One of the most important capitals in Latin America, Buenos Aires feels more like a lost European city than one of the jewels of the south. Architectonically closer to Paris than any other city on this side of the world, the Argentine capital is populated by imposing buildings from the early 20th century, and each step on its cobblestone streets feels like a throwback to past decades, as locals, known as porteños, also happen to hold a lot of love for everything retro. A lot of the city’s charm stems from how it’s a little stuck in time. In this Buenos Aires travel guide you will find my choices for the best restaurants in Buenos Aires, best places to stay in Buenos Aires and some exciting things to do in Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is a city of history, parks, cafés and a thriving social and nightlife: it was love at first sight for us! Read all about our lovely Buenos Aires days in my Travel Story post!
Traveling – How to get to Buenos Aires?
There are a lot of international airlines serving the city’s main airport, Ministro Pistarini at Ezeiza, and you can find direct flights to Buenos Aires from many of the major cities in the world, including European capitals like London and Amsterdam , Middle East locations like Dubai and Doha, numerous U.S. cities and even a flight from New Zealand. Many of the flights come from major South American cities, mostly from Brazil, as it’s Argentina’s biggest economic ally.
Keep in mind, however, that Ezeiza Airport is pretty far from downtown Buenos Aires, and it can take about an hour to reach the city. You can do this by hiring a fixed-price taxi (called remis) once you get there, which will take you to your door. There are also cheaper shuttles, but they’ll leave you in a previously defined station, and you’ll have to take either a taxi or public transportation to get to where you’re staying.
There’s another airport in the neighborhood of Palermo, the Aeroparque, which receives flights from Argentine destinations and a few nearby international ones, like Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile.
Living – Best Places to Stay in Buenos Aires
During this trip, we found that the best of the places to stay in Buenos Aires was staying at an Airbnb, and so we rented a small studio apartment in the Recoleta neighborhood. So my choice for the best places to stay in Buenos Aires is simply finding an airbnb! A long-standing upscale neighborhood, this beautiful old area is filled with lovely buildings and landmarks, including the iconic Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of the Argentine First Lady turned pop culture legend, Eva “Evita” Perón. It was also home to personalities like writer Jorge Luis Borges and even Zorro actor Guy Williams!
A traditional centric neighborhood, Recoleta’s old buildings are mixed with beautiful parks and a lot of little cafés and ice cream places. Strangely enough, the area with the biggest nightlife is actually around the cemetery, where you can find a lot of bars and restaurants, a mall and a multiplex cinema. Performance lovers will also be thrilled to go to the Fuerza Bruta show, a few steps away from the cemetery, a theater experience famous all over the world. No wonder this neighborhood definitely falls under my choices for best places to stay in Buenos Aires!
Eating – The Best Restaurants in Buenos Aires
Much like the United States, Argentina is a country of immigrants, and there were numerous waves throughout the 20th century that populated Buenos Aires with flavors from all over the world, particularly Europe. The Italian population and their descendants is the largest one by a large margin, and this peninsula’s cuisine is one of the most popular in the city, so you’ll find delicious pizza places anywhere you look, plus staple dishes like milanesa and gnocchi. There are so many amazing restaurants in Buenos Aires!
Of course, there’s one staple in the Argentine diet that’s famous all over the world: the beef! One of the biggest exporters in the world, you’ll find it hard to find a place where the meat is subpar, and the asado (barbecue) is one of the most popular social experiences in the country.
Once again, you’ll also find plenty of cafés, filled with people reading the newspaper, working or even hanging out with their old friends while having heated discussions about politics, the second national hobby after football. When having coffee, remember to order some facturas, which are delicious local pastries that can be filled with custard, membrillo, chocolate or even dulce de leche.
The neighborhoods with the best restaurants in Buenos Aires are Palermo and San Telmo, but you can find little gems all over the city. There’s also a growing craft beer/fancy burger scene, plus a myriad of other flavors with a lot of gastropubs, so it’s a great city to get your foodie on!
Our Favorite Restaurants in Buenos Aires
Sottovoce – The Italian with a view in Puerto Madero
We made reservations for the Puerto Madero Sottovoce location, right by the river, with a broad terrace that’s perfect during the summer, with great views of this near-futuristic side of town. An upscale experience with Italian flavors, the food and service were great, and the crowd was pretty interesting – a mix of old and young! The panorama was definitely the best point of the evening.
Casa Cruz – The Upscale Culinary Star in Trendy Palermo
In trendy Palermo neighborhood, just a couple blocks away from the popular Plaza Serrano, stands brasserie Casa Cruz. With beautiful and luxurious décor, and a lot of lamps illuminating a somewhat dark ambiance with lots of wood, this was our choice when it came to tasting the famous Argentine beef, and we were not disappointed! Clearly a spot for the jet-set porteño foodies, it’s a restaurant of small and beautiful portions, designed to truly get a taste of each carefully crafted dish.
