As soon as I got to in Buenos Aires I immediately understood that I would have loved her madly! I spent 3 days there and decided that, along with New York, it is my favorite city in the world. In reality, Buenos Aires seemed just right to me a Latin New York, a large and cosmopolitan city of over three million inhabitants, with a metropolitan area that is home to a colorful multicultural population of over 14 million people. In fact, Buenos Aires has very strong ties with Europe and Italy (as you can see in the cuisine, in the culture and even in the dialect) and is full of immigrants who came here from Spain in the early twentieth century in search of fortune. Whoever you talk to .. you can be sure that he has an Italian grandfather or great-grandfather! Not only! There pizza it is one of the most appreciated dishes by the Argentines, who eat industrial quantities and have even invented a variant on the mozzarella and tomato theme, the “Milanese napolitan”. Imagine a pizza in which the dough is replaced by a giant breaded cutlet. Very light but… absolutely to try! After all, Argentina is one of the main meat producers in the world.
Buenos Aires is a gigantic metropolis, with an incredible cultural richness and a special charm. Nicknamed "Queen of the Rio Plata" and also "The Paris of South America", Buenos Aires is also the place where Tango originated and you can't not go to a milonga when you are here!
As the Argentine poet and philosopher Jorge Luis Borges said, “without the streets and sunsets of Buenos Aires, a tango cannot be written”. In fact, this music was born right here, between Argentina and Uruguay, from the union of various popular rhythms such as the molinga and the Habanera. It then made its way from the slums and brothels to high society, and has become an international phenomenon over time.
For fans of the comic, Buenos Aires is also the undisputed South American capital of this particular form of Pop-Art. The nice Mafalda, to which a statue and a plaque are dedicated, was invented right here by the legendary designer Quino. And it is always here that Hugo Pratt, another immortal comic artist, achieved notoriety by drawing the wonderful cartoons of the legendary “Junglemen”.
How to get to Buenos Aires and how to get to the center from the airport
If you are coming from Spain, you will land (after an endless flight!) AtEzeiza Airport which is located about 35 km south of the center. From the airport, you can reach the city by various means of transport.
- bus. The public line from the airport to the city is the bus number 8, a “collectivo” that offers a semi-rapid service alongside the traditional standard service. It leaves every half hour from the Aerolíneas Argentinas terminal, takes an hour (traffic permitting) arriving in Plaza de Mayo or Congreso, and costs less than 1 euro. You will recognize it from the writing “Aeropuerto x autopista” (which means highway), and it runs every day, excluding Sundays, between 6 am and 9 pm. Another option is the line 8 standard. The price is even lower, but arm yourself with patience and enjoy the view during the long journey! As for prices, the inflation rate in Argentina gallops, so prices can change significantly from week to week too! There are also various private lines with prices around 10 euros per person, depending on the final destination.
- Taxi-Uber. Taxis or Ubers (which is cheaper) take around an hour from the airport to the city (when there is no traffic - remember there are 14 million people traveling in the urban area!) And cost around 25-30 euro (but the above considerations on inflation apply).
- Private transfer. you can book it directly from this site before leaving and you will have someone waiting for you directly at the airport. Prices are slightly higher than taxis, but given the post-flight fatigue, it could be the winning choice (even more so if you don't speak Spanish).
If, on the other hand, you arrive in Buenos Aires with a domestic flight (eg from Ushuaia o Salta), you will land atAeroporto Aeroparque which is not far from the center. In this case, you should travel by taxi or Uber because the distance is short to reach, for example, Palermo or San Telmo.
How to get around Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is served by an extensive and complex network of buses and subways; its subway, in particular, is among the most efficient and oldest in South America. The first line was in fact inaugurated in 1913! Tickets can also be bought with coins using the machines on the buses and at the metro stops, but if you stop for a few days, it is definitely worth buying one. SUBE rechargeable card. It is used to pay for Metro (Subte), Bus (Colectivos) and local train tickets. The card can be purchased in the various “SUBE Centers” (ask for info in the hostel / hotel) and can be recharged at the Subte counters, in kiosks, internet points, post offices and many other places. The card has an initial cost of 90 ARS (1,4 €). As an alternative to buses or the metro I have always used Uber and I found myself fine.
Where to sleep in Buenos Aires: the best area
Being a metropolis, deciding where to sleep in Buenos Aires is not trivial. My advice is to sleep in the Palermo neighborhood, possibly not far from Plaza Serrano. It is one of the most beautiful areas of the city, it is young and trendy, it has a nice vibe and it is super safe (I was alone and I walked back to the hotel even at 2-3 at night without problems and without ever feeling in danger). To reach the various attractions and the different districts there are still buses and the metro (the closest stops are Plaza Italia and Scalabrini Ortiz from which you arrive directly to Plaza de Mayo ).
- Soho Point Central. Nice hotel one block from Plaza Serrano, right in the center of Palermo, with a rooftop terrace. Around you will find everything, shops, bars and restaurants. Super comfortable and cute.
- Duque Hotel Boutique & Spa. Very well appointed high end hotel housed in a refurbished Palermo Soho building. It also has a small swimming pool and a Spa.
- Eco House. If you are traveling low budget the Eco House is a great choice. This hostel is located 10 'walk from Plaza Serrano and offers budget beds in a very nice and friendly environment.
What to see in Buenos Aires: all the places not to be missed
If you want to start getting an idea of this great metropolis (maybe without getting lost), my advice is to participate in a free city center tour (in Spanish or English) which lasts 2h 30 'and allows you to better orient yourself even in the following days. If you don't speak English or Spanish you can participate in a 5h tour in Spanish which costs around 20 euros (which includes, in addition to the center, also La Boca, San Telmo, the Recoleta cemetery and Puerto Madero). Buenos Aires is really big and there are so many things to see! In the article I indicated 3 days, but it is really the minimum wage number; if you manage to stop for several days for sure you will not regret it! I didn't want to leave anymore!
1. Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada
May Plaza is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires and is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city, such as the cathedral, the Cabildo and the Casa Rosada (seat of the presidential offices). If you can, go there on Thursday around 15-15.30, when the madri dei disappeared (mothers of Plaza de Mayo), the boys who during the darkest pages of Argentina's history were illegally arrested by the police and locked up for life in detention centers. The determination of the mothers of Plaza de Mayo to remember their missing children is truly touching and is perhaps the most moving symbol of Buenos Aires. It took me a few ha to recover but it's really worth it. Always talking about Argentine women, there is also an interesting one tour (in English) focused on Argentine illustrious women (Avoid Peron, Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson, etc). It lasts 2h and 30 and costs 9 euros.
2. Tortoni Coffee
This historic and beautiful café, which overlooks the Avenida de Mayo, is the ideal place to enjoy an alfajor filled with dulce de leche remembering the many prominent figures who frequented the place. Among them Federico García Lorca, Juan Carlos I of Spain, and even Albert Einstein.
3.Plaza de la Republica and Teatro Colón
Considered a work of art from an acoustics point of view, the Teatro Colón is one of the largest opera houses in the world. You can admire it with a guided tour in English during opening hours, from 9 to 17 for the price of 250 pesos. It is next to the Plaza de la República and overlooks 9 de Julio Avenue, which will leave you speechless: it is one of the widest streets in the world! Not far away there is the beautiful Barolo Palace, with an architecture that refers to the Divine Comedy. They can be done guided tours which also include the lighthouse which is located on top of the building from which you can enjoy a crazy view.
4.Plaza San Martin and Palacio Paz
Magnificent example of architecture Beux-Arts inizio '900, Peace Palace it was one of the largest and most luxurious residences in Buenos Aires and Argentina. Since 1938 it has become a military club, but it can be visited for 150 pesos from Tuesday to Friday, between 11.00 and 15.00. Always in the area of Plaza San Martin you cannot fail to notice the majestic Kavanagh skyscraper, designed in 1934 in a beautiful Art Deco style. Beware though, the favela 31 Villa it's right nearby, so take caution! You will notice by yourself when you get too close to the favela (you will see the faces that change ..); I was also warned by some passers-by.
