The Top 10 Best Things To Do In Buenos Aires, Argentina
Working out an itinerary of what to do in Buenos Aires can be overwhelming when there are so many cool activities to do and places to see. If you’re planning a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina then this is the 2020 travel guide for you. There are budget options for the backpacker as well as pricier activities for you guys enjoying a well-deserved vacation.
Buenos Aires is often described as being a European city in South America. The city is indeed beautiful and certain neighborhoods do have a Parisian feel or Madrid touch. However, there is so much more than beautiful architecture to this gigantic city of over 15 million inhabitants.
Do you want to spend your time sightseeing? Or would you prefer to immerse yourself in the Porteno culture, dining on steaks and sipping red wine?
Whatever your preferred travel style, I’ve rounded up the top ten things to do in Buenos Aires. These activities can be for backpackers or two-week vacationers as all budgets are catered for.
How Long Should You Stay In Buenos Aires?
To get the most out of Buenos Aires, it’s best to stay a minimum of 4 nights but you could easily extend this up to a couple of weeks if you prefer to travel slow.
I spent 2 months in Buenos Aires this year while working remotely. Do you want to learn more about how I get to travel the world while making money online? Then check out the posts on the digital nomad lifestyle and remote work opportunities.
Top 10 Best Things To Do In Buenos Aires
1. Join A City Walking Tour
What city itinerary would be complete without a walking tour? They are a great option to do on your first day in any new destination to get to grips with your surroundings. And trust me, you’ll need all the help you can get in Buenos Aires, this city is ENORMOUS.
As Buenos Aires is so large, you’d be better off choosing a walking tour that covers one or two of the main neighborhoods. You can always do another walking tour a different day to get to know more about the city, or even a Grafitti tour to try something different.
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2. Visit the Japanese Gardens
Buenos Aires is home to the biggest Japanese gardens outside of Japan and it’s truly beautiful! Spend a few hours strolling around this tranquil heaven admiring the flowers and Koi Carp ponds. They also have a restaurant in the grounds if you are craving some Sushi. I didn’t eat here but I heard mixed reviews, so let me know what you think?
Insider tip – Make sure you visit the Japanese Gardens during the week to avoid the queues. These peaceful gardens aren’t quite as peaceful with screaming children running about.
3. San Telmo and the Sunday Flea Market
A popular neighborhood for tourists in Buenos Aires is San Telmo. Famed for its rundown beauty, San Telmo was once a rich neighborhood. But, following an outbreak of disease, the rich migrated further north to The Recoleta and so poorer immigrants moved in to take over. The facades reflect the wealth that once was, making this neighborhood a perfect photoshoot opportunity!
Stroll down to the main square to drink a coffee while admiring the stunning performances put on by tango dancers. There are plenty of cool bars and vintage shops to enjoy in this shabby chic neighborhood.
Once a week, on a Sunday, there is a flea market along the main street, where locals and tourists gather to sell antiques and artisanal offerings. The flea market makes a great free activity in Buenos Aires, definitely, a must-do on your list of cool things to do during your stay.
4. Head to the Feria De Mataderos
Although Buenos Aires has a distinctly European feel to it. While the capital city of Buenos Aires is made up of mostly European immigrants, as soon as you leave the city, you will discover the indigenous influences on the rest of the country.
The culture in other parts of the country is far more similar to the rest of South America. For an authentic look at the rural Argentinian life, head to the Feria De Matadetos held on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on the last Sunday of every month.
Admire the cowboys riding about on their horses or enjoy a traditional show of Agentinian folklore dancing. With a handicraft market and plenty of authentic street food on offer, the Feria De Mataderos is a perfect Sunday activity in Buenos Aires.
Insider Tip – Be warned though, it does take a while to get there. Ask at your hostel for the best directions via local transport to avoid an expensive taxi fare.
5. La Boca Neighbourhood Tour
La Boca neighborhood is home to the world-famous Boca Juniors soccer stadium. And for the locals, supporting this soccer team isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life.
Take a walking tour through the colorful painted tin houses of La Boca and learn about the rich history of this immigrant neighborhood.
Insider Tip – Be sure to book a La Boca Neighborhood tour that includes free entrance to La Boca soccer stadium to avoid paying extra!
6. Visit The Walking Dead In Recoleta Cemetery
It might seem slightly odd that a city’s most well-known tourist attraction is a cemetery. But La Recoleta cemetery is definitely worth a visit. The most important and wealthy Argentinians families are buried here, and as a result some of the tombs are as big as houses! Entry is free and there are free guided Recoleta tours on offer throughout the day available in English and Spanish.
Insider Tip – Be warned though, no photos are allowed and depending on how strict the security guards are feeling, you could well be kicked out, (This may or may not have happened to me!)
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7. Dance The Tango
You simply can’t visit Buenos Aires without trying your hand at Tango dancing. Make like the movies and learn the basics of the most romantic dance in the world.
