Buenos Aires, Argentina
The city-state of Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. It’s rich; diverse culture has been shaped by the flow of migrants looking for a better life. Buenos Aires’ residents have come for over 100 years from all over Europe and Russia.
This sprawling metropolis is home to 13 million people spread across 40 diverse neighborhoods or barrios. The buildings and traditions have been stitched together from worldwide influences. European style architecture dominates the city center. When I first landed in Buenos Aires on a flight from Madrid, I thought the plane never left Spain!
Buenos Aires an amazing place to visit and explore. So many places to see and things to do. You’d be hard press to spend only a couple of days exploring this expansive place. You’d need several days or even weeks.
But where to stay in this sprawling metropolis?
There are many neighborhoods and sections of Buenos Aires, and there are many places you pick. There are some neighborhoods I’ve omitted because either the location is too far away from cool stuff to do (and things to see) or simply there are not many options in terms of accommodations like “Retiro” for example.
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I’ve also omitted the “La Boca” barrio, though beautiful in the daytime it can get very seedy at night. It’s generally not a good place to be, and it tends to have a higher crime rate than the rest of the city. I’ve picked (and tested) the best places where you can have fun and stay reasonably close to all the tourist attractions, while being safe, in Buenos Aires. You can read all about it below.
The Best Places To Stay In Buenos Aires
I spent about two months in this city. To say it’s huge is an understatement. I’ve stayed in dank hostels in downtown and event rented fancy apartments with the celebrities in Palermo. There are some seedy areas in the city and some very cool places. I’m here to give some insights on where to stay and what to do in those places.
This guide to some of the best neighborhoods will help you to choose the best place for you. A base to set out explore this fascinating city.
Pro Tip: Read my detailed travel guide on Argentina for tips on traveling in the country and how to save time and money.
Microcentro – Where to stay in Buenos Aires for Central Location
This is the corporate heart of the city. During the day, it is busy and lively. At night when the office workers leave, it is quieter. Plenty of restaurants and shopping catering for residents and tourists. There are easy transport links to the bus and rail network. An ideal central location for exploring this vast and fascinating city.
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Top 5 Things to Do in the Microcentro
This is Buenos Aire’s cultural and historic district. No doubt, you will find the most iconic architecture in the city. Just walking around the Plaza de Mayo will show you most of the European style buildings of the city.
1 – Walk around the Plaza de Mayo
Go for a stroll and admire the buildings. This is the oldest public square in Buenos Aires. It’s the place where the public have gathered throughout history. The Casa Rosada is the government house. It is also known as the pink house. Guess why! Eva Perón spoke from the balcony in 1940 – an event that is featured in the song Evita.
There is an interesting museum behind Casa Rosada that explores the history of Argentina. It is free to visit. The Cabildo de Buenos Aires houses the national museum. It concentrates on the May Revolution and the fight for independence.
2 – Check out the El Obelisko
A national monument that commemorates the 400th year of the founding of the city. It was erected in 1936 and has recently been cleaned up and restored. It is an impressive 67m high. Stand at its base and marvel at the widest street ever. The Avenida 9 de Julio has so many lanes.
Impressive and slightly terrifying for the pedestrian, but don’t worry, there are lots of people crossing the street towards the Obelisko. The monument is worth checking out at night or dusk when it lights up and displays all its glory.
3 – Tango and Shopping
Browse through the shops in the Florida Mall and enjoy the street performances of Tango. Then visit the Confiteria Ideal, a beautiful building that has starred in many films. Take a tango lesson or join in with a dance party at El Baso on a Friday afternoon.
4 – Visit Two Iconic Buildings
The Palacio Barola is uniquely designed around Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is an office block with 22 floors. To see this remarkable building, you need to book onto a guided tour. A 1920’s elevator takes you from floor to floor. On the roof, there is a lighthouse from which you can see a panoramic view of the city. You may prefer a night tour, which includes a wine tasting.
The Casa de la Cultura has a room – the Salon Dorado, inspired by Versailles. Think gold cherubs and rococo style. This building was commissioned for the La Prensa newspaper. The building is topped by a bronze statue of Pallas Athena – the goddess of wisdom. She represents the freedom of the press. Visit on a Friday evening to enjoy a musical performance.
5 – Kitsch Culture
Take a guided tour of La Botica del Angel, the birthplace of the “café concert.” This was the home of Eduardo Bergara Leumann. He was an actor and TV presenter with a flamboyant style. The interior displays bling at an extreme level. If it glittered, he loved it.
