Best things to do in Buenos Aires
Find out more about those top places in Buenos Aires
More so than any other South American capital, Buenos Aires combines European sophistication with Latin flair in a mesmerizing fashion. Founded in the late-16th century and declaring independence from Spain in 1810, the Argentine capital’s streets resonate with history with Gilded Italian and French-style palaces lining the boulevards around the city’s main square, Plaza de Mayo. However, Buenos Aires is also a thrillingly vibrant city with a 24/7 attitude: its famed parrillas (steakhouses) stay packed well into the night; its bars and clubs only really get going after midnight; and sensual displays of tango, the city’s world-famous dance, go on at all hours. Despite its vast size on a map, the central barrios of Buenos Aires are relatively compact allowing for on-foot exploration while the city’s public transit system lets you get a glimpse of further afield attractions, such as the breathtaking Reserva Ecológica and the phantasmagorical hidden gem of Feria de Mataderos.
Perhaps Buenos Aires’ finest attraction, the sprawling Cemeterio de la Recoleta is literally a city of the dead. Covering a vast area, the cemetery is the grandiose final resting place for many of Argentina’s great and good, including past presidents, military generals and movie stars. To better understand how this mammoth cemetery came to be, guided tours are offered throughout the day.
Named after the former Argentinian president who first proposed creating a multi-purpose cultural venue in downtown Buenos Aires, the former central post office turned arts space is one of the capital’s best attractions. Within the monumental beaux-arts building are multiple art galleries, a world-class concert hall and a variety of smaller studios, screening rooms and spaces where locals can simply hang out. Free guided tours of this remarkable space are given on weekends.
Argentina’s most famous tradition, the tango, comes to life throughout Buenos Aires’ many theaters and dance schools. A trip to the city would not be complete without attending one of these astonishing shows at the historic Galería Güemes, a fin-de-siècle theatre in the heart of downtown. For the more adventurous, tango classes can also be arranged at Le Catedral where you can learn some of the dance’s world-famous moves.
Buenos Aires’ is South America’s street art capital and there is no better place to explore this enthralling tradition than in the winding streets of the Palermo district. Specialist guided tours of the area offer insightful information on the history of street art in the city, from the political movements of the 1920s to acts of defiance against the military dictatorship during the 1970s.
One of Buenos Aires’ most unusual buildings is the Palacio Barolo, which was modeled after the structure of Dante’s iconic Divine Comedy. The grandiose building is 100 meters tall, after the 100 songs in Dante’s work, and is divided into 22 floors, which is inspired by the number of verses per song. What is more, much like the Divine Comedy, Palacio Barolo is divided into hell, purgatory and heaven making for a true architectural wonder. Guided tours of the building are available that explain its rich symbolism.
Catch the famous Boca Juniors play a game at their Bombonera Stadium, one of the world’s most iconic football grounds. The atmosphere around the stadium is electric on match days and is worth the trip alone. For those not interested in watching a full match, guided tours are available that reveal the club’s rich sporting history.
Plaza de Mayo is the heart of Buenos Aires’ and is where locals come to relax in the sweltering summer evenings over a few cool beers. To savor this enthralling atmosphere, and marvel at the rich history of the plaza, take an evening walking tour where guides will fill you in on the square’s role in Argentine history.
For a sensory overload, head to the intoxicating market of Feria de San Telmo where you can buy just about anything. It is a crowded scene so be prepared to squeeze your way past vendors selling cool beers, fresh fruit juices and vintage bric-a-brac. Make sure to allow plenty of time to watch the array of talented street artists and musicians who work in the area.