La Boca it is a historic district of Buenos Aires, what you have to do is to see the famous and super photographed houses colored in green, red, blue and yellow where the artists live. The main street (and the one from which you must not stray too far) is called The little way. In fact, La Boca remains a poor and popular neighborhood (even if they are gradually redeveloping it) and it is not safe to go too far from El Caminito and the tourist area, nor to go there in the evening, in the dark. In La Boca there is also the home stadium of Boca Junior, which Argentines affectionately call the Bombonera, and the Proa Foundation, a nice contemporary art museum. If you want to feel safer and know more about the history of this neighborhood you can join a guided tour of La Boca in Spanish which lasts 2h and costs 9 euros.
6.Puerto Madero and Parco Costanera Sur
Born as a redevelopment project of a disused port area, Puerto Madero recently converted to one of the most modern neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Here you will see several luxurious skyscrapers framed by the beautiful backdrop nature reserve Costanera Sur, favorite destination of the "porteños" for walks and bike rides immersed in nature a step away from the city.
7. Faena Art Center
This magnificent art center, commissioned by the construction magnate Alan Faena, stands in the building once occupied by one of the largest mills in Argentina, also in the Puerto Madero area. The exhibition space is located right in the ancient milling room, which has been restored preserving the original decorations of the early twentieth century.
8 Recoleta Cemetery
Jorge Luis Borges wrote about this cemetery in one of his poems, hoping to be buried right here. In addition to being a magnificent example of late nineteenth-century architecture, the cemetery is located in the center of a beautiful neighborhood that the Argentines define "parisian neighborhood”- the Parisian neighborhood. In this cemetery all the presidents and the most important political and historical figures are buried, including also Evita Peron, . Here too it might be worth attending a 1h45 'guided tour (in English) at the price of 10 euro.
9. Ice Palace
I liked this place a lot !! Initially intended to house a club and an ice skating rink, it is wonderful Ice Palace today it is the cultural space par excellence for Argentine art. It is not very popular and this makes it even more beautiful.
This huge steel flower donated to the city by the architect Eduardo Catalano is located in United Nations Square; it blooms every morning at 8 and closes at sunset (depending on the season) thanks to an internal mechanism that activates the metal petals. It is a poetic symbol of hope and rebirth, and is loved by all the inhabitants of Buenos Aires.
11.MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires)
Il museum of modern art MALBA it is located in the Palermo district, on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue. It is a great museum both from an architectural point of view and for the quality of the works on display. MALBA hosts many works by modern Latin American artists and is open every day from 12 to 20.
Each Sunday takes place here on famous market (the San Telmo fair), in the heart of the homonymous district which was built by the Italo-Argentine businessman Antonio Devoto and built in Italian style in 1897. The center of the district is Dorrego Square e from here the various streets and galleries unfold and are invaded by the Sunday stalls. Don't miss the Defense Passage (Defensa 1179), an ancient house where you can now find really nice little shops and bars. After a visit to the market, head to the Bar El Federal, the oldest bar still in operation in Buenos Aires, or to the restaurant The unevenness for an excellent barbecue. If you want to know more, book a San Telmo guided tour (in Spanish or English) 1h45 'at the price of 15 euros.
13.Libreria El Ateneo
The Athenaeum was elected in 2019 "most beautiful bookshop in the world" by National Geographic. The building, which was inaugurated in 1919, originally housed the “Teatro Gran Splendid”. Today it is a refined example of eclecticism and still preserves the original frescoes by the Italian painter Nazareno Orlandi and the caryatids sculpted by Troiano Troiani. Just wonderful!
14.Palermo and the Jardin Botànico Carlos Thays
Located in the northeast of the city, Palermo it is the largest neighborhood in all of Buenos Aires and it is also the one I loved the most. Palermo is divided into Palermo Hollywood e Palermo Soho and it is the nightlife district, where you can find all the most hipster and trendy clubs, shops and restaurants. It is a neighborhood consisting of low houses and tree-lined streets, whose center is Serrano Square. There is also a lot here street-art (if you are interested there are gods 2h Street-art tour in English). Also in Palermo there are also the Park February Three, Galileo Galilei Planetarium, Evita Museum and the great Carlos Thays botanical garden, inaugurated in 1898 and declared a national monument almost a century later, in 1996. I recommend that you stay here (see paragraph on Where to sleep).
