This is a guest post by Hillary Merwin of I lift my eyes up.
All you need is a map and three days, and you can experience one of the most spectacular cities in South America: Buenos Aires, Argentina!
Although it is the second-largest metropolitan city in all of South America, Buenos Aires is surprisingly navigable, which is a good thing because there’s too much to see to waste time getting lost! Thankfully the grid-patterned streets combined with inexpensive public transportation (a bus ride to anywhere for 30 cents!), make traveling through the streets of Buenos Aires fairly easy. And with almost 80 square miles to cover and places like the Tigre River, the Obelisko, and the famed Plaza de Mayo to see, every second counts!
So you only have 3 days? No problem!
As you probably wouldn’t be able to see everything in Buenos Aires within a year’s time anyway, why not pack your adventures into a weekend where losing only three nights of sleep won’t have any long-term consequences?
Did I mention Buenos Aires is known for its nightlife?
Although there are plenty of things to do in Buenos Aires, here is how you can experience the excitement and charm of the city in just three days:
10:00 – 11:30 El Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca
Start the day off in one of the most photographed places in Buenos Aires. The neighborhood of La Boca is home to the famously colorful street called El Caminito. This tourist magnet draws people from all over for its whimsically multi-colored buildings and tango-themed atmosphere complete with tango dancers who are more than willing to take a picture with you in an authentic pose. The street is also lined with artists selling their equally colorful work that complements the vibrant nature of the architecture.
11:30 – 12:00 La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors Stadium
You can’t visit this country without learning about Argentina’s obsession with soccer (or fútbol, as they call it). Buenos Aires alone has 22 soccer clubs, each generating enough loyalty and pride from their fans to rival that of the national team! One of the most successful clubs is called Boca Juniors and their stadium, La Bombonera, is only a five-minute walk from El Caminito. As long as a game is not going on, it’s easy to sneak a peak inside the stadium and get a taste for just how crazy Argentina is about this sport!
12:00 – 1:30 Lunchtime at El Obrero
What better way to start Day One than with some authentic Argentine cuisine? While the district of La Boca transforms into a less than inviting neighborhood when the sun goes down, lunchtime is the perfect time of day to get a taste of this restaurant also coined as a favorite eatery of U2’s frontman Bono. El Obrero is reasonably priced and a great place to order a steak, as Argentina is best known for their quality of meat.
A fun fact about Argentina is that no one will rush you through a meal. Allow about an hour to an hour and a half for mealtimes as a way of relaxing and soaking in the slower-paced culture of South America. In fact, the waiter will never bring you the check unless you ask him specifically! Talk about a relaxing lunch!
1:30 – 3:00 Visit the famed Recoleta Cemetery
Next up on the agenda, grab a cab or take a bus to the Recoleta Cemetery. This is no ordinary cemetery as the above ground mausoleums of notable people like Eva Perón, Jorge Luis Borges, several Argentine presidents and hundreds more, construct a network of city-like streets and stunning architecture. Here you can either take a free, guided tour with a tour guide or simply make your way through this faux city rich with the history of those who have gone before us.
3:00 – 4:30 Recoleta Artisan Fair
Just outside the cemetery walls is an impressive outdoor artisan fair. Make sure to visit on a Saturday or Sunday, as these are the only days the fair is in operation. Here, hundreds of venders bring their hand-made goods to be sold. It’s a great place to practice your bargaining skills—just make sure you don’t let the vendors see your pocket full of pesos!
4:30 – 5:30 Café con Leche and Alfajores
Now it’s time to relax. La merienda literally translates to “snack” in English and is a time in the late afternoon to get together with family or friends over a cup of coffee and a sweet treat. La merienda is meant to hold you over until the typical 9 o’clock dinnertime so don’t miss out on it! There are rows and rows of cafes to choose from right next to the cemetery and artisan fair so hop on over to one and order a cup of café con leche and an alfajor. Alfajores are delicious treats that come in many forms and flavors but are typically chocolate-covered desserts with two savory cookies sandwiching the caramel-like dulce de leche.
5:30 – 7:00 Take a guided tour of the Evita Museum
Once you’ve finished your café con leche, take a 5-minute cab ride to the Evita Museum located in the nearby Palermo neighborhood and reserve a spot for their last tour of the day. This historic building used to be one of the homes of Juan and Eva Perón. The museum is expertly designed to take you through the life and death of the famous Argentine leader as you simultaneously make your way through each room of her former home. You will see everything from her most famous outfits on display to hearing actual audio clips of her last words to her people before passing away.
7:00 – 8:30 Take a siesta at your hotel
This may seem like an odd activity at 7pm but it’s natural for many South Americans to rest up before the dinner hour in order to enjoy all the late night entertainment.
8:30 – 12:00 Dinner and Tango Show at the Esquina Carlos Gardel
Dinner runs from 8:30 to 10:30 with the show lasting an hour and a half until midnight. While this would be your priciest night out, it’s completely worth the splurge as the tango is an integral part of Argentine culture. Here you can enjoy a gourmet dinner and, over unlimited drinks, observe the elegant and passionate dance that Argentina made famous.
9:00 – 11:00 Take the Tren de la Costa to the Tigre River
Saturday is the day to take a break from the bustle of the city. With constant traffic and a steady flow of strangers buzzing through the streets, it’s nice to breathe a bit of fresh air. The perfect destination to take advantage of this day is a pleasant train ride to the Tigre River. The train station is about a 50-minute bus ride outside the city but this trip can be easily achieved by taking the 152 bus up Santa Fe, which brings you directly to the station, for about 30 cents. The train runs every 30 minutes which allows you to hop off at any of the 11 unique stations to explore and then use your same to ticket to get back on the next train. The final destination of the Tren de la Costa is conveniently the Tigre River.
