Buenos Aires, the cultured capital city of Argentina, is one of the most eclectic cities to visit in South America. Sprawling Buenos Aires has one of the largest urban areas in the region, and the city’s size is only outweighed by its diversity, making this one of the most intriguing destinations to visit anywhere in the world.
Originally founded by the Spanish in the late 16th century, Buenos Aires has long since outgrown its humble colonial origins to become a huge player on the Latin American tourist scene. You can learn the unique local dialect of Spanish while you indulge in supreme Argentinian wines, steaks and empanadas. You can catch a game of football at the Boca Juniors stadium, you can experience a polo match or even learn how to tango.
This is a city for those who love to immerse themselves in culture and cuisine, and to help you to plan your trip to the Argentine capital, here are the best things to do in Buenos Aires.
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Things to do in Buenos Aires
A Walking Tour of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires might well be a mega-city, with a multitude of different neighbourhoods and districts, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy seeing the streets on foot. One of the best cheap things to do in Buenos Aires is to take a walking tour, as there are many local guides and companies offering tip based tours across the city.
You can explore the different markets, surround yourself in the stunning architecture of downtown and take in the local culture as you walk in the fresh airs of Buenos Aires.
La Casa Rosada
La Casa Rosada – or The Pink House, in English – is one of Argentina’s most important buildings, and one of the most visited Buenos Aires attractions. This is the President’s mansion, and the historic pink walls date back to the late 19th century. It’s a symbol of the city, and the grand architecture of the building has seen many an important political occurrence taking place here over the years.
While the outside of La Casa Rosada is a marvel in itself, you can also visit the museum, which is full of historic items belonging to former presidents of Argentina.
Florida Street is found in downtown Buenos Aires and it’s one of the most visited walking streets in the city. The long avenue is completely pedestrianized and is one of the oldest streets in Buenos Aires. You can walk along the busy boulevard, admiring the historic architecture on both sides that rises high to form the skyline.
This is one of the most popular Buenos Aires points of interest, but not just for the history, but because Florida Street is home to the best shopping in the city. You can spend the day strolling from shop to shop and taking in the downtown atmosphere.
The Teatro Colon is one of the most resplendent and historic pieces of architecture in Buenos Aires, and it’s one of the oldest dedicated opera houses to be found in South America. For culture lovers, this is rightly one of the best activities in Buenos Aires, but you’ll need to book well in advance or be particularly lucky, to secure yourself tickets to a performance.
Even if you don’t catch an opera, the Teatro Colon offers regular guided tours for visitors through the week, allowing you to learn more about its history, design and to see the glorious interiors, both in front and behind the stage, skip the line tickets are highly recommended.
No Buenos Aires sightseeing tour is complete without even just a quick visit to the country’s premier art museum. MALBA – or the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires – is a top cultural institution and home to some of the best artwork in the region.
MALBA collects art from across Latin America and offers permanent and temporary exhibitions that focus on preserving the unique culture of the wider Latin world. It’s a must-see sight if you are looking to gain a distinctively local insight into the artistic world of Argentina and the surrounding Spanish speaking countries too.
Buenos Aires is made up of many diverse neighbourhoods, and one of the best fun things to do in Buenos Aires is to visit La Boca neighbourhood. This is one of the most historic and lively parts of the city, and for Buenos Aires tourism, it’s a huge draw. That means that La Boca can be a busy place to visit at the best of times, but it’s well worth braving the crowds to experience this part of the city.
La Boca is lined with colourful houses and buildings, many in bright shades of red, yellow or blue, and the area attracts many artists and cultural performances. You can catch a tango show in the streets, learn about the diverse migrant history that turned the area into the eclectic neighbourhood you see today, and find some great restaurants and bars.
A visit to La Boca is one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires at night, because when the sun sets the streets become alive with music, as well as good eating and plenty of drinking too.
El Caminito is perhaps the most iconic street in La Boca, and it’s one of the most popular Buenos Aires points of interest to visit. This is a pedestrianized street in the neighbourhood, and it’s perfect for a late afternoon or evening stroll when the artists line the avenue selling their work and the musicians and tango dancers are all out in force. It’s colourful, fun and entertaining.
La Boca is also famed for their local football team, the world famous Boca Juniors. The team play their games at La Bombonera stadium and you can expect every match to be packed out with locals and tourists alike. The atmosphere is always loud, boisterous and passionate, as Argentine fans take their football very seriously indeed.
Boca Juniors are one of the best teams in South America, and many legendary players have begun their careers here, including Diego Maradona. The biggest game of the year is the Superclasico between Boca Juniors and fierce rivals River Plate, but you’ll be super lucky to get hold of tickets.
If you want to learn more about the team, you can also take stadium tours and visit the local museum at La Bombonera.
Campo Argentino de Polo
Argentina is a country associated with horse riding, from the huge ranches to the Gaucho, cowboy culture that’s prevalent across the nation. While much of this culture is of course found outside of the city, if you do want to see this horsemanship in action, then head to the famous Campo Argentino de Polo, to catch a polo match in Buenos Aires.
