Situated on the wide western banks of the Rio de La Plata, Buenos Aires is a cultural and historic feast for travellers. Argentina’s lively capital city is a vibrant metropolis that’s brimming with life, colour, food and wine. Each neighbourhood is as diverse as the next, and each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, from the modern skyline of Puerto Madero to the colonial charms of San Telmo.
There are a lot of great things to do in Buenos Aires, from exploring national museums and browsing the exhibitions of the biggest art galleries in South America, to watching local football games and learning how to Tango. You can eat your way through the best food in Argentina, while you can spend your evenings drinking Malbec wine and cocktails across the city.
Buenos Aires Argentina is a fantastic city to travel to, and to inspire your trip to the city, here are the 20 best things to do in the Argentine capital!
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Walking Tour of Buenos Aires
If it’s your first time in the city, then the best way to get to know Buenos Aires is to join a walking tour. Get out in the fresh air and enjoy the outdoors, as you’re guided through the city’s most iconic squares and along the city’s most famous streets by locals.
A walking tour is one of the best cheap things to do in Buenos Aires because across the city you can find many tips based tours, where you only pay what you feel it’s worth, and only if you’ve enjoyed the experience.
Food Tour of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the culinary capital of Argentina and across the city, you can find a superb array of food, both local and international. A great way to get to know the city better is through eating, and you can join a food tour to discover some of the lesser-known, local eateries where you also find the best cuisine.
There are a great many dishes to try, from classic Empanadas to sweet Dulce de Leche, while meat eaters will want to indulge in an Argentinian grill, where you’ll find some of the most delectable and perfectly cooked steaks in South America.
San Telmo is the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. San Telmo is busy and bustling, and the mixture of tourism, history and multicultural traditions that you find on the streets here make it the most vibrant location in the capital.
The ramshackle streets are lined with cafes and bars that spill onto the pavement, while the colourful buildings are some of the most historic in Argentina. Spend the day exploring, but make sure to hang around in the evening, as dancing the night away in San Telmo is one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires at night.
Another great neighbourhood – or Barrio – to visit in Buenos Aires is La Boca. This is one of the city’s liveliest districts, and you can easily spend all day and all night in La Boca neighbourhood immersing yourself in the culture, music, food and dancing.
Start on El Caminito, the district’s famous walking street, where you’ll find colourful houses and artwork lining the road. It’s touristy, yes, but it’s still easy to enjoy the street music, the tango performances and the wonderful cafes and restaurants of La Boca.
Palermo is one of Buenos Aires’ most up and coming and trendy districts. Found in the northeast of the city, it’s a lively yet elegant place, that isn’t quite as touristy as the more classic neighbourhoods such as San Telmo and La Boca.
There are many things to do in Palermo Buenos Aires, as the district is huge, but make sure you head to the Soho or Hollywood areas, where you can find the capital’s most exciting culinary scene and most cosmopolitan cocktail bars.
Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens
Within the Palermo neighbourhood, you can find the beautiful climes of the Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens, which date back to the late 1890s.
The gardens are a great opportunity to escape the city, and as soon as you set foot inside the gates you’ll be instantly transported into a tropical realm of plants and flowers that have been collected from all over the world.
Puerto Madero was, until recent decades, just a decaying harbourside area with little of interest or note to visit. Today, things have changed drastically, as Puerto Madero has undergone a huge renovation project that has put the district firmly on the map.
The waterfront project overlooks the Rio de la Plata and is the most modern development in the city, thanks to the huge investments that have turned the area’s fortunes around massively. You can find some of the most luxurious hotels in the city here, alongside lavish shopping malls, fine dining restaurants, and much, much more.
Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo is one of the most important Buenos Aires points of interest to see when you are in the city. This is the historic centre of Buenos Aires, and really, of the Argentine nation as a whole too. This was where the city was first founded by the Spanish in the late 16th century, and it’s where the nation’s most tumultuous protests and demonstrations have always been held.
The Plaza de Mayo is the site of the most iconic government buildings and statues in Buenos Aires, including the Presidential Palace and the May Monument.
The Casa Rosada is the most recognisable landmark in the Plaza de Mayo. This is the Presidential Palace, or Government House, an iconic building with a bright pink facade that’s a must see when you are in Buenos Aires.
Casa Rosada translates literally as the Pink House, and you can tour through the stately rooms and elegant hallways of this grand presidential home and learn more about the nation’s history at the same time.
