Touring the top sights of Buenos Aires in two days including visits to La Recoleta Cemetery, Floralis Generica, Teatro Colón, Plaza de Mayo, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, and La Boca. Sampling the nightlife and restaurants of the city as well.
The capital of Argentina, also known as the “Paris of South America”, is the second most visited city in Latin America. Buenos Aires has one the the highest per capita income in the region and the current Pope Francis originally hails from here.
Touring Buenos Aires in two days would be challenging as there was so much to see, but with a focus on the main sights and culture, the visit would serve as a taste of the city.
To get there, I took an American Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Buenos Aires, with a transfer in Dallas. Immigration and customs were quite straight forward except customs had an annoying system to scan every single bag before you could exit.
Stamp in place, country 65 was official!
I took a taxi to the exclusive Hotel Club Francés and checked in. Then I waited for my friend Vishal who had arrived the day before. He would join on a part of the adventure.
La Recoleta Cemetery
After a coffee at La Biela we explored the impressive cemetery. Famous writers, actors, presidents and first ladies all call La Recoleta their resting place. The First Lady Eva Peron, known as Evita, is also buried here.
Then we strolled to the iconic Floralis Generica passing by the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and a mall with shops lining the street.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for some delicious empanadas and way too much Quilmes beer.
The evening consisted of dinner at a random restaurant on the way to a pub crawl that Vish got word of. We walked over (which some people said was very unsafe) to Calle Florida.
We joined a pub crawl downtown for 200 pesos per person. Bracelets on, the festivities started in Fusion Bar & Resto which had free flow of beer and pizza. Several conversations, beers and whiskeys later, the entire group walked about twenty minutes to another bar where we were greeted with shots.
After an undetermined amount of time, the group took turns boarding a boat shaped open-air party bus to a club. The back of the bus was gutted, fitted with lights and loud music. A pub-crawl staff member walked around pouring shots into open mouths. Judging by the looks of drivers on the road, we must have seemed extremely obnoxious.
We arrived at the club, Terrazas Del Este and skipped the line. The large multi-room establishment with indoor and outdoor stages was packed with a mostly local Argentinian crowd. Overall a fun club.
You know you’ve had a great night when you get back to the hotel at 6 am and are greeted with “good morning”.
The next morning we walked all the way to the main square of Buenos Aires. On the way we passed by Teatro Colón, one of the best opera houses in the world with roots to 1857. Arriving at the Obelisk we saw protestors aggregating for their event. The Obelisco de Buenos Aires was built in 1936 to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the city. Around the corner was the Argentine National Congress.
Plaza de Mayo
Continuing down the street we passed through a banking area and made it to the main square of Buenos Aires. It was at this location in 1810 that the revolution took place which led to the independence and founding of the nation. Ironically this is also where large protests occur and the square was soon full of the protesters we saw moments before.
The square holds many important structures including the oldest monument, May Pyramid or Pirámide de Mayo, built in 1811 to celebrate the revolution.
The main Catholic church is located in the square and can be traced back to the 16th century. Inside is a mausoleum of Jose de San Martin, the general that helped achieve independence for Argentina, Chile and Peru. Three statues guard his tomb representing the countries.
Buenos Aires Cabildo
The present day National Museum of the Cabildo, which unfortunately was closed, use to be the government house. We were allowed to walk through the building but not able to see the exhibits.
On the other side of the square is the executive seat of government in a modest building.
La Casa Rosada, The Pink House
Behind fences and police guarded riot barricades is the mansion and office of the President of Argentina. A large part of the building is now the museum displaying paintings, artifacts, and rooms of leaders. The building is a national monument. Apparently this was also one of the locations for the film, Evita.
Museo Aduana de Taylor
Around the corner of the Pink House is a museum with the original city walls. There is a collection of artworks and murals as well.
We walked to the marina and riverfront area to explore the hip hangout and grab lunch. There were many tourists and locals alike enjoying a walk by the water.
We continued back into town and followed the crowds of the Sunday flea market of San Telmo. Even with a slight drizzle, the place was packed with people shopping for trinkets and souvenirs. Vendors with stands sold artsy homemade designs in front of organized street front stores. Walking almost the entire street, I eventually bought my country tourist shirt here.
After relaxing at the hotel, we hopped in a cab to Palermo. We ate at the famous steakhouse Don Julio which served complementary champagne to make the twenty minute wait breeze by. Once seated I ordered the typical Asado which was very tasty.
After dinner we walked over to the bar area of Palermo. Unfortunately it was quite quiet most likely because it was Easter Sunday.
The next day we headed to Uruguay but on the way back we had a couple of hours to see some more of the city.
This neighborhood has a strong Italian culture due to the original settlers from Genoa. It even succeeded from the country in 1882 for a brief period. Now it houses the Boca Juniors football club and stadium and welcomes tourists with its colorful buildings.
We started our visit with a lunch at Il Matterello Ristorante a well ranked restaurant with authentic Italian pastas.
The area was pretty rough with plenty of graffiti on walls and strays roaming the streets. We walked by the stadium to the Caminito the main tourist attraction. This small street is flanked with brightly colored buildings, restaurants and provocative tango dancers that will pose for a picture for a tip.
We were tempted to walk over the bridge to cross into the ‘do not enter’ areas surrounding the police patrolled streets, but decided against it.
Later that day we caught our flight to Mendoza to explore the wine country.
Buenos Aires turned out to be everything I expected from a major capital city and more. Maintaining its charming cultural roots, the vibrant city was loud but humble and relaxed. I can’t wait to visit again!
From/live in Buenos Aires? What sites should I put on my list for the next visit? Comment below!