10 THINGS TO DO IN BUENOS AIRES
Welcome to beautiful Buenos Aires!
Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina and home to almost 15 million people, is a giant city where the word „boredom“ doesn’t exist. On our trip we meet so many travelers who were totally fascinated by Buenos Aires and some could even imagine to live there permanently. So, golf ball BoB’s, Lars and my expectations were very high and, after spending the first days, we totally understood all euphoria. Buenos Aires people, called “portenos”, are very friendly and open-minded, the old architecture as well as the modern districts are stunning. With its interesting political history, world-famous art and culture and its delicious food this city offers uncountable possibilities. With the subway “Subte” it is easy to navigate through the city. With only 5 pesos per person/per ride you pay not even US$1 to get to the most important places.
We spent 10 days in Buenos Aires and tried to see and do as much as possible. But not everybody can stay for more than a week. To give you a first overview of the sights and places you should definitely see while you are in Buenos Aires, we put together the best 10 things to do in Buenos Aires. Let’s start!
1. Be sexy and dance tango
Golf ball BoB at the La Catedral Tango Club
Tango is passion and when you are in Buenos Aires you want to be passionate. The possibilities of watching performing tango dancers is almost unlimited. But who just wants to watch? Do a course and feel the Latin rhythm! Every night the tango club „La Catedral“ offers courses for beginners and advanced dancers. Located in a former industrial building, you feel going back in time, to the end of the 19th century. In the first seconds, when you walk into the giant, but grubby and a bit strange decorated hall, you might think „Where am I?“.
But when the music starts and the lights above the dance floor are turned on, you feel the authentic atmosphere. Courses start from 6pm and don’t worry when you are just by yourself. It’s not necessary to bring a partner as dance partners are changed during the course and there are always „singles“ – male and female. Every night different courses are offered. Just have a look at the website for the schedule. At 1am the courses are over and the „real“ show starts which you are welcome to watch. La Catedral is located in Sarmiento #4006. Course price: 60 pesos per person for 1,5 hours including show at 1am. More info here.
2. Plaza de Mayo – the centerpiece of Buenos Aires
Christian, Florian (two Germans we met in Buenos Aires) and me in front of the La Casa Rosada
The Plaza de Mayo is the oldest square in Buenos Aires and also its centerpiece. Numerous political events have taken place here, whereas the most important one was in May 1810: Argentina’s Independence Day – independent from the Spanish. Since then, the square has its name. The Plaza de Mayo itself is not an outstanding place however the La Casa Rosada, the government house, is located here with its world-famous balcony. Its the balcony from where Eva Peron held her emotional speech that, at least after Madonnas famous scene in the musical Evita, became famous worldwide. Every Saturday and Sunday you can enter the Casa Rosada from 10am till 6pm and take part in a free guided tour. In the neighboring „Museo Bicentenario“ you can learn more about Argentina’s history. Admission: free, opening hours: 10am till 6pm. For more info visit www.museobicentenario.gob.ar.
Possibly you have already read about the disappeared sons of Argentina. During the military dictatorship from 1976 till 1983 more than 30,0000 opponents of the dictatorship disappeared. It is assumed that they were tortured and murdered. It is also assumed that 500 babies were amongst these disappeared souls. Babies that were born during the imprisonment and released to military families for forced adaptions. Until today, the mothers of the disappeared sons meet every Thursday afternoon at 3.30pm on the Plaza de Mayo to demonstrate for the truth and for their right to know what happened to their loved ones. It’s hard to imagine what these old women are feeling but when you see the tears in their eyes you also get goosebumps.
3. Spoil your taste buds with a juicy steak or a vegetarian baked cheese
Golf ball BoB with his yummy Argentinean steak
„Yummy!“ That’s what you will say after having your first bite of an original Argentinean steak. Buenos Aires is full of parrillas (steakhouses) and it’s hard to decide which restaurant to try. But you can’t do anything wrong. A very tasty steak awaits you at „Don Ernesto“ (Carlos Calvo #375) in San Telmo. The plates are huge and the house wine, of course an Argentinean Malbec, is also very good. For those who are vegetarians, steak houses also have something really good on the BBQ. The so called „provoleta“, which is a baked cheese flavored with spices, is perfect for vegetarians but also great for meet eaters :). I loved it and it’s really filling. Yum!
One thing I should mention…. Buenos Aires people have their dinner very late. Don’t enter a restaurant before 10pm, if you don’t want to be the only guest. Locals usually start having their dinner around 11pm. At 1am the restaurants are incredibly busy and ordering a steak at this hour is totally normal.
4. Eva Peron – loved and hated
Eva Peron’s grave on the cemetery of Recoleta
She has probably been the most famous woman of Argentina: Eva Peron. She fought for the women’s rights and due to her engagement the women’s suffrage was introduced in Argentina in 1947. In the 50s Eva Peron was one of the most influential persons in her country. Of course, her actions were highly controversial and even nowadays she is loved and hated by the Argentinians. On the cemetery of Recoleta, the “Cementerio de Recoleta”, you can visit Eva Peron’s grave. In 1976 she was buried there after 16 years of disappearance. The cemetery is located in the center of Recoleta, so it’s location and the many other impressive graves make it worth a visit. Admission is free.
