10 Best things to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Buenos Aires is probably my favorite city in the world. Three elements make me love it so much: The impressive European architecture, The beautiful Argentinian people, and the warmth and hospitality that I am so used to from home. So walking in the streets of Buenos Aires made me feel at home from the first moment and I spent so many days doing just that. Exploring the avenues, sitting in cafes and restaurants, and enjoying the vibes of this city. It is so lively and colorful, classic and modern, and very welcoming.
Here are the best things do in Buenos Aires:
Visit Plaza de Mayo
With so much history of the Argentinian nation that is related to this place, it must be your first destination in the city. Big revolutions and protests started here, and even these days you might see protesters here, probably the mothers of the Desaparecidos (the lost victims of the dictatorship). On one side of the Plaza see the Casa Rosada, which is the pink version of the White House (isn’t it cooler in pink?). On other sides, check out Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cabildo – the colonial town hall is standing for over 200 years. The Cabildo museum is open to the public and tours with a guide are available.
Explore Microcentro and Avenida 9 de Julio
The commercial heart of Buenos Aires is the busy part of the city. This is where you get to see the locals, a.k.a Porteños, in their morning rush or in between meetings. If Casa Rosada is the local version of the White House, then this should be Downtown Manhattan. This is also where you find Florida street – a chic pedestrian street and a great place for shopping and souvenirs. Don’t be surprised to see some men in suites dance outside in the street, or some Tango dancers entertain the people who walk by. On the west side of Microcentro, make your way to Avenida 9 de Julio. It is said-to-be the widest avenue in the world, and in its center stands the Obelisco, one of the city’s famous landmarks.
Tip: Don’t miss Galeria Pacifico on the corner of Florida Street and Cordoba avenue. It is a beautiful building from the outside and inside, which is also a shopping center.
Visit El Congreso
On the other side of Avenida 9 de Julio and at the end of Avenida the Mayo, you will see Palacio del Congreso. The neoclassical masterpiece adorns its plaza and serves as the meeting place for Argentina’s legislature. The building is very impressive from the outside, and free tours inside are available. Once you are in the plaza try to take a photo that captures the whole building (hint – not easy).
Not far from the Congress palace, go to Avenida Corrientes. It is one of the famous Avenidas of the city and the Broadway of Buenos Aires. Walk between theaters, eat pizza and empanadas and see the beautiful Obelisco in front of you.
Chill out at San Telmo, Plaza Dorrego
What used to be a posh area for the rich Porteños before 1870 is now a place for young artists and bohemians. The oldest neighborhood of Buenos Aires, with Plaza Dorrego in the middle, is the place to move away from the traffic of the city and enjoy the charm of this quiet part. Sit in one of the restaurants in the square, and you might catch a Tango show. On Sundays, during the Feria, the place turns into a carnival of vendors who sell antiques, arts and crafts, with live music all around. Bring cash, and don’t forget to bargain.
Visit La Boca
La Boca is probably the most famous neighborhood in Buenos Aires, known for El Caminito. The street with the iconic colorful small buildings was named in 1955 after an old tango song, watching a tango show outside is not uncommon. Not far from El Caminito stands La Bombonera, the impressive stadium of the famous soccer team of Boca Juniors. If you are lucky and there’s a match, try to get your ticket. If not, you can still get in as a visitor to the museum and stadium.
Tip: While walking in El Caminito is safe, the other parts of the neighborhood are not. Stick to where other tourists are, watch your belongings, and you will be fine. If you go to a soccer match, keep away from crowded areas and don’t carry your expensive cameras or valuables.
Explore the past in Recoleta Cemetery
Recoleta is where the rich and famous of Buenos Aires live, and the Recoleta cemetery is where they choose to spend their final rest. The most famous one is Eva Peron, but it’s also the burial place of Noble prize winners, politicians, artists and even the grandchild of Napoleon. Some people might find it weird to walk around in a cemetery, but this is one of the most popular sites in Buenos Aires. It is full of mausoleums, statues, and vaults fit for royalty, and you can easily spend hours wandering this labyrinth. Tours are available if you don’t want to miss any piece of history. If you don’t take a tour, don’t run directly to Evita’s tomb. Take your time to wander around between the beautiful mausoleum and crying angles statues.
Tip: Don’t miss El Gran Gomero, a huge rubber tree with a 50 meters beautiful crown. The branches are so long that poles are holding them from falling to the ground. Super impressive!
Eat at Puerto Madero
What used to be the old port of Buenos Aires and the gateway for Europeans to Argentina in old times, is now one of the coolest areas of the city. The old warehouses along the waterfront were refurbished, and now hold upscale restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and art galleries. Walk on the water line to see yachts and luxury residential towers. Cross the famous Puente de la Mujer (the woman’s bridge). And visit ARA Uruguay, the oldest naval ship in the country, that is now a museum showing life on a ship.
Explore Palermo and Plaza Serrano
The largest neighborhood of Buenos Aires is a place that everybody loves, locals and travelers. Even though it’s not “downtown”, if you want to feel like the locals, this is the area for your accommodation.
There’s a lot to see here during the day and it’s a place to see during the night. Flower lovers should visit the Rose Garden and the Botanical gardens. The urban guys will enjoy strolling the streets of this neighborhood, but if you want to chill out go to Bosques de Palermo park. Doesn’t matter what you do, just take it slow to soak up everything in this eclectic neighborhood.
As the sun sets, make your way towards Palermo Soho and Plaza Serrano for dinner and drinks. This area is trendier, young and international, where you can find both locals and tourists.
Climb to the top of Palacio Barolo
Palacio Barolo is among the top architectural masterpieces in Buenos Aires and one of my favorites. The building, which was finished in 1926, was the tallest in South America at the time (100 meters high). The design was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy with 22 floors representing heaven, hell, and everything in between. You need to get tickets for a guided tour and the cherry on the cream would be the lighting beacon at the top of the building, where you see the amazing view of the city of Buenos Aires. The building is beautiful from the inside and outside and has a twin brother in Montevideo.
Make a day trip to El Tigre
If you want to take a break from the busy city and to connect with nature, going to El Tigre is what you need. 45 minutes train ride from the main train station takes you through small towns all the way to the Parana Delta. It is the fifth-largest delta in the world, where Rio Parana and Rio La Plata get together. Take a boat to sail between the islands. Walk or cycle on the docks. Watch the birds and the locals walking around with their MATE, the famous Argentinian bitter tea.
Tip: You can take the Mitre train straight to El Tigre, or you can take Tren De La Costa. It is a touristy train that stops in 11 stations along the way, where you can hop on and off in each one. Some worthwhile stops include Borges Station, named after the writer and also called Station of the Arts; the English-style Barrancas Station; and San Isidro where a small urban center offers leisurely shopping and outdoor pubs and restaurants.
The architecture of Buenos Aires is impressive. Influenced by European styles you see unique buildings and palaces next to old and modern residential buildings. When you walk in the streets keep your eyes up and enjoy the unique urban views of this city. Some of the building to pay attention to, that I didn’t mention before, are Teatro Colon (Av. 9 de Julio between Tucumánand Viamonte), Palacio de Aguas Corrientes (Av. Córdoba and La Bamba), and Palacio San Martín (Plaza San Martin).
Argentina is famous for different kinds of food and treats, and my two favorites are Empanadas and Alfajores. During one of the days you walk in the city, stop at one empanaderia and get some to go. Mix and match to try as many flavors as possible. Alfajores are a different story, and I am going to be very specific. If you don’t eat Alfajores Havanna, it is like you haven’t visited Argentina. Each alfajor is big, so you can share but this is absolutely a must!