Belgrano is a wonderful neighborhood full of trees and squares dedicated to General Manuel Belgrano, creator of the Argentine flag, and is located north of Palermo. Within the Belgrano district there is also the Chinatown, the Chinatown of Buenos Aires, with its thousands of Asian shops and restaurants.
This building, theformer Higher School of Mechanics of the Navy, was converted immediately after the 1976 Argentine coup by the ruthless regime of the junta into one of the most cruel detention centers. More than 5.000 people were held illegally and in inhumane conditions here, of whom only a very few survived. Since 2004 the building has housed the museum of memory and human rights, theMemory and Human Rights Space.
Where to see a tango show in Buenos Aires
To see the dance composer (the most difficult and most sensual dance in the world in my opinion!) you can go to see a show (usually they are dedicated to tourists) or, more simply, go to a Milonga and see ordinary people dancing it. In this second case you will see both apprentices and skilled dancers but the atmosphere is much more authentic. In the list below are almost all milongas. If you were interested in seeing instead you can book a show through this site.
- The Cathedral of Tango (Sarmiento). This milonga is located in a converted warehouse. It is a decidedly informal place frequented mainly by young fashion dancers.
- Cafe Tortoni (center). Cafè Tortoni is a historic café that also houses the Tango Museum and offers tango shows in the basement.
- The Chip (Palermo). I loved it! A Spartan milonga in the heart of Palermo where, in the same evening, you can see the good dancers and the less good ones giving lessons. Find out about the timetables first. There is a (cheap) entrance ticket and compulsory drink.
- Dorrego Square (San Telmo). During the Feria de San Telmo (every Sunday) many people perform in the square.
- La Glorieta (Belgrano). Under this gazebo in a park in Belgrano people find themselves dancing the tango (especially on Sundays, after 20-21). Really authentic!
What to see outside Buenos Aires: 1 day trips
This beautiful town located on the riverside of the Paraná is a popular tourist destination famous for its beauty and for mini-boat cruises. By boat you can reach many of the islets of the delta, where there are bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious lunch by the river. You can reach Tigre by train or bus (at a cost of about € 1, taking about an hour and a half) or by taxi (€ 20) or Uber (€ 10), taking about half an hour. Alternatively you can reach it with a boat tour starting from Puerto Madero (6h in English, with lunch included) sailing on the Paranà.
Colonia is one of the oldest and most characteristic cities in Uruguay, and its picturesque old town has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in front of Buenos Aires, on the Uruguayan side of the Plata. It can be easily reached in an hour and a half by ferry from Buenos Aires and tickets cost from € 40 to € 95 each way, depending on of the type of ticket chosen. You can buy the ferry tickets from this site.
Where to eat in Buenos Aires
- Bar El Federal (San Telmo) the oldest bar still in operation in Buenos Aires. Stop and eat at least a medium moon (salty croissant with ham and cheese .. the breakfast of porteni).
- The unevenness (San Telmo). An institution in the center of San Telmo. Simple setting and great meat.
- The reinforcement (San Telmo). A kind of old food shop where you eat few but wholesome dishes.
- Don Julio (Palermo). Crazy meat in this well known restaurant in Palermo. Book in advance (I went there for 2 nights in a row and I'm not generally a meat lover…).
- Fukuro Noodle Bar (Palermo). If you are sick of eating meat, you can hole up here. Great ramen bar in Palermo. The ravioli are also very good.
- Evita Restaurante Museum (Palermo). Garden restaurant inside the Evita museum. Really nice and good. Very popular with locals too, especially on Sundays.
- The Violets (Almagro). Historic café inaugurated in 1884. Fantastic place to relive the atmosphere of the turn of the century. It is out of the tourist areas but come there anyway for the afternoon tea or the bee or for dinner… it's worth it !! The Castro Barros metro stop is 1 'from the venue.
- Floreria atlantico (Recoleta). A beautiful speak-easy in the heart of Recoleta. You enter a florist (where they also sell wines and other things), then you open a refrigerator door and go down into a dark basement ... long and narrow. They say it's one of the best cocktail bars in Buenos Aires.
In Argentina our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take a classic medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online.