If you want to learn more about Eva Peron, visit the Museo Evita in Lafinur #2988 (close to the Botanical Garden). Admission: 40 pesos per person, opening hours: 11am till 7pm.
The Floralis Generica on Plaza de las Naciones Unidas
Close to the cemetery, on Plaza de las Naciones Unidas in Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, you find the 23 meter high „Floralis Generica“. It’s a huge flower made of steel and aluminum. It’s not a deeply impressive sight but there is something special about it: The blossom opens at 8am in the morning and closes at sunset… like a real flower.
5. Stroll through the lovely and colorful market of San Telmo
San Telmo’s popular market
San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires most popular districts amongst tourists. The relaxed atmosphere in the cobble stone roads that are lined by trees, is perfect for relaxed walks, an ice cream or a coffee. San Telmo is full of cafes, restaurants and bars.
The highlight of San Telmo takes place every Sunday from 10am till 5pm: the “Feria de San Pedro Telmo”. On this colorful junk market you can spend money for a lot of rubbish but once in a while you discover really cool things. Old typewriters, painted light bulbs, old telephones, antique tableware, record players and many more. It’s a lot of fun to walk through the streets, from stall to stall, to be impressed by the things other people collected over decades, and to hear sounds from street musicians in the background. This market only takes place on Sundays! More info here.
Golf ball BoB with Mafalda in San Telmo
Mafalda is the name of this little cute girl. In 1964 she was created by the Argentinian cartoonist Quino and became the most popular cartoon in Latin America. In her stories, that were translated into 30 languages, Mafalda talks about the problems in the world in the 70ies , about injustice, hunger and war. Nowadays you can share a bench with her in the neighborhood of San Telmo. You find her at the corner Defensa/Chile together with her mum and dad where she puts a smile into the faces of locals and tourists. If you want to visit her, avoid going on Sundays. There is always a long queue with tourists waiting for a shot with Mafalda.
Watch Mafalda’s film in here.
6. Explore the oasis of Buenos Aires: Parque Tres de Febrero in Palermo
The beautiful rose garden “El Rosedal”
I’ m not a city child but in Buenos Aires I felt very well and comfortable. One reason was definitely all the green in the city. Almost every street in the city center is lined by shade-giving trees. Especially in summer, when the temperature is around 30°C and higher, you are very thankful for every shade. A real huge green Oasis awaits you in Palermo in the “Parque Tres de Febrero”. In this 25 hectare big park with its large grass areas, golf ball BoB felt like at home. He just missed the holes with the small flags :). There you find the Botanical Garden, the Buenos Aires Zoo (only in Spanish), and a planetarium. In the “Planetario Buenos Aires” you are watching short movies about our solar system and the Argentinean tango in supine position. More information on the schedule you find here (only in Spanish).
Golf ball BoB’s and my favorite was the rose garden „El Rosedal“. Here you walk along colorful beds of roses and I’m sure you will also be surprised about the many different types of roses you get to see. Admission: free.
7. Become a book worm!
The most beautiful bookstore in Buenos Aires: El Ateneo Grand Splendid
I think bookstores always have a very special charm with all that knowledge and creativity that’s hidden in the books and usually I could spend hours and hours there. Do you fell the same? If yes, you definitely have to put the “El Ateneo Grand Splendid” bookstore on your bucket list! I promise, you will love it! Even golf ball BoB and Lars who are definitely no book worms were fascinated. This bookstore is located in Avenida Santa Fe #1860 in Recoleta. “El Ateneo Grand Splendid” used to be as theater before it became a cinema. In 2000 it was converted into a bookstore. Even when you are bored by bookstores you should pop in. Opening hours: Monday till Thursday: 9am till 10pm, Friday and Saturday: 9am till midnight, Sunday 12pm till 22pm.
8. Watch a Polo match – Argentina’s national sport
Polo match at the Campo Argentino de Polo
Certainly, everybody thinks of football when thinking about sports in Argentina. But there are some other sports Argentinians love. Polo was brought to Argentina by the English in 1873. From the beginning on the gauchos were fascinated by this sport because Argentina always had many horses and a lot of fields. Close to the Parque Tres de Febrero in Palermo is the Campo Argentino de Polo located where you can watch a game of this powerful sport.
Randomly there was a match going on when we passed the stadium and didn’t have to buy an entrance ticket. We were very surprised but couldn’t find the reason why the ticket counters were closed although a match was going on. I guess, when there is no Polo Cup going on some matches are for free. We were very impressed by the power of the horses. If you have the possibility to watch a game, don’t miss it.
If you want to play polo and give it try, ask the receptionist in your hostel/hotel about recommendations for agencies.
