South America is somewhere I would like to explore some more. I have been to Brazil and Chile a few times with work on layovers, and was over the moon when I saw a Buenos Aires on my roster. I have always heard lots of good stuff about this city and it’s rich mix of cultures.
This bright and colourful city has lots to see and do, and is famous for its street art scene and tango dancing. I managed to get around some of the main sites on a recent layover, but still have much more I would like to go and see on a future layover there.
Being in Buenos Aires really reminded me of being in Spain. It has lots of similarities to that of Spanish cities, with lots of colonial buildings, street art and church’s there is a lot going on in the city.
I really enjoyed my time in Buenos Aires although I think many people that travel to Argentina only stop in the capital for a few days before heading down to Patagonia, and other natural areas of beauty around Argentina. I would recommend maybe 2-3 days in Buenos Aires as you could easily see all the main attractions in this time, and I imagine outside the city is a lot more spectacular.
Sights & Activities
Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar
Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar is located next to Cementerio De La Recoleta, and was built back in 1732, and is the second oldest church in Buenos Aires. The church was also part of the Franciscan convent. It’s a beautiful baroque church and worth a visit when visiting the Cementerio De La Recoleta.
Centro Cultural Recoleta
Centro Cultural Recoleta is a exhibition and events space located in Recoleta, and just a few steps away from the Cementerio De La Recoleta. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and was part of the Franciscan convent. Today it hosts a whole range of different events such as art exhibitions, festivals, films, workshops and cultural presentations. While in Recoleta this is a must I loved the way the building was decorated, it was so bright and colourful and really stood out, however I believe the exterior gets regularly updated and repainted, so it could look very different to when you visit.
Cementerio De La Recoleta
Cementerio De La Recoleta is a huge labyrinth cemetery home to over 6400 statues, crypts and coffins to Argentina’s most famous and influential people over the years including Eva Perón (Evita). It used to be the orchard attached to the adjoining Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar. It became a public cemetery back in 1822, and is now a city of the dead which you can spend hours wandering around.
This major attraction in the capital will definitely appeal to anyone into darker tourism. It’s definitely one of the weirdest places I’ve visited. It feels a little bit eerie as in some of the tombs you can see the coffins, it felt a bit surreal walking around this maze like cemetery as there are just rows upon rows and narrow alleyways of the most ornate and beautiful graves. It’s free to enter however there are several tours in English, but these only run on certain days.
La Boca is a working class barrio (neighbourhood), and has many European influences dating back to its early immigrant days, and is one of the oldest parts of the capital, and is located next to the city’s port.
La Boca is probably the most touristy place in Buenos Aires, but I can understand why so many tourists are drawn to La Boca. It was my favourite area in Buenos Aires, with all its bright coloured buildings, street performers and quirky shops, bars and restaurants. It is easy to spend an afternoon wandering around the rainbow coloured lively streets of La Boca.
This neighbourhood is one of the poorest in Buenos Aires and caution and care should always be taken when visiting, as the area has a high crime rate, however when I visited there were lots of police around on patrol. The best thing to do is stick to the main tourist streets and try not to carry too many valuables.
Obelisco De Buenos Aires
The Obelisco De Buenos Aires is a national monument and was created back in 1936, located in the Plaza De La República at one of the city’s most busiest intersections. It was built to commemorate the fourth centenary of the city’s first foundation. The streets it is located in between is Buenos Aires’s entertainment hub, and has so much going on from theatres, restaurants and lots of shops which open early and stay open late.
Tango dancing is the National dance of Argentina and originated from the border between Argentina and Uruguay in the late 1800s. It started in the deprived port areas of both Argentina and Uruguay, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. There is a huge array of options in Buenos Aires to view tango performances as well as taking lessons.
We sat in one of the bars along the main strip in La Boca and watched some dancers, it was really great to watch and for a small tip to the dancers it gives you a small glimpse at tango dancing. Milongas which are dance events happen most evenings all around the capital as well as professional shows. Next time I have a layover I would definitely like to go to a traditional Milonga.
Food & Beverage
El Gran Paraiso
El Gran Paraiso is a gorgeous little hidden gem tucked away in La Boca. This outside little courtyard is so pretty and beautifully decorated with lots of trees, fairy lights and parasols. It’s a really cute and quirky find in the neighbourhood. The restaurant serves up traditional Argentinian food with lots of grilled meats available on the menu.
Being vegetarian I decided to order a salad and a few sides from the menu. It was such a hot day though and all of us massively over ordered on food! The food however was delicious, and the service was warm and friendly and our waiter was very helpful and attentive. When in La Boca go and pay El Gran Paraiso a visit even if it’s just to have a cocktail and enjoy the sunshine in the courtyard.
Floreria Atlantico was one of my favourite finds in Buenos Aires. This bar is hidden beneath a florists, and serves up a good selection of drinks as well as bar food. The bar has a underwater theme decor, and serves up flower themed cocktails to compliment the florists upstairs.
The cocktails were delicious and this hidden bar is a must visit when in the city. It’s similar to a speakeasy bar and you wouldn’t guess there was a bar underneath the florists.
La Torre De Retiro
I went to La Torre De Retiro for breakfast, it’s a small cafe that serves up a huge selection of pastries which is great for breakfast snacks. I opted for a breakfast pastry and a cheese empanada both were delicious and just what I needed to start my day of sightseeing off.
Las Nazarenas was close to our hotel, and one of my colleagues loved the place and suggested we go there for dinner. I have to admit I wasn’t massively blown away by this place but not sure if this restaurant was wasted on me being a vegetarian. It cooks up traditional Argentinian steaks and meats so I ordered a salad and a few sides to share with some of my other colleagues.
My salad was nice and the sides were also nice, but I don’t think I would go back there for a meal, there was a good choice of Argentinian wine and there was a traditional rustic atmosphere to the place. If you are meat eater and love your wine then this place is probably for you.
Transport & Getting Around
While I was in Buenos Aires we decided to take taxis as there is plenty of marked taxis (Taxi Ezeiza) everywhere and easy enough to flag down, just make sure you get the marked taxis. They are yellow cabs so you can’t miss them. They are all meter run but very cheap for nipping around the city. We were in the city while there was a protect on so it did take a while as traffic was building up so just bear in mind Argentinians love a protest and this happens quite regularly so can cause massive traffic jams.
Buenos Aires may seem like a beautiful picturesque city but it is one that you have to have you witts about you, and make sure you don’t end up in the wrong area. When is Buenos Aires make sure not to wear any expensive jewellery or anything to make you stand out, also make sure you try and not carry too many valuables on you, as pick pocketers and bag snatchers are rife in the city, and there are lots of scams and scandals I heard about, I heard one scam of one person distracting you while another robs you. So like anywhere you have to have a certain level of awareness of what’s going on around you, but in Buenos Aires just be extra careful even in the touristy areas.