Plaza de Mayo is Buenos Aires’ political heart, first mapped out in 1580. Today, the grassy, treed plaza attracts visitors with cameras and relaxing locals, and is also the venue for rallies and gatherings.
The center of the plaza features an obelisk called the Pirámide de Mayo, erected to commemorate independence from Spain. Grand 19th century buildings line the plaza, but the colonial arches that once circled the plaza are long gone. Nearby are the city council buildings known as the Cabildo, the Casa Rosada government buildings and fine bank buildings.
The ritzy Recoleta neighborhood draws visitors in the numbers for a wander through Buenos Aires’ up-market residential streets and public parks.
For most visitors, the main attraction is the Recoleta Cemetery, an ornate necropolis so large it’s like a mini city of states and marble sarcophagi. One of the most famous tombs is that of Eva Peron (Evita).
The enclave also attracts thousands of people for its weekend crafts market, held on Plaza Francia outside the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Museums and art galleries, lovely plazas and parklands are another feature of Recoleta.
Hoewel het wellicht vreemd is dat een van de belangrijkste toeristische trekpleisters van Buenos Aires een begraafplaats is, is La Recoleta geen gewone begraafplaats. Met een grote omliggende muur en een prachtige entree met zuilen is La Recoleta een van de mooiste begraafplaatsen ter wereld. Het is een glorieuze ‘Dodenstad’ waar een aantal van de meest prominente politieke, militaire en artistieke personen begraven liggen.
Er zijn meer dan 6.400 graven, gerangschikt in strakke rijen met bomen en voorzien van prachtige grafmonumenten, marmeren beelden en grote bronzen mausoleums. Noemenswaardige plekken zijn het grote witte graf van krantenmagnaat José C. Paz, met een tweetal prachtige Rubensachtige engelen, de opvallende tombe van de voormalige Argentijnse president Carlos Pellegrini, met een groot beeld van de controversiële leider er bovenop en de suggestieve beelden van twee huilende weduwes bij de tombe van kolonel Falcón.
Since 1908, the Colon Theatre (or Teatro Colón) has set the benchmark for gilded magnificence and the ultimate theater experience.
One of the world’s top five opera houses, the luxurious seven-story building seats 2,500 theater-goers on plush red velvet chairs on tiers of gilded balconies rising to giddying heights.
Guided tours highlight the gilt interior, chandeliers, illuminated dome and ceremonial staircases.
See what’s coming up on the theater’s schedule of performances, from opera and ballet to classical concerts.
The dramatic centerpiece of the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, the Floralis Generica is a giant 18-ton aluminum flower sculpture that has become one of Buenos Aires’ most instantly recognizable landmarks. The quirky art installation was erected in 2002 in the parkland that bridges the city’s Palermo and Recoleta districts and features a striking mirrored finish that dazzles under the sun and glows red in the evening hours. Designed by Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, the futuristic monument was envisioned in homage to his home city and was gifted to the public by him.
Most uniquely, the remote controlled sculpture is programmed to open and close its six petals with the sun, so that the flower is in bloom during daylight hours before closing up at sunset. Each morning (the petals open at 8am) and night crowds of locals and tourists gather in the park to watch the 20-minute spectacle, as the 66-foot-high flower changes color.
Once a lackluster cargo port, the waterfront area of Puerto Madero is now one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable districts, teeming with upmarket restaurants and glitzy nightclubs. Marooned from the mainland by the Rio de la Plata estuary, the largely pedestrianized island is celebrated for housing some of the city’s most architecturally stunning buildings. Luxury apartments, plush hotels and high-rise office towers dominate the area, encircling a stylish waterfront plaza and backed by an expanse of naturally preserved parkland.
The barrio’s pièce de résistance is the iconic Puente de la Mujer, or the Woman’s Bridge, an artistic swing-bridge that connects Puerto Madero to the mainland hub of Plaza de Mayo. The futuristic design by Spanish sculpture Santiago Calatrava, is said to symbolize an abstract tango dance and casts a striking silhouette on the city skyline.
The cultural heart of the historic San Telmo barrio, Plaza Dorrego is the second-oldest square in Buenos Aires and famous for its a vibrant weekly market. Named after the soldier and two-times Governor of Buenos Aires, Manuel Dorrego, the Plaza was once the center of the city’s 19th-century residential district, until clusters of tango venues and bars sprung up around the square in the 1930s. Today the colonial square remains a lively hub of bars and cafés, with many historic venues holding tango shows and live music. Sunday is the most popular day to visit Plaza Dorrego when the square hosts the world famous San Telmo antiques market, accompanied by live musicians and tango dancers performing sultry numbers on the sidewalk. Sprawling along the adjourning Defensa Avenue, the Feria de San Pedro Telmo (San Telmo Market) offers up a colorful array of stalls selling antiques and curios alongside handicrafts, souvenirs, leatherworks, silver, tango memorabilia and local artworks.