San Telmo – Where to Stay in Buenos Aires on a Budget
This is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. The site of the first industrial works in the 17th century. It housed the dockworkers and the brickmakers. It is named after the patron saint of seafarers.
The most multicultural area of the city. The colonial buildings and the cobbled streets echo the lives of past inhabitants. Now the buildings house antique shops, steak houses, cafés, and tango parlors. The area is famous for its murals and pop-up galleries. The Paseo de la Historieta runs through San Telmo, and you can see comical structures throughout.
Budget accommodations are plentiful in San Telmo, so if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend you stay here. There are also lots of places to eat for cheap. There are few luxury hotels, but they do exist in San Telmo. See below.
- Luxury – L’Adresse Hôtel Boutique
- The La Bombonera Stadium is reachable within 1.3 miles of L’Adresse Hôtel Boutique. The place has express check-in and check-out, a bar, non-smoking rooms, and free WiFi throughout.
- 3 or 4 Stars – Bohemia Hotel
- This hotel is situated in the oldest and best-preserved neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and surrounded by bars, tango shows, and shops. Breakfast is served daily.
- Budget-Friendly – Puerto Limon Hostel
- Centrally located in Buenos Aires, Puerto Limon Hostel is a cozy vintage style hostel. There are spacious accommodations with free WiFi access throughout the property. The rooms come with air conditioning, a bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. Shared kitchen and an outdoor area with BBQ facilities are also available.
Top 5 Things to Do in San Telmo
1 – Visit the Plaza Dorrego
The Plaza Dorrego is the beating heart of San Telmo. A historic square with plenty of bars and cafés. You may be lucky and witness an impromptu tango performance. Or you can visit one of the many milongas (tango parlors) to see the dance that was born here.
On Sunday, the square hosts a sprawling antique fair. Almost 300 stalls crowd together accompanied by street entertainers. In the surrounding streets like Calle Defensa, the stalls offer crafts and unique gifts. If you are looking for clothing, visit Pasaje Guiffra.
2 – Visit the Convento de Santo Domingo
This Dominican convent was built in the 18th Century. The British lay siege to it in the 19th Century. It was turned into a museum when the Dominicans were thrown out. The interior is a beautiful example of the Spanish colonial style. Manuel Belgrano, a national hero, is buried here. A beautiful building a short walk from Plaza Dorrego.
3 – Check out Casa Mínima
This is a small narrow house that was supposedly built by freed slaves. Or gifted to a free slave. It’s a great and charming story that highlights the historic slavery that existed in Buenos Aires and the rest of the world. It is a fascinating little house and worth including in a walk around the historic buildings. Blink, and you may miss it.
4 – Admire the Architecture
Take a breath and look around. The mix of cultures has resulted in some lovely and unusual buildings in various styles. Many of the old colonial houses are now galleries and shops. Look out for the Solar de French. Once the home of a French soldier, now a place to shop. Many quirky artisanal wares.
5 – Museum of Modern Art (MAMBA)
The building was a tobacco warehouse built in the 19th Century. The museum has been recently restored (2010) and contains an impressive amount of Argentine art. Also, work by many modern artists like Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse.
Palermo – Best Area to stay in Buenos Aires for Nightlife
Palmero is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Lively and vibrant. Palmero has it all. Historical museums, restaurants, art galleries, and green spaces. It is so large that it is a collection of neighborhoods. Each has its own distinct feel and attractions. This place is also active at night, featuring bars and nightclubs.
If you’re staying in Buenos Aires a little longer than a month, Palermo is your best choice. I recommend you find an apartment rental. My then-girlfriend (wife now) rented an apartment for a month in Palermo. It’s one of the up and comping neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and fairly clean. Outside of this, check out my recommendations for the best accommodations in Palermo.
- Five Star – BE Jardin Escondido
- Here’s an upscale hotel by Francis Ford Coppola. Luxurious rooms are furnished with upscale decor and equipped with plasma T.V. Alto Palermo Shopping mall is close by.
- 3 or 4 Stars – Soho Point Central
- Located in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood. This hotel is just one block from Serrano Square and the many pubs and cafes in the area. The Line D subway station is five blocks away.
