Buenos Aires is one of the most populous cities in Latin America. As the largest city in Argentina, it comes as no surprise that there are many things to do in Buenos Aires, even within the main central area.
When planning for places to visit and things to do in Buenos Aires, you can divide the touristic areas into a few neighborhoods. Each district has something different to offer.
Here are some of the best things to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Palermo is one of the busiest areas visited by tourists as this is where all the action is. That is why you can find a selection of hostels in this area. From charming cafes and international food scene to a vibrant nightlife, this is where you get it all.
Apart from just walking around the district, there are a few places that you should visit in his area to get in touch with nature.
The Botanic garden lies along the main street of Santa Fe. It is not particularly big, but it is an excellent place to relax under the shade. It is not only regularly visited by tourists but locals as well. The entry is free.
Ecoparque BA is right next to the Botanic gardens. It used to be the zoo but is now more of an open park where you can see animals roaming around. Entry is also free here! You will find families bringing their kids around. The park makes for an enjoyable walk with interesting sights.
Bosques de Palermo y Jardin Rosedal
Bosques de Palermo is commonly known as the Palermo forest. It isn’t a “forest” but a huge park spanning across four big quadrants. With scenic lakes and lovely greenery, it is no wonder that many people come here to exercise or hang out on the greens.
Inside this park, you will find Paseo El Rosedal. This charming rose garden pecked with colorful roses is surrounded by Pergola Lake. If you go further in (away from Palermo), you will also find museums and the planetarium.
Right next to the area of Paseo El Rosedal is another famous nightlife zone. This stretch of clubs, bars, and restaurants is built under a train track, so it is a cool place to check out.
Bosques de Palermo is an open park, so there are no opening/closing hours, but the rose garden, museums, etc. have their operating hours.
The Japanese Garden is where you can find a park imbued with the Japanese culture. Here you find floras from Japan, a nice collection of Bonsais and crafts from the Japanese culture. You need to purchase a ticket to enter the garden.
Visit the Hippodrome
Next to the Bosque de Palermo, you find the Palermo Hippodrome. The Hippodrome boasts quite an impressive architecture and is a great place to catch horse races. Grandstand tickets are not expensive, so check it out if you happen to around during a race day. The Argentine Polo Association is right opposite the Hippodrome, and you can catch polo matches here.
Puerto Madero is the “old-made-super-modern” area in Buenos Aires. What used to be an abandoned port area is now the grounds for skyscrapers and high-end clubs/restaurants. The waterfront is always a relaxing area for walks without having to worry about bumps on the pavement. The bridge and ship museums also set a lovely backdrop for a photo.
However, what’s best in this modern, revamped district is its nature! (So weird, from a port to a modern high rise district to nature? Yes, welcome to Argentina)
Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur
Although Buenos Aires has many great parks and gardens, the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve is a welcomed addition to the bustling city. Visiting this biodiverse paradise with different flora and fauna is one of the top things to do in Buenos Aires.
At the edge of the park, you can see a contrasting sight – the tall office buildings in Puerto Madero, peeking out through the greenery and croaks of toads. Despite being located next to the business district, going into the reserve teleports you into a different natural space.
The reserve is ideal for casual walks, exercising, or biking. Bring along some food and drinks for a picnic. At the coastal end of the reserve, you can relax on the grass and stare blankly into the vastness of the Rio de la Plata river. There are also toilets located there and at the reserve entrance.
Catch a Boca Juniors Game
La Boca is home to the Bombonera stadium and the famous Boca Juniors Football Team. This is also the boyhood club of Diego Maradona, a football legend worshipped by Argentines. It comes as no surprise that Boca Juniors has some of the most passionate fans.
Rumor has it that you can feel the earth shake when the fans cheer. For football fans, catching a Boca Juniors game is one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires. However, it is not easy to get a game ticket on your own. The most straightforward way to do this through agencies like Landingpadba.
If you can’t or don’t want to catch a game, you can take a stadium tour or walk around the museum. That said, unless you want to soak in the atmosphere, you probably want to avoid the neighborhood during game days as the area can get crowded.
