When visiting many cities, you can justify planting yourself in the core of the hubbub and never leaving the immediate area. When you are piecing together an itinerary for electric Buenos Aires, you can scratch that idea completely.
A visit to Argentina’s capital city isn’t done until you’ve taken the time to meander through a few of its character-filled neighborhoods (barrios), each of which has a distinct vibe. Here’s an overview of some of our favorites of the nearly 50 barrios in town.
Gravity pulled us toward picking a hotel in this area during our first visit. It’s central and within walking distance to many attractions. Also, because Microcentro offers an abundance of hotel options and services (internet cafes, etc.), many tourists who arrive without reservations wind up here.
Green space in Buenos Aires
We always end up spending a lot of time here during our visits. Home to many updated and repurposed warehouses, Puerto Madero has a distinctly more upscale and trendy vibe. If you’re looking for a swanky hotel or special-occasion restaurant, this is one part of the city to check out. Considering how overwhelming Buenos Aires can be, we especially enjoy this area for the “breathing room” it provides. Walking along the docks and taking in the evening bustle as the sun sets is a must-do. Plan ahead, though, as metro access is limited.
Many seasoned visitors won’t stay anywhere else in Buenos Aires. Plaza Dorrego, where an outdoor market takes place every weekend, serves as the hub of this romance-oozing barrio. Many of the buildings date back to the 1800s, and have kept their original structures intact. This, along with narrow, cobblestone streets and sidewalk tango dancers, makes San Telmo charm central.
Plaza Serrano in Palermo
This laid-back, largely residential neighborhood has captured our hearts. Segmented further into sub-neighborhoods–Palermo Viejo, Palermo Chico, Palermo Soho, and Palermo Hollywood–it’s known for its boutique hotels and unique cafes, both of which are ideal for people-watching. As runners, we enjoy Palermo’s abundant green space. We’re also fans of its proximity to nightlife and our favorite tango salon. If your time is limited, at least carve out time for a visit to the weekend street fair in Plaza Serrano. Vendors sell a variety of offbeat clothes, jewelry, and other items. After strolling the booths, settle in at one of the nearby cafes.
This is where you head for the best hotels and to get a little taste of Paris in Buenos Aires. A top Buenos Aires attraction, the Recoleta Cemetery (home to Evita’s grave), likely will ensure that a visit to this barrio is part of your itinerary. Don’t pass up the opportunity to roam the streets, where you can spy French-inspired buildings and boutiques.
An abundance of colorful buildings make this the Buenos Aires that you often see represented in pictures. Photography fanatics find it hard to resist the Caminito. This street, known for inspiring a tango of the same name. can get quite populated with tourists but is definitely worth a stop. Unlike much of the city, this is an area where you probably want to stay on the beaten path.
Viewfinder Tip: The Metro system, while not extensive, will get you to most parts of Buenos Aires.
When we want a more local feel, we head to Belgrano. We always luck out by finding budget eats and inexpensive shopping. If you’re looking for a lower-cost place to stay, this close-in residential neighborhood might fit the bill perfectly.
When we learned that Las Canitas is a foodie haven, it quickly became a second home for us (behind Palermo). Beyond that, though, this barrio offers unique shops and a peaceful setting. Las Canitas also houses the venue for the Argentine Open Polo Championship.
If you are visiting with family, you’ll want to visit Abasto. Home to the large Abasto Shopping Center and a children’s museum, this neighborhood is commonly linked with singer Carlos Gardel, a tango superstar in the 1920s and ’30s.
No matter which neighborhoods you hit, don’t forget your tango shoes, night-owl attitude, and love for beef. Buenos Aires delivers on all fronts.
What do you look for in a neighborhood when traveling?