The 30,000 seater stadium hosts regular polo matches, but the most important event of the year is the Argentine Open Polo Championship, generally held around November. This is the biggest polo event in South America, and well worth attending if you are in the city at the same time.
If you are looking for a taste of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, then take a visit to the bustling Palermo neighbourhood. This is the city’s largest district, and in fact, there are so many great things to do in Palermo Buenos Aires that you could easily make it your base when are visiting.
Palermo is a hotbed for local culture, and you can find many of the best museums and art galleries – including the MALBA – located in the district. If you love eating and drinking, then this is the place for you, and you can find great cafes, bars and restaurants lining the streets. The nightlife here is famous too, and if you are looking to enjoy a few late evenings and early mornings in Buenos Aires, then head for Palermo.
Local markets pop up across the plazas on the weekends, while you can also enjoy some excellent shopping in Palermo any day of the week.
The city’s Botanical Gardens are also found in Palermo, and it’s a great opportunity to escape the streets and to get a little bit closer to nature again. The gardens are home to thousands of different species of plants, showcasing the huge diversity found across Argentina, but also including many species from wider South America and further afield too.
On weekends, there are free guided tours of the Botanical Gardens, giving you the chance to learn more about the extensive collection of flora that’s grown here.
San Telmo Market
San Telmo is actually the most historic part of Buenos Aires, as this was the first site of a Spanish colonial settlement in the region. Although the first attempt to build a colony was abandoned, the Spaniards returned time and time again and eventually, Buenos Aires grew into the city you find today from these roots in San Telmo.
The area is still full of colonial architecture, and it’s a ramshackle part of the city that’s great to explore on foot. The biggest attraction for tourists in San Telmo though, is the regular Sunday market, when the streets are quite literally bursting with vendors. It’s a great place to find souvenirs and to interact with the locals.
National History Museum
Located in the San Talmo district, the National History Museum is a great place to visit if you are looking to learn more about Argentina’s intriguing past. The museum focuses on Argentina’s War of Independence with Spain and was built in the late 19th century to celebrate Argentinian independence and freedom.
There are thousands of unique exhibits collected and displayed at the National History Museum, which together take visitors through the country’s revolutions and wars, and development into a modern, independent nation.
Anyone with a keen interest in Argentinian history won’t want to miss out on visiting the Recoleta Cemetery too. It may seem like a rather morbid attraction on the outset, but it’s a popular sight to explore because the cemetery is the final resting place of some of Argentina’s most important people.
The cemetery has thousands of burials, all in vaults found above ground, many of which have become shrines and dedications to the lives of those interred within, complete with sculptures, busts and elaborate artwork. Many former presidents and politicians are found here, including Eva ‘Evita’ Peron, the infamous First Lady of Argentina.
The Puerto Madero district is found in a beautiful position along the waterfront in central Buenos Aires and is one of the newest, and most modern parts of the city. The area started life as the city’s harbour and port, but it fell into disuse and disrepair. In the 1990s however, locals became sick of the eyesore and the government began to invest in its redevelopment, transforming Puerto Madero from a run-down industrial area into a modern, high rise filled district.
Puerto Madero is home to the city’s newest developments, and you can find swanky restaurants, great bars and high end shopping along the waterfront.
Eat, Drink and Dance
Travelling to Buenos Aires is as much about enjoying the local food, drink and culture as it is about visiting traditional sights and attractions, and no journey to the Argentine capital is complete without eating, drinking and dancing.
Across the city, you can find high-quality Parillas, traditional grills where you can sample some of the finest cuts of steak in the world. For a tasty snack, then be sure to pick up a few Empanadas, pastries filled with different combinations or meat, veg and cheese. Argentinian wine is superb too, and you’ll want to indulge in a few glasses of Malbec to accompany your lunch or dinner.
And of course, don’t be afraid to join in the dancing. Argentinians love to tango, and you’ll find the locals hold impromptu tango sessions in the streets of Buenos Aires in the evenings, or you can find plenty of more professional tango shows and tango lessons, where you can learn how to improve your dancing skills.
Recommend budget tours in Buenos Aires
- Small-Group City Tour of Buenos Aires
- The Argentine Experience: Empanada Making, Steak, Wine, Alfajores and Mate
- Gaucho Day Tour Ranch in San Antonio de Areco from Buenos Aires
- Buenos Aires Bike Tour: Recoleta and Palermo Districts
- Closed-Door Restaurant in Buenos Aires: Dining Experience at Steaks by Luis
- Small-Group Buenos Aires Graffiti Art Tour
- La Ventana Tango Show with Optional Dinner in Buenos Aires
- Polo Match and Lesson Day Trip from Buenos Aires
- Buenos Aires Small-Group Wine Tasting
- Private Evita and Peronism Historical Tour in Buenos Aires