Buenos Aires is full to bursting with things to do, places to go and experiences not to be missed. Days could be spent wandering its streets, sampling Buenos Aires’ vibrant restaurant scene and exploring its distinctive neighborhoods. However, for those who need to make time count we’ve put together a top ten list of places and experiences not to miss in Buenos Aires.
♦ Colon Theater
This magnificent architectural masterpiece reopened last year after a few years of closure for renovation works. The theatre boasts some of the best acoustics in the world and a splendidly opulent interior decked out in gold and scarlet. Be sure to pack some befitting evening attire and book seats for your favorite high-art, be it opera, orchestral or ballet.
♦ San Telmo Market
Every Sunday the cobblestone streets of San Telmo are filled with strings of stalls selling everything from antique chandeliers to pirate DVDs. The atmosphere is buzzing and there are street performances of tango, puppetry and mime. Join the throngs and spend the afternoon browsing for keepsakes, then stop for lunch at one of the area’s many cafes and parillas and watch the world go by.
Buenos Aires is a city of immigrants, with one of the biggest waves of immigration coming from Italy during the 19th century. Now if there’s one thing that the Italians know how to do well, then it’s ice-cream! This sweet relief from the city heat is a firm favorite in Buenos Aires, with packed ice-cream emporiums on every other street corner offering towering cones of multiple flavors late into the night. Be sure to try Dulce de Leche flavor, it might just be the best ice cream in the world.
This intense, sensual dance with its tinge of melancholy is integral to the character of the capital, and captures the imaginations of many visitors to Buenos Aires, who return time and time again to learn its steps from the masters. The Tango is performed and partaken in on stages and dance-floors all over the city, from slick productions in the theatres of the city center to local milongas in neighborhood community halls.
♦ Feria de Mataderos
This traditional Sunday market is a little way out of the centre, but well worth making the effort to visit. Stalls sell crafts and artisan products, including olive oils, jams, leather goods and mate paraphernalia, and there are gaucho demonstrations, dances and music in the afternoons. Dozens of food stalls serve up all sorts of delicious traditional snacks making this the perfect place for grazing.
♦ City Views
In any big city a great way to get a handle on its size and structure is to see it from on high, and the Pan-Americana hotel in downtown Buenos Aires offers the perfect location for just such an overview. Perched on the 23rd floor in a glass encased structure, the hotel’s health spa and café transforms into a sushi bar at night. Both the daytime views and the sparkling night vistas are spectacular.
♦ Recoleta Cemetery
A sprawling warren of ornate mausoleums and statues, the Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place of Evita Peron, and many other notable characters in the city’s history. Wide, tranquil walkways branch off into innumerable side-walks lined with mausoleums in various states of repair, some polished and sparkling, and others crumbling and forgotten.
♦ Art Galleries
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is a fantastic free museum just down the road from La Recoleta Cemetery. This grand building is home to an interesting and extensive permanent collection of sculptures and paintings that span the centuries, as well as several rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions. Also well worth visiting is the MALBA museum of modern art in Palermo.
♦ La Boca
Argentina adores football with an almost religious fervor, and La Boca is seen as a kind of Mecca for its followers. The famous Diego Maradona rose to fame playing for the neighborhood club ‘Boca Juniors’ and the football stadium of the same name is housed there. Though somewhat commercialized, a trip to La Boca is a must, either to see a game (brace yourself!), or to stroll down El Camanito, its colorful main street.
♦ Palermo Parks
The green spaces of Palermo are the perfect antidote to pounding the city streets, which can sometimes feel packed to bursting point with noise, people and politics. Take some time out, pick up a good read at the Plaza Italia secondhand book market and find yourself a bench in the afternoon sun. Palermo Woods, the Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Garden are all oases of calm amidst the chaos.