- Budget-Friendly – Caravan BA | Hostel Boutique
- Caravan BA | Hostel Boutique has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a bar, a lounge, and a garden. Continental and buffet breakfast options are available daily. The property has a 24-hour front desk, a shared kitchen, and a currency exchange for guests.
Top 5 Things to Do in Palermo
1 – Visit the Museums
MALBA – Museo de Arte de Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. Founded in 2001, it boasts a fabulous collection of Latin American art. Tickets are cheap and start at $2 per person.
Museo Evita – dedicated to the life and impact of Eva Perón
Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández – the collection of the family Blanco. A small museum filled with a collection of religious icons and silver.
2 – Go to the Gardens
Palmero has two notable gardens. A botanic garden and a Japanese garden. Both are an exquisite day walking around fabulous green spaces. There’s a small fee to get into the Japanese garden but well worth it. You can always see this along with other notable attractions via the Hop-on-Hop-off bus.
3 – Take a Walk in the Parks
Parque Tres de Febrero contains the Galileo Galilei Planetarium. There are many other green spaces to enjoy. An impromptu picnic?
4 – Visit the Buenos Aires Eco, Park
This used to be known as the city zoo. It still retains the collection of animals.
5 – Food Culture
The Argentine meat platter is impressive. Most restaurants serve this grilled dish. La Cacrera is well-known for this dish.
The Plaza Serrano is the place to go for cocktails and drinks. If you want a view of the ocean with your favorite drink, then head to the historic Club de Pescadores.
For shopping and food, visit Palmera Hollywood with its fashion stores and upmarket restaurants.
Recoleta – Where to Stay in Buenos Aires for the First Time
A wealthy barrio with upmarket boutiques and exclusive schools. It’s famous for its buildings. The former palaces and townhouses are in the fine art style. A quiet walk in the early morning or late afternoon will let you experience how it resembles Paris.
If it’s your first time in Buenos Aires, this would be your ideal place because it will have most of its famous tourist attractions within walking distance. Buenos Aires is a big city, but I walked from neighborhood to neighborhood without exhausting myself. It’s a pedestrian-friendly city.
- Five Star – Alvear Palace Hotel
- The Hotel has 192 guestrooms and suites decorated in a modern French style. Renovated top floors show off 15 spacious suites. Alvear Suite and higher categories provide exclusive service, where a team of butlers assists guests, making their stay a memorable experience.
- 3 or 4 Stars – Hotel Etoile
- Hotel Etoile offers elegant well-lit suites overlooking the charming French-style Recoleta Gardens, 2,950 feet from 9 de Julio Avenue, and 1.1 mi from Florida Pedestrian Street. Guests can enjoy the fine cheese and wine bar and taste Argentinean meat at the on-site restaurant. WiFi is free in all areas of the hotel.
- Budget-Friendly – La Bamba Hostel
- WiFi is provided throughout the property. La Bamba Student Hostel is a 19-minute walk from Recoleta Cemetery and one mile from Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The Colon Theater is 1.1 miles, and the Obelisk is 1.5 miles. A shared kitchen, a shared lounge, and currency exchange are available for guests.
Top 5 Things to Do in the Recoleta
Outside of the famed cemetery with the same name, the Recoleta neighborhood is full of colorful things to do. There’s a shopping mall and a movie theater right next to the cemetery if you get tired of looking at tombs.
1 – Visit Recoleta Cemetery
All the graves are above ground and are ornately decorated.
The building styles are an eclectic mix of ancient, modern, and quirky.
There are at least 6,400 graves.
Each one a marvel. It’s worth taking a tour to learn about some of the fascinating people buried here.
Famously Eva Perón, twenty years after her death.
Every grave has its own tale to tell. Not just the high-status ones.
Open 8:00 am, and the gates close at 6:00 pm.
2 – Check out a Bookshop and a Library
One of the 12 largest bookshops in the world. The fabulous El Atenceo Grand Splendid is worth a visit. Not just for books but for the building. It began in 1919 as a theatre. A short spell as a cinema. Now an exquisite bookshop. You can drink a cup of coffee while listening to the piano player. Admire the sumptuous theatrical décor. Red velvet drapes and fresco ceilings provide the opulent backdrop to the rows and rows of books.
The National Library of Argentina is built in the brutalist style. It is built on the grounds of the demolished Unzué Palace. This was the residency of President Juan Perón and his wife, Eva. The reading room on the fifth floor has a spectacular view. You will need identification to gain access to the library. The library has close to a million historical documents, some of which date back to the 16th century. A fascinating glimpse of past lives and troubles.
