My name’s Cynthia and I’m a Porteño from Buenos Aires. I grew up in the neighbourhood of Palermo in a large family of eight siblings. When I got married I moved to Belgrano. I have lived my whole life in Buenos Aires city.
As a family growing up we didn’t get the chance to travel too much outside of Buenos Aires in Argentina. I guess being a large family makes it more expensive and a lot harder logistically. It was when I was 20 that I started to travel more seriously with my then-boyfriend (who is now my husband).
Charming Neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires
What I love most about Buenos Aires, the City of Fury, is that it combines Europe and South America in a diverse way. Each neighborhood is different but at the same time they all have the same ‘Buenos Aires’ feel.
For example, you can be in Puerto Madero which is one of the most modern neighbourhoods in the city. It has skyscrapers alongside a river. When the sun sets, the skyline lights up in a magical and modern way.
Right beside this neighborhood you have San Telmo which is reminiscent of something out of Montmartre in Paris. This is the most bohemian neighbourhood home to beautiful architecture, lanterns and old antiques.
Next to San Telmo you can find the historic center with its Spanish colonial monuments and French architecture. Then one can explore the streets of Recoleta and its affluent townhouses and former palaces. Palermo is another beautiful area where eclectic restaurants and boutiques await.
Visitors can stroll the streets going from neighbourhood to neighbourhood without realising it. Each neighbourhood is like entering a new city of the world. The aromas of the streets, hugs that locals share with each other, the local coffee shops, etc. are all different in each little pocket of Buenos Aires.
The capital of Argentina is unlike any other place in the world. We are always open and welcoming to every culture and each new person who visits. There is so much to see and do that you could spend weeks here.
My Favourite Place: El Ateneo Grand Splendid
I always say that my favourite place in Buenos Aires is the bookstore El Ateneo Grand Splendid. It’s a beautiful old theatre which has been converted into a bookstore but maintains its original structure. When you enter it’s like going inside a theatre – instead of seats you see books.
Instead of a stage there is a cafe with a curtain where you can enjoy a coffee. Here you can find books on the history of the theatre and learn about the beautiful decorations such as the imposing dome. I love reading and there’s no better place in Buenos Aires than El Ateneo.
Every time I walk in I get dazzled not only by the amazing setting but also by the number of books. It can take me two hours to choose a book.
Energetic Culture of Buenos Aires
The culture of Buenos Aires differs from the rest of Argentina. For example, if you go to the northern provinces you will hear a slightly different accent and way of speaking. Life in the capital is also a lot faster and daily activities thrive on energy. If you head down south things are slower.
It’s almost the difference between what is Parisian and what is French. In the same way that Buenos Aires differs from the rest of Argentina. There are different rhythms and ways of being in the rural parts of my country. In the city, we stay up late and the days and nights almost seem eternal.
Best Things To Do in Buenos Aires
When I recommend what to see and do in Buenos Aires, I tend to suggest activities that combine a range of experiences. For example, mixing gastronomical experiences with outdoor recreation and something cultural. Throughout the days you can combine them all together.
The city offers free bikes where you can ride around and explore by bike. Take breaks in the many parks located throughout Buenos Aires and stop off at the museums. Some are free which is a bonus for all the backpackers out there! There are many cultural centres (also free) to visit along the way.
Any biking or walking tour of Buenos Aires should start at Plaza de Mayo. For me, that is the heart of the city. Here you can visit the nearby Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires, City Legislature Building and Banco de la Nacion Argentina. These are all emblematic buildings of Buenos Aires.
From there come important diagonal avenues such as Diagonal Norte which ends at the Obelisk. The amazing Obelisco is situated in the Plaza de la Republica on the intersection of avenues Corrientes and 9 de Julio. There are many fantastic bars and restaurants on these avenues.
Florida Street is one of the most commercial streets and offers some fantastic shopping. But the truth is that the heart of Buenos Aires is San Telmo. It’s the Montmartre, Paris of the city and is such a wonderfully bohemian and charming place full of character.
