I fell in love with Buenos Aires during our time in the city. It is perfect for food lovers, party people, and those with an interest in culture, design and fashion. I wish I could have spent twice as long in Buenos Aires. However, during my five night stay I feel like I had a wonderful sense of the city when I left. Keep reading my Buenos Aires travel guide: Part 2 for my recommendations to this beautiful and energetic city. Also, don’t forget to read my Part 1 Guide: We came, we saw, we ate for all my food and restaurant recommendations.
NEIGHBORHOODS aka BARRIOS
PALERMO: Palermo was my favorite barrio due to the wonderful restaurants, shops, and nightlife. This is where we stayed and also where we most frequently dined and went out.
- Palermo Soho- filled with restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. This area feels trendy, chic, and young.
- Palermo Hollywood- a number of television and radio stations fill this area, which is where it got it’s name. It is also known for having some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the city.
- Alto Palermo- this relatively new sub-barrio got it’s name from the shopping mall within that was built in 1990. It has helped this area become one of the biggest shopping attractions in the city.
- Palermo Viejo- the oldest area of Palermo
- Palermo Chico- this area is also called Barrio Parque, where you can find beautiful parks. A number of wealthy inhabitants and celebrities call this area home.
- Las Canitas- this mainly residential area now has a number of bars and restaurants, giving Palermo Hollywood a bit of competition.
DOWNTOWN: This area housed my next favorite areas including Recoleta, Retiro, and San Telmo, respectively. I loved the culture and people watching in addition to some wonderful food and hotels.
- Recoleta- filled with European Architecture and leaves many feeling like they woke up in Paris. This area is known for having many wealthy inhabitants.
- San Telmo- San Telmo has a little bit of everything including tango, good food, and antique shops. It has a ton of history which leaves it not as new and trendy as Palermo or as chic as Recoleta. However, this is many people’s favorite barrio due to the variety of what it offers. Sunday is the best time to visit as it has a large antique fair and tons of street performances.
- San Nicolas- a mix of business and entertainment. Avenida 9 de Julio, aka the widest street in the world, is in this area.
- Retiro- one of the nicest in the city and known for it’s weatlh. Retiro has a number of photo opportunities around the streets and is home to many of the city’s five-star hotels.
- Puerto Madera- includes a few nice restaurants overlooking the port and an 864-acre ecological reserve that sits between the high rises.
- Monserrat- a small barrio with a lot of history and political significance.
NORTHWEST:Home to many residential areas, these barrios may not always have the most lively of options for those just visiting Buenos Aires.
- Chacarita- relaxed, but on the rise due to it’s proximity to Palermo
- Colegiales- known for it’s greenery
- Belgrano- known for it’s wealth and 19th century large homes
- Villa Devoto
- Villa Urquiza
SOUTHEAST:Home to many working class barrios, this area can be dangerous, especially for those who are just visiting. We visited La Boca to check it off the list, but otherwise steered clear of this part of town.
- La Boca- La Boca is home to two big tourist attractions: La Bombonera futbol stadium and Caminito, the colorful artists’ street by the water. We went to see and take pictures along the colorful streets. But, it felt extremely touristy and somewhat unsafe, so we did not stay too long. It is absolutely worth a visit to snap some unforgettable pictures though!
- Parque Patricios- go for the soccer, stay for some of the authentic food
- Nueva Pompeya
- Parque Chacabuco
CENTRAL: Central includes many middle-class barrios and is home to plenty of action if you want to see how a true Porteno (or local from Buenos Aires) lives their day to day. I spent little to no time in these barrios during my time in Buenos Aires. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing a city through the local eye. However, I felt I got a sense of that in the other barrios where we spent the majority of our time.
- Villa Crespo
- San Cristobal
THINGS TO DO & SEE
- Recoleta Cemetary: Located in Recoleta, many of Argentina’s famous are laid to rest here, including Eva Peron. We strolled around for about 30 minutes to take in the design of many of the mausoleums. It’s free to enter. We stopped at one of many nearby cafes afterwards for a drink.
- La Boca: this colorful neighborhood is very picturesque and filled with tons of photo opportunities.Tango happens in the street here often. It is most definitely a tourist area with tons of people trying to stop you and sell you things on the street. Pay close attention to your belongings and don’t stray too far. We had our cab drop us off right where the colorful houses started and called one to pick us up right when we finished exploring. The quick trip was absolutely worth it for some photo opportunities like this:Check out more of my colorful photos from the La Boca neighborhood here.