3 – Get a Dose of Culture
At not one but three museums.
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes houses art by Titian, Goya, and Rembrandt.
The Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo has period furniture, silver, and some exquisite Zubov miniatures from Russia.
The Centro Cultural Recoleta has sculptures, interactive exhibits, events, and workshops.
4 – Visit the Parque Thays
Enjoy a walk around the sculptures. The park was named after Carlos Thays – a French landscape architect. He designed many of the green spaces around the city. Look out for the impressive sculpture by the Columbian artist Fernando Botero – the nude male torso (Torso Masculino Desnudo). As well as Marta Minujín’s United Nations statue and many others.
Stroll through Calle Junín to see some of the wonderful former palaces like Palacio Duhau and Pizzurno Palace.
5 – It’s time to Shop
At the weekend, make time to visit the Feria de Artesanos de Plaza Francia. The 150 plus stands offer a wide range of high-quality handcrafted goods. At a substantial discount to the same goods gound in the upscale shops. A festive atmosphere is provided by a range of street performers. Plenty and varied street food to enjoy as you decide what to buy. Or just soak up the atmosphere. All kinds of traditional and modern items made from silver, leather, and ceramics.
Need a coffee break? Then head to the year-old Café La Biela. Serving its customers for 150 years. You can sip your coffee on the terrace shaded from the sun by a giant rubber tree. The name means ‘connecting-rod.’ Once, it was the meeting place for racing car champions. The interior is decorated with motoring memorabilia. The café is recognized as a Place of Cultural Interest.
Puerto Madero – Where to Stay in Buenos Aires for the New Trendy
This was once a run-down dockland. It has been refreshed through a decade of regeneration. This is a quiet and safe place to visit. Celebrated architects like Santiago Calatrava have contributed to the transformation.
This place is surrounded by modern high-rises yet close to the historic district. There are many waterfront restaurants, and if you happen to be there during New Year, there’s the fireworks show.
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Top 5 Things to Do in Puerto Madero
Puerto Madero is a hip hang out. There are lots of modern structures and top-notch restaurants throughout. It’s a perfect place for a late-night stroll.
1 – Burque Museo Corbeta A.R.A “Uruguay”
This nautical museum is close to the Sarmiento. This ship is a corvette. You can find out about its history from the exhibitions and items displayed inside. It had an interesting working life that included a rescue mission to Antarctica as well as naval battles.
2 – Buque Museo Fragata Sarmiento
You can explore the ship and take that perfect Instagram photo from the deck. A view of the Buenos Aires skyline. You are standing on a ship that has been six times around the world. It was built in 1890. Only ever used as a training ship.
3 – Walk over Puente de la Mujer
The bridge designed by Calatrava. A fantastic blend of engineering prowess and art. Based on the idea of a couple dancing the tango. The bridge swings 90° to allow ships to pass up the river. Keep an eye out, especially if you’re there on the holidays for spectacular fireworks!
4 – Visit the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve
The best way to see this giant park is by bike. There are many hire shops. You can explore a variety of habitats from forest to lagoons. Enjoy a stroll along the ocean’s edge. This is a free attraction.
5 – Visit El Zanjón
In 1536 this was the first settlement of what was to grow into Buenos Aires. A large Mansion was constructed here in the 19th Century. Some of the original structures were destroyed in the process. Tourists can now explore the site as a collage of different times. Colonial buildings alongside a ruined mansion.
Villa Crespo – The Coolest Place to Stay in Buenos Aires
This is a district that manages to balance being modern and traditional. This is the barrio with a large Jewish population. Take a stroll around the streets, and you will come across historic synagogues.
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Top 5 Things to Do in Villa Crespo
1 – Shop for Leather Goods
Murillo is both the traditional and current center for the craft of worked leather. You will find many shops covering any item that can be made out of leather. If you have the time, you can have a custom made item to fit you.
2 – Enjoy Dining
A multicultural community with a varied range of restaurants. Sample Jewish dishes at La Crespo. Try middle eastern cuisine at Sarkis. If you’re a meat-eater, you’ll be in heaven!
Argentina has some of the best beef in the world. Definitely go for the Argentine Parilla.