Located in the Almagro neighbourhood, DNI Dance school is a well known Tango school. Their beginner class is perfect for anyone wanting a taster of Tango, no experience needed. There’s no need to worry if you don’t speak much Spanish as all classes are bilingual, with one teacher speaking Spanish and the other translating into English.
There is always a good mix of tourists and locals at the school, making it a great way to meet Argentinian people. If you are planning on staying a couple of weeks in Buenos Aires then it’s best to buy a packet of Tango classes to save money.
8. Enjoy A Steak And Red Wine At Parilla Pena
Argentina is known for its world-class wine and steaks and in Buenos Aires there are a million and one places to enjoy a perfectly grilled steak accompanied by a glass of Merlot.
Skip the crowds and do as the locals at one of the best grills in town: Parilla Pena. You’ll have the best steak of your life here at a locals price. I was reccomended the Bife Chorizo by a Porteno friend and was not disappointed! Parilla Pena is casual and not too expensive either, perfect for backpackers and vacationers alike.
Insider Tip – Arrive early (7-8pm) to make sure you get a table and watch out – the portion sizes are enormous!
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9. Stay Out Until 7am Dancing
The rumors are true, Portenos really do like to go out late. Nights out begin at midnight and don’t finish until 7am! Experiencing a night out in Buenos Aires is a must-do while you are here.
Be warned though, entry can be pricey to some ‘boliches’ depending on the night, so be sure to check beforehand.
Insider tip – Take a disco nap early in the evening and head out around midnight when the clubs are opening up.
10. Tango Show or La Catedral
No list of the best things to do in Buenos Aires would be complete without a Tango Show. You can usually organize these through your hostel or hotel, and most packages include dinner and drink as well as the show making it a complete night out!
If you’re looking to save money then head to La Catedral for the budget option. Here you can dine while watching professional and skilled amateurs show off their moves. And, maybe, after a couple of glasses of red wine, you’ll be brave enough to try out your own tango steps!
Where to Stay in Buenos Aires
Palermo & Almagro
About 15 years ago, Palermo was christened an upcoming neighborhood and now it is a chic mecca of cute cafes and restaurants with hip clothing boutiques nestled in between.
If you want to be ahead of the crowds, head one neighborhood over to Almagro. According to my Porteno friends, Almagro is the next up and coming neighborhood in Buenos Aires. With a slightly grittier feel to it, this is where the cool kids are hanging out.
Where To Stay In Palermo
Budget Option: Play Hostel
A great location off one of the main Palermo squares and cheap rates.
Mid-Range Option: Meridiano Boutique Hostel
Although the hostel might class itself as boutique, the prices aren’t too far out of reach for a backpacker without a too strict budget. A beautiful building with a great view of the Palermo neighborhood from the roof.
Luxury Option: Infinito Hotel
A cross between a hotel and a hostel, catering for both travelers and business professionals. Infinito Hotel even has a jacuzzi on the stylish rooftop terrace.
Where To Stay Buenos Aires City Center
A central location for all public transport. Staying in the center of the city is a good option for solo travelers as it is also considered a safe area. You are also close to all the famous buildings and sights to check out, a good choice to save money on public transport and walk instead.
Budget Option – Central Hostel
A no-frills hostel for the budget backpacker. However, you can bank on a good location and friendly atmosphere.
Mid-Range Option – Milhouse Hostel
Milhouse hostel is famous for being the party hostel in Buenos Aires, with a nightly party being held in the hostel bar until 2am. Perfect for solo backpackers wanting to socialize and meet some fellow travelers to party with.
Luxury Option – V&S Hostel Club
Although the dorm beds here are a good price, their private rooms are a great choice for the flashpacker option. Set in a French-style house, it is also eco-friendly.
Where To Stay In San Telmo
The cheapest of the popular backpacker neighborhoods, here you’ll find the best prices for hostels as well as decent prices on food.
Budget Option – Garden House Hostel
With cheap dorm beds but a small capacity of just 25, the Garden House Hostel is a great place to meet other backpackers.
Mid-Range – Puerto Limon Hostel
A brand new hostel with a state of the art kitchen, a small pool, and most importantly, new mattresses! This is a top recommendation if you’ll be staying in San Telmo.
Luxury Option – Traditional San Telmo Home
Experience how the rich once lived by renting a luxury home in the heart of San Telmo! Probably best if you book this with friends as there are three gorgeous bedrooms to choose from.
Conclusion To The Coolest Things To Do In Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a must-visit for any backpacker making their way to the bottom of South America. At first glance, the city is a pristine architectural wonder reminding you of European cities. But, spend a couple of days here and you’ll soon start to feel the Latin culture permeating the city’s soul.
There is something for everyone to do in the sprawling metropolis of Buenos Aires. However, if you’re after a quiet break from the city then be sure to head to El Tigre. A pleasant suburban town an hour on the train and enjoy a boat trip down the Paraná Delta.
Final Insider Tip – If you’re after cheap drinks to start your night off, head to Sullivan’s Pub in Palermo for unlimited beer offers.