- Watch a soccer match
- Boca-River: The classic of Argentine football. Watching at the home stadium, The Bombonera in La Boca provides the best experience.
- Argentina-Brazil: Two of South America’s oldest and biggest rivals, which makes games very entertaining every time these two teams play.
- If the above games are unavailable to you during your stay, there are several other options for anyone wanting to fit in an Argentine football game. Any game played by the national team is a big event.
- *Because some people in South America are a little soccer-crazed and games can be intimidating, you can use a tour operator to help alleviate your anxieties. Companies such as ‘Go Football’ will pick you up at your hotel, stay with you during the game, and teach you the local cheers.
- San Telmo Fair: this is the place to be on a Sunday with tango performances happening in the streets. There are also markets with antiques, crafts, leather, and jewelry.
- Bosques de Palermo: beautiful greenery fills the parks and this is a perfect place to fit in a run or walk. Another option is to stop by a little market to get cheese and wine, my favorite in Palermo was called The Pick Market (below). Then, go enjoy yourself outside on a pretty day.
- Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA): Located in Palermo, this museum is full of contemporary Latin American art and has over one million visitors each year.
- Puerto Madero: walk around the river to get some exercise in. Then stop to enjoy a meal at one of their many fine dining restaurants that overlook the port.
- Teatro Colon: Located in San Nicolas, Teatro Colon is the main opera house in Buenos Aires and ranked third best in the world by National Geographic. You can take a tour of the auditorium or catch a performance to hear their world renowned acoustics.
- See Floralis Generica: Located in Recoleta in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, this is a very popular image when one thinks of Buenos Aires. The flower is made of steel and aluminum and was originally designed to open during the day and close at night. However, it is currently disabled and stays open at all times.
- Learn to Tango
- Visit the Polo Fields: between September and November catch a polo match in Palermo at Campo Argentino de Polo
- Stop in El Ateneo: a beautifully designed bookstore in Recoleta that was converted from an old theatre.
- Take a graffiti tour with Graffitimundo: not only is this a great way to see the city, it is a wonderful way to learn more about all the beautiful art that fills the streets.
- Do a photography treasure hunt with Foto Ruta: a great way to explore and see some of the sites. You will also see some unknown locations, all while learning a little about photography.
- Wine tastings: I may have made up my own by trying countless Malbecs while in Buenos Aires, but you can also go learn from experts.
- Get in a little exercise and go on a bike tour with Biking Buenos Aires
- Take a cooking class
- I can’t recommend the class we did enough. Tierra Negra is located in Palermo and run by an amazing couple. We did the empanadas and wine tasting class during which we also learned to make ducle de leche and flan. More on this experience + recipes coming soon!
When you’re nice and tired from all the above activities, take a break for a drink. As the hours wear on, you can also hit up the boliches (aka clubs) and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Bars in Buenos Aires also often stay open until 4:00 in the morning or later. Reference the links below to check to make sure they are open, as the hours seemed to vary upon the day of the week.
- Frank’s:located in Palermo, this speakeasy is a once hidden gem. With drinks this good and such a fun atmosphere, word was inevitably going to get out. Check their Facebook page in the link for updates on the password. To enter you’ll need the password to access the phone booth, where you’ll be given a code to input once it rings. Don’t worry if you mess up the process (like we did) there is someone there to help you out.
- Sugar:located in Palermo, this bar is a fun place with music that will make you want to dance on the tables. I crossed this off my bucket list as I started my birthday celebration here.
- Magdelena’s Party:located in Palermo, this bar always has something going on. They also have happy hour from noon to midnight. Score!
- Milion:located in Recoleta, this bar is timeless and elegant. The drinks are delicious and the staff is friendly and engaging. Grab a seat outside to enjoy their beautiful courtyard or at the bar to enjoy this interesting photo above the bottles.
- The Clubhouse:this members-only club hosts different parties and events. We had a connection and were able to gain access during our time in BSAS. The atmosphere was fun and the music was perfect to keep us going until it was time to head to a boliche.
- The Pony Line:this bar is located in the Four Seasons in Recoleta and serves up some of the most delicious cocktails and snacks. I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on the menu.