3 – Parque Centenario
A circular park covering 12 hectares. Plenty to do and see. The park contains the Bernardino Rivadavia Argentine Museum of Natural Science. It is open every afternoon until 7 pm. For festivals and events, visit the Eva Peron Amphitheatre.
At the edges of the park, you will find an assortment of stalls. A book fair all week and a weekend market.
4 – Explore the Streets
As well as the buildings, you can admire the art. Villa Crespo is famed for its murals. Buenos Aires is acknowledged as one of the top cities for urban art. They can be seen all over the area, but there are some spectacular examples at the crossroads of Castillo and Serrano. You can take an organized tour to seek out the hidden gems. This is free art on a giant colorful scale.
5 – Enjoy a Night Out
Visit Club Silencio for cocktails while you watch a performance. You begin the experience with a blindfold and are led through a sensory musical experience. This club is based on the David Lynch club of the same name in Paris. Or you can go to Villa Malcolm for cheap wine and tango dancing. Café San Bernardo offers pool, dancing, and your drink of choice.
Belgrano – The best Neighborhood in Buenos Aires for Families
In this friendly neighborhood, you can see old Anglo-Saxon style family houses mixed together with sleek, high-rise apartment blocks. There are two things to watch and listen for while walking around the sidewalks.
The unique dialect that is a mixture of Spanish and German. It’s called Belgranodeutsch. The other is the dog walkers. They have masses of dogs. There is a rule that there is a maximum of ten dogs per person. This is often ignored with people walking twice that number.
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Top 5 Things to Do in Belgrano
1 – Go Shopping for Clothes
This is the area for fashionistas. The shops are centered around Avenida Cabildo. You can get anything from top designers down to fast fashion.
2 – Barrancas de Belgrano
There are many green spaces across Buenos Aires. In Belgrano, the park is designed by the French-Argentine architect Carlos Thay. It was created by moving a river by building an artificial embankment. Over 60 different varieties of trees and plants grow here. It is a pleasant green space to relax in the midst of the city.
There are many sculptures to enjoy as you stroll around. Most famously a replica of the Statue of Liberty. It was made by Frédéric Bartholdi. The same creator as the iconic statue.
In the evening you can watch tango dancers at the bandstand.
3 – Visit a Museum
There are two museums. The Larreta Museum is housed in the former home of the Argentine writer Enrique Larreta. Inside there are exhibits of his modern art collection. His love for Spain is reflected in the exhibits and the beautiful tiled floors. Outside, the garden is laid out in the Andalusian style.
The Historical Museum Sarmiento was once the town hall. It is built in the style of an Italian townhouse. The museum covers Argentine history. You can take a guided tour, and there is a museum gift shop.
4 – Visit River Plate Stadium
This is the largest stadium in Argentina. It is the venue for most of the international football matches played in this country. Depending on your preference you can watch a football match or a concert. Or you can visit the sports museum on the site. At 3,500 square feet, it is the largest museum dedicated to sporting achievement in the World. The stadium sits in the Estuary of the Rio de la Plata. The silver river, but the English mistranslated it as a plate. The Argentine name for the stadium is Estadio Monumental.
5 – Walk Around the Streets
If you are passing the Inmaculada Conceptión Church in the afternoon, you may be lucky enough to see a bright and colorful wedding party. The building itself is beautiful. It is built in a round shape and has a lovely interior and an interesting history.
After you have enjoyed the architecture, make sure you end up in the Barrio Chino – China Town. You enter through an ornate stone archway. Here you can enjoy the noodle bars and street food. But you can also sit down in a high-end restaurant to enjoy the very best oriental cuisine. Around February, you may be fortunate enough to see the Chinese New Year celebrations. Plenty of shops selling a mixture of oriental goods.
The Best Accommodation In Buenos Aires?
Are you looking for the best hotels in Buenos Aires, regardless of the location? Don’t have the time to look at the various neighborhoods and barrios? Here are my top picks for hotels and other accommodations in Buenos Aires!
If you want the best views in Buenos Aires, there can be none better than the Hotel Panamerico! The top floor lounge is reserved for guests only, and you won’t be able to get the insane view of the Avenida 9 de Julio with the Obelisko unless you book a room in the hotel. It’s rated at 4.5 Stars, so it’s not exactly friendly if you’re in a tight budget.
I think the view with all the photos I was able to get is well worth it. I think I paid just a hair over $100 a night, but the photos I got from the top are priceless. Just click on the link of this page to get the best deals in rooms.
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