12 Things To Do In Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is not specially the city for tourists who love attractions and wonders. But when you ask around what people like the most about the city, is simply walking around. And that’s exactly what I did during my 10 days in the capital – a lot of walking!
With a population of almost 3 million people, ‘Baires’ (the other way of saying Buenos Aires) is a huge city, so every day I picked a different area to explore.
Some call Argentina’s capital the Paris of South America. You will see why. There is a lot of European influence, but you definitely still get the Latin America vibe. The city has an eclectic mix of cultures, which you can see in its architecture, art, and food.
Here are my picks for the first time visitor to Buenos Aires!
1. Learn about the legendary Evita
Evita (or Eva Perón) was a famous woman who played an important role in the development of the country. She is kind of a national hero. The magnificent Recoleta Cemetery is a place not to miss and Evita’s final resting place after her body had been stolen and was discovered in Milan. Filled with intricate mausoleums with some impressive stonework, the cemetery is one of the top attractions in the city.
Nearest Metro Station: Agüero or Pueyrredon
There is also an Evita museum detailing the life if Eva Peron through films, photographs and a collection of personal items. The admission fee to the museum is 20 pesos.
Nearest Metro Station: Metro: Plaza Italia
2. Take a stroll through the Japanese Garden
Okay, it’s not really an ‘Argentinean’ attraction, but regardless, the Japanese Garden (Jardín Japonés) is totally worth a visit.
Super peaceful and clean, beautifully designed with bridges, plants and trees, koi ponds with koi fishes, this place will instantly transport you away from the noise and fast pace of the surrounding city.
The entrance to the park will cost you only 95 pesos.
Nearest Metro Station: Scalabrini Ortiz
3. Explore trendy Palermo Soho
This chic neighborhood filled with boutique shops, bars and cafes is a great place for an afternoon stroll, shopping and mingling among locals. The district also hosts an outdoor market with a more bohemian style at Plaza Serrano and nearby streets on weekends.
Nearest Metro Station: Palermo
4. Eat a Steak
Argentina is famous for its delicious, grass-fed beef. Unless you are a strict vegetarian, eating a steak (or two, three), should be on your to-do list!
Needless to say there are plenty of restaurants serving steak in Buenos Aires. I followed some recommendations on TripAdvisor and visited Santos Manjares (near Florida Street). A juicy filet steak with a glass of wine costed me just about 20 Euros. Not bad at all and the service was excellent as well.
Be aware that they are only open during lunch (with my first attempt to have a meal there I stood in front of a closed door, but I am glad I came back another day).
Nearest Metro Station: 9 de Julio
5. Discover Chinatown
If you have been to Chinatown in London or San Francisco, you might be disappointed, however I think the small area still has its charm. The Barrio Chino is filled with oriental restaurants, plenty of Asian grocery stores, and some cheap junk products too and has the the obligatory Chinese gate. You can go any day at any time, on the weekends it’s crowded by locals and tourists.
Nearest Metro Station: Juramento
6. Visit one of the Best Bookstores in the World
I am not much into books, but this place is not about shopping. It’s about the atmosphere and architecture. The El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore is a former theatre and was voted as ‘one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world’ by the Guardian. It features 3 mezzanine levels, gold accents and artwork by Italian painter Nazareno Orlandi.
Moreover, there is a coffee shop inside. You can enjoy your coffee sitting on the scene and either read a book or like me, do some people watching.
Nearest Metro Station: Metro: Callao
7. Take Souvenir Pictures at the Obelisco
The Obelisk of Buenos Aires is the national monument and icon of the city, located at the Plaza de la Republica. This obelisk forms the central point for various rallies, public gatherings, political demonstrations, candlelight marches, and even to celebrate sporting victories.
In front of the Obelisco you’ll find the two letters ‘BA’ which stand for Buenos Aires, formed from a tree.
Nearest Metro Station: 9 de Julio
8. Explore the colorful La Boca
For postcard-like views of colorful houses, funny designs, cobbled alleyways lined with art and tango shows, head to La Boca district, that’s where you will find it all! It is a very touristy area, but that should not put you off – it’s a must visit place.
Don’t expect a full barrio of colorful streets though, the really interesting part is limited to 4-5 streets around the ‘Caminito’.
The area is beautiful but still, the tough working class neighborhood is dangerous by nights for tourists. Make sure to leave before dawn if you don’t wanna take the risk of getting robbed.
There is no nearby metro station. The best way to get there is to take the bus 152, 39 or 64 from the Plaza Italia metro station.
9. Take a Walk along Puerto Madero
This waterfront neighborhood of Buenos Aires is the most modern part of the city. With towering glass skyscrapers, elegant restaurants and chic nightclubs the area is enjoyed by the wealthy and the trendy. For me personally I find that Puerto Madero is a great place to take a walk and see the iconic “Puente de la Mujer” (Bridge of the woman), the Anne Frank statue and the museum ship “Uruguay”.
Nearest Metro Station: Plaza de Mayo
10. Pass by the Casa Rosada
The Casa Rosada is the office of the Argentinian government. Translating as ‘Pink Palace’, is is the is the political heart of the city and one of the most famous buildings. The side that faces Plaza de Mayo has great historic importance as its balconies were used by Raul Alfonsin, General Leopoldo Galtieri and Juan and Eva Peron to preach and address thousands of passionate Argentines.
Nearest Metro Station: Cathedral
11. Visit the Mercado de San Telmo
On Sundays, Calle Defensa and the Plaza Dorrego are converted into a massive, bustling outdoor market full of local artisans, street performers and of course, an endless number of vendor stalls. Around 8,000 people come together to buy and sell, locals and tourists alike.
This is the best place to pick up a hidden gem, a bargain antique, or shop for hand made souvenirs from your trip. Even if you’re not into the shopping, it’s fun to see the crowds, listen to the music, watch tango, and enjoy the passion of the people.
Even though I didn’t buy anything, it was the highlight of my Buenos Aires trip.
Nearest Metro Station: Plaza de Mayo
12. Do some more Shopping (if you have to)
Honestly I was surprised by how expensive shopping in Buenos Aires really is. I didn’t buy winter clothes for my upcoming Patagonia trip back home, because I hoped I will get some better bargains in Argentina. Well, I was wrong.
If you, like me have to do some clothes shopping, I recommend 3 places:
- Outlets in Palermo (around Gurruchaga and Aguirre street).
- Outlets at “Distrito Arcos”.
- Florida Street, the main pedestrian road near the metro station 9 de Julio.