- Ferona:located in Palermo, their DJ is likely to have you up and dancing whether it is inside or outside on their terrace.
- Isabel:located in Palermo, this trendy bar has beautiful interiors and good drinks. If you’re feeling adventurous, try one made with absinthe.
- Floreria Atlantico:a secret door of this Recoleta flower shop opens at dusk to reveal this speakeasy style basement bar. Their menu features classic drinks, plus some categorized by the countries that contributed to migration in the early 1900s.
- Nicky Harrison:located in Palermo is a well-oiled business that uses Nicky NY Sushi to conceal it’s bar. The patrons provide wonderful people watching and the drinks are beautiful creations. Non-members should make reservations at Nicky NY Sushi and then after dining, ask for permission to see the cellar.
- Verne Cocktail Club:this bar in Palermo is a blast from the past with Victorian-style decor and steam machines.
Sometimes “clubs” in South America refer to something.. else. So, just be aware if you are asking locals about where to go late at night. Dance clubs are usually referred to as boliches.
- Tequila:great music, fun people, and a perfect way to finish off my birthday celebration dancing until the sun came up.
- Shampoo:this disco club in Recoleta is styled with red curtains, leather furniture, and disco balls/chandeliers.
- CroBar: electronic music in a venue under a bridge. I made it about an hour before I felt anxious and wanted to leave due to the same song playing over and over. It was packed inside and everyone else seemed to be having a great time. But, you’d have to beg me to go back because I really dislike electronic only music for hours on end.
- Caix:after hours club that sometimes parties until noon.
- Jet:Thursday night is the night to go here. It starts as a lounge and as time passes on, the dance floor and music dominate the scene.
- The Roxy:Thursday night is also their big night. This bar has a rock n’ roll vibe and is supposedly a great place to catch a live music show.
- Pacha:Another electronic club that is supposed to be great, if that kind of music is your preference. This club has locations all over the world. Some nights they feature DJs that play other genres of music you can dance to until dawn.
- Severino:the place to party on a Monday night (and probably a Monday only). Fun music and a ready to party crowd who is all trying to deny that the weekend is actually over.
Make sure between all the bar hopping and dancing at clubs that you stop to eat some of the amazing food Buenos Aires has to offer. Click here to see my guide to food and restaurants in Buenos Aires. If bars and clubs aren’t on your agenda, you may rather spend your time between tourist attractions shopping.
WHERE TO SHOP
While there are great shops scattered all around Palermo and Recoleta, a few standout shops include:
- Ayers, Recoleta
- Doma, Leather shop, Palermo
- For antiques, check out San Telmo, specifically the streets of Defensa
- Lupe, Palermo
- Gabriela Horvat, unique jewelry, Palermo
- Celedonio, jewelry, Palermo
Once you’ve checked all the above off your list, you’ll surely be tired and need somewhere nice to lay your head.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed in Palermo in two different hotels, as I spent time there with both my boyfriend and best friend. I wanted to be able to experience two different hotel environments. Both hotels were affordable when split, especially for the amenities. I booked through Tablet Hotels, as I am a Tablet Plus member and love the extra amenities, as well as their level of customer service. I would recommend both hotels to anyone traveling to Buenos Aires. I loved staying in Palermo, as the majority of restaurants and bars we went to were in this area.
- Casa Sur Bellini: large rooms, beautiful decor, friendly staff, and a delicious restaurant with a great breakfast. They also have a pool and workout facility.
- Atempo Design Hotel: beautiful art fills the walls of this gorgeous hotel that has a great breakfast, pool area, bar, and loft style rooms. There are some very thoughtful touches, such as leaving you bite size (and to die for) desserts in your room along with weather updates for the next day.
Other highly recommended hotels:
- The Four Seasons:located in Recoleta, this hotel has classic charm and is beautiful. It has some of the best restaurants in the city, also.
- Alvear Palace:located in Recoleta, this hotel is top rated in the city. The rooms and suites are reminiscent of old regal style. The decor includes walls decorated with gold leaf, famous art, and crystal chandeliers.
- Home Hotel:a charming boutique hotel in Palermo, this hotel has great reviews and the bar is supposed to provide a great atmosphere.
- Faena Hotel:located in Puerto Madero, this hotel converted from an old warehouse is trendy and has a wonderful spa and Sunday tango show.
