What are the best things to see and do in Buenos Aires?

From green spaces to historic buildings, there's plenty to keep travelers occupied while they're getting to know Buenos Aires. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do.
 
1. Casa Rosada. Immortalized in celluloid during the film version of Evita, it's the perfect place to channel your inner Madonna standing on the balcony. Fun fact: This White House of Buenos Aires is pink because the building was originally painted with cow's blood.
 
2. Cemetario Recoleta. The most famous final resting places in Buenos Aires are gathered here, which means this cemetery is worth a visit for those who want to explore the history of the city's biggest families and some of its most well-known residents, including Mrs. Perón.
 
3. Cemetario Chacarita. Though it's not as well-known as Recoleta, this cemetery is actually the better bet if you're choosing between the two; its scale and the tombs of Argentine luminaries such as tango god Carlos Gardel, whose life-size bronze statue still prompts female fans to climb up and hug it on occasion, make it well worth a visit.
 
4. Xul Solar House. The former residence of Argentina's answer to Salvador Dalí, this is a great place to see Solar's work, as well as comb through his personal effects. Informative, engaging and a great choice for art buffs, it's a perfect choice on hot days due to its powerful air conditioning.
 
5. Reserva Ecologica del Sur. On a sunny day, there's nowhere better to be — especially if you have one of the city's free bicycles in hand. Opt for a picnic, people-watch or work on your tan alongside the locals who flock here to worship the sun during the warm months.

  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best things to do with kids in Buenos Aires?

    One of Buenos Aires’ best assets is its park system, which teems with people playing sports, strumming instruments, relaxing and exercising, particularly on weekends. The Parque de los Bosques and the Rosedal (a stunning natural palette of colors when the roses are in bloom) are favorites, and people can rent bikes, rollerblades and paddleboats. The Ecological Reserve in Puerto Madero is another favorite place to spend the day outdoors.

    The Buenos Aires Zoo near Plaza Italia is a big hit with families, whether locals or tourists. And this being South America where the rules are generally more relaxed, kids will get a thrill out of how seemingly close they can get to the animals. For indoors activities, there is a hands-on, interactive Children’s Museum in the Abasto neighborhood, as well as the Museum of Natural Sciences with the requisite dinosaurs on display to please the niños.

    For sports-loving children, the city is alive with activity. It is easy to catch a soccer matches in the parks throughout the city—though attending a Boca or River match, for example might not be advisable for safety concerns—and there also is the Boca Juniors stadium, which visitors can tour. During the spring and summer months polo is regularly on, and rugby matches happen every weekend all over the city during all seasons except summer.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in Buenos Aires?

    Leather goods make popular mementos from Argentina, whether a pair of custom-made boots, a designer handbag or a cowhide wallet. Such products are available throughout the city, from the San Telmo fair on every Sunday to boutiques in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood.

    A mate gourd and straw is another option for a uniquely local souvenir. Mate is the caffeinated, loose-leaf tea Argentines drink all day every day, often in communal groups, such as at the park. The gear for consuming the tea is a gourd, often made from a carved-out pumpkin, and a silver straw. They are widely available, including at the San Telmo fair or Plaza Francia weekend market in Recoleta, and come decorated with leather as well as embossed or carved with images of Buenos Aires and Argentina.

    Many people often seek out that perfect bottle of wine or fernet to bring back and share with friends. Keep in mind Argentina enthusiastically exports much of its wine, so the best bottles are likely available near home, too. Fernet also is available outside Argentina, though it is sold for significantly cheaper in Argentina. 

    One tasty souvenir not as readily available outside the country is Argentine dulce de leche, which is like a creamier version of caramel. If Argentina had a national flavor, this would be it, because dulce de leche is incorporated into just about every popular dessert in the country. Dulce de leche is sold in buckets of varying sizes in any supermarket in Buenos Aires, as well as at more gourmet food stores.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Buenos Aires?

    Buenos Aires is a tirelessly lively city offering countless activities for those of all ages and interests and at all times of day. The number one must-see place is the Recoleta Cemetery, so the one must-do activity is taking time to aimlessly wander its hushed rows. With larger-than-life, ornately carved mausoleums and a roster of who’s who of all of Argentina’s most powerful through history, there is always more to see.

    The cemetery is only open during daytime hours, and for obvious reasons it is best to visit when the sun is shining. While the cemetery would impress even someone uninterested in a history lesson, it is most rewarding to learn a little along the way, whether with a self-guided tour or group one.
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  • On June 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best museums in Buenos Aires?

    MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires)
    This is one leading museums of Latin American art in the world, featuring work culled from the 19th and 20th centuries. Contemporary exhibitions from high-profile artists complement what is on display from the permanent collection. Even the area where this museum is situated is worth visiting, which includes leafy parks and Belle Epoque mansions that now house embassies.

    Museo Evita
    The ornate building once served as a foundation and home for single mothers, and it now pays homage to the life of Argentina’s most famous first lady Eva (or Evita) Perón. A number of Evita’s designer outfits are on display, and this is what most people come wanting to see. Schedule a visit around breakfast or lunch: is a restaurant that operates indoors as well as on an attractive terrace on the ground floor.

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
    This museum sits near some of Buenos Aire’s marquee sights in the Recoleta neighborhood, including the Recoleta Cemetery and Alvear Palace Hotel. Inside are more than 20 galleries containing a collection of European and Argentine art, the latter of which is the largest collection in the world.

    Fundación Proa
    There is more drawing tourists to La Boca than the colorful El Caminito, and it is this modern art museum. Artistic types and the culturally curious are drawn to see what is on inside the whitewashed building, which sits at the edge of the water. An outdoor café operates on the roof, offering lunch with a view.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best wine bars in Buenos Aires?

    Despite its standing as the capital of a country world-renowned for its wines, Buenos Aires has surprisingly few wine bars. Sure, you can uncork a great bottle at any corner parrilla (steakhouse) or even café, but when it comes to sitting down and ordering by the glass, options are scarcer. That said, there are some stellar wine bars, which double as the perfect place to school yourself (or learn with the help of a sommelier) about the tastiest varietals from Argentina.

    The most stunning setting goes to the wine bar at the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, which, as its name implies, is palatial and offers top wines befitting of the grandeur. There also is Bar du Marché, which has one of the widest selections of wines by the glass (and all the artisanal cheese pairings to be desired) and La Cava de Jufré in they city’s up-and-coming Villa Crespo neighborhood. Aldo’s in San Telmo, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, offers page after page of wines, as well as wine flights. Gran Bar Danzon in Recoleta, which is both a happening restaurant and nightlife destination, also has a robust wine list, which the restaurant’s sommelier can help you navigate.
  • On June 7, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the best places to stay in Buenos Aires?

    1. Alvear Palace Hotel. The regal grand-dame of the Recoleta district is the place where Presidents and visiting dignitaries go when they want to spend the night in this vibrant city. The display of flags in the front of this five star establishment welcome all nationalities into the opulent, old-world hotel built of marble and accented in gold and rich tapestries. The hotel also boasts one of the best spas in the city.

    2. Park Hyatt Palace Duhau. Another regal, modern palace of an establishment, this hotel nestled on in the heart of Recoleta is private and urban, with the rich chic of glorious palatial facade and grounds to match. Rooms are decorated tastefully with timeless antiques, and the spa is second to none.

    3. Four Seasons Buenos Aires. A stay at the Four Seasons is impeccable no matter where you go. At the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires, you'll find luxury and comfort, along with an old world beauty that is at once elegant as it is comforting. Well-located in the Recoleta close to shops and restaurants. 

    4. Faena Hotel + Universe. Step into the otherworldly opulence of Philippe Starck's design genius, where everything is grand and striking. Bright white, mirrors, rich purples, a sultry tango hall, a fabulous pool. Faena is both a hotel and it's own universe, a place where you can take respite from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires and languish the day away in its stunning splendor. 
  • On June 7, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the five best food experiences in Buenos Aires?

    1. Visit an authentic parrilla. Eating at a bona-fide parilla is inevitable, and necessary, if you visit Buenos Aires. Parrilla is the word for an authentic Argentinian grill. Meats -- ojo de bife, bife de chorizo, lomo, costillas, chorizo -- all different cuts meat are grilled under a charcoal grill. Some of the best experiences in Buenos Aires can be found at La Cabrera in Palermo Soho, or Cabana las Lilas in Puerto Madero district. 

    2. Duhau Restaurant & Vinoteca. For a five-star experience into the world of fine dining, look no further than the regal restaurant located inside the Park Hyatt Palace Duhua, in the posh Recoleta district. Whether it's a scrumptious lunch with impeccable service or an intimate dinner date, they strive to serve and please, and most assuredly succeed.

