Argentina’s iconic capital is home to far much more than the Tango, though there’s every opportunity to enjoy the legendary dance and much more cultural attractions besides during your visit.
6 hours in… Buenos Aires
As is the case with all major cities, there’s far too much to see in one full day – let alone six hours – In Buenos Aires but if you book an excursion, there are some famous landmarks which are a given and if you’re exploring on your own, that you won’t want to miss.
The city’s most famous landmark is also one of the finest theatres in the world. Teatro Colon has been extensively restored in recent times and a tour of the building will tell you more about the work involved and the history of the building. Even if you’re on a whistle-stop city tour, it’s a fantastic sight from the outside but admittedly, taking in a production is the best way to enjoy it. Another exceedingly popular landmark is the architecturally stunning Metropolitan Cathedral which was the former church of Cardinal Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis, while the stately National Congress building rounds out this essential trio of iconic city landmarks.
Of course, with its colonial history and strong sense of cultural identity, Buenos Aires is all about its distinct neighbourhoods as well as its distinctive landmarks and there’s many a cruise excursion which will include a visit to one or more of them. Recoleta is a vibrant district which is home to the famous cemetery of the same name and is also a great place to relax and soak up the atmosphere. Locals and visitors alike are often found sitting back with glass of wine or browsing the boutiques, while the cemetery itself is home to the tomb of the city’s most famous daughter, Eva Peron.
La Boca is where you go if you want to experience the Tango in full effect. It’s admittedly tourist-centric but certainly a must-see, especially if you want to immerse yourself in the city’s atmosphere and are not in the city for a particularly long time. San Telmo is a distinctly different area, offering a street market experience like no other and a much more authentic feel, complete with cobbled streets and some of the city’s older architecture.
If you’ve visited the city before, Puerto Madero is an area you’ve probably seen but may have missed on the way out, as it’s located in the port district and is a great place to sample some of the city’s finest culinary delights.
Art lovers who’ve already seen the main landmarks certainly shouldn’t miss the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. The clue’s in the name and it’s conveniently located and not too big, so it won’t take up too much of your day taking a look around.
The 100-year-old Palacio Barolo is another building which bears closer inspection if you’re visiting the city again. It’s a fabulous piece of architecture, styled to reflect Dante’s celebrated Inferno, so you can make your way from ‘Hell’ to ‘Heaven’ as you continue your journey. Indeed, heavenly the view is when you reach the top, where outdoor balconies offer photo opportunities galore. The Puente de la Mujer rotating footbridge is also a spectacular sight, offering a look at some of Buenos Aires' more contemporary architecture.
Can’t keep away?
If you’re looking for something different to enjoy in the city, the Japanese Garden is a serene retreat offering a totally contrasting mood to the rest of Buenos Aires, while El Ateneo Grand Splendid is the perfect place to pick up a book to read there. It’s actually located in an old theatre and is a popular place of literary pilgrimage for locals and visitors alike. The theatre’s original décor has been left intact including its beautiful ceiling artwork and if you fancy a coffee, just make your way to the stage.
The oddly business-like translation of this building’s name – the Water Company – certainly doesn’t fit its elegant exterior and indeed, the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes is a beautiful building is a great place to check out if you’ve visited the city a number of times before and are looking for some new architecture to enjoy.
Don’t even bother!
As with many major cities, street vendors are out in strength at all times in Buenos Aires and every one of them will likely tell you their stuff is the genuine article. Sometimes it is but often it isn’t, so shop around and when you haven’t seen the same things for sale in a number of shops, make your purchase.
Especially in La Boca there are Tango dancers in abundance but beware. If they take your hand and you find yourself getting caught up in the moment, you’ll get charged for the privilege, so by all means watch from afar but don’t get too close.