Usina del Arte
The cultural centers in Buenos Aires have always appealed to me. While this is not as big as the one in Recoleta, it comes with a super cool fact. The building of Usina del Arte used to be a power plant that was built in 1916. It was only repurposed into a cultural center in 2012. You can find some events and exhibitions here as well. If you are around the area, I encourage you to drop by.
Caminito is the famed, colorful street in La Boca. It is, however, kind of made for tourists, like a street museum. Nonetheless, it is still worth a visit as you can see street musicians, shop in the artisanal markets, and see old buildings made of metal plating.
Look out for the colorful cobbled street by the river. In the area right in front of the colorful Teatro de la Ribera, you can often observe local artists deep in their painting works.
Centro and San Telmo
This iconic Obelisk sits in the middle of Av. 9 de Julio, one of the world’s widest avenues. If you have seen photos of Buenos Aires before, you probably have seen this Obelisk. There are many stories and debates regarding such a striking structure in the middle of the city. I will leave it to you to find out.
The Obelisk today also serves as a rallying point for protests and celebrations. Whenever there are national events, be it victories or country-wide demonstrations, you can be sure that there is a crowd at the Obelisk.
Catch a play in Teatro Colon
Located in front of Plaza Lavalle, the Colon Theatre is touted to be one of the world’s best opera houses. It is renowned for its exceptional acoustics as well as impressive architecture. The theatre is compared on the same level as La Scala of Milan, the Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera, the Metropolitan of New York, and London’s Covent Garden.
It will be ideal to catch a show there to get the full experience. Alternatively, there is a guided tour to check out the place.
The theatre sometimes also open free events/plays for the public. You can collect the tickets in advance (usually limited to 2 per pax). Note that the circumstances may not always be at Teatro Colon. To stay updated on this, follow their Facebook page.
Visit Café Tortoni
Café Tortoni is the very first café in Buenos Aires, opened in 1858. It was a popular venue for politicians, writers, and musicians in the past. The classical interior is exquisite and worth visiting for a nice afternoon tea. You will usually see a line outside the café. Alternatively, the café also has evening tango shows where you can buy the ticket in advance.
Casa Rosada, located in Plaza de Mayo, is the presidential building. The pink building is strikingly prominent, even in the main square. Admission is free, but you need to make the reservation in advance here. There is also an English tour at specific times, so look out for that when booking.
There is a changing of the guards at Casa Rosada every 2 hours between 7am to 9pm.
San Telmo Weekend Fair
Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo is the start/endpoint of the weekend street fair in San Telmo. As such, I would recommend visiting on the weekend if you want to lump these activities together.
The San Telmo street fair stretches down Defensa Street, all the way to the area around Plaza Dorrego. Here you can find lots of artisanal crafts, clothes, fancy dingy stuff, and food, etc., just like your typical street fair. There will also be talented street artists that adds on to the fun vibe. Tip: If you want to get a mate for a souvenir, there is a wide selection in the fair.
San Telmo Market
As you walk down the street fair, you will also pass by the San Telmo market. This market is operating every day, but the crowd really comes on during the weekends. You can find crafts, antiques, and lots of food here. Take your pick from street style snacks to satisfying meals. There are also options for international cuisine. I recommend trying out the empanada place, as you probably would, after seeing the crowd surrounding it.
Get a view of the city from Palace Barolo or Galeria Güemes
There are a couple of places within the city center area where you can get a good overview of the cityscape.
Palacio Barolo is an office building famously designed by an Italian architect, Mario Palanti. The top of the building has a light that can be used to communicate with another similar looking twin building (Palacio Salvo) in Montevideo, Uruguay.
You can hear more stories about the architecture design and history of the place through the guided tour. The tour brings you to the top, where you can get a panoramic view of the city.
Galeria Güemes is a shopping arcade that has preserves its European architecture from the 1900s. It is interesting to visit and look around the interior. There is a viewpoint on the 14th floor that also offers a view of the city. This viewpoint is smaller than the one at Palacio Barolo, but the entry ticket is much cheaper.
Access to the viewpoint only on Mondays-Fridays between 9 am -12 pm and 3 pm-5:30 pm.
