Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a vast cultural mecca bursting at the seams with things to do and see. One could easily be there a week visiting each of the bustling and diverse neighborhoods and still not get the full experience.
Spend a whole day marveling at grand avenues lined with glorious architecture from the past or meander into areas adorned with stylish modern high rises while you ponder about the future. Lounge and lose yourself in one of the city’s lovely green spaces or plazas and pleasurably loaf the afternoon away while thinking of nothing at all. Sample delectable cuisines and sip some of the best wine in the world as you roam around allowing yourself to become intoxicated by the city’s dreamy atmosphere. It is with this great nostalgia and extreme FOMO (Fear of Missing out) that I present to you the sites we saw on our remarkably short 3-day visit to Buenos Aires. Enjoy…
Buenos Aires is a massive city and because of this you will find a wide array of affordable options for where to stay. There is a lot of competition for Airbnb in the city so this keeps prices down and they’re definitely worth checking out. We found a clean, modern and comfortable apartment on Airbnb in the desirable Recoleta neighborhood thanks to a good tip from a friend ($25 USD/per night). Due to this neighborhood’s proximity to transportation and many well-known places of interest this area was a perfect choice.
We decided to explore our new neighborhood and roam around a bit on our first day. We began by visiting Recoleta Cemetery and luckily walked in when a free guided tour was being offered (available at 11am & 3pm). This cemetery, known for its lavish mausoleums where one could easily get lost while entranced in the striking architecture, was stunning. The historic and informative tour gave us some insight on many of the famous and notable Argentinians who made this cemetery their final resting place. Be sure to make a stop at the tomb of the legendary Eva Peron. It will be easy to spot as locals and foreigners alike pay homage to the former first lady by laying throngs of flowers at the site.
A City With Free Spirit
Next, we walked around Plaza Francia and witnessed the local Feria Artesanal where many talented artists gather to sell their crafts. This venue is perfect for people watching while unwinding in the grass like a local. The smell of local street food wafted through the air, percussionists and singers showed off their talent and people danced to their rhythmic music. This plaza exuded an easygoing vibe and it is one of the many green spaces around Buenos Aires where you can spend a leisurely afternoon. Centro Cultural Recoleta was our next stop where we popped in to see some local artist exhibits. This creative space hosts some of the best work from local musicians, painters, photographers and more. All of this talent is displayed in a lovely historic building that is a sight to see.
Art and Culture
When visiting this area do not miss out on Museo Bellas Artes (free admission) and their collection of work from renowned artists. Be sure to visit the gorgeous parks around the museum. While here, make a stop at the Floralis Generica sculpture across the street donated by famed Argentinian architect Eduardo Catalano. This immense steel flower sculpture designed to “bloom” like a real flower is quite impressive. During the day it opens itself up with the rising sun and proceeds to shut its petals as the day comes to an end.
On our way back home after exploring on foot all day we decided to pass by Biblioteca Nacional. This library housed in a striking building is one of the most important institutions in Argentina. In addition to a vast collection of literary material, they offer free walking tours and other informative historical programs. There is a small memorial behind the library that is worth a visit and is located in the serene Plaza del Lector. Here you can kick back with a nice book while you admire the classic buildings surrounding you.
Nightlife in Palermo Soho
After a long day followed by a nice rest, we overslept and did not have dinner until about 1am. This turned out to be fine since the city’s local night scene does not pick up until well into the evening. For some food, fun and drinks we headed over to the upscale Palermo Soho neighborhood. They had many hip eateries to choose from in Palermo including a burger place called Heisenburger! (Breaking Bad fans rejoice). We dined on divine Argentinian steak and wine and even found a place with great craft beer nearby (Blue Dog Brewery). Later we witnessed an impromptu salsa dance party break out in the square nearby late into the night and were impressed by the locals’ festive spirit. We loved this area and even happened to visit again our last night in town.
A Free Walking Tour Love Affair!
Our second day in Buenos Aires we decided to do a free walking tour with Free Walks Buenos Aires. We met our guide in front of the jaw dropping Congresso Nacional building. On the tour we strolled down the distinguished Avenida de Mayo and visited other architectural gems including the Palacio Barolo building inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. Other stops included the Eva Peron Mural on the Ministry of Health Building, the famous Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo and the presidential palace known as La Casa Rosada. I highly recommend this walking tour as it was informative and extensive, they even do a morning tour that covers the Recoleta neighborhood.
Old vs. New
After the tour, Manu and I walked over to Puerto Madero, the most modern neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Here you will find pricey upscale restaurants along the waterfront and great outdoor cafes with fantastic views. Later that night we stepped back in time to visit the historic San Telmo neighborhood. Here we were photographed with the applauded Mafalda – an Argentinian icon! For a delicious dinner we headed over to the nearby Café la Poesia, a place rich in history and dedicated to the literary masters. With its cobble stone streets, soft lighting and gorgeous antique buildings San Telmo is a romantic and charming neighborhood that must be visited when in Buenos Aires.
A Bittersweet End
On our last day we switched to a hotel in the city center (Babel City – $35 USD) since our Airbnb was booked for that date. We then met up with some of my family that happened to be visiting beautiful Buenos Aires as well. We met on Calle Florida a pedestrian mall where you will find everything including street performers, crafts, shopping centers, restaurants and more. If you’re on a backpacker’s budget you will find great cheap eats in the mall food courts along with street food in this area.
Although we had only chipped away at the surface of Buenos Aires it was soon time to leave. Its inviting allure and fascinating charisma left us with a longing to peel back all of its layers and delve deep into the city. Manu and I hope to come back to Buenos Aires soon for some more exploration giving this lovely city more time to make an even deeper impression on us.
Tips for Getting Out
- Heading to Uruguay next? Getting there from Buenos Aires is a breeze and just a ferry ride away.
- With Buquebus you have the option to get to Colonia, Uruguay in 1 hour (great day trip option) or 3 hours (cheaper, good if you’re heading out of Argentina).
- Check their site for latest fares and to plan your trip.