Barbacoa Parrilla – The Authentic Local one in Recoleta
Sometimes the best experiences is not the most fancy one. Barbacoa Parrilla in Recoleta is one of those. One of the small restaurants in Buenos Aires where you will meat the locals. We just passed by and stayed here among locals all night long. The place is simple, nothing fancy but very cozy and with a lovely relaxed and friendly atmosphere. You have to try out their meat grilled on the open oven, the chimichurri and a glass of Malbec!
Le Blé – The Perfect Brunch & Afternoon Spot
A growing breakfast and brunch chain, we stayed pretty close to one of their Recoleta locations, which gave us a chance to try some of the items in their menu and engage in some serious people-watching! With a boho chic vibe, Le Blé makes it a point to serve beautiful dishes, with a lot of color combinations that are a feast on the eyes as much as they are on the mouth.
Café Tortoni – The Most Famous Café in Town
Located downtown, Café Tortoni is perhaps the most famous café all over Buenos Aires, and certainly one of the most historic. Founded in the mid-19th century and decorated in the style of iconic Parisian cafés like Les Trois Magots, this place was a meeting point for national and international writers during the 19th and 20th century, and people as varied as physicist Alfred Einstein and former Spanish King Juan Carlos I. Nowadays it’s very touristy, but you can definitely still feel the upscale vibe of over a century of history!
Exploring: 7 Things to Do in Buenos Aires
A vibrant and metropolitan city, Buenos Aires has a lot to offer for all kinds of travelers: it’s a city of theaters, culture, wild partying and a big love for food. It’s also a great town for walking, although since it’s very big, you will surely have to take taxis or Ubers at some point to move between the different neighborhoods. Some of the best things to do in Buenos Aires:
1. Sundays at San Telmo
The oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, San Telmo hosts a blocks-long market with the most varied products, from jewelry to beautiful and cheap leather products, plus some really interesting antiques and even a few street tango shows! After you’ve walked around, there are plenty of places to eat and have some wine. You can also visit the old Market, which hosts a lot of eateries, including a café, a raclette restaurant, delicious street-like tacos, and even a great Vietnamese restaurant.
2. Explore Downtown
There are some fantastic areas in the city center that deserve some love. You can easily spend a day here walking around Plaza de Mayo, visit Cementerio de La Recoleta – spooky but beautiful place where you can find tomb of the famous Eva Peron!
3. La Boca – Where Football and Instagram Lovers Meet
La Boca neighborhood – a must for football lovers and nowadays also instagrammers. Here you will find Caminito, the most iconic street in La Boca neighborhood, lined with cute colorful houses next to Bocca Junior’s arena.
4. Enjoy the Many Oases of Buenos Aires
Nature lovers will find a respite in the big city due to the many parks of Buenos Aires. One of the must-visit parks is the Palermo Woods, home to the Rose, Japanese Gardens and the Planetarium. As a result one of the loveliest areas in Buenos Aires. Animal lovers might also enjoy walking around the Costanera Sur, an ecological park in Puerto Madero. Here you can see ducks, local swans and even South American otters. It’s right at the heart of the most modern neighborhood in town.
5. Shopping, Shopping & Shopping
Some of the best areas include Florida Street downtown, with blocks and blocks of stores of all types. There’s also a small outlet area in the Villa Crespo neighborhoods. This is where you can find cheaper versions of upscale local brands like Prüne. Finally, some of the malls where you can find fancier international brands. These include Alto Palermo, Recoleta Mall and the Florida Street old restored building Galerías Pacifico.
However, I liked trendy Palermo the most. This is where you will find the best design boutiques with the latest trends and a lot of unique pieces.
6. Buenos Aires Broadway
If you love theater and can hold your own in Spanish, catch a play at Corrientes Avenue! It’s like New York City’s Broadway or Madrid ’s Gran Vía. This large avenue is filled with plays starring some of the most important local and international actors. There are a few iconic eateries here too, like famous pizzeria Güerrín and the Cadore ice cream place. Hence these have been named among the best in the world.
7. Party all Night Long with the Porteños
Porteños love to party hard every day of the week. Areas like Palermo and the up-and-coming Las Cañitas are filled with nightclubs. These usually have the most people after 1am, which is when locals begin their party nights. There are also a lot of brew pubs in those areas. Mostly in San Telmo, for those who like a more chill ambiance instead of a heavier party scene.
8. Day Tripping
If you have the time, Tigre is a lovely weekend hangout filled with so many of the best things to do in Buenos Aires. It is a pretty town a 50-minute train ride away from Retiro Station, it’s a Delta of different rivers. Therefore perfect if you’re looking for a quiet place to spend a day or two surrounded by nature.
You can also go to Colonia del Sacramento by boat or ferry. (the fastest are about 50 minutes, the slowest, 3 hours). This is a gorgeous little town in Uruguay with enchanting old houses from previous centuries. Hence from the time it was both a Portuguese and Spanish colony, leading to a fascinating and completely unique architecture. With so many things to do in Buenos Aires, you’ll definitely not get bored during your trip!
I made 2 more amazing stops on this trip, I hiked Inca Trail and visited Costa Rica so be sure to check out my blog posts of these. If you have endless wanderlust, you’ll also enjoy reading about the other wonders of the world that I have explored.