10 Reasons to Visit Buenos Aires
In addition to the Plaza de Mayo and the Recoleta cemetery, what other attractions should you visit in Buenos Aires? Writer Colin Barraclough shares his suggestions for a visit to Argentina's capital city.
Plaza de Mayo: Argentina’s Political Hub
First laid out in 1580, the Playa de Mayo is dominated by Argentina’s presidential palace, the pink-ochre Casa Rosada. In summer, uniformed grenadier guards conduct guided tours of the palace’s echoing chambers and palm-shaded interior patios. The impressive Banco de la Nación and the recently restored Cabildo, the colonial-era town hall, also front the square.
La Bombonera: Sporting Fervour
Leading soccer side Boca Juniors launched the career of legendary player Diego Maradona and still inspires fanatical devotion. Hours before games, La Bombonera stadium fills with smoke, flares and ticker tape. On non-game days, duck into the Museo de la Pasión Boquense to see the jerseys, trophies and balls that helped build the Boca story.
Feria de Mataderos: City Meets Country
The clattering of hoof on stone and the smoke that rises from innumerable parrilla grills welcome visitors to the Feria de Mataderos, a Sunday morning gaucho-fest, when Buenos Aires opens its arms to the pampa that laps at the city limits. Horsemen steer sturdy criollo mounts to feats of bravura horsemanship, while campo cooks serve up steaming plates of rustic fare.
El Zanjón: Discover the Past
Above ground, little remains from the city’s founding years except the Jesuit-built academy and library at the Manzana de las Luces. Below El Zanjón, however, an 1830s townhouse in San Telmo, archaeologists discovered dwellings, cisterns, creeks and courtyards that trace a timeline of 400 years of urban living.
Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays: Verdant Oasis
Buenos Aires owes its parks, plazas and woods to French-born landscape architect Carlos Thays. Eight thousand varieties of flora represent Argentina’s varied climatic regions at the city’s Botanical Gardens, a green oasis of meandering lanes, fountains and a stylish brick mansion where Thays lived.
Museo Evita: Argentina’s first First Lady
Eva Duarte’s rise from humble origins to First Lady to populist leader Lt. Colonel Juan Domingo Perón is best traced out at Museo Evita where her luxurious gowns are displayed alongside her first paycheck, ID card and other official records.
Palacio Barolo: Groundbreaking Architecture
Eccentric Italian architect Mario Palanti took Dante Aligheri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy as inspiration for his idiosyncratic Palacio Barolo, a concrete-and-steel representation of Dante’s journey. Architectural styles range from Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic to Indian revival.
Recoleta: Historic Cemetery
Extravagant mausoleums to the country’s great and good crowd the paths at Recoleta Cemetery. Locals visit their ancestors’ tombs; foreigners come largely for Evita, who lies beneath her family’s simple crypt (ask for the Duarte sepulchre).
Mate Tea: Argentina’s National Obsession
Argentina’s national drink, the bitter-tasting mate tea, is an infusion of the yerba plant. It’s common to see groups of family or friends clutching mate paraphernalia—a decorated gourd, metal straw, and hot-water flask—in the city’s parks and gardens. Give it a try at folk music venue La Peña del Colorado, where mate is served after performances.
The River Delta at Tigre: Life on the Water
More than 5,000 square miles of islands, divided by canals and tributaries of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, make Tigre and the surrounding river delta a popular retreat from the capital. Motor launches connect waterside restaurants, rowing and fishing clubs.