The Argentine capital of Buenos Aires is a hotbed of cultural activity. In everything from art and literature to food, nightlife and football, Buenos Aires has something for everyone. We round up the best things to do if you have five days to spend in Buenos Aires.
No doubt you’ll be tired from your flight, so it’s a good idea to take it easy on your first day so that you can acclimatise to your new surroundings. To ease yourself into your porteno experience, why not head to the hip neighbourhood of Palermo Soho? Walk around the leafy streets, popping into the many shops and boutiques that proliferate in the area. Stop for lunch in Ninina Bakery, where you can sample some of their delicious cakes, before heading north to Palermo Hollywood in the afternoon. At drink o’clock you can head to Cerveceria Nacional for a happy hour beer and an empanada, or go to Hache, a cute wine bar, for a happy hour glass of wine and a tasty charcuterie board. If you still have some life left in you, go to Don Julio back in Palermo Soho for some of the best steak of your life, guaranteed.
After your chill day exploring Buenos Aires’s trendier side, why not indulge in a bit of leisurely exercise? Rent a bike from Bici Naranja and take a turn around the city on two wheels. Buenos Aires is surprisingly bike friendly, with hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes helping you to traverse the city in safety. If you want to start in Palermo, you can cycle through the city’s beautiful and immense swathe of parks, the Bosques de Palermo. Check out the Rosedal, the rose garden, and see locals rollerblading and exercising around the big lake. Continue along the impressive Libertador boulevard past the Fine Arts museum and Recoleta’s Plaza Francia, before making your way south until you reach Retiro. You will see the soaring glass skyscrapers of Puerto Madero ahead of you, and you can cross by bike into this upscale neighbourhood, home to diplomats, politicians and the rich and famous. Beyond Puerto Madero you will find the incredible Reserva Ecologica, a nature reserve located on a former dumping ground that was transformed when nature reclaimed its place in the city. For the real Argentine experience, get a choripan from one of the food vendors that line the coast. In the evening, check out the Centro Cultural Kirchner, a cultural centre located in the city’s former 19th century post office building, on your way back to Palermo to drop off the bikes.
Argentina has a fascinating history, and much of this can be appreciated in Buenos Aires’s downtown area. Head to the Plaza de Mayo to check out the Cathedral, Cabildo and Casa Rosada, the city’s main administrative buildings. If you happen to be in the Plaza de Mayo on a Thursday afternoon you might catch the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo marching at 3.30pm. You can then walk down Defensa street into San Telmo, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. Check out the antiques shops that line the street and go bargain hunting in the covered San Telmo market. The market is also a foodie haven, and you can get everything from French pastries to steaming bowls of Vietnamese pho. Continue on towards Parque Lezama, a beautiful park that marks the entry point to La Boca, Buenos Aires’s famous port neighbourhood. See the conventillos, or tenements, with their colourful patchwork of materials, but don’t stray too far from the beaten path, as La Boca is known for being one of the city’s more dangerous neighbourhoods. Check out the amazing murals that grace the streets or head to the Fundacion PROA for some contemporary art. Get a Boca Juniors jersey at the famous Bombonera stadium.
When people visit Buenos Aires, they often use it as an opportunity to tick another country off the list by heading across the water to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. However, your time would be better spent taking a 45 minute train journey outside Buenos Aires to the Parana river delta town of Tigre. This watery oasis couldn’t be further away from the urban metropolis of Buenos Aires in terms of ambience. Time in Tigre is slower, and this charming town is filled with cute cafes, shops, galleries and antique shops. Get a water taxi to take you around the islands, and hop off for lunch at one of the many restaurants located within the rustic waterworld. If you have any energy left by the time you get back in the evening, check out some of the bars in Palermo or San Telmo, depending on where you are staying.
If you don’t check out some tango while you are in Buenos Aires, you will not really have visited Argentina. Your last day in Buenos Aires can be spent wandering through the MALBA, one of Latin America’s most important art institutions. If you missed the Fine Arts museum on your bike ride on Day 02, stroll through the parks and the French-style neighbourhood between the two museums in Barrio Norte before perusing the many famous artworks held within the Fine Arts museum. In the evening, check out either a tango show or a milonga. A tango show is more like going to the theatre, where you will get a three course meal with endless wine and delicious steak, followed by a professional tango performance on the stage in front. If you want a more low key and less touristy tango experience, why not check out a milonga. A great option for tourists is La Catedral in Almagro, or you can go to the tango show at Esquina Carlos Gardel, located in the same neighbourhood.