One of Buenos Aires’ oldest public squares, Plaza San Martin is a pocket of greenery sandwiched between the central Retiro train and bus station and the lively shopping hub of Florida Av. A popular spot for picnicking locals and fatigued shoppers, the majority of the plaza is parkland shaded by ancient jacaranda and magnolia trees and including a small dog park frequented by the city’s ubiquitous dog walkers (often seen on the city streets handling a dozen or more dogs). The focal points of the park are its many monumental statues, including the Torre de Los Ingleses (English Tower), gifted to Argentina by the British in celebration of the 1810 revolution; the grand Monument to General Jose San Martín, after whom the park was named; and a poignant monument to those who lost their lives in the notorious Malvinas (Falklands) War.
While everyone else is walking around the antiques fair in San Telmo and picking up items that are too big to take home, head to Parque Lezama, a public park in the same district. The city of Buenos Aires was first founded here by Pedro de Mendoza (see his statue in the park) in 1536. In 1857 it was sold to Gregorio Lezama whose widow ultimately gave it to the municipality of Buenos Aires in 1894.
The park borders a part of what used to be the Rio de La Plata, before its course was redirected and the neighborhood of Puerto Madero was created. And while Buenos Aires is almost completely flat, this park, along with the Plaza Francia and Barrancas del Begrano are on a rise that sets them higher than the rest of the city. There are rustic paths for walking and biking and a few lookout points over where the river used to be. Also in the park is the National Historical Museum of Argentina, established in 1897. It holds a collection of some 50,000 pieces.
The neighborhood of Palermo is not just fashion and shopping and tony places to drink wine. It is also home to the ñeafu park 3 de Febrero, and inside, is the Galileo Galilei Planetarium. At night the exterior is lit up with blue and purple lights, and during the day, you’ll recognize it by its distinctive dome.
The building’s dome is 66 feet in diameter and seats 260 people. Shows are put on display with 100 different projectors and the use of Dolby 5.1 audio, meaning that in addition to the sun, moon and visible planets, nearly 9,000 other astral features such as stars, constellations and nebulas can be seen. The seating is 4-D and interactive, for an immersive experience for guests, and while the shows, such as Colisiones Cósmicas, are narrated in Spanish, they are mostly visual in nature, which means you’ll still get a lot out of it, even if you don’t know the language.
Red wine and red-hot tango are two of Argentina’s top exports and few places do both as well as El Querandi, one of the most famous tango venues in Buenos Aires. The atmospheric restaurant and wine bar is as popular with locals, who fill up on lunchtime steaks, as it is with tourists, who frequent the legendary dinner tango shows, and serves up an acclaimed menu of Argentine cuisine and local wines.
The historic venue has been making its mark in the tango world since it first opened its doors in 1920 and while the nightly dinner shows are now mostly for the benefit of tourists, the passion and artistry of the tango is still very much alive. Tracing the history of the sultry tango from the late 19th century bordellos, through its many generational interpretations and including plenty of gasp-inducing modern twists, the El Querandi tango show is a stylish introduction to the iconic dance.
Dazzling shoppers on Buenos Aires’ central Florida Street, the Guemes Gallery, or Galería Güemes, is one of the city’s finest gallerias, making headlines as the highest building in Argentina when it first opened in 1915. Designed by legendary Italian architect, Francesco Gianotti (the brains behind the landmark Confiteria del Molino building on Plaza Congresso), the domed atrium towers 87 meters over downtown Buenos Aires and still offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views from its 14th floor observation deck.
A striking composition of Art Nouveau styles, the Gallery’s decadent interiors are a breathtaking college of ornamental archways, beautiful ironwork, sculpted granite walls and exquisite stained glass. The upper floor apartments are equally impressive, having hosted a smattering of famous names over the years, most notably writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, to whom a photography collection is devoted to on the 2nd level.
Most people come to Palermo to enjoy the urban sights that Buenos Aires has to offer. There are several different sections, from mainstream to bohemian and from fashion and design to residential. And then there is Parque Tres de Febrero. This nearly 1,000-acre park is also referred to as the “Bosques del Palermo” (Palermo Woods).
The park has been in existence in a variety of forms since 1875, and over the years it has undergone additions including a zoo, a botanical garden and a rose garden, as well as the world’s largest Japanese garden outside of Japan. The park is popularly used by pedestrians and cyclists and is busiest on the weekends, when you can even take a boat ride in one of the artificial lakes. Visitors can spend a couple of hours walking among the trees and over the bridges that cross some of the lakes, or sitting in one of the gazebos to enjoy the tranquil park.
