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Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, is a cultural hub for travelers. This vibrant city is overflowing with color and life. The character of Buenos Aires is elegantly displayed in the various neighborhoods – from quaint San Telmo to the towering skyscrapers of Puerto Madero.
Since it’s a busy city – there is a lot of hustling going on throughout the day and night. It’s also the national center for education, politics, technology, culture, and business of Argentina.
How to get to and around Buenos Aires
Most people fly into the international airports Ezeiza Airport (EZE) or the Jorge Newberry Airport (APE). They are the most common airports for international travel. Most major airlines from the United States fly to Buenos Aires. On the east coast, you can even find direct flights!
Subways and buses are efficient and easy to use. The SUBE card (available at hundreds of locations) allows you to use public transportation including buses and subways. Just top it off with credit to use when needed. The government of Buenos Aires updates this site (https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sube) regularly, so it’s easy to somewhere to buy or recharge your card.
Uber is very easy to find and use throughout Buenos Aires. It is custom to sit in the front seat.
Cabs are also widely available. You can use the app Cabify to know how much the ride will cost beforehand. If not, the cabs are metered so you do not have to worry about being ripped off.
No matter how you get around the city, keep an eye out for the Obelisco (obelisk). It is at the intersection of two of the city’s most important streets: Avenida Corrientes & Avenida 9 de Julio. Avenida 9 de Julio is one of the widest streets in the world with 16 lanes!
So how do you figure out what to do in a city with so much to offer?
Here are the best things to do in Buenos Aires!
Try asado (or barbecue)
Asado is more than just food – it brings together family, friends, and the community. Argentina is known for its delicious beef and steak – and for good reason! The cows are treated very well and the meat is all local. However, even if you’re not a meat-eater, you can still enjoy asado as they do grill vegetables.
Stroll around Palermo Street
The trendy traveler would enjoy the independent designer stores and small cafes of Palermo Soho. The atmosphere is straight out of Instagram. Start at Plaza Armenia and work your way to Plaza Serrano for the full experience.
What to Skip:
Caminito in La Boca has become a tourist spot in recent years. The colorfully painted houses have been deemed “Instagrammable” and now people are flocking here for the pictures, without actually thinking. The houses (or conventions) are communal houses built in the 19th century by Italian immigrants. Some of them are still lived in today. If you do decide to visit, please remember that these are people’s houses and be respectful.
Spend Sunday morning at San Telmo Market
The San Telmo market is open every day, but the Plaza Dorrego Flea Market is only open on Sundays (which is why I say go on a Sunday). I fully believe that markets like this one are one of the best ways to experience the local culture. Be captivated by tango performances in the street while eating homemade empanadas!
Explore Plaza de Mayo
This city square is home to the Metropolitan Cathedral and Casa Rosada (or pink house). The Casa Rosada is the executive mansion of the President of Argentina. The cathedral is where the current Pope Francis preached as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo has been home to many historical events.
Travel Tip: The official language is Argentine Spanish. While similar to Spain’s Spanish, the accent and some slang words are different.
Empanadas are a main part of Argentine cuisine. YOu can find them almost everywhere – on the streets or in fancy restaurants. Most of them are labeled, but if you look at the crusts – beef, chicken, and cheese all have different designs across the top.
Watch a futbol (soccer) match at La Boca Stadium
Futbol is a huge part of Argentine culture and pride. If you’re able to see a game at La Boca Stadium, do it. It’ll be a loud, intense experience that you’ll never forget.
Pay your respects at the Recoleta Cemetary
The Recoleta Cemetary is one of the world’s most extraordinary graveyards. Our hotel was near this breathtaking cemetery. Eva Peron’s final resting spot is located here and you’ll find flowers all over her grave. The cemetery is laid out like a city and the varying architecture reflects its history. While the cemetery is beautiful and picturesque, please be mindful of people paying their respects.
The hotel we stayed in, Cyan Recoleta Hotel, overlooked the cemetery and was near public transportation, making it super easy to get around the city.
Check out the Recoleta Cultural Center & Church
Near the Recoleta cemetery, this is a great place to visit for local art. They often have graffiti, expositions, and musical performances. The building was completed in 1732, making it one of the oldest buildings in the city.
Travel tip: Embrace the afternoon siesta! Some places will be closed in the afternoon for a break. Cool off in your hotel room (especially if traveling in the summer).
Admire the street art.
If you’re unable to visit the Recoleta Cultural Center, then be sure to enjoy the street art found around the city. I am a firm believer that street art is a glimpse into a community not found in a travel guide. You can take a tour of street art through Graffitimundo.
Escape the concrete jungle at the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve.
The reserve can provide you with relief from the heat and pace of the city. Recharge your batteries in the 360-hectare green area. You can also rent a bike to explore more of the reserve. The reserve is well known for the exotic birds that can often be spotted. The reserve is only open during daylight hours, and guided tours are only available on weekends.
If you really need a break from the city, check out these five day trips from Buenos Aires.
Take a tango class
You can’t go to the tango capital of the world and not take a tango lesson! Even if you have two left feet – trust me, it’ll be worth it. Many classes also include dinner and a show after so you can see how professionals tango. Our instructor made tango easy to understand and follow along, but I was blown away by the show after!
Enjoy a blend of two worlds at the Jardin Japones
This garden is one of a kind with its fusion of Japanese and Argentine design. The garden is a great way to enjoy nature with a zen vibe!
If you have more time in Argentina, then why not check out the 15 Most Beautiful National Parks in Argentina!
Browse for books at Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid
This theatre-turned-bookstore is considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. The stage is now a cafe and the seats have been replaced with thousands of books, but the beautiful wood engraved theatre boxes still remain. They even have books in English for a unique souvenir.
Walk along the Puerto Madero River & take a picture of Puente de la Mujer
The area around the Puerto Madero river has recently been renovated and includes very stylish restaurants. Strolling along the river, be sure to take a picture of the Puente de La Mujer (Woman’s bridge), an icon of the city.
Enjoy the sweeter side of the city with desserts
Sure, barbecue may be king – but sweets are definitely the queen. Dulce de leche is used on everything from toast in the morning to cakes for dessert. Dulce de leche is similar to caramel in its sweetness and texture but is a little bit thicker.
One thing I loved about Argentine culture is its connectedness. Friends, family, and the time spent with them are valued, not rushed. They connect with strangers very easily. I always felt like I knew the people I was talking with a lot longer than I actually did. While people all over the world are friendly, these people quickly became friends.
If you have more time in Argentina, why not check out the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia? You can even ride the train at the end of the world.