Buenos Aires is known as the Paris of South America due to its Parisian style architecture and its European vibe. It’s a huge city with lots to do and see whether you want to have a steak and wine dinner, experience tango or just explore the streets and appreciate the architecture.
This article is based on my visit to Buenos Aires in the month of March. All of the photography (except for 1 photo of me from MundoLingo.org) and videography in this article is my own – no stock photos, no posing, no filters!
What to Do in Buenos Aires
Walk Around the City Centre
Buenos Aires is a huge city that you can spend lots of time walking around and exploring. To give you an idea of scale, it has a population of over 13 million making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and it is home to 9 de Julio Avenue, the widest avenue in the world.
The city has some of the classiest street seating I’ve seen and is generally quite clean and pleasant to stroll around.
It is a city where old European architecture meets modern glass facades. You can appreciate the architecture from the street or take a tour of the Teatro Colón, an opera house known as one of the best performance venues in the world in terms of acoustics.
Visit the Palacio Barolo for a View of the Buenos Aires Skyline
Palacio Barolo is a 22 storey gothic style building that is nearly 100 years old and looks over Plaza del Congreso. You can take a tour of the building and climb the winding stairs to the top, where you can enjoy some amazing 360 degree views of Buenos Aires. I did one of the last tours of the day which was a great time to do it as the sun was setting.
Dine Argentinian Style
Eat at a steakhouse restaurant like Parrilla Peña. The service, steak and wine were good and the restaurant had a local casual feel to it. Don’t worry, if you’re not a meat eater there are lots of other options and Lotos Vegetarian Restaurant offers a delicious buffet style service.
I also ate at Gran Parrilla del Plata and whilst the food was decent, the service was terrible. It wasn’t even busy at the restaurant. Although there were locals there, this place felt like a bit of a tourist trap because of the way the staff acted. The waiter only said two things to me during my whole visit. The first was a rehearsed “on the house” as a complementary limoncello was put in front of me (I know that it was rehearsed because I saw the same act being carried out with another customer). The second thing he said to me was “tips cash only” at the end. Needless to say, I didn’t tip on this occasion.
See the El Ateneo Grand Splendid
El Ateneo is a bookshop with a café housed in a theatre building. It is perfectly maintained and could easily host a show if a few chairs were put in. It’s the most interesting bookshop setting that I’ve ever seen and is nice to walk around, especially if you like books!
Go to a Real Tango Show
See real tango in action on the street. I came across a live tango class just outside the Teatro Colón. It was really cool to see this display of Argentinian culture happening in front of me in such an authentic way.
See Recoleta Cemetery
Recoleta Cemetery is famous for its large memorial structures that are almost like houses for the dead. Its interesting to walk around this cemetery because, depending on where you’re from, it’s probably very different to what you would find at your local cemetery at home.
Go to La Boca
La Bombonera is the stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, one of the 2 famous Buenos Aires football teams, the other one being River Plate. The stadium has an interesting museum and you can see the stadium on a guided tour although, if there’s a game on that would definitely be the best way to see it!
Just 2 minutes walk from the stadium is Caminito, an area that has been made into a ‘street museum’ that is a bit too tacky for my liking. Fake plastic characters stand on the balconies of the colourful painted buildings and souvenir sellers line the streets. It’s all based around the history of tango as it was the birthplace of the music, but in its state today, I just can’t bring myself to understand why there is anything special about this place. It’s not really worth seeing in my opinion, especially because its located in a notoriously dangerous area. A quick look through the reviews on TripAdvisor or Google Maps will give you an idea of how many people get robbed here.
Visit the City's Parks
Take a stroll around Parque 3 de Febrero which has countless gardens surrounding a central lake. There are also cafes, bars and restaurants under the arches of the railway tracks at the west side of the park.
A nature reserve, Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, sits on an island across the Río Dique. It has walking and cycling trails. The island is just beside the city centre so it’s quite a peaceful getaway considering that it’s so close to the city.
Just across the river from the reserve, statues of famous Argentinian sports stars such and footballer Lionel Messi and rugby player Hugo Porta line the promenade.
Further up the river is Puente de La Mujer (woman’s bridge), an iconic bridge by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Practice Your Spanish at a Language Exchange
Go to the Mundo Lingo language exchange to meet both locals and other travellers that want to practice different languages. Everyone has a flag sticker on their chest to show their native language and it’s a great way to meet people who share an interest in languages and culture. I had a great time at the event in Palermo but the event also takes place at several venues across the city on different nights.
Experience Nightlife in Buenos Aires
Start off your night with one of the highest rated burgers in the world at Burger Joint. At this Palermo eatery you can enjoy a burger named ‘The Tevez’, after the famous Argentinian footballer, Carlos Tevez.
Go on a pub crawl. You will probably meet both locals and other travellers and it’s a great way to see the city at night. I took part in 2 pub crawls, one touring bars in the Palermo area and another which crawled around the San Telmo area. Although pub crawls are great fun, you don’t need a group tour to experience the nightlife in Buenos Aires. Have a drink at La Puerta Roja, a cool secret bar on Chacabuco street in San Telmo or explore the city’s bars yourself.
Visit the Museums of Buenos Aires
Visit the Cabildo, a former colonial government building at Plaza de Mayo, to learn about the history of Buenos Aires and the formation of Argentina. Or just a short walk away across the square, see what art exhibitions are on at the CCK (Centro Cultural Kirchner), an impressive old building with a futuristic exhibition space at the centre that you can walk through. There are many more museums around the city so there are lots to explore depending on what your interests are.
How to Get to Buenos Aires
Where is Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires is located in the North West of Argentina. It is the capital city only 213km across the River Plate (Río de la Plata) estuary from the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo.
Getting Between Buenos Aires and Uruguay, Paraguay
Coming from Uruguay, I took a ferry from Colonia del Sacramento. You can book tickets online or at the ferry terminal. There are also ferry routes directly from Montevideo to Buenos Aires although it is generally cheaper to get a bus from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento and then take a ferry from there on to Buenos Aires. I couldn’t find any bus route options from Uruguay to Buenos Aires although a few probably exist.
Other than by car, ferry seemed to be the most popular mode of transport between the two countries and the trip across the Río de Plata should cost about 3,000 ARS (€46 / $52). Buquebus and Colonia Express both offer good value for ferry trips across the Río de Plata between Argentina and Uruguay.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Buenos Aires
At about 475 ARS (€7 / $8) per night, Art Factory Beer Garden Hostel in Palermo is a good choice if you’re looking for somewhere on a budget. It also has a cool beer garden with great burgers and beer.
If you’re looking for a good value hotel, try Gran Hotel Atlantic where you can get a double room for under 1,500 ARS (€22 / $25) per night. As it’s a big city, there are a huge amount of options so always check booking.com for the best deals at the time of your trip.
Seasons: When to Visit Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is best visited in Spring but has good weather all year around.
Things to Watch Out For in Buenos Aires
Don’t forget that you’ll need to buy a SUBE card to use the city busses and Metro system.
Also, when paying for hotels, sometimes they will charge you an extra tax if you don’t have a copy of your passport stamp page. So keep a few copies in your bag just in case you need them.