Looking for tips on things to do in Buenos Aires?
As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Stephanie who fell in love with Buenos Aires in 2009 and a short vacation and then decided to move there.
Stephanie shares with us her insider tips on the best things to do in Buenos Aires, plus advice on where to eat, sleep, drink, shop and explore.
Why Visit Buenos Aires
The city is unlike any other I have experienced or read about.
There is a lot of European influence, but you definitely still get the Latin America vibe, yet the porteños have a distinct personality and culture. I love big cities, and in Buenos Aires, I feel that there is something (or many things) for everyone.
Best Things to Do in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is a huge city, and it can be overwhelming to a traveler who wants to see and do it all (like me).
My Buenos Aires highlights include:
- Checking out the graffiti art. Not only is the street art impressive, it is an important part of the city’s culture and history. You will easily find graffiti art in the barrios (neighborhoods) of San Telmo and Palermo Soho. If you’re really into it, I recommend a Graffitimundo Tour to learn more about the graffiti styles and artists.
- Get lost in the Recoleta Cemetery.
- See the center of politics and important historical events at the Plaza de Mayo.
- Enjoy the lively San Telmo Sunday Feria. Even if you’re not into the shopping, it’s fun to see the crowds,listen to the music, watch tango, and enjoy the passion of the people.
- Explore the Bosques de Palermo. If you want to get a glimpse into the lifestyle of porteños, the parks are where to spot them enjoying a beautiful day. The Bosques de Palermo is the biggest and most beautiful in the city.
Best Neighborhoods to Explore in Buenos Aires
There are many barrios (neighborhoods), each with their own distinct character. For a short trip, these are the ones you have to see.
- Palermo Soho is one of the trendier neighborhoods known for its restaurants and boutique shops. It is also a pleasant and pretty place for a stroll.
- Recoleta is the neighborhood that gives Buenos Aires its reputation for being the “Paris of South America.”The architecture is gorgeous, and the area is packed with high end shopping, restaurants, and art galleries and museums.
- San Telmo is a charming area with narrow cobblestone streets, lots of colorful graffiti, and a mix of traditional and trendy shopping and dining.
Places to Eat in Buenos Aires
As Buenos Aires becomes a more sophisticated city with a growing expat community, the selection of international cuisine keeps growing.
For a special experience, check out a puerta cerrada (closed door) restaurant where excellent chefs serve creative set menus for a small group of people (reservations required) sometimes at private tables and sometimes group dining.
Here are of my favorite places to grab a bite or enjoy a slow meal with friends.
- Enjoy excellent steak and excellent service at La Cabrera in Palermo Soho. Be sure to order the provoleta for a starter.
- If you’re craving Southeast Asian, the puerta cerrada Cocina Sunae is both an incredible meal and a special dining experience.
- The pizza at El Cuartito is famous. Try the fugazzetta topped with onions and loads of melty cheese.
- Cumaná in Recoleta is a popular locals restaurant where you can get a variety of quality traditional Argentine cuisine including locro, empanadas, pizza, and picadas (meat and cheese plates). Location: Rodríguez Peña 1149
- If you want a truly unique dining experience (and are an adventurous eater), check out El Baqueano. Go with the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairings.
- When you’re craving something sweet, Persicco, Un ‘Altra Volta, and Moratto are some of the top shops with locations throughout the city.
You Cannot Visit Buenos Aires Without Eating…
You cannot go to Buenos Aires without having an amazing steak, a great bottle (or five) of red wine, and a ¼ kilo of ice cream.
Other foods to try in Buenos Aires include empanadas, pizza, provoleta (baked cheese!), locro (a stew typical in the north of Argentina), and a picada (cheese and meat plate).
Where to Drink in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, and a lot of that late-night culture is fueled by alcohol. As you would expect, there is no shortage of options no matter your poison.
If you love wine, you are in the right city. Argentina is known for its big reds, including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The northern region is also known for its white varietal Torrontes. The wine in Argentina is very affordable, and you can find good options in any restaurant and most shops.
For a really special experience, schedule a tasting with Anuva Wines, which features high-quality wines from smaller bodegas.
Argentina is not known for its beer. The best place to have a beer is outdoors on a beautiful day. Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho is my favorite place to have an afternoon beer. There are several bars with large outdoor patios.
If you’re looking for artisanal beer, a good option is Antares in Palermo Soho.
I typically stick to beer or wine, but expats and locals rave about the cocktails at Milion. The setting inside an old mansion might make the drinks taste a little better too.
Best Place For a Night on the Town in Buenos Aires
Most of the touristy areas are good for a night on the town. After all, this is the city that never sleeps.
The top neighborhoods are San Telmo, Recoleta, and Palermo Soho. The latter is my top pick because you have many options for dinner, drinks at a casual bar, and dancing at a club until the sun rises.
If you’re in Buenos Aires on a Monday, you must see La Bomba de Tiempo at Ciudad Cultural Konex.
If you’re into music, there are lots of opportunities to see performances. There are small venues all over, and you will see flyers advertising shows everywhere. Be adventurous and check out something new.
Where to Stay in Buenos Aires
For budget travelers, Couchsurfing and hostels provide several affordable options in all of the central barrios.
A good mid-range option is Republica Palermo in Palermo Soho.
Renting an apartment can also be an affordable and more comfortable option for couples or groups. There are many apartment rental services, but be careful dealing with landlords. It is best to use a service that is well-established and provides user reviews, such as VRBO and AirBnB.
For more places to stay in Buenos Aires choose from the largest range of hotels, apartments, and guesthouses with our partner Booking.com. You get free cancelation on most rooms, and in most cases you only pay when you stay.
Markets and Shopping in Buenos Aires
There are lots of shopping opportunities in Buenos Aires.
San Telmo is known for its antiques shops, and the Sunday Feria outdoor fair is a must-do. Palermo Soho also hosts an outdoor market with a more bohemian style at Plaza Serrano and nearby streets on weekends.
If you are looking for trendy, boutique shops, you will find them throughout Palermo Soho, San Telmo, and Recoleta.
Villa Crespo (next to the Palermo neighborhood) is where to find good deals. There is an outlet shopping area on Aguirre and a small leather district on Murrillo.
If you don’t mind busy, crowded areas, the pedestrian street Calle Florida is a well-known shopping district where you can find nicer stores, handmade goods, and junk.
Festivals and Events in Buenos Aires
The World Tango Festival happens in May. Although you can find tango all over the city any day of the week, the city has a special energy during this two-week festival, and you can see the finest tango dancers in the world.
There are too many festivals and events to list here. Pay attention to flyers and billboards around the city, and you are bound to find something big happening. Also, the website Agenda Cultural which lists the government-sponsored cultural events going on in the city.
Getting Around Buenos Aires
Public transport is great. You can get all over the city by using the underground Subte and local buses.
The Subte is quite easy to figure out, even if you don’t speak Spanish. Buses are a little trickier, but hardcore independent travelers with a little Spanish can figure it out. Best tip for the bus…always have monedas (coins). They don’t take bills.
The city is very large, but it is also walkable within and between neighboring barrios, and it’s a fun way to check out the architecture and stumble upon a local wine bar or café.
Taxis are plentiful and not that expensive compared to other major cities like New York or London. Just be sure you have some idea where you are going and read about common taxi scams in a guide book.
Finding WiFi in Buenos Aires
Yes, the city is wifi friendly and growing more so every day. If your hotel or hostel doesn’t have wifi, you shouldn’t be staying there.
More and more cafés and restaurants are offering wifi too. McDonalds and Starbucks are a sure bet and easy to find in the most popular barrios.
Best Time of Year to Visit Buenos Aires
The hottest and driest months are December and January and coincide with the busiest part of the high season.
If you prefer moderate temperatures, don’t mind chancing some rain, and prefer smaller crowds, I suggest October, November, March, or April.
Favorite Side Trip from Beunos Aires
The affluent suburb of San Isidro is a great side trip because it gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, and it is a beautiful area to stroll.
It is best to go on the weekend when there is an antiques and crafts fair in the main plaza.
Getting There & Away
The major airlines with international flights to Buenos Aires are American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, and Iberia.
If you are in Latin America and looking for flights, check out LAN, TACA, and Aerolineas Argentinas.
From within Argentina, there is a good network of buses. Check out Plataforma10.
Best Insiders Tip for Buenos Aires
Bring US dollars with you and always ask about discounts for paying in dollars. Inflation has been and continues to be rampant in Argentina, and the people still don’t trust the banks.
The government has placed many restrictions on locals for buying US dollars, so businesses are happy to offer large discounts to travelers in order to get a more stable currency.
I love Buenos Aires because …
Buenos Aires has an eclectic mix of cultures, which you can see in its architecture, art, and food. The city has an incredible energy, and the people are creative and passionate.
Plan Your Trip to Buenos Aires
We always start our travel research with these trusted websites listed below:
Flights to Buenos Aires Tours in Buenos Aires Car Rental in Buenos Aires AUTHOR BIO: At the age of 29, Stephanie left for a 20-month travel sabbatical through Central and South America. She is passionate about photography and tries to find balance by living simpler, consuming less, and experiencing more. Follow her journey at TheTravelChica.com, on Twitter @thetravelchica, and on Facebook
Flights to Buenos Aires
Tours in Buenos Aires
Car Rental in Buenos Aires
AUTHOR BIO: At the age of 29, Stephanie left for a 20-month travel sabbatical through Central and South America. She is passionate about photography and tries to find balance by living simpler, consuming less, and experiencing more. Follow her journey at TheTravelChica.com, on Twitter @thetravelchica, and on Facebook