Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and is often referred to as the Paris of South America. It is a lively, busy city which conjures up thoughts of the tango and Latin music but also has a distinct European personality that is reflected in the unusual and eclectic mix of architecture. I was in Buenos Aires for 3 days and felt that I got a really good feel for the place but you could easily spend a day or two longer and explore the city at a more leisurely pace.
Here are 10 things that you must do when visiting!1) Free Walking Tours
To get a good understanding of the history of Buenos Aires, I would highly recommend taking a walking tour. There are a number of tours on offer but I would recommend ‘Free Walks Buenos Aires‘. The company runs tours some of which are free but a tip is expected towards the end – it is totally up to you how much you want to give. I did the City Centre tour that runs daily at 3pm and covers key locations such as the National Congress, Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada and the giant Evita mural on 9 De Julio Avenida.2) Museums in the rain
It can get a little rainy in Buenos Aires but fear not, there are lots of museums that you can visit if the skies do decide to open! I would recommend the Museum of Fine Art (Recoleta) and the Evita Museum (Palermo). I also visited MALBA which had an interesting collection of modern art but was quite small.3) Walk the streets of Palermo
Palermo is a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires with lots of parks and quaint streets. I loved the Japanese Gardens but there are also a number of other Gardens that you can visit in Palermo Woods (Parque 3 de Febrero) including a rose and botanical garden. There is also a lake. Palermo Soho was my favourite part of the area and had a number of restaurants, bars and trendy shops.4) Try out the Tango!
An easy way to experience the tango is by booking a tango show – I would recommend Piazolla Tango but just the show itself, not the food which was awful! If you feel brave, you could go to a Tango club but I suspect some skill would be required! And if you don’t have time, you could also walk around La Boca where there are tango dancers performing in the streets.5) Explore La Boca
This was one of my favourite places in Buenos Aires. La Boca is a vibrant area, full of colourful corrugated houses. Be sure to walk down the main street El Caminito but avoid straying too far away as some of the surrounding streets are a little run down and don’t feel as safe. If you’re a football fan, you could also visit the La Bombonera stadium. Check out Fundacion Proa which is an exhibition space and can sometimes have interesting exhibitions on display.6) Walk around San Telmo
San Telmo is a charming neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. It is one of the few parts of the city that still has some colonial buildings, elaborate mansions with open courtyards and cobble stone streets. Walk down Calle Defensa between Avenida San Juan and Independencia.Plaza Dorrego is the second oldest square in Buenos Aires and is in the heart of San Telmo. It is worth a visit especially on Sundays when it hosts an open air antiques fair. This stretches all the way down Calle Defensa. The area also has a number of good restaurants and cafes. Check out Mercado San Telmo where you can find a variety of affordable food.7) Recoleta
Recoleta is an upmarket neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. It is a very nice area with lots of beautiful buildings and houses. The main reason most visit though is to go to Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried along with a number of other important Argentinians. I know it sounds weird to visit a cemetery but I think it is really worth going! You should also see the nearby Floralis Generica, a solar powered sculpture in the shape of a flower.8) Eat Argentinian steak
You can’t come to Argentina and not try out the steak! There are so many Parillas to choose from so you’re not short on options. See below for my recommendations!
9) Do some shopping!
Buenos Aires doesn’t have a reputation for shopping but I came across some pretty cool shops. Wander around Palermo Soho and Florida Street for fashion, go to El Ateneo for books (though most are in Spanish).Visit Galleria Pacifico, a beautiful shopping centre with more mainstream stores.And last but not least, make sure to go to the San Telmo Sunday market which seems to be the event of the week!
10) Puerto Madero
If you have time, walk along the water way in Puerto Madero which is the modern part of Buenos Aires. Not a must-see for me but it is another angle of Buenos Aires to experience.How to get around
I used the subway which was inexpensive, pretty straight forward and avoided the traffic. You can buy a SUBE card, the equivalent of an Oyster card in London, which can be topped up as needed. Uber also works here so good if you’re out late at night etc.Where to stay
Buenos Aires is a pretty large city and it can be confusing deciding where to stay. All the neighbourhoods are distinctly different so it really depends on what you’re looking for. The main areas where people tend to stay are in Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo. I stayed at a boutique hotel called Tango de Mayo. This was in the centre of town and right next to a subway station so easy to get around. I would definitely recommend this place though note that the area is not as happening in the evenings.
What and where to eat
When in Buenos Aires, there are a few things that you just have to try out. For Empanadas, head to El Sanjuanino (Recoleta).For steak, check out Alamos (Recoleta) or Don Julio (Palermo). I was also recommended La Brigada and El Desnival for steak but didn’t end up going – let me know if you’ve been! For coffee, go to Cafe Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo), the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires. The coffee was great but the food not so much (the churros were rock hard) so skip the snacks for somewhere else. This place also gets busy so avoid late afternoon/early evening. I also read good things about Cafe Poesia (San Telmo) and Cafe La Biela (Recoleta) though sadly didn’t get a chance to go!For Pizza, go to Pizzeria Guerrin (Avenida Corrientes). The pizzas are delicious but be prepared for extra thick slices smothered in cheese. You can order by the slice here and, trust me, that is the way to go – even the small pizza is huge! For a huge variety of food, you must visit Mercado San Telmo (San Telmo) which is an indoor market. You can find all sorts of food here e.g. empanadas, churros, crepes, burgers, you name it! I tried Un, Dos, Crepes which was great! Buenos Aires also has some pretty delicious ice-cream on offer – check out Freddo which has chains around town – the ice-cream is so thick and creamy!Hope this guide was helpful. Let me know if there are any other places that you would recommend seeing in Buenos Aires!