What to Do With Kids in Buenos Aires
An insider’s guide to the top family vacation to-dos in Argentina’s capital city.
One of South America’s largest cities, Buenos Aires pulses with life. Your family will be mesmerized by the Argentine capital of three million, famed for its polo, wine, helado (ice cream), asado (barbecue), fútbol (soccer), 6-hectare (14-acre) cemetery and passionate tango.
Here’s our insider’s list of the top things to do, eat, see and experience with the kids in Buenos Aires:
- San Telmo neighborhood. This historic area is not too touristy and boasts great Parisian architecture. It’s got a nice, laidback vibe and easy access from the Subte (subway). There are several interesting museums to explore, including one focused on penitentiaries, cafés, restaurants, plazas, parks and shops. On weekends, tango dancers perform live at Plaza Dorrego, surrounded by eclectic boutiques (the kids can pick up a signature Buenos Aires hat here).
- San Telmo market. This covered market houses an astonishing array of intriguing antiques and vintage finds. Even if you aren’t in a shopping mood, the space itself is wonderfully retro.
- Helado. Eat as much ice cream as possible while you are in Buenos Aires! It’s delicious: rich, natural, and comes in intriguing flavors. Try tuna (from a cactus), dulce de leche (caramel), frutilla (strawberry) and Crema Americana (a light and creamy vanilla). At some places you can find wine ice creams—certainly worth sampling. Park yourselves at a café and watch the stylish porteños (urbanites) pass by. This place in San Telmo is cozy and swirls the ice cream to a peak about 15 centimetres (6 inches) high.
- El Zanjón. A fascinating private museum, it’s set in an 1830s wealthy family’s manor on the site of the city’s original settlement in 1536, and later tenements. A millionaire purchased the sprawling brick house planning to renovate it into a restaurant, then discovered the network of original tunnels underneath. The intimate tour of the tunnels is riveting. The museum is financed by corporate events and private parties in the high-ceilinged space, which has been tastefully and carefully restored.
- Tango. Locals say the show at La Ventana, in San Telmo, is less touristy and more authentic than most. The dancing is exhilarating and sensual. The multihour performance includes a showcase of chamamé, a spirited folk dance/music genre from Northeast Argentina. This is a perfect mom and dads’ date night out or suitable for tweens and teens. (Better for little kids are the outdoor performances at Plaza Dorrego.)
Tip: Forego the Ventana pre-show meal for dinner instead at nearby at Aldo’s wine bar. Consider booking a wine dinner with the sommelier. The flavourful ojo de bife beef melts in your mouth like butter.
- The other Malbec. Try some of Argentina’s lesser-known wines: fruity torrontés (white) and reds—Tannat, from nearby Uruguay—and Cabernet Sauvignon from Cafayate (Salta). Pair with empanadas, Salta-style!
- Leather. Buy leather goods. The leather in Buenos Aires is one-of-a-kind. Check out the polo gear and equestrian get-up, and take home some buffalo or carpincho (capybara, the world’s largest rodent found in the estuaries of Northeast Argentina) boots at Arandu.
- Puerto Madero. Stroll the tony Puerto Madero area on the Rio de la Plata riverbank, which is also a great place for little ones to run and blow off steam. The most expensive real estate in Buenos Aires, this area is a series of stylish brick warehouses on the water. A vintage ship is also parked here. Pick up lunch at iCentral market. Argentina’s wealthiest woman, Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, has an interesting art collection here at the Fortabat Art Collection.
- Cementerio de la Recoleta. Memorable, and mind-blowing, the cemetery is made up of nearly 5,000 above-ground burial vaults. Hushed and creepy, it’s a mini city of mausoleums and crypts built around the 1880s to 1930s, all laid out in a 6-hectare (14-acre) grid of narrow lanes that you and the kids can wander around and explore. Take your time and let the kids snap some photos.