11:00 – 8:00 Explore the Tigre River on your own time
There’s so much to do at the Tigre River that you can go at your own pace. Here are some things not to miss out on:
- Take a boat tour through the islands—Venture farther away from the entrance to the Tigre to get the best deals on boat tours. Then enjoy a relaxing boat ride through the surrounding islands, observing the quaint yet quirky homes on the water and even wave to some of the locals who live there!
- Go solo by renting a kayak—Feeling adventurous? Rent your own kayak and weave your way through the river.
- Museo de Arte Tigre—This beautiful museum sits right on the edge of the water, offering exquisite views both inside and out.
- Take advantage of the inexpensive theme park—The Parque de la Costa boasts cheap entrance fees but legitimate roller coasters and other amusement park rides.
- Don’t miss out on trying mate!—You can’t leave Argentina without trying their famous drink. Mate is a bitter tea that most Argentines drink religiously and is accompanied by its own rich history and set of customs. At the Museo del Mate you can take a tour through mate’s history and finish the day by trying your own mate at the adjoining restaurant.
Allow yourself enough time to get back to the main city as you will use your two-way ticket to take the train home and catch another bus back to the center of Buenos Aires.
9:30 – 11:00 Enjoy pizza and empanadas at El Cuartito
This neighborhood restaurant in Recoleta is a great place to unwind over pizza and empanadas. Empanadas are delicious pastries stuffed with fillings ranging from meat to onions and cheese. They are good enough to stand alone as a meal (if you order 3 or 4, that is).
11:00pm – ? Explore the nightlife of Buenos Aires
If you’re feeling up to it, check out Buenos Aires’s nightlife scene—it’s truly a sight to see. Most folks don’t go out until 1am and many of the clubs aren’t full until 3am. If you feel like grabbing a cab, you can venture to the Palermo Soho district to Plaza Serrano. Bars and restaurants surround the plaza so you can take your pick. Either sit outside and enjoy the electric atmosphere of the twinkling lights strung up between each venue or join the crowds inside.
If your energy is low and you would rather sit in quiet conversation while enjoying a few drinks, head on over to the unique Tú Sabes Mi Nombre (“You Know My Name”) bar in the Recoleta District. This hidden bar (only recognized by the narrow staircase opening to the street and the bouncer standing outside) has no cover and is known for its music. The bar is comprised of two rooms each filled with an eclectic assortment of TVs that play a constant stream of music videos, old and new.
10:00-10:30 Walk around the Plaza de Mayo
Start off your last day by taking a walk around the historic Plaza de Mayo (easily accessible by the subway).
10:30 – 11:30 Take a free tour of La Casa Rosada
Want to see where the president of Argentina works? Well you can—for free! Overlooking the Plaza de Mayo, this pink building is hard to miss, so grab a ticket at the entrance, take a picture with the guards, and follow your tour guide through an insider’s view of Argentina’s government building.
11:30-1:00 Take a walk through the San Telmo Street Fair
After you exit La Casa Rosada, take a left on the first street you see and you’ve entered the San Telmo Street Fair. This popular event stretches for at least a mile where you can lose yourself in perusing through the eclectic items on sale.
1:00 – 2:30 Eat lunch in the San Telmo district
Take your pick of any of the restaurants that surround the ending point of the street fair.
2:30 – 3:30 Brave the 9th de Julio and witness the Obelisco
Just try walking across this 14-lane street (very close to the San Telmo district) that goes by the name of 9th de Julio. You’ll probably find yourself running for dear life as the traffic light switches sooner than you had hoped. But you’re not alone, as most pedestrians, and even cars, have to zoom across this intersection to make it to the other side in time! Thankfully there’s more to experience at this destination than just the heavy breathing that will inevitably accompany you across the street. The 9th de Julio is the home of the famed Obelisco and also the enormous portrait of Eva Peron on the north wall of the Ministry of Health. Both landmarks are impossible to miss!
3:30 – 5:30 Experience the graffiti and street art of Buenos Aires
Just google “graffiti tours through Buenos Aires” and you will come up with a handful of options to explore this unique facet of the city. The graffiti (also called street art, for the more elaborate works) of Buenos Aires is truly breathtaking and a tour will not only show you the most famous art pieces but also give you insight into the relationship graffiti has with the people of Buenos Aires. You might even get lucky and catch Jaz, Buenos Aires’s famous street artist, painting one of his intricate creations on the walls of the city. Unlike most graffiti artists in the U.S., this man is highly respected and the city allows him and many others the freedom to paint whenever and wherever they want.
What else you need to know
Getting around Buenos Aires is fairly simple if you know what you’re doing. Grab a bus map at the beginning of the trip and do your best to figure out the routes. Also, the buses only take “monedas” so save your coins from any purchases you make or just take the subway if the routes are convenient. But by far the best way to get around is on foot. This way you can take in all this incredible city has to offer at a slower pace. Also keep in mind that this itinerary is based on what I found enjoyable during my stay in Buenos Aires but there are countless other sites to see and cultural havens of the city to experience.
So ¡Buen Viaje! and enjoy your travels!
Hillary Merwin is a senior at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing and Spanish. She speaks English and Spanish. She is most passionate about South America and has traveled to Colombia, Uruguay, and Argentina. You can read more about her travels on her blog, I lift my eyes up.