The lively capital of Argentina is one of South America’s most impressive cities, with its wide tree-lined avenues and colourful street art everywhere you look. The flavour of Buenos Aires extends past its wonderful street food and popular parrillas (grill restaurants); you will find spice in its people, passion, music and culture.
Despite its geographic location in the Americas, Buenos Aires is surprisingly European in feel, with streetside cafés, world-class museums, landscaped parks and sculptures by the likes of Auguste Rodin adorning public plazas. After spending one month living and working in Buenos Aires, Claus Gurumeta shares his top things for visitors to do when exploring this lively city:
Explore the neighbourhoods
Buenos Aires is made of various neighbourhoods, each with their own appeal and very distinct personality. During your visit, make sure to visit as many of these as you can to get a better idea of what Buenos Aires is all about. The centre of town is home to many top attractions and incorporates areas from various neighbourhoods; check out the city’s main square Plaza de Mayo with the rose-hued Presidential House Casa Rosada, and stroll the cobblestone streets of San Telmo to visit the Sunday crafts market. Recoleta is the most European part of the city and home to many high-end hotels and the impressive must-visit Recoleta Cemetery. Further east, Palermo is the trendiest part of town, its streets adorned with colourful murals housing hundreds of hip restaurants, breweries, wine bars and cafés. For something more local, visit the market in Caballito or check out the stunning Basílica María Auxiliadora in Almagro.
Eat at a closed-door restaurant
Dining is one of my favourite activities to do while travelling, and Buenos Aires has options to satisfy every taste. For something truly unique, try one of the city’s many closed-door restaurants, supper club dinner venues that typically have few seats, only one or two seatings per night, and must be reserved well in advance as they fill up every day. I personally recommend i Latina just south of Palermo (Murillo 725, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires). Their impressive seven-course dinner, inspired by the flavours of Latin America and paired with Argentinian wines, is a true culinary experience not to be missed! Another fun option is the Cenas Pasionarias long-table dinners at an antique lamp shop (Godoy Cruz 1669, Palermo, Buenos Aires). Make sure to reserve on their websites in advance, as walk-ins will not be allowed without a reservation!
…Or eat, in general
If you’re not up for a fancy closed-door restaurant, Buenos Aires still has plenty of options for you. For a quick meal on the go, grab a choripan, Argentina’s most popular streetfood that's as simple as it is delicious: a perfectly grilled chorizo sausage inside a bread roll, with flavourful chimichurri (a sauce made with garlic, cilantro, parsley and olive oil). My favourite choripan joint is the inexpensive Nuestra Parrilla - Lo de Freddy in San Telmo Market (Carlos Calvo 471, San Telmo, Buenos Aires), or you can visit Chori in Palermo (Thames 1653, Palermo, Buenos Aires) to try some interesting twists on the classic. With about 50% of Porteños having Italian roots, you’ll find plenty of places serving delicious pastas, as well as authentic Italian thin-crust pizzas. Meat lovers are also in luck: inexpensive parrillas can be found every few blocks. I wasn’t a huge fan of the renowned Argentinian beef, but their pork options are flavorful and tender! No matter where you eat, remember to drink lots of Malbec, Argentina’s most prized wine.
Search for art… everywhere
Buenos Aires has its fair share of world-class museums, especially excelling in those with a focus in art. Visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes for impressive permanent and temporary exhibits of local and international art, dating back to the middle ages up until the 1900s, or check out the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) for works by the most famous Latin artists. If you prefer the outdoors, Buenos Aires has got to be one of the most colourful cities I’ve ever been too; I always enjoyed discovering different streets and going to different areas simply to find new murals, especially in the Palermo neighborhood. For sculpture lovers, the 23-metre-high aluminum Floralis Genérica flower that opens and closes slowly throughout the day, is sure to entertain.
Dance to the beat
Porteños, as natives of Buenos Aires are referred to, are very proud of the musical legacy that the city is creating in the world stage. It is in this city that tango was invented, and the seductive dance is still embraced by people of all ages and visitors can watch a show, learn to dance, or simply visit a tango bar to see how the locals do it. Music here extends way past tango though: Argentinian rock has for decades been huge in Latin America, and new age sounds are re-introducing long-forgotten native sounds to current music. Live music is easy to find in Buenos Aires, from gigs at bars to high-end performances, every day of the week. For something out of the ordinary, check out the impressive Bomba de Tiempo drumming show, held every Monday in the Almagro neighbourhood (Sarmiento 3131, Almagro, Buenos Aires).
See more of Argentina
Had too much of Buenos Aires? It’s easy to use the capital as a jumping off point to explore other parts of this beautiful country! You can visit the impressive Iguassu Falls on the border with Brazil to take in this natural wonder, the largest waterfall system in the world. If you’re looking for something more active, head down to Patagonia to hike around in one of the most untouched places on earth, admiring the alpine scenery, beautiful glaciers, and some unique geological formations. Flights from Buenos Aires to other parts of the country are fairly inexpensive and short enough to make even a short side trip worth it.
Escape to Uruguay
You made it all the way to South America, so why not escape from Argentina to discover the neighbouring tiny country of Uruguay, easily accessible by ferry from the port of Buenos Aires? Visit the town of Colonia del Sacramento for the day, the only colonial city in the area and Uruguay’s first ever UNESCO-listed World Heritage site. With cobbled streets, pretty churches, and crumbling buildings painted with bright colours, the riverside town is an absolute treat. If you have a little longer, head over to the country’s cool capital Montevideo and explore its beautiful Independence Square, overlooked by the iconic Palacio Salvo building, eat at one of the parrillas at the port market, or head to Pocitos for some beach time. If you want a bigger break, you can continue east towards the paradisiacal beaches of Punta del Este for some relaxation, or try your hand at surfing in laid-back Punta del Diablo.
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