    3. Empanadas. There are foodies devoted to finding the best empanadas in the city. Filled with meat (carne), humita (corn), pollo (chicken), or jamon y queso (ham and cheese), Argentinian empanadas, essentially baked pies stuffed with savory fillings) are simply delicious. A good place to try this Argentinian street food is at Cumana in the Recoleta district. 

    4. Choripan. The equivalent of the American hot dog. Argentinian chorizo are thicker and more flavorful. You can get them spicy or non spicy, but the best versions are found on the street early in the day during lunch, at the local bus station or in touristy areas like San Telmo or La Boca. Cheap street food, they are some of the tastiest, bites you won't want to miss.

    5. Helado (ice cream). The ice cream in Buenos Aires is some of the best you'll find in the world, period. The dense, slightly chewy texture of the creamy milk-based dessert is fashioned after the Italian gelato. The best flavor you'll ever taste is the dulce de leche, a caramelized milk cream. Get it with chocolate brownies, or granizado for chocolate chips. Ice cream is a strong part of the culture of Buenos Aires and can be found literally everywhere.  Outlets like Freddo, Volta, Persicco have multiple locations and are good, but visit an artisanal location to experience the best: Cadore in Centro, Fratello in Palermo, or Furchi in Belgrano.

  • On June 2, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best luxury hotels in Buenos Aires?

    The opulent Alvear Palace Hotel is the standard-bearer of luxury hotels in the Buenos Aires and also one of the city's most historic. The property also includes two of the finest restaurants in the city: L’Orangerie and La Bourgogne. Also in elegant Recoleta is the Algodon Mansion, an aristocratic hotel housed in a former mansion where guests are tended to with a private concierge and butler. Edging closer to 9 de Julio in Recoleta are the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau and Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, both of which incorporate restored mansions in the properties and offer the genteel accommodations expected of their names.

    A contemporary contrast of elegance of Recoleta is the otherworldy Faena Hotel designed by Philippe Starck, which is a favorite among visiting celebrities and anchors empresario Alan Faena’s Faena Arts District in Buenos Aires’ newest neighborhood, sleek Puerto Madero. Another option is the boutique property Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood with spacious, comfortable rooms and an onsite restaurant Hernan Gipponi, one of the city’s top restaurants.
  • On June 2, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best festivals in Buenos Aires?

    Buenos Aires has a lively arts and culture scene and its calendar is studded with a number of highly anticipated annual events. Below are some of the city's standout festivals.

    Buenos Aires International Film Festival (BAFICI): April
    Buenos Aires is home to an impressive film industry. (Fun fact: The Palermo Hollywood neighborhood name was inspired by the concentration of production companies in the zone.) This annual 10-day film festival features independent flicks with a strong showing from local talent.

    International Book Festival (Feria Internacional del Libro): April- May
    The land of Borges and Cortázar puts on Latin America’s largest book fair that includes readings, signings and lectures and stretches over three weeks.

    arteBA: May
    The contemporary art fair, which brings together the works of more than 500 artists and displays from more than 80 galleries, is one of the most influential in Latin America.

    Buenos Aires Tango Festival: August
    Buenos Aires is the world’s tango capital, and this is the grandest tango festival. The nine days include performances, classes, competitions and more. Shortly after in late August, the World Tango Championships play out across stages in the city.

    Polo Open: Weekends November-December
    People are crazy about soccer, but polo also is a widely played and avidly followed sport. This is the sport’s crowning event and a chance to see some of the best players and teams in the world compete.

    Fashion Buenos Aires: March & September
    The twice-yearly fashion week events in Buenos Aires gather all of the stylish and beautiful in one place. In addition to runway shows, associated nightlife events are thrown throughout the city.
  • On June 2, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What should I pack for a trip to Buenos Aires?

    Buenos Aires’ neighborhoods are best explored on foot, so pack accordingly. While comfort is likely a priority for touring around, this is a stylish city and locals get decked out even for their daily errands. Outfits that include running shoes and sweats, for example, are obvious signs of a tourist. Layers also are wise, because even at the peak of summer and winter temperatures can vary drastically day-to-day.

    While Argentines love to look their best and outfitted in all the au courant styles, you will want to leave your nicest bags and jewelry at home. Petty crime is unfortunately prevalent throughout the city, and opportunist filchers tend to have their eyes out for tourists, though locals often also are victims. Keep cameras and electronics close. Also, pack adapters and converters for 220 volts and the straight, rounded as well as angled prongs. (Argentina has two outlet shapes, each commonly found.) Should you forget, adapters can be purchased from street vendors and stores throughout the city.
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