If your first thought is, “oh no, not a cemetery!” – hold on. The Recoleta Cemetery is something quite distinctive. A maze of early 20th century tombs that stand above ground in tiny little stone houses or miniature churches, the cemetery holds an astonishing 6,400 statues, many of which were hand-carved and brought over from Italy. Supposedly, it’s haunted. Also, Evita Peron is buried here. Visitor information can be found here.
Buenos Aires’ ecological reserve, the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve (Costanera for short), offers a flora-filled walk along the river that, depending on the time of year, can be full of butterflies. As you walk you will be looking out at a river, not a sea, although from a distance it does look like the sea. No crashing waves, just tranquil shores and cool plants. If you’re big into nature, try to ignore the skyscrapers in the background of the 865-acre reserve, or simply start planning your trip to Patagonia. There are numerous food stands around the Costanera praised by locals, so don’t be shy and try a choripán. Find more information on visiting the ecological reserve here.
El Caminito is a colorful street museum in the historically Italian stronghold of La Boca. Meaning little street, the brightly-painted walkway is a lesson in the life and history of the early immigrant Italian community in Argentina. What began as an independent collaboration between artist Benito Quinquela Martín and the local community in the 1950s is now a major tourist attraction showcasing the work of numerous local artists. More information is available here.
National Museum of Fine Arts
The fine arts museum Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is a must-see because it contains the largest public art collection in Latin America. It also boasts a surprisingly robust collection of European impressionists. If the visit leaves you hungry for more art, check out this list of the best museums in the city.
The Sunday fair in San Telmo
The Sunday Fair in San Telmo is always packed for a reason: it’s tons of fun! Brimming with antiques, vintage clothing, handmade craft items, local artists, tango musicians and street food, the market lasts most of the day in the city’s cosmopolitan San Telmo neighborhood. Whether you’re souvenir hunting or just looking to soak in some local color, the Sunday fair is a must-go. Directions, hours and other information can be found here.
San Telmo Sunday Fair, Defensa 1098, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +55 11 3181 5188
Palacio Barolo is a mammoth work of architecture located in Buenos Aires’ historic city center. Based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and built by an Italian immigrant, the 1923 building’s rooftop (accessed by tour only) gives you an incredible panoramic view of the city. There’s also a lighthouse viewable all the way in Uruguay. The palace is exactly 100 meters (330 feet) high, one meter for each of the 100 cantos in the Divine Comedy. Classy! For more information go here.
Palacio Barolo, Av. de Mayo 1370, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4381 1885
Polo is a hugely popular sport in Argentina. Matches tend to sell out quickly, in which case your other option is Argentina Polo Day. Their events – full day, half-day or nighttime – involve a polo match, lectures on the history of polo in the country, empanadas, and wine. Pretty Argentine! Check it out here.
The Water Company Palace
An imposing brick edifice taking up an entire city block, the water company palace in Buenos Aires is one of the most striking buildings in the city. Completed in 1894, the 300,000 bricks making up the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes were brought over over from Britain. The palace is located in the city’s elegant Recoleta neighborhood. More information and tour details are available here.
Palacio de Aguas Corrientes, Riobamba 750, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 6319 1104
You’re in a new hemisphere, so you should definitely check out the celestial change-up with a visit to the Jetsons-style Planetarium in Palermo. Currently closed for reconstruction, the space museum offers video tours of the night sky and other astrological events. Keep tabs on its reopening here.
Planetarium, Av. Sarmiento, 1425 Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4771 6629
Manzana de las Luces
There’s a network of tunnels underneath Buenos Aires you can explore. The Manzana de las Luces, or “Block of the Lights,” was a project of uncertain intent carried out by the Jesuits. The city offers tours; check the times and get other details here.
Manzana de las Luces, Perú 272, 1067 Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4343 3260
The Rose Garden in Palermo Park
If you’re visiting in October, November, March or April, head directly to the city’s beautiful rose garden in Palermo, which is so picturesque it looks like something out of a painting by Monet. If not, the Botantical Gardens are lovely year-round, as is the Japanese Tea Garden.
The Chinese community first started arriving in Argentina en masse in the 1980s, and since settled in various areas, the most notable being the northern Chinatown neighborhood. Barrio Chino, as it is called, starts with a large decorative arch, which you walk through to find several streets filled with shops and Asian restaurants. If you’re looking for a little something different to do, Barrio Chino is the place for you. More information is available here.
Sports fans can’t come to Buenos Aires without visiting Maradona’s old stomping grounds. The Estadio Alberto J. Armando, home to the Boca Juniors team, is nicknamed the Chocolate Box (La Bombonera) for its distinctive size and shape. A tour of the stadium comes with a visit to the adjoining Museo de la Pasión Boquense, or The Museum of the Passion For All Things Boca, which is located in the neighborhood of La Boca.
Buenos Aires’ gorgeous opera house is just as grand – if not more so – on the inside. It’s well worth catching a show here, or just taking a guided tour to get a peek inside. The tour will also give you a deeper understanding of Teatro Colón’s historic role as the leading cultural icon of the city. More information is available here.
Teatro Colón, Cerrito 628, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4378 7100
Take a bus tour and see it all
Buenos Aires’ hop-on, hop-off tourist bus will take in many of the sights mentioned here. So if you’re too busy drinking wine and going to asados to do everything on this list individually, hop on the bus for a sweet sight-seeing afternoon.