Passion meets cosmopolitan cool in Buenos Aires, South America’s undeniable capital of chic. Known for its tango, steak, and European roots, Buenos Aires is the cultural hub of Argentina—and knows it. Stroll the streets of the so-called “Paris of the Americas” and decide if you feel like visiting world-class museums, traditional dance halls, fashion-forward boutiques, or all three during your stay in this dynamic city.
With a population of more than 3 million and nearly 50 districts sprawling across 80 square miles, Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina. It would take days to explore it all, but luckily many of the main attractions are concentrated in a few key neighborhoods: San Telmo, La Boca, Recoleta, Puerto Madero, El Centro, and Palermo.
This neighborhood is an attraction in itself. One of the Buenos Aires' oldest and most charming districts, half a day can easily slip away, lost among cobblestone streets and colonial buildings. Constantly evolving, San Telmo started as a sailor barrio in the 17th century, morphing into an elite neighborhood by the 19th century. Eventually many of these privately owned homes were divided into ternate housing, attracting a large immigrant population in the early 20th century. Today, San Telmo’s colonial buildings are filled with artisans, bohemian expatriates, and plenty of places to grab a coffee and an alfajor. Plaza Dorrego fills up Sunday mornings during its famous Antique Market, as well as at night for tango shows.
Next door to San Telmo is the crayon-colored district of La Boca. Full of fiercely patriotic locals and fanatic fútbol fans, La Boca is a working class neighborhood with flair. Tourists flock to this slightly grittier neighborhood for its authentic local culture and the beloved pedestrian Caminito Street, which is often full of street tango dancers.
If you’re looking for the best French architecture outside of Paris, Buenos Aires' Recoleta is probably your best bet. This posh district is home to several of the city’s famous attractions, including the Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron was laid to rest; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the country’s top museum; and Plaza Intendente Alvear with its famous crafts fair. And of course you can appreciate the finer things in life with a stroll down Avenida Alvear where French-style villas and mansions lines the streets.
The locals aren’t called porteños (people of the port) for naught. Buenos Aires is partially a port town, sitting along the banks of Rio de la Plata, and no place is better for experiencing the waterside than Puerto Madero. Former brick warehouses have been converted into loft apartments and lovely walkways follow the shoreline. This up-and-coming neighborhood is quickly developing with new restaurants and cafes to complement the new posh apartments and their sophisticated residents.
The beating heart of Buenos Aires is El Centro, the downtown area. Host to many of the city’s governmental and historic building, El Centro is always bustling with businessmen, tourists, and shoppers. Stand in history at Plaza de Mayo, the city’s oldest plaza, visit the culturally imposing Theatro Colón, window shop and marvel at French-inspired architecture at Galerías Pacífico, and stroll down the long pedestrian street of Florida.
The largest and perhaps most diverse district of Palermo is packed with shaded parks, trendy boutiques, and stately residential neighborhoods. Divided in to several smaller neighborhoods, one could wander Palermo and never get bored, dividing the day among museums, zoos, and lakes with paddleboats.
Have we convinced you yet? Speak to a Destination Expert about curating a tailor made Buenos Aires itinerary just for you, or check out our most popular Buenos Aires & Argentina tours here.
Thanks to Leonardo Samrani for the title image of this blog.