This list of the top 16 things to see and do in Buenos Aires can easily be experienced in 5-6 days depending how busy you want to be. There is so much art, culture and charm around every corner, that unless you have unlimited time, you will never see it all. We had 6 days there and could easily have spent more.
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, located on the Atlantic side of South America, at the mouth of the Rió de la Plata. It’s buildings have a very European feeling due to the waves of Europeans arriving beginning in the 1500’s. Because of this, it’s a wonderful city to wander around in and fall in love with.
The thriving arts scene owes itself to the many world class museums, as well as the dominant Street Art Scene. And don’t forget, it’s also home to the Tango!
Keep reading to learn about…
Top 16 Things to See and Do in Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo
Starting the list of the top 16 things to see and do in Buenos Aires, in no peticular order, is Plaza de Mayo. You can’t go to Buenos Aires and not see Plaza de Mayo.
Located in the heart of the city centre of Buenos Aires, it’s a large plaza, in front of the Casa Rosada, and a perfect place to begin your adventures in BA. At the centre of the plaza is the Pirámide de Mayo (May Pyramid) which was built in 1811 to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the May Revolution.
In addition to its historic importance, Plaza de Mayo is a vibrant area and tourist attraction, with even more attractions surrounding it.
March with Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo
Although this occurs at Plaza de Mayo, I feel like it deserves it’s own section as it is a powerful and moving event that occurs every Thursday at 3:30pm. Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo) are the mothers of ‘the disappeared’. ‘The disappeared’ are those who went missing between 1970-1980 under Argentina’s last military dictatorship.
Every week since 1977, Las Madres have and continue to gather and march here to remember their children, and to seek answers surrounding their disappearances. The white head they wear, signify ‘the diapers’ of their missing children. It’s a very moving experience that I recommend seeing if you can.
Also located at Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada (Pink House) is a palatial mansion and is the office of the President of Argentina. The pink facade makes it one of the most recognized buildings in Buenos Aires.
In addition to being the most recognized, it’s also one of the most important and historic political buildings in the country. From a balcony, it was here that Eva Perón gave her famous speech on October 17, 1951.
Cafe Tortoni is a cafe but it should also be on your list of ‘must sees’ in Buenos Aires. It was selected by UCityGuides as one of the 10 most beautiful cafes in the world. Opened in 1858, it was named after a Parisian cafe of the same name. The café still looks like what you would imagine it did back when it opened. It’s always busy so be prepared to wait for a table. However, don’t let that deter you though, it’s a beautiful place and worth the wait.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
A must see for art lovers, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes houses many works by some of Argentina’s most important artists. There was an amazing exhibit by Norah Borges when I was there. I fell in love her work! In addition, there are other great works by Degas, Picasso, and Rembrandt, to name a few.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Av. Del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires
Tuesday – Friday, 11am – 8:00pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10:00am – 8:00pm
Wednesday – Sunday: $200ARS / after 6:45pm free
Read more: How to Spend 36 Hours in Córdoba, Argentina
This beautiful and powerful museum dedicated to Eva Perón, walks you through her life. Dresses, photos, videos and other documents lead you through this significant era of Argentine history.
In 1948, the building was acquired by the Eva Perón Social Aid Foundation, and became a place that provided shelter to women and children in need. Today, it houses the Museo Evita and National Institute of Historical Research Eva Perón. In 1999 it was declared a National Historic Site. In 2007 it was declared a National Historical Monument.
Lafinur 2988, Palermo, Buenos Aires
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00am-7:00pm
Museo Arte Decorativo
Another stunning museum, Museo Arte Decorativo is dedicated to decorative arts. It has amazing collections of mainly European and Oriental art, sculptures, furniture, weapons, books, etc. The building itself, the Errázuriz Alvear Palace, is beautiful and grand, and once hosted receptions, concerts and charity balls.
Museo Arte Decorativo
Av. Del Libertador 1902, Palermo, Buenos Aires
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 12:30pm-7:00pm
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Located in an antique theatre, El Ateneo Grand Splendid must be one of the most beautiful book stores I’ve seen. It’s easy to lose all sense of time browsing through the books perfectly perched on rich wooden shelves or gazing at the frescos dancing on the ceiling. Take some time and have a coffee in the café which is situated on the theatre’s former stage, or find a former luxury box and read a good book. You won’t be at a loss for choices here.
Al Ateneo Grand Splendid
Av. Santa Fe 1860, Buenos Aires
Open Monday to Friday, 11:00am – 8:00pm
Read more: The Perfect 2 Week Argentina Itinerary
San Telmo & Plaza Dorrego
Before I visited Buenos Aires, San Telmo is how I pictured it would look like. It’s the oldest neighborhood of the city and it’s cobbled streets and old buildings make it a great area to spend some time wandering around in.
There are many cool and unique shops on Calle Defensa. You can get some really good deals on leather goods, and on Sunday’s hit up the San Telmo Feria (market).
Sit down for a ‘refreshing beverage’ at Plaza Dorrego and catch couples dancing the tango. Step back in time to the 1920’s at Bar Plaza Dorrego. Stop in for lunch at Bar el Federal, which dates back to 1864. It’s one of the oldest establishments in San Telmo and has been everything from a grocery store to a brothel!
Bar el Fereral
The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the most popular attractions in Buenos Aires. Amongst the tombs of many rich and famous, past presidents and other politicians, you will find the final resting place of Eva Perón.
Once you come to her tomb, expect there to be a line to get up close.
The cemetery is huge; you can spend hours walking through the massive mausoleums and statues. I recommend doing a tour so you can learn the stories behind the tombs. One of the most interesting, or should I say tragic, is that of Rufina Cambacérès. As the tale goes, she was buried alive.
It’s open everyday 7:30am – 5:30pm. Cost is $100ARS if you want to explore on your own. A tour with Free Walks Buenos Aires is $700ARS or $10USD.
A Tango Show in Buenos Aires is definitely on my list of top 16 things to see and do in Buenos Aires. Tango originated at the end of the 19th century in Buenos Aires, and likely in the barrio of La Boca.
There are many ways you can enjoy watching Tango. You can get dinner and/or show tickets for a theatre performance. Some milongas (tango academies) put on shows at an affordable price. And lastly, for free/donation, you can head to Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo and watch as couples tango the afternoon away.
We saw a show in a larger theatre and we also enjoyed an afternoon at Plaza Dorrego. Both were fantastic.
In Plaza Dorrego, after the show, the dancers walk around asking for donations. It gives you an up close and more personal feeling. The theatre show we saw was the Piazzolla Tango Show at Astor Piazzolla Theatre. The theatre was just beautiful with red velvet curtains, and balconies adorned with gold. The 75 minute show was amazing as well. Cost was around $35USD per person for the show only.
Astor Piazzolla Theatre
Calle Florida 165, Galería Güemes
Barrio La Boca
The barrio of La Boca definitely shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Buenos Aires. It’s one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the city, and is also home to Boca Junior’s futbol team.
Caminito is the main pedestrian only street, lined with shops, restaurants, and artists creating their art. The tourist area of La Boca is the Caminito and the few blocks surrounding it. Outside of this area is pretty poor and there are a lot of petty crimes here.
I highly recommend doing the Free Walks Buenos Aires walking tour of La Boca for only $10USD. The guides are very knowledgeable and explain all about the neighborhood.
Did you know La Boca is where the Tango was born!?!!
Tours run Monday to Saturday at 11am. Meeting point is the corner of Magallanes and Caminito, just outside the Havanna Shop. No need to book in advance, just show up. They have tours in English and Spanish.
Boca Junior’s Futbol Game
Seeing and taking in the atmosphere at a Boca Junior’s futbol game at ‘La Bombonera’ in Buenos Aires was high on my list of ‘must dos’. However time didn’t work out and sadly we never made it to a game. I did however do a lot of research on how to get tickets.
Getting tickets isn’t easy. There are no public tickets sales and entry is only allowed with a Boca Juniors membership card. And if you are thinking of just getting a membership card, well, you’ll have to wait at least 7 years for that!
Landing Pad BA is an outfit that specializes in tickets for tourists. They provide the ticket for the game, bilingual guide, and bus pick up from specified meeting points. In addition, they provide valuable tips for do’s and don’ts, the main one being don’t wear the colors of the arch nemesis team! Check out their website on how it works.
Jardin Botánico Carlos Thays
Jardin Botánico is a lovely park full of trees, birds, rare plants and statues. There is also a greenhouse and butterfly garden. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires and relax your afternoon away as you will see many Porteños doing.
Located in Palermo at the intersection of Av. Santa Fe and Av. Las Heras, you will find the entrance on Av. Santa Fe. It opens at 8am and closes at 5:45pm in the winter and 6:45pm in the summer. They are closed on Monday’s. Entrance is free.
Shopping and Gastronomy in Palermo Soho
Palermo Soho is the place to be, full of hipsters and designers. It’s a young neighborhood and the perfect place to browse through boutique shops, sit down at a café and people watch, or enjoy a meal at 1 of the many restaurants and fast food places. Nightlife is in no shortage here either, especially around Plaza Serrano.
Live Music at the Thelonious Monk
Lastly, rounding out my list of the top 16 things to see and do in Buenos Aires, is seeing live jazz music a The Thelonious Monk. The Thelonious Monk has been named one of the best Jazz venues in the world. You can see some of the top jazz musicians in this intimate venue . Be sure to get tickets in advance. It gets really packed! The night we were there we saw the Javier Malosetti 4tet. They were amazing.
Nicaragua 5549 – Palermo
Where to Eat and Drink
There is no shortage of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Buenos Aires. Here are the places we visited (some more than once!). Where ever you choose, I hope you enjoy the Argentine food as much as I did.
La Pulpería de Francisco – I love empanadas, and La Pulpería de Francisco has the amazing empanadas! There are a table or two inside and out, however this is mainly a take away joint.
Las Cabras – A very busy restaurant, this parilla will not disappoint. You may have to wait for a table but the wait will be worth it. The steak I had was huge and oh so tasty!
Adorado Cafe & Bar – This lovely cafe is the perfect spot for breakfast. Sit at an outside table and enjoy the morning sun with your book, latte, and huevos benectictinos!
Il Gran Caruso – If you are in the mood for Italian, this is the place to go. Il Gran Caruso has been serving food for 37 years at locations throughout Buenos Aires.
Bourbon Brunch Beer – Bourbon Brunch Beer is the perfect place to enjoy just that….bourbon, brunch and beer. With an extensive bourbon whiskey list and amazing looking food, don’t pass this place up for a casual brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Uptown Club – Located in Palermo Hollywood, this nightclub has the coolest entrance to a nightclub that I’ve seen. The entrance on the street is like going down into a New York Subway station. You pass through a tiled corridor and then you get to a ‘subway train’, that you have to pass through before you enter the club. It was pretty amazing! Oh! And the cocktails were pretty good too!
Temple Craft Soho – This is a perfect place for craft beer lovers. They have 12 taps, usually 6 of their own beers, and 6 guest taps. There are no servers here so you have to go up to the bar to order your own beers. The outside seating area is large and a perfect place for people watching.
Doña Tota – Located in Palermo Soho near Plaza Armenia, this parrilla restaurant is a great choice to sit and enjoy a few cocktails outside as you watch the passersby. Although we didn’t have lunch or dinner here, the food at nearby tables looked pretty good. The staff was super friendly.
Bar Plaza Dorrego – Located in San Telmo at Plaza Dorrego, this classic bar with great atmosphere, is the perfect place to enjoy a beer or coffee. They also have tables outside in the plaza so you can sit and watch the street tango shows.
Bar El Federal – Also, located in San Telmo, stop in for lunch at Bar el Federal. It’s a very cool place dating back to 1864, full of antiques. It’s one of the oldest establishments in San Telmo and has been everything from a grocery store to a brothel.
Gran Paraiso – This parilla, located in La Boca, is the perfect spot for great food. As you walk by the front entrance you see all the meat on the grill and get drawn in. And then, as you are seated in the lovely, very instagramable courtyard, it’s easy to pass a few hours over some great food and a bottle (or two) of wine.
Cafe Tortoni – Located in the Microcentre of Buenos Aires, Café Tortoni is one of the oldest and most famous in Buenos Aires. It was selected by UCityGuides as one of the 10 most beautiful cafes in the world. Opened in 1858, it was named after a Parisian cafe of the same name. The café still looks like what you would imagine it did back when it opened. It’s always busy so be prepared to wait for a table. On a hot day, the mint lemonade is sure to quench your thirst!
Where to Stay
There are no shortages of hotels, hostels and vacation rentals in Buenos Aires. And with so many different barrios to choose from, first will have to decide which is right for you.
We chose Palermo, more specifically Palermo Hollywood, because of its abundance of restaurants, bars and shopping. We also knew that with so many barrios in Buenos Aires, that if we didn’t stay here, we probably wouldn’t have gotten around to visiting Palermo. This way we were able to feel the vibe of Palermo, but still get to visit everything else in Buenos Aires.
As a group of 3, we decided that a vacation rental through VRBO was our best option for 3 main reasons. First, when you are in 1 place for a week, it’s nice to have a kitchen to make some of your own meals and keep some food on hand. Second, as a couple and a friend we would have required 2 hotel rooms which would have cost more than a VRBO. And third, after being ‘on the road’ for 3 weeks, laundry facilities were essential!
The VRBO we chose ended up to be perfect for our group. ‘La Petite Maison’ is a spacious 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house located in a terrific location. There are restaurants and bars close by, but don’t worry, it’s very quiet. The owner and the house manager were very helpful right from the beginning to the end. You can check out and book La Petite Maison here.
La Petite Maison – Livingroom
La Petite Maison – Diningroom
La Petite Maison – Kitchen
La Petite Maison – Master Bedroom
Getting from/to the Airport
There are 3 airports in Buenos Aires, Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE), Jorge Newbery Airport (or Aeroparque) (AEP) and El Palomar (EPA). Taxis are available at all 3 airports. Private transfers can be booked in advance or on arrival at each. Public bus lines also serve all 3 airports but can be crowded and there is not much space for luggage.
Ministro Pistarini International – This is the largest airport and if you are flying to Buenos Aires on a long haul international flight, this is where you will likely be arriving. Domestic flights also fly in and out of here. It’s about a 50 minute drive to the city centre. A taxi will cost around $25USD. Tienda León runs buses to Puerto Madero in the city centre.
Aeroparque – Aeroparque is located near the centre of the city in the barrio of Palermo, and mostly serves domestic flights and flights to nearby countries. If you are arriving at Aeroparque, your best bet is to take a taxi. You will need to get a ticket from the taxi desk inside before joining the taxi line. They will ask for the address and a (reasonable) price will be determined. You can also take Uber, however they are not generally allowed along the main driveway where taxis go so you would need to find the public pick up area. Also, Uber is cash only.
El Palomar – El Palomar is about 20km to the city and serves low cost carriers domestically in Argentina. Taxis are readily available and cost around $15USD.
Buenos Aires is big and spread out over a large area. The metro is the cheapest, and pretty quick, way to get around however we just used Uber. Uber is fairly cheap and easy. They take you door to door, and are generally easier when you don’t speak the language fluently. However note that Uber is cash only. There are also over 130 bus routes that run 24hrs.
When to Visit
Summers are hot and humid. January is the warmest with temperatures averaging 24.9°C (76.8°F).
Winters are cool, bringing mild days and chilly nights. The average high temperature is 16.3°C (61.3°F) and low of 8.1°C (46.6°F).
Spring and Autumn have varying weather due to colder air from the south and hot humid air from the north.
Buenos Aires is one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited. It’s vibrant and has the perfect mix of old and new. I love all the different barrios, each with their own history and character. The food is absolutely incredible. And the people are so friendly and welcoming.
Just writing this list of my top 16 things to see and do in Buenos Aires is transporting me back to the time I spent there. I can’t wait to return, hopefully one day soon.
Let me know in the comment section below your favorite things to see and do in Buenos Aires.
Ciao for now!