One of the most impressive Buenos Aires attractions is the Teatro Colon. This historic building is home to Argentina’s premier opera, and it dates back to 1857 when the doors were first opened, and the first concert was held here
The interior and exterior of the opera house are grand and beautiful enough to admire on their own accord, but if you can catch an opera in performance while you are in the city, then you’ll have one of the best experiences in Buenos Aires.
Museo Histórico Nacional
The Museo Histórico Nacional – or the Argentine National Historical Museum – is a great place to learn more about the nation’s origins and past. The museum dates to the turn of the 19th century, when it was established to commemorate Argentinian independence.
The focus is on the events that led to the Argentine Revolution and to eventual Argentinian independence after a series of bloody wars with Spain.
The MALBA – or, the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires – is one of the foremost art galleries on the continent.
Opened in 2001, the museum houses exhibits from across the Latin American world, but the primary focus is on contemporary art. It’s an excellent place to find new and upcoming artists and to browse through the best modern artwork in Buenos Aires
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Another fantastic art museum to visit in Buenos Aires is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. This art museum dates back to the late 19th century and is one of Argentina’s most historic institutions.
The museum houses many superb works of art, with the oldest dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, alongside many more pieces which stretch through the following centuries.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
One of the most intriguing places to visit in Buenos Aires is El Ateneo Grand Splendid. This is a must-see for book lovers because El Ateneo is often cited as being the most beautiful bookshop in the world.
The extravagant bookshop is found inside what was once a theatre, and the interior, layout and design will quite simply blow you away. You can find a wide range of different classics, novels, non-fiction, and other books in a wide array of languages.
If you’re wondering what to see in Buenos Aires, then don’t miss out on a trip to Florida Street. This is a pedestrian-only street, and it’s found in the heart of central Buenos Aires.
Florida Street is a long boulevard that’s lined with shops and restaurants, and that’s also the scene of many street performances from musicians and tango dancers too. You can spend all day strolling along the road, popping into retail outlets, dining at restaurants, sipping coffee at cafes and taking in the culture and atmosphere of the most famous street in Buenos Aires.
Seeing a Tango Show is a must do when you are in Buenos Aires. This lively dance can trace its origins to the Argentine capital and nowhere else in South America is it taken so seriously, and with such flair and intensity.
The dance grew in the working class districts of the city, as different cultures from across Europe merged in places like San Telmo and La Boca, to fuse together a new culture. The tango came to represent what it meant to be Argentinian, and it’s still the most famous popular dance in the country today.
You can catch tango shows everywhere in Buenos Aires, and simply walking along the street you are likely to come across an impromptu performance, or a performance put on for tourists. On weekends the locals will be out in force doing the tango, and the best way to learn is to just join in.
You can also buy tickets to more professional events in the city, which are held in theatres across Buenos Aires. There are also a multitude of tango teachers offering lessons to tourists and if you are a solo traveller, then learning to tango can be a great way to meet other people, and can be one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires alone.
Argentinians love their football and the country has produced some of the best players in the history of the game. The national team has even won the World Cup twice in their illustrious history, and many of the best players began their careers in Buenos Aires.
The most prestigious club in the capital, and arguably, in the country, are Boca Juniors, and on match day you’ll find the stadium and La Boca district to be packed out with fans. You can tour through their stadium to learn more about the club history, but in reality, you’ll want to attend a game, to really experience the passion that drives the club.
Campo Argentina de Polo
Polo is also a big deal in Argentina, and another great experience to have in the capital is to visit Campo Argentina de Polo.
This is the national polo stadium, a huge outdoor arena where you can watch the best polo teams in the country battling it out on the field.
The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the most famous attractions in Buenos Aires. It might seem slightly macabre to be visiting a cemetery, but in Argentina, life is celebrated more than death is mourned.
The Recoleta Cemetery is the most prestigious cemetery in the country, and where you can find the extravagant crypts and tombs of some of Argentina’s most notable historical characters and celebrities.
If you need a break from all that sightseeing, then a classic pastime in Buenos Aires is relaxing with a glass of Malbec.
Malbec is one of the most iconic varieties of Argentina red wine, and you’ll find the best bottles and vintages all across the capital. Sit back, grab a glass or two, and enjoy the good life in Buenos Aires.
Recommended 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 NorthTour
- La Ventana Tango Show with Optional Dinner in Buenos Aires
- Bike Tour: Half-Day City Highlights of Buenos Aires
- Buenos Aires Small-Group Wine Tasting
- Polo Match and Lesson Day Trip from Buenos Aires
- Iguazu Falls Private Day Trip from Buenos Aires with Airfare
- Tigre Delta Sightseeing Cruise from Buenos Aires