A fan of our Buenos Aires Stay Blog who is staying in Buenos Aires for just five days at the end of September, arriving on a Thursday and leaving on a Monday, recently asked us to list our favorite top ten Buenos Aires attractions.
Our fan, now staying at a Buenos Aires Stay apartment, also asked us to propose a five-day Buenos Aires tours itinerary – talk about being put on the spot!
Choosing the best attractions in Buenos Aires is subjective, a matter of taste; we decided to list the Buenos Aires best attractions a little differently.
Buenos Aires Stay decided to list our favorite attractions as tour days, in a do-it-yourself guide that covers three full days of Buenos Aires touring.
We do not list a top ten, because trying to see Buenos Aires attractions in such order is neither a logical nor a helpful way to plan Buenos Aires tours when travelers are new to the city with only three full days to vacation.
Top Buenos Aires Attractions & Tours
BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTIONS No.1
Avenida de Mayo – Centro – Downtown Buenos Aires runs through the barrio of Monserrat and is one of the most famous avenues in Argentina. Laid out by Carlos Thays, the avenue is the birthplace and cradle of Argentine democracy, symbolically connecting Casa Rosada, the presidential headquarters in Plaza de Mayo, with Congreso, Plaza de los dos Congresos. When walking Avenida de Mayo on a tour, we always skip breakfast and start at the Congreso end of the avenue. After a leisurely walk, three quarters of the way down the avenue on the left hand side is Cafe Tortoni, one of the most famous and oldest cafes in Buenos Aires. We stop for breakfast and a cup of their most fantastic hot chocolate, if a little later in the day we throw a local brandy into the mix – when one orders cognac check out the prices and stick to the local stuff if on a budget. Once in Plaza de Mayo, as well a Casa Rosada, you find more of Buenos Aires’ leading attractions – the Buenos Aires Cabildo and the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. Café Tortoni: One of the oldest cafes in Buenos Aires founded in 1858 and frequently visited by famous characters such as Carlos Gardel and Benito Quinquela Martín amongst others. Nowadays, jazz and tango shows are a favourite. It is situated at 826 Avenida de Mayo. Casa Rosada: The seat of the national government since the First Council. The pink palace owes its colour to Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, who painted it with pink to symbolize the reunification of the country after the civil war between Federals whose battle colors were red, and Unitarians, whose battle colors were white. Cabildo: This building was the starting place of the May Revolution. Today it functions as the National History Museum of Buenos Aires.
No.2 BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTION
Recoleta Plazas (Village) –Plaza Intendente Alvear -the most beautiful part of Recoleta starts at Plaza Intendente Alvear, nearest street Junín, which boasts the Recoleta Cemetery (resting place of Eva Peron, Evita), the Inglesia del Pilar seen in our photograph, Recoleta Cultural Centre and Buenos Aires Design. We like to stop at Café Biela on the corner of Junín and Quintana for coffee and people watching. What we like about Recoleta sightseeing and attractions is the many luscious interconnecting green squares – Plaza Francia (weekend market), Plaza Mitre for the Bartomele Mitre monument, Plaza R Dario for the Evita monument, use Plaza JJ de Urquize to reach Plaza Naciones Unidas to see the gigantic Floralis Generica. This route also takes you to Palermo and is just one of our favorite Buenos Aires walks and we have a detailed guide for your convenience>go. La Biela: A great favourite of the locals. Located on the corner of Quintana and Roberto M. Ortiz, you can sit outside and enjoy the sights. Iglesia del Pilar: This church is the second oldest in Buenos Aires and it was inaugurated in 1732 by the architect Jesuit Andres Blanqui. It is located at 1920 Junín Street. Recoleta Cultural Centre: This was first a place of worship, replaced by next-door Iglesia del Pilar. Converted into a hospital during the British Invasions in 1806, as an academy of art in 1815 and then an asylum until re-built by the architect Juan Buschiazzo in 1858. In 1979 it became a cultural centre designed by Jacques Bedel, Luis Benedit and Clorindo Testa. It is located at 1940 Junín Street. Palais de Glace: It was an ice skating rink, giving it its current name. Remodeled 1931 by the architect Bustillo and converted it into an exhibition centre leaving intact the original structures. It possesses a large glass dome with lamps that provide lots of natural illumination. It is located at 1725 Posadas Street.
BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTIONS No.3
Palermo Soho – plaza Serrano & Bosques de Palermo – Palermo Soho is a frenetic tourist haven of wonderful low-rise colonial style architecture converted into Buenos Aires best boutiques, finest restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Palermo Soho never sleeps. Shoppers give way to the early evening bars of Plaza Serrano; then, when the shoppers leave to store their booty and wash up for a
night of tango and partying, Palermo Soho starts to warm again with diners; later the ‘animals’ arrive seeking another hot night partying until the shoppers arrive again later in the day. Close to Palermo Soho is Palermo’s parks collectively known as the Bosques de Palermo, a collection of fantastic green spaces, an ‘oasis’ in Buenos Aires that feature some of Palermo’s best sights and attractions. The Japanese garden in Tres de Febrero Park should not be missed, the planetarium, zoo, botanical gardens, polo fields, and the Rural Society Convention Centre are all located in Palermo, we could go on and on, for your convenience we have a detailed Palermo Buenos Aires guide>go
BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTION No.4
San Telmo – Defensa – San Telmo comes in as Buenos Aires attraction number four, we did considered five or six because San Telmo only comes alive and into its own on a Saturday and Sunday. For the rest of the week, San Telmo is a bit of a ghost-barrio with many shops and arcades not opening until Wednesday or Thursday. Nonetheless, San Telmo is the oldest and historical barrios in Buenos Aires. San Telmo was the barrio of choice during Buenos Aires early history, until in the early nineteenth century, Yellow Fever sent the wealthy fleeing across the city and poor immigrants converted their petit hotels creating Buenos Aires’ first convetillos. San Telmo’s wealthy past is clearly signposted by lots of large wonderfully faded antique row houses and grandiose architecture. There is a street fair Saturday and Sunday and San Telmo is where you find the City’s best antique shops.
No.5 BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTIONS
Puerto Madero & Ecological Reserve – Puerto Madero is the newest barrio in Capital Federal. Works started in 1872 to build Puerto Madero when the government decided to build a modern port to herald the coming century and accepted the proposals presented by Eduardo Madero. Work ended March 1898 after much controversy, but it was not until 1905 that the red brick warehouses, which now provide some of Buenos Aires most stunning waterside residences, were finished. The narrow canals and the sandbanks caused significant communication problems as cargo ships grew bigger. The port abandoned by industry and moved to Puerto Nuevo in 1920. The Puerto Madero Corporation started to restore and rebuild on 170 hectares of the old port in 1989, creating the marvelous modern living and work complex that we see today. Puerto Madero is a modern dockside development of tower block homes and converted redbrick warehouses (not dissimilar to London’s St. Catherine’s dock) around four docks that form a promenade of fine restaurants, nightclubs and designer shops. Puerto Madero benefits from lots of green space, and just behind the docks is Avenida Costanera, with access to marshlands preserved as an ecological reserve for walking, jogging and sunbathing. Many stalls sell food around the Costanera at the weekend and there is a Sunday Market.
Buenos Aires Attraction No.6
La Boca – Caminito – is a great favourite of Buenos Aires’ visitors famed for picturesque, brightly coloured houses of wood and corrugated iron decorated with grotesque effigies of famous Argentines. The streets are alive with tango, street performers and more recently, La Boca has become the city’s Bohemia. This is a great neighborhood for a mornings sightseeing, to learn some tango, buy great local art and craft and enjoy the street performers who range from the most chic and acrobatic tango dancers, to some of the strangest and outlandish crazies to perform anywhere. The barrio of La Boco functioned as Buenos Aires first port. La Boca was the arrival point for thousands of European immigrants (mainly Italian) between 1870 and 1930. Boca, meaning mouth, describes this barrios geography at the confluence of the Riachuelo River. When you travel to La Boca, please keep in mind that the La Boca you want to see is just one short street, Caminito, maybe 100 meters long; Caminito means ‘short street’ in English. Caminito Street is an open-air museum created by Quinquela Martin in the late 1950s to preserve the ports vibrant history when the city cleared the slums of La Boca (conventillos) to build new housing. The conventillos either converted or erected by the immigrants were poor constructions of materials and paints scavenged from the Port creating a wonderfully bight and unconventional neighborhood you see preserved as the wonderfully colorful Caminito today. Please avoid walking outside the area designated for tourists it is not safe.
No.7 BUENOS AIRES ATTRACTIONS
Avenida 9 de Julio - commemorates Argentina’s declaration of independence from Spain declared July 9, 1816 by the Congress of Tucumán. The avenue is rumoured as widest in the world and El Obelisco (the Obelisk) an iconic symbol of Buenos Aires stands 67.5 meters high in the middle of the avenue on the corner of Corrientes Avenue. Corrientes Avenue houses the most important theaters and is where today’s hit musicals are bill boarded. The Italian style Colon Opera House and Theatre completed by the architect Julio Dormal is also located on Avenida 9 de Julio. Theater Colon is closed.
Our three-day Buenos Aires Tours itinerary: