After two months in Buenos Aires, I have come to know the city pretty well. Wonderful museums, cute streets, green parks, good food, beautiful buildings and much more. In Buenos Aires, you don’t have to be bored! In this article, I list the (budget) attractions by district, divided into indoor and outdoor. Because although the skies are often brilliantly blue, it can just happen that the rain comes pouring down. A handy mini-guide for when you go on a city trip to beautiful Buenos Aires. Or for when Buenos Aires is the start or end point of your round trip of Argentina.
What to see and do in Belgrano neighborhood
Although Belgrano is not the most popular neighborhood in Buenos Aires, there is plenty to do. From green parks to beautiful architecture. And of course China Town, because that’s what we went to Belgrano for!
Barrio Chino (China Town Buenos Aires)
China Town in Buenos Aires s not really comparable with, say, China Town in New York. Less interesting and a lot smaller. One street to be exact. Still, a visit to Barrio Chino is worthwhile. Especially if you’re looking for cheap food and Chinese souvenirs, you’ve come to the right place. And let’s face it: China Town is actually always fun to visit, right? | Location: Arribeños with Juramento, right next to Belgrano C metro station. Around the corner you will find the beautiful park Barrancas de Belgrano.
Chinese humor in Buenos Aires:
What to see and do in the neighborhood Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Buenos Aires to stay in, and not surprisingly so. There is a lot to do, you can eat out fantastically, and this neighborhood is also home to the most beautiful parks and squares.
Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández
As small as this museum is, it is definitely worth a visit. You will find various ponchos with their story, other textiles and various special handmade artworks. | Location: Avenida del Libertador 2373. Cost: 10 pesos, free on Wednesdays. More information: website.
Centro Islámico Rey Fahd (Mosque)
Personally, I always find mosques very beautiful to see, so I also visited the one in Buenos Aires. It is only possible with a (free) guided tour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at noon (not if it rains!). The tour is in Spanish and focuses mainly on religion. Even if you are not interested in that, it is still worthwhile to just go along as it is the only way to see the inside of the mosque. | Location: Av. Bullrich 55. More information.
Jardín Japonés (Japanese Garden)
The Japanese Garden, how beautiful! Large, with lots of red bridges and Japanese trees and architecture. There is all sorts of things to buy and see and you can easily spend an hour or more there. | Location: Av. Casares 2966. Cost: 95 pesos. More information: website.
Street art in Buenos Aires
In Palermo, you will find a lot of street art. Unfortunately, I am far from having seen everything, for example, Villa Crespo and Palermo Soho are still missing. But still: walk through Palermo and you will automatically come across beautiful street art.
Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays (Botanical Garden) / Paseo Rosedal / Parque 3 de Febrero
Palermo is known for its many, large and beautiful parks and gardens. All are free to visit and undoubtedly worthwhile. I have visited the Botanical Garden many times myself. Delightful with a book. Just like Paseo Rosedal. Want to learn more about Palermo’s parks and gardens? Click here!
What to see and do in Recoleta Buenos Aires & Barrio Norte
My favorite neighborhood. What is there to do?
Museo de Bellas Artes
This magnificent art museum is one of the most important in Argentina. It owns paintings by both Argentine and international artist, such as Van Gogh and Monet. I really like (certain) art, so I’ve been to this (free) museum twice. | Location: Avenida del Libertador 1473. More information: website.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Even if you’re not into reading at all, this bookstore really shouldn’t be missed during your visit to Buenos Aires. The bookstore is located in a 1919 theater, which is perfectly preserved. Also, enjoy good food or drinks on stage. | Location: Avenida Santa Fe 1860. Opening hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday from 9 AM to midnight, on Sunday from noon to 10 PM.
Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar
Around the corner from the cemetery you will find this beautiful white colonial church, built in 1732. Inside you will find, among other things, a Peruvian altar and a monastery museum. | Location: Junín 1904.
Cementerio de la Recoleta
You really shouldn’t miss this cemetery when in Buenos Aires. A special piece of town that looks more like a small village than a traditional cemetery as you probably know it. Although Evita’s grave is the most popular, it is also the least spectacular. Stroll the streets and marvel at the beautiful “houses” in which the rich are buried. Also, don’t forget to peek inside to admire the boxes and photos. | Location: Junín 1760. Cost: free.
Feria Artesanal Plaza Francia
On Saturdays and Sundays you will find a market with handicrafts and other trinkets in Plaza Intendente de Alvear, next to Cementerio de la Recoleta. Cozy (and touristy)! | More information: website.
In the middle of Plaza Naciones Unidas in Buenos Aires, this flower sculpture immediately catches your attention. An extraordinary 20-meter-high creation. Just like a real flower, this sculpture opens and closes. So it is worth coming in the morning and in the evening to see the differences. Moreover, the flower is beautifully illuminated after sunset!
Parks in Recoleta
You will also find many parks in Recoleta. Green squares where locals walk their dogs or play with the children. Jogging and sports are also popular in this green area. On a nice day, bring your rug and book and enjoy yourself in the grass of Buenos Aires. You can find more information about greenery in Recoleta here.
Estación Retiro Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires’ beautiful train station is worth a visit, even if you don’t take the train. This is also the place from where you get on the train to the beautiful Tigre or San Isidro. | Location: Avenida Dr. José María Ramos Mejía 1430.
Plaza San Martín
Like the botanical garden, Plaza San Martín was designed by landscape designer Carlos Thays. It is a beautiful square with many trees and a field to sit comfortably. Plaza San Martín runs uphill, so from there you also have a nice view of Torre Monumental. Surrounding the square are many beautiful buildings, such as Palacio Paz.
This bell tower was donated to the city by the British community in Buenos Aires in 1916. Materials for construction were shipped over from England.
The Center of Buenos Aires
Centro Cultural Kirchner
The rain was pouring down, so we decided to visit Centro Cultural Kirchner. That visit ended up lasting until late in the evening. Once a large post office, this is now a cultural center and theater. There are exhibitions, art and a large concert hall, also called the Blue Whale, which can hold 1,800 people. There are regular concerts, also free. We were going to a concert that same day and thus were able to admire the Blue Whale inside right away. Truly a must-see in Buenos Aires! | Location: Sarmiento 151. More information and concerts: website.
At Plaza de Mayo stands this fantastically beautiful building. A cathedral that you don’t immediately see from the outside. After years of construction, the cathedral was completed in 1827 and quite beautiful to see. The inside, however, is even more spectacular. | Location: Plaza de Mayo.
You definitely want to see this extraordinary mall inside, even if you’re not shopping. Built in 1889, it’s a pretty old shopping mall, and it shows well inside. If you do want to shop in Buenos Aires, bring a lot of money because it is not cheap. Also check out the ceiling of the dome you will find there, with many beautiful paintings. | Location: Avenida Córdoba 550. More information: website.
Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo
Also on Plaza de Mayo, you’ll find Casa Rosada (pink house). One of the most famous houses in Buenos Aires is best known for the images of Evita addressing the many spectators from the balcony. Nowadays, here are the offices of the president of Argentina. Casa Rosada you can also visit.
What to see and do in the neighborhoods Congresso & Tribunales
It is a pity that we just failed to go to a show in this beautiful opera house. Or just to get a tour. Next time in Buenos Aires, I definitely want to do that. It seems to be spectacularly beautiful! | Location: Cerrito 628. More information: website.
Palacio del Congreso
The mighty Palacio del Congreso is located on the lovely Plaza del Congreso. Unfortunately, that was completely broken up when I was there. The palace is beautiful and instantly recognizable by the green cathedral. You can admire the building quietly from the square; if you want to see it from inside as well, there are free tours.
Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes
This magnificent waterworks building looks just like a palace from the outside. It was built in 1894 and can be admired inside. I was always there on weekends, and then it is closed. | Location: Riobamba 750.
The 67-meter-high white “needle” on Avenida 9 de Julio is a striking monument in Buenos Aires. In 1963, the obelisk was built in honor of the 400th anniversary of the first Spanish settlement on the Río de la Plata. Today, it is often the scene of demonstrations and tourists taking pictures with the big, green BA letters, and of one of the widest streets in the world: Avenida 9 de Julio. | Location: Avenida 9 de Julio with Corrientes.
What to see and do in San Telmo Buenos Aires
Mercado de San Telmo
This large indoor market is somewhat hidden between the houses. It takes some searching, but that’s worth it. Locals buy their vegetables, fruits and meat here, but even if you have nothing to buy, it is a very atmospheric place to wander around. The iron structure was created in 1897 by the same architect who designed Recoleta Cemetery. | Location: between Defensa and Bolívar, Carlos Calvo and Estados Unidos.
In the heart of San Telmo is Plaza Dorrego, the second oldest square in Buenos Aires. A cozy square where you can eat and enjoy tango. On Sundays, the square fills with stalls selling handicrafts and other souvenirs.
Iglesia San Pedro González Telmo
This church, located at 340 Humberto 1°, is worth a visit. More information.
It was always thought that the Park Lezama was the site where Buenos Aires was founded in 1536, but after thorough archaeological research it turned out not to be so. The green park is ideal for taking a break and enjoying how the locals live their day. | Location: Defensa with Brasil.
Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa
On the Parque Lezama is the Russian Orthodox Church. Not to be missed as you walk through the park, as the beautiful blue towers immediately grab your attention.
Stroll through the streets of San Telmo
San Telmo has a lot of museums and beautiful buildings, but really, walking through the old town is also just amazing. In this way, you automatically come across all kinds of things.
Walk through Puerto Madero
Modern Puerto Madero has a few museums, but is mostly fun to stroll around the neighborhood. For hours, that is. Especially when the weather is nice, a walk along the promenade and through the natural park is a real pleasure. For more information about the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, click here.
Visit La Boca Buenos Aires
La Boca is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and also the most touristy. Personally, I think La Boca is a bit overrated, but it is still something you must have seen once. La Boca is not the safest neighborhood in town, but as long as you stay on El Caminito there is little to worry about. You will recognize this street from thousands: colorful houses, murals, the tango on the streets and lots of tourists. | Take the bus directly to El Caminito, do not wander around the neighborhood.
Travel tips for in Buenos Aires
Transportation within the city
Actually, it doesn’t really matter which neighborhood you stay in: in fact, public transportation in Buenos Aires is very good, efficient and cheap.
Buy a SUBE card (you can already do this at the airport) and charge it. Charging can be done at kioscos that say “SUBE” on them, among other places. You can use the SUBE card for both the bus and the subway as well as the train (not the Tren de la Costa). Per ride, you pay a maximum of 7.50 pesos (€0.36, September 2017).
It seems that public transportation will become more expensive in the future, so for now, enjoy the low prices. Learn more about the SUBE card and find routes.
You can also take a cab across town, but this is obviously more expensive and not really necessary. I myself have not used a cab once in two months.
Where to stay.
The ideal neighborhood to stay in Buenos Aires doesn’t exist, as far as I’m concerned, but depends entirely on your personal preferences. Public transportation is so good that you can easily get from one side of town to the other, so that’s not a real reason to stay in a certain neighborhood.
Think mainly about what you care about: if you want to go out at night and have more vibrancy, San Telmo could be a good option. Or Palermo. More peace and security can be found in Recoleta. We stayed in Recoleta for two months and for me personally it is the perfect neighborhood: quiet, safe, good public transportation and close to many parks.
Handy travel guide
Although this list will keep you busy for a while, there is much more to see and do in Buenos Aires. A handy travel guide for even more sights, maps and practical tips, is the brand new (2017) Lonely Planet Buenos Aires. Especially if you are in this city for longer than a few days, this book will be of great use to you.
Discover Buenos Aires with a guide
Day trips from Buenos Aires
From Buenos Aires you can very easily take a number of fun day or multi-day trips. Which ones exactly, you can read here.
Further travel through Argentina
Buenos Aires is the perfect base for a round trip of Argentina. Take a bus to Mendoza or catch a plane to the spectacular Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil.
Buenos Aires: I will be back!
Disclaimer: This overview is a list of places I have been to myself. We did as much on budget as possible, so most paid spots are not included in this list. So there is much more to do in Buenos Aires! This article used afilliation links. Click here for more information.