Art lovers will find plenty to marvel over at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Argentina’s number one fine-arts museum, located in the Recoleta district. With 24 ground-floor galleries devoted to pre-20th century European art, the museum is a trove of classic works, dominated by famous names like Renoir, Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne and Picasso. Most impressive is the beautifully curated galleries of Argentine art, the largest collection in the world, including works by legendary artists like as Xul Solar, Edwardo Sívori, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Raquel Forner, Cesáreo Bernaldo de Quirós and Benito Quinquela Martín, whose colorful depictions of the city’s La Boca port are some of the museum’s most evocative pieces.
The striking museum, designed by acclaimed local architect Alejandro Bustillo in 1933, also hosts a number of popular temporary exhibits, a small cinema and a display of pre-Columbian artifacts.
One of Buenos Aires’ biggest draws for visitors is the chance to see a live tango show. And while there are tango performances on the street (for example, on El Caminito), or even in San Telmo, it would be difficult to beat the all-encompassing experience of going to a tango show. One of the leaders in this arena is the Viejo Almacen, a name which means “old general store,” and behind the traditional old exterior in San Telmo is space for eating, dancing, and even a third floor terrace for outdoor dining. The building dates back to the late 18th century, and has been used for the dinner tango show since 1969. The show (with or without dinner, you decide), features more than 20 tango dancers, interspersed with Andean pan pipe music, and other forms of music, dance and even poetry. Dinner consists of traditional Argentine empanadas, pastas, vegetable risotto and two glasses of wine per adult.
The Evita Museum (Museo Evita) is devoted to its namesake Eva Perón (affectionately nicknamed ‘Evita’), the subject of the world-famous stage and film musical of the same name and one of Argentina’s most polarizing historical figures. Beloved by the working class, yet scorned by the opposing parties, the legacy of Evita is still steeped in myth and controversy, but there’s no denying that the First Lady to president Juan Domingo Perón remains one of the most fascinating and recognizable Argentines of all time.
Finally opening its doors in 2002 on the 50th anniversary of Evita’s untimely death, the museum is now one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, dedicated to telling the story of Eva Peron and unveiling some of the mystery that shrouds her political history. A series of exhibits and displays chronicle the life of the First Lady from her childhood to her political career and many achievements.
Palermo Viejo is the old quarter of Buenos Aires’ largest barrio, Palermo. The old residential area is well worth visiting to stroll past grand buildings and gardens, and get a sense of the enclave’s increasing modishness as a current Buenos Aires' hot spot.
Drop into trendy cafes and fashion boutiques on Plaza Serrano, and unwind in the area’s many parks clustered around Avenue del Libertador. The city’s main polo field is also in Palermo Viejo.
A burgeoning hotspot for gourmet cuisine, Buenos Aires’ lively barrio of Villa Crespo lies just southwest of Palermo and has become a fashionable haunt for the city’s young and hip. The district is most notable for its array of bars and eateries, just as chic yet more affordable than many of those in neighboring Palermo and makes an atmospheric place to spend the evening hours.
The variety of cuisine on offer is the biggest draw, with popular restaurants including the Middle Eastern themed Sarkis, a favorite among locals; Almacén Purista, one of Buenos Aires oldest and most celebrated vegetarian restaurants; and Scannapieco, specializing in delicious homemade Italian gelato. Other dining options include Italian, Argentine, Jewish, African and Chinese cuisine, and the area also boasts two of the city’s most exclusive nightclubs, Ocho7Ocho and Club Silencio, both hidden behind unsigned doors.
Presiding over the historic town of San Isidro in the northeastern region of Buenos Aires Province, the San Isidro Labrador Cathedral is the crown jewel of suburban Buenos Aires and a popular pilgrimage site for those taking the famous Train of the Coast railway along the coast of the Rio de la Plata.
Stood on the site of an early 18th century chapel, the cathedral was built in 1895 by French architects Dunant and Paquin, in an elaborate presentation of neo-gothic style and is named for the patron saint of Madrid. The architectural masterpiece features three naves, decorated with a series of exquisite French stained glass windows and images of San Isidro Labrador. Highlights include the 69-meter tall clock tower, an 18th century statue of Santa Maria de la Cabeza and, most notably, a part of the incorrupt body of Saint Isidro, gifted to the church by Spanish King Alfonso XII.
Composing part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay, this 180-mile-long estuary is formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River. Though used for centuries by native tribes, the river wasn’t explored by Europeans until the 16th-century Spanish navigator Juan Díaz de Solís went in search of a passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. He originally named this enclosed coastal body, about one mile across at its widest point, the Mar Dulce, or freshwater sea; after multiple explorations by various other Spanish navigators, the waterway came to be known as the Rio de la Plata, or River of Silver, for the promise of riches thought to lie upstream.