This is one of the most touristic Cemeteries in the sense that most of the visitors are tourists. If you are going in for a look around, this cemetery has many impressive graves and mausoleums decorated in different styles. More than 90 tombs in the Cemetery are listed as national historical monuments.
If you are keen to hear more stories about the cemetery and specific tombs, there are free guided tours in Spanish.
Tue-Fri: 11 am and 2 pm
Sat, Sun, Public Holiday: 11 am and 3 pm
(Timings might change, so always good to double-check)
If you don’t speak Spanish, there is the option of joining an English guided tour.
Centro Cultural Recoleta
The Recoleta Cultural Center is right next to the Cemetery. The entrance façade is always painted with artistic murals. The cultural center is huge and a symbol of youth and vibrance. There are always exhibitions or activities going on and various interesting zones to check out. Locals go there to hang out, work, study, chill, all sorts of stuff.
During the weekends, this is a very lively place. There is a street fair, and groups of friends and families gather at the surrounding green spaces.
Floralis Generica is an iconic metal sculpture located in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. Standing tall at 20m, the structure has six steel petals that open up every morning at 8 am to resemble a flower. The motion is all powered by hydraulics and photoelectric sensors.
The park itself is another beautiful space to hang out and usually crowded during the weekend.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
Bookworms are in for a treat at the Grand Splendid bookstore. This has to be one of the top things to do in Buenos Aires. The Grand Splendid theatre first opened in 1919 and was the venue for many cultural events and plays. In 2000, the government repurposed this theatre into a majestic bookstore. Today, you can still see most of the preserved layout and decoration, so it looks impressive. The bookstore has nice seating and is great for relaxing and browsing through books.
Here is a video of the store interior, but nothing beats the real thing.
The Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires is a popular museum amongst visitors. The museum houses a collection of modern and contemporary artworks. There is a permanent exhibition featuring 400 art pieces from 160 artists and a temporary exhibition that rotates every few months.
Barrio Chino is the Chinatown in Buenos Aires. In this area, you can find Asian ingredients and spices that are not readily available elsewhere in the city. These commonly include products from China, Korea, and Japan. There are also a handful of restaurants here run by Chinese immigrants, where you can satisfy your Chinese food cravings.
Museo River Plate
If you are a fan of football, you probably know that Boca Junior’s bitter rival is River Plate. River Plate’s home ground, El Monumental de Nuñez is the largest stadium in Argentina. You can find the stadium in the Belgrano area. There is an option of visiting the stadium and museum.
If you are keen on visiting both La Bombonera and El Monumental de Nuñez, and really want to save all hassle; there is a tour that covers both stadiums and their surrounding area including transportation.
Do not miss these!
These are not just some of best traditional things to do in Buenos Aires, but in Argentina. I have included some recommended in Buenos Aires.
Learn/Watch Tango at a Milonga:
Argentina is the birthplace of Tango, so there is no better place to experience this elegant dance. Sometimes you can stumble upon a group dancing in open spaces or plazas, particularly on weekends.
In Buenos Aires, there is a milonga at Plaza Dorrego (San Telmo) on Sunday nights that is quite popular. Similarly, you can head to La Glorieta in Belgrano on weekends to see people dance as well.
There are also many indoor places where you can learn or watch people dance. La Virtua Tango in Palermo is quite welcoming for foreigners if you are looking to try it out. The instructors are mindful of non-Spanish speakers, and there are groups for different levels. You can buy a single entry ticket and experience it.
Asado or Parrilla is essentially grilled meat. Asado is not just food but a culture in Argentina. In Buenos Aires, there are a few famous steakhouses that you can visit. These include La Cabrera (they have a happy hour timeslot with great discount) and Don Julio, both located in Palermo. You can learn more here, along with other local delicacies that you should try in Argentina.
A few of us also did an Asado workshop with a local chef. It is an interesting hands-on experience that brings you through the food preparation (meats and sauces), the grill setup and also the grilling. You get to eat the food that you cook and dry age beef as well. The chef will handle the dry age beef, since we don’t want to screw that precious gem up. Apart from tasting 3 different local wines, there is also a free flow of coffee and beer.
For more tips about visiting Buenos Aires, here is the Nomad Travel Guide for Buenos Aires, Argentina