño friends a little better and to make your Spanish sounds a little less textbook-polite and more street-smart.
Each slang word has an explanation in English. The majority of the listings are swear words and dirty expressions, of which many might sound too harsh for foreigners to be comfortable using. However, adopting some of these words in the right context will definitely impress your local friends. The apps contains a quiz feature making it easier to practise your new knowledge.
Price: free. Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Digi Guide Buenos Aires
If you are not in the mood for sightseeing buses or stressful scheduled tours with the mandatory tourist sticker on your coat, this app is for you. Plug in your earphones and let the local guide Sofia take your around the city through audio-narrations, detailed walking maps and a massive amount of secret tips and hidden gems.
The app features seven different guided walking tours. You will be shown some of the most classic picture-postcard sights of Buenos Aires, but also some of the city’s best-kept secrets. Included in the walking tours are famous monuments and a suggestion of where to stop for a drink or some food along the way. Apart from the more classic tourist sights there is a ‘Shopping Walk’, including some of the most famous malls and best shopping streets. Another one is called ‘Night in Recoleta’ and takes you on a complete night out to your guide’s favourite bars and restaurants.
The app also features a generous information section with very useful knowledge on everything from how to pay on the buses, to which taxis not to take, to how much you should tip in restaurants. There is also a subte map, a glossary with useful words accompanied by mp3 examples, plus recommendations regarding security and how to act like a local.
The detailed route map and powerful navigation functions guide you from one sight to the next. No internet connection is needed for either the maps or the other functions, which means you won’t have to pay expensive data roaming with your foreign phone nor have to wait for slow connections.
The app is a bit pricey but well worth it as it includes an extensive amount of features. It is a personal and comprehensive guide with interesting details you will not be able to find in books. The app works like a local friend who takes you around – even the spelling and pronunciation errors come off as kind of charming, and makes the whole Argentine local guide experience a bit more genuine!
Price: £3.99. Available for iPhone and iPad.
Truco is a popular card game that is fairly complicated to learn, especially in Spanish, and involves a lot of tricks, as the name implies. It is popular all over South America but the Argentine version is played using a Spanish deck of cards and two, four, or six participants that are divided into two teams. The game is played until one of the team finishes with 30 points or more.
The thrill of the game, and the reason for its popularity, is the exhilarating bidding procedure, used to increase the number of points on offer in any round. Bluffing and deception are also two essential parts of the game.
With the Truco app you can learn the game in English, or in Spanish if you feel like practising. It features an online multiplayer mode via Game Center and three degrees of difficulty. There are six different options for the voice of the dealer: Pamela, Lucía, Susana, Carlos, Juan and my favourite, Francisco, whose voice contributes to making the game even more intense.
Download the app to practise the game at home or on the go. Then go and beat all your porteño friends at their own game.
Price: £0.69. Available for iPhone and iPad.
Buenos Aires is a culinary paradise. Apart from obvious local treats like steak, empanadas, dulce de leche, and red wine, this huge city also supplies a plethora of international cuisines.
For finding good restaurants this app is your greatest and quickest tool, and because of its ambitious ranking system from local users, ratings are honest and trustworthy.
The app features many useful search functions. The main one takes you through a filter where you choose price range, neighbourhood, and cuisine. The last search filter is called “características” and is what makes this app so great. Here you can choose from an ample list of extras that you want the restaurant to have. You can tick “disabled bathrooms”, “outdoor tables”, “wifi”, “show” and many more to find exactly the kind of place you are looking for.
Apart from the main search function you can find restaurants with the help of ranking, discounts, and you can also create a list of favourites to make it easy to remember the places you liked the most.
To quickly find something close to where you are at the moment the “cercano” button highlights places within a few blocks.
After choosing a place it tells you whether you need to make a reservation or not and the advanced map shows the quickest way to get there from your current location.
The app is only in Spanish but it is all very perspicuous and straightforward. If you are learning Spanish it is a great way to practise, especially since you should have learned all the essential porteño Spanish by now!
Price: free. Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Are you in Buenos Aires to dance tango? This app is your best partner in your quest for the best milongas and tango classes for each day of the week.
The app looks like an events calendar where they list around 15-30 milongas or dance classes every day. The big and famous places are included, but so are lesser-known, more private venues. Each event/place is described with all the necessary details such as opening hours, an address with maps showing how to arrive from your current location, and which buses go there.
It tells you if there will be a class before the milonga and, if so, includes the time schedule. It also lists the names of the teachers and which level of class will be taught, and describes if there will be live music, what band will play, and at what time.
Special info, such as if there are demonstrations and shows during the evening, or if there is something in particular to think about before going there, is marked out with a green star.
The map view lists all close-by tango venues and gives you directions on how to get there the quickest way possible.
The app is clear and easy-to-use; containing all the info you need to find your favourite milonga or class for each night of the week, and makes it easy to get there when your tango nerve is twitching desperately for your daily dose.
Price: free. Available for iPhone and iPad.