Buenos Aires is Argentina’s big, cosmopolitan capital city. It is the most visited city in South America and one to include when discovering dream locations.
As a top tourist destination, it is known for its preserved Spanish and European style architecture and quite rich cultural life. The city is divided into numerous neighborhoods or barrios. Some of the most popular with tourist are in central Buenos Aires and those next to the Rio de Plata’s coast. They are San Nicolas, Monserrat, San Telmo, Puerto Madero, La Boca, Retiro, Recoleta and Palermo. The whole metropolitan area is home to over 17 million people. While it features excellent transportation including buses, hop-on-off buses, cable cars, public bicycles, many taxis and a subway, you can walk most all of central Buenos Aires without a problem.
In central Buenos Aires is the San Nicolas barrio featuring the 223 foot tall Obelisco monument. It is located in the middle of the July 9 Avenue, named for Argentina’s Independence Day in 1816. July 9 Avenue is the widest avenue in the world.
The kilometer long street features 7 lanes in each direction and is flanked by parallel 2 lane streets next to tree lined dividers. First planned in 1888, started in 1935, it was finally completed in the 1960s It is quite impressive to witness and when attempting to cross.
Next to San Nicolas is the Monserrat neighborhood, also referred to as Plaza de Mayo, which is lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace; the 1500 built Cabildo building and the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral. It is the city’s commercial and administrative center.
Other major attractions in the city center include the domed Congress building and Teatro Colón, a grand 1908 opera and ballet house with nearly 2,500 seats and marvelous acoustics. The Teatro Colón has been ranked as the third best opera house in the world. It is just one of over 280 theaters, the most of any city in the world.
Buenos Aires has numerous museums and a thriving arts culture. There’s the modern MALBA museum, displaying Latin American art, the Modern Art Museum and The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA). There are many other museums, as well as street art and concerts thought the city as well as the National Library.
Of course the birthplace of tango happened here, with San Telmo and La Boca laying claim to being the cradle of it in the 1880s. Buenos Aires is still the world’s tango capital with numerous venues, both small and intimate to large and spectacular ones showcasing the popular dance all over the city.
The Puerto Madero neighborhood, built around its old abandoned seaport, the architecture is very modern. All the area’s impressive office buildings, hotels and apartments are skyscrapers made of steel and glass. Interestingly numerous of the district street names are of notable women. Connected across the old waterfront by various bridges, the Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of Women) is a beautiful modern swing bridge with a tall white angled mast which swings to allow watercraft passage. The area also features numerous local restaurants, many of which are terrific steak houses, and all serving delicious meals. By contrast the newer modern Buenos Aires port is the busiest in South America.
Buenos Aires has over 250 parks and green spaces, the largest concentration of which are on the city’s eastern side in the Recoleta, Puerto Madero, Palermo and Belgrano neighborhoods. Besides parks, there are Botanical Gardens, Zoo Gardens, a Polo club and a marvelous Japanese Gardens, the largest outside of Japan.
All around the city, Buenos Aires features numerous large monuments and statues, some of historical figures, as well as large outdoor fountains.
The city also features large shopping areas, one being the busy pedestrian Florida Street and it’s surrounding streets full of shops selling leather bags, boots and jackets. They will also custom make you a jacket in a day. Lets just say we all left Argentina with more leather than we arrived with on the trip. There are numerous steak restaurants featuring several cuts of beef in their front windows. On Cordoba Avenue & Florida Street, Galerias Pacifico is a large Beaux Arts building featuring an ornate indoor mall with several floors of high-end stores, its glass skylight ceiling and beautiful frescos in the curved central cupola is something to behold. The whole area and the Galleries Pacifico are places not to miss, specially if you like to shop.
La Recoleta Cemetery has over 4 thousand above ground marble mausoleum vaults, most are extremely ornate, toped with sculptures of angels and crosses. The entrance to the cemetery is through a Roman-Greek inspired temple gates with 4 large doric columns. Spread over 14 acres it is laid out like city streets with some wide tree lined walkways. It has graves of many notable people, including Argentinian presidents, Nobel Prize winners and Eva “Evita” Peron, an international popular figure beloved by many Argentinians.
Not far away, in the Palermo neighborhood, is the Evita Museum. The small museum detailing the life of Eva Perón through films, photographs, a collection of personal items and accomplishments towards helping the poor. La Recoleta neighborhood also features the stylish Alvear Palace Hotel, built in 1923, this 10 plus story building is considered by many as the only truly grand hotel in Buenos Aires. It features restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating and a small shopping arcade on its ground floor.
One very popular barrio with tourists is La Boca. Originally a settlement of Italian immigrants from Genoa, it showcases very bright, colorful buildings some made of tin. The main pedestrian street of El Caminito features lots of tango dancers, restaurants with outdoor seating and a plethora of small memorabilia stores.
Also here is one of their most iconic football stadiums, La Bombonera, home of the Boca Juniors. Argentinians are big football (soccer) fans and there are various very popular stadiums around Buenos Aires and several of their players are world famous and recognized as some of the best of all time, including iconic Diego Maradona and super star Lionel Messi.
Along with cousins Miguel and Carmen, we spent 2 weeks as tourists in Buenos Aires. Staying in two different neighborhoods, taking in large parts of the city and its many cultural, shopping and historic institutions both day and night. It was a truly incredibly enjoyable and most interesting time in Argentina’s big, cosmopolitan capital city.