- The Glu Hotel:this top rated hotel in Palermo is the ideal of chic minimalism. The courtyard and terrace provide a tranquil escape in the heart of the city.
Looking for a cheaper option to stay? Try Milhouse, located downtown. You can also check out Hostel World for tons of other options in a variety of neighborhoods and price ranges. They provide real reviews and their website is a great resource.
GOOD THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- For US citizens, Argentina not only requires a passport before you enter, but a reciprocity fee to be paid. This is easiest to do online before you leave so you can print it out and have it when passing through customs. It is currently $160 USD and is good for as many entries as needed in a ten year period. You can access it on the site anytime by logging in.
- It is customary to tip 10% of your total meal bill. Sometimes this is included as a service charge on your bill.
- Dining is a long and relaxing experience, so if you want something from a server, ask. It is not always common for them to continuously check on you as they do in the United States or other countries. This doesn’t mean you’re getting bad service, it’s just different!
- It is supposed to be safe to drink the water in Buenos Aires. However, outside of using it to brush my teeth, I like to be on the extra safe side and just stick to bottled.
- Cabs are an easy and cheap way to get around Buenos Aires. However, they do have buses and a subway if you are looking for even more affordable options. We laughed that everywhere we went seemed to be a $5.00 USD cab ride. You don’t need to tip the drivers, just round up.
- Tourists are called gringos and gringas. Don’t take offense, as it’s not a mean or derogatory term. It is just what those who are not locals, especially Americans are called.
- While Argentinians speak Spanish, they have their own little twist on it and it is refered to as castellano. They almost universally use what is known as voseo, the use of the pronoun vos instead of tu, the familiar ‘you.’ Extreme differences in pronunciation can be heard in Argentina. A common accent in Argentina is the “sh” sounding ‘y’ and ‘ll.’ In most Spanish speaking countries the letters ‘y’ and ‘ll’ are pronounced like ‘yo’ in yo-yo. However in most parts of Argentina will be pronounced like ‘sh.’
- A few phrases or words that will be helpful before visiting:
- Politeness goes a long way. The first words you should learn in any language are words that demonstrate manners and include Hello (Hola), Thank you (Gracias), Please (Por Favor), and I’m sorry (Lo Siento). Also, say Perdon if you bump into someone or need to squeeze past them.
- Todo bien: this is the most common way of asking someone how they are doing in Argentina.
- Che: hey, used frequently in casual conversation
- A Tiene Wifi?: Do you have wifi?
- It will be inevitable that you will have to explain that you speak little to no Spanish (if this is the case) when in Argentina. Therefore, the following will be helpful:
- Mas despacio por favor: Slow down, please
- Yo hablo muy poco espanol: I speak very little Spanish
- Lo siento, no entiendo: I’m sorry, I don’t understand
- Argentinians say Chau for bye or see you later. Adios is used when you may never see someone again- such as to a cab driver.
MUST TRY EATS:
- Empanadas: duh! this is the ultimate snack in Argentina. In Buenos Aires you will find them everywhere: kiosks, fine dining restaurants, cafes, etc. They are delicious baked pastries filled with a variety of ingredients and served with a fresh hot sauce. It’s easy to eat several in one sitting, so make sure you try a variety of flavors. My favorites were onion and cheese or ground beef.
- Dulce de leche: this is a very popular sweet that is made from slowly cooking milk and sugar until the sugar caramelizes. Find it as a spread for breads or as a topping or filling for desserts.
- Alfajors: delicious cookies topped with dulce de leche
- Oje de bife: ribeye steak. Many places serve it with a fried egg on top, which is then called Oje de bife de caballo.
- Medialunas: Argentinian croissant that is amazing, especially when covered in syrup.
- Argentinian wine
- Malbec grapes tend to have an inky dark color and full flavors and are one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of Bordeaux wine. Argentine Malbec wine is characterized by its deep red color and intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture.
- Torrontes is a white Argentine wine grape that produces produces aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth textures, and strong peach and apricot aromas.
I hope you or anyone you know traveling to Buenos Aires find this guide helpful. I felt like I had such a great experience in Buenos Aires and I fell completely in love with the city and it’s culture. It is definitely a place I cannot wait to revist. If needed, more helpful and free information can be found on a website called Gringo in Buenos Aires. Until next time, BSAS!