9. Feel harbor atmosphere at Puerto Madero
Great atmosphere in Puerto Madero at night
Puerto Madero is the youngest district of Buenos Aires and with its long esplanade it’s ideal for walks. With the up to 50 meters high buildings it has a totally different atmosphere compared to Buenos Aires traditional city center. This is the district of the rich with impressive luxurious high-rise buildings and luxury cars in the streets. The docks are lined with cafes, high-class restaurants and bars. Around sunset and at night the area gets busy and lively. But also during the day, especially on weekends, the esplanade with the food stalls is very popular amongst locals and tourists. Here you should try another favorite Argentinean dish: “panchos”, Argentina’s hot dogs. Panchos, that only cost a few pesos, are topped with diverse sauces, salads and spices. The food stalls usually have a separate table in the front with all these great toppings you can choose according to your taste. Enjoy!
10. Football mania with the Boca Juniors
Golf ball BoB and Lars at the famous Boca Juniors stadium
Even before we arrived in Buenos Aires one thing was already on golf ball BoB’s and Lars bucket list: Visiting the world-famous stadium of the CA Boca Juniors. Their stadium, colloquially “La Bombonera” (which means “chocolate box”), is located in Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca and is home to Argentina’s most successful football team. Diego Maradona played for CA Boca Juniors from 1981 till 1982 and from 1995 till 1997. Especially games between the CA Boca Juniors and the CA River Plate are very high-explosive. Both teams are from Buenos Aires and therefore the biggest rivals. Have a look “behind the scenes” and visit the Boca Juniors Museum. During a stadium tour you can visit the team’s changing room and see Diego Maradonas balcony from where he watches almost every game of the team. Admission: museum + stadium tour: 110 pesos per person.
Extra Tip: Cafe Tortoni – Buenos Aires oldest cafe
Golf ball BoB with a sweet alfajor at Cafe Tortoni
Argentinians love sweets and the best place to try one of their popular alfajores is the “Cafe Tortoni”. It is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires and you can still feel the charm of the old days. The cafe’s walls are decorated with photos of famous people who visited the cafe e.g. Albert Einstein. If you want to try a typical Argentinean alfajor, you get two cookies filled with dulce de leche and chocolate icing. The “Cafe Tortoni” is located in Avenida de Mayo #825.
City map of Buenos Aires
Click in the picture to enlarge the map. To get back to this blog post, press the back button of your browser.
The dashed lines indicate Buenos Aires subway lines A, B, C, D, and E.
Where to stay
The giant city of Buenos Aires offers uncountable hostels for smaller and bigger wallet. During our stay we tried the following two hostels. Both hostels have a great location from where you can easily reach the subway.
In the Rock Hostel it’s all about rock. Dorm rooms start from US$14 per person including breakfast. Every bed has an own locker in the room. The beds with the thin mattresses didn’t look very comfortable on the first look but we were surprised how well we slept. At night they sell alcoholic drinks in the living room. There is also a small kitchen and the bathrooms are very spacious and clean. Located in Avenida Rivadavia #1587 it is right in the city center and the first sight, Buenos Aires congress, is just around the corner.
If you prefer a quiter place to stay, Hostel Arrabal is a very good option. Dorm rooms start from US$11 per person including breakfast. Also here every bed has an own locker in the room. The living room is comfortable and they also have a pool table that you can use for free. The whole hostel looks very modern. Especially the bathrooms are in very good conditions. Hostel Arrabal is located in Calle Salta #661. The famous Avenida 9 de Julio and the neighborhood of San Telmo are located in walking distance.
Changing money in Buenos Aires
Golf ball BoB and his saved US Dollars for Argentina
Never forget to bring US Dollars or Euros when traveling to Argentina otherwise your journey will cost you a lot more money. The exchange rate on the “blue market” is much higher than the official exchange rate. If you can bring US Dollar or Euro notes, you can easily change them in Buenos Aires shopping street Florida. If you don’t have enough money with you, you can easily transfer money from your home country to Argentina via an online money transfer service where get almost the blue market exchange rate. Xoom.com is the money transfer service for US citizens, whereas Azimo.com works for Europeans. You just register with your credit card and within minutes you can send money to Argentina. With the transfer code you get you can easily pick the money up in the branches of certain money tranfer agencies in Buenos Aires. We tried Azimo for the first time when we were in Argentina a were surprised how quick, easy and safe it was. Just bring some time when picking up the money as there are usually long queues. Try to avoid using ATMs as you will get a lot less money for your US Dollar or Euro.
Buenos Aires is a really fascinating city that offers so many incredible things to do. You need at least three full days to get an insight into the city’s beauty and to feel the real Buenos Aires rhythm.
Of you don’t have enough time to explore the city by yourself, take part in one of the Free Walking Tours in Buenos Aires. Other travellers did a tour with “Buenos Aires Free Walks” and were very satisfied with the things they visited and the information that was given.
If you are looking for more information on Buenos Aires, just let me know and leave a message below.
Enjoy this amazing city and have a fantastic time!
Thanks for reading and safe travels!