Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a fascinating city and one of the top destinations in the world. A beautiful place bubbling with Latin spirit but deeply rooted in European history and architecture. Its streets, a mixture of wide, majestic boulevards and quaint cobbled alleyways, are a pleasure to stroll around. Indeed, you could easily spend a week in Buenos Aires just wandering the barrios (neighbourhoods). There is, however, so much to see and do in Argentina’s capital. Using my experience of this great city here is my personal Top 10 things to do in Buenos Aires:
1. Visit La Boca
You cannot leave Buenos Aires without taking a stroll down the colourful street of Caminito in La Boca. Here the houses are painted in different bright colours and artists sell their wares along the street. The area retains a strong European flavour, inspired by the Genovese immigrants who first settled there. The bohemian neighbourhood is also home to many tango clubs, Italian taverns and the Boca Juniors football club.
2. Experience Argentinian football fever
Argentinians are crazy about football and since more than half of Argentina’s top football teams are based in Buenos Aires, the passion here is tangible and intense. The country’s most successful teams are the Boca Juniors and River Plate and if you are lucky enough to be in town when they play you won’t regret buying a ticket. The Boca museum (located in their stadium, La Bombonera) is also worth a visit and here you can read about the clubs history, watch a video of Maradona’s best bits and touch some replica trophies, including the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League.
3. Fill up on Dulche de Leche
Some things taste so good you know they must be bad for you. Dulche de Leche is one of them and in Buenos Aires the stuff is everywhere. It tastes a lot like caramelised condensed milk, but much tastier. It’s sweet, sticky and amazing. Try it as a breakfast spread in the spirit of marmalade or strawberry jam.
4. See some tango
Nothing encapsulates the sexy, sultry spirit of Latin America quite like tango. Argentinians and Uruguayans could argue for weeks about who invented the dance, but what is certain is that it emerged from somewhere on the banks of the River Plate in the 19th Century and soon spread all over the world. You can’t go far in Buenos Aires without stumbling across a tango show but for a high concentration of tango dancers and memorabilia try La Boca district, San Telmo (the oldest neighbourhood) or the tourist hot spot Florida Street. Most Tango shows charge an entry fee, but some restaurants employ dancers to entertain you as you eat.
5. Visit Recoleta Cemetery
A huge number of Argentina’s rich, famous and aristocratic citizens, including Eva Perón (Evita), are buried in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. But don’t for a second think this is anything like any cemetery you have ever been to before. Recoleta is more like a neo-classical neighbourhood of the dead, laid out in blocks like an ancient city. Expect elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues and brass and bronze plaques. It is quite something.
6. Take a boat ride to Colonia del Sacramento
Situated, as it is, on the south bank of the River Plate, Buenos Aires is not far at all from Colonia del Sacramento, the oldest town in Uruguay and another example of Europe’s colonial legacy in South America. Hop on a ferry from BA’s Puerto Madero and you’re there in an hour or so. Visiting Colonia’s historic walled quarter is like stepping back 70 years in time. Classic 1940s Cadillacs sit at the side of the cobbled roads, outside whitewashed houses which have been turned into excellent restaurants, cafes and craft shops. It also boasts a beautiful beach and a great 19th Century lighthouse.
7. Eat Guerrin pizza
The food in Argentina is, like much of the rest of the place, quite European – think hot dogs, burgers, steak. A treat they do particularly well is pizza (though, of course, pizza is an American invention). One of the finest places to get a slice in Buenos Aires is Pizzeria Güerrin on Avenida Corrientes. It’s a favourite with the locals, many of whom pack the place out by standing to avoid paying for a seat. Slices of delicious pizza are around 50p and a whole pizza just a few pounds.
8. Visit Plaza de Mayo
There are many grand squares in Buenos Aires, but perhaps the most famous is Plaza de Mayo, named after the revolution of May 1810 that led to independence in 1816. It is also the scene of many of Eva Perón’s famous speeches. Surrounding the square there are a number of landmarks famous in their own right, including the Casa Rosada (the office of the President and the seat of government) and the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral (in photo above).
9. Dance the night away
They know how to party in Buenos Aires. It is one of the coolest cities in South America, with innumerable bars and clubs staying open until the small hours of the morning. In fact, most bars don’t open until about midnight, and clubs until 2am. Then, after several hours of dancing and singing, party goers stumble out into the morning light and head off to cafes for breakfast.
10. See the Obelisco
Avenida 9 de Julio is a huge road cutting right through the heart of Buenos Aires, at the centre of which stands el Obelisco, an impressive 70-metre monument which stands at the site where the Argentine flag was first raised in Buenos Aires. It is a popular spot for sports fans to celebrate victories, particularly those of the national football team, La Albiceleste.Written by Paul Joseph. Paul is a London-based writer and a published author. He has written for the Independent newspaper and FourFourTwomagazine as well as help produce giant-sized, limited-edition books on subjects as diverse as Pele, luxury yachts, New York and Pink Floyd. Paul’s published book is Arsenal:A nostalgic look at the century of the club and he is currently writing a book called “Vanishing London” on his home city. You can see his Amazon profile here.