You can enjoy street tango shows, the famous San Telmo Sunday Market, awesome street artwork, amazing little restaurants, boutique shops and charming accommodation. I recommend basing yourself in San Telmo.
Only 5-10 minutes away from San Telmo is Puerto Madero. As mentioned before, it’s the most modern neighbourhood that has skyscrapers. You can take a nice stroll around the lakes of this area. Then there is the Recoleta neighbourhood. The highlight here is probably Recoleta Cemetery.
Palermo is where I grew up and I only have good things to say about this area of Buenos Aires. Palermo Soho is where you will find cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, bars and nightclubs in a creative and cool atmosphere.
I always like to recommend some green activities or outdoor experiences even in the city. My favourite green space which is full of beautiful roses all year round is Paseo El Rosedal. It’s a scenic park with rose gardens, statues of famous poets and a cute little lake with a bridge.
In the Recoleta neighbourhood you can also find the Floralis Generica sitting in a green space. This is a major point of interest for tourists. The impressive mobile flower-shaped sculpture is built from aluminium and steel. Highly recommended place for photographers and Instagrammers!
Back to Puerto Madero and you can find some hidden bars to enjoy at night. Of course, BBQ is a big part of Argentine culture and Buenos Aires is full of “Parrillas” where you can taste delicious meats. Finally, make sure you see a Tango Show at Teatro Colon and check out La Boca if you have time.
Gastronomy of Buenos Aires
The gastronomy of Buenos Aires is definitely one of the highlights of the city. I recommend meeting locals so you can be invited to a homemade Argentine roast or parrilla. We Argentinians sure do love meat.
We have our own way of grilling meat. So expect something different and unique. La Cabrera and Don Julio are the two best places in Palermo to try a classic Argentine parrilla. In the neighbourhood of Belgrano you can eat at Parrilla El Pobre Luis. Buenos Aires is a great place for meat-lovers.
However, there is a move towards healthier and gluten-free food. You will start to see more of these restaurants that specialise in organic, vegan and vegetarian options. So don’t despair if you are vegan or vegetarian in BA!
I definitely recommend visiting the rooftop bars of Buenos Aires. There you can toast with your friends under the stars. Try a cocktail and celebrate being alive in one of the greatest cities in South America. The best rooftop bars are in the central part of the city and tend to be open in summer.
Best Places to Stay in Buenos Aires
The best places to stay in Buenos Aires kind of depend on whether this is your first visit, second visit, or third visit, etc. Maybe after staying in the city-center the first time, on your second visit you’ll want to stay in a more quiet area or in a residential location to experience the vibes of the locals.
I would recommend staying in the downtown area or in Puerto Madero. This way you can be close to all the action. Panamericano Luxury Hotel in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio overlooks the Obelisk in an incredible way. If you have the budget then it doesn’t get any better than this luxury hotel.
Many people choose Puerto Madero because it’s a modern area with some great gastronomy. The only difficulty with this location is that the public transport isn’t ideal. But you can always take a taxi.
Other areas worth staying in are San Telmo, Palermo, Belgrano and Recoleta. It’s always handy to stay at a hotel close to the subway. That way you can get around the city with ease in the Buenos Aires Underground.
Need to Know Before you Go
The first thing to plan when you come to Buenos Aires is to know how long you want to stay. Are you planning on visiting just Buenos Aires or do you want to see the rest of Argentina or all of South America? I recommend coming in November because the temperature is nice then.
It’s not too cold and the weather is starting to warm up. From November the purple flowered Jacaranda Trees begin to blossom which adds a lot of colour to the streets. These trees make for some amazing photos. The middle of summer can get quite hot so November is a good time.
Also, Buenos Aires is a fantastic city to go walking. You can combine your days of walking with some quick movements on the subway and by using the free share bikes. Walking allows you to get lost in the alleyways of Buenos Aires and admire the stunning architecture, domes and churches.
Thanks for reading my guide on the best things to do in Buenos Aires! I hope to see you here visiting one day soon 🙂 Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram if you have any questions or would like any more information.