During my trip to South America, I spent 3 nights in Buenos Aires. On the first evening that we arrived, we visited South African friends who lived there and had invited us for dinner. The following day, we took a ferry to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay and spent the day there. This left us with approximately 36 hours to explore Buenos Aires before we hopped onto an 18-hour flight to Dubai. Not much time to explore one of the largest cities in the world!
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, often called the Paris of South America for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, tree-lined boulevards and European heritage. In the early 20th century, it was one of the worlds most affluent cities. I found that it shared similarities with other cities I’ve visited as well.
Unlike many other cities though, it doesn’t have a long list of sights and attractions to tick off. There are 48 distinct neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires and the best way to explore the city is by walking - at least through the main ones. But if it’s your first time there, these are my suggestions on what you should not miss.
To save time, we did a half-day city tour which we booked through our hotel. We spent the rest of the time exploring the places not covered by our city tour, using Uber. If you have more time, check out this adventurous guide to Buenos Aires.
Casa Rosada is the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. It was from the balconies of this building that Evita Perón, the beloved former First Lady, addressed the masses during the late 1940s and early 1950. The mansion lies on the eastern side of the Plaza de Mayo, the first public square in Buenos Aires and the historic site of political uprisings and protests.
Cemeteries are not often included on lists of things to do in a city, but this one is a must-see. In fact, it was named as one of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world by CNN. Most of the graves are built above the ground and are unique, elaborate works of art. Many Argentinian personalities, including Evita Peron are buried here. You can wander around for hours in this labyrinth of mausoleums.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid was once listed by The Guardian as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. It was initially a theatre, then a cinema, now a bookshop. Although we didn’t find many English books there, the store is a must-see if you are a book lover .
This engineering wonder is a 105-foot wide giant metallic flower . It is designed to bloom during the day and close at night like a real flower.
La Boca, is a vibrant, bohemian neighborhood famous for its colourful houses, its tango and its soccer team. Here, you will see La Bombonera stadium, often regarded as one the best football stadiums in the world. It is owned by Boca Juniors, Diego Maradona’s former football team, and one of football-crazy Argentina's top football clubs.
Caminito is the most famous street and tourist attraction in La Boca, because of its colourful houses and its strong ties to the tango. La Boca was the only place where we saw couples dancing the tango during our time there.
Avenida 9 De Julio is the widest avenue in the world, with up to seven lanes in each direction. It was named after Argentina’s Independence Day on 9th July 1816. Take a walk along this street and see the landmarks, like the Teatro Colon (one of the best opera houses in the world), and the Obelisk, as well as the street performers. We saw a huge protest taking place around the Obelisk one day.
You can hop on a ferry for a day trip to Uruguay. We visited Colonia del Sacramento for the day. The tickets are quite pricey but the earlier you book them, the cheaper they are. It is advisable to compare prices online. Colonia del Sacramento is a delightful old town with a cobbled historic quarter and colonial Portuguese and Spanish buildings. The historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Puerto Madero is a modern cosmopolitan neighbourhood situated along the waterfront. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit it as an important international conference was taking place during our stay there and the whole area was closed off. Other neighbourhoods to explore if you have the time include Palermo and San Telmo.
If budget allows, then stay at the luxurious Palacio Duhau.
On a lower budget, stay at the centrally located Unique Executive Central Hotel (aka Central Park Plaza).
Or click here for more accommodation options in Buenos Aires.
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Have you been there? What are your favourite things to do in Buenos Aires ?
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