7 activities in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, or BA, is a very likeable, green and busy city. We spent 5 nights in Buenos Aires, which is definitely enough time to get to know the city. If you are planning to go, consider that BA is pretty much “dead” on Sundays and public holidays (apparently also on Saturdays, but can’t confirm that from own experience). If you are looking for a low-budget list of things to do, keep reading 😉
Please note: in general price levels are very similar to Vienna or comparable European cities. Only specific bargains, like the typical coffee with medialunas (more details on that will follow in a separate gourmet post), are a little less expensive compared to Austria.
(And sorry for the lack of pics, but currently uploading them is just impossible due to the shared WIFI. But they will follow asap.)
1 Join a free walker tour
I can highly recommend the Recoleta tour. If you are lucky and get Juan-Cruz as a guide, calculate with a little more time than the advertised 3 hours. But every minute is worth it. The tour takes you right through the center and is filled with lots of interesting information about the history, economics and architecture of Buenos Aires. It was notable to realize how different the culture of Argentina is compared to Brazil, due to the completely different histories both countries have. For instance we learned, that BA has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world (there is even a kosher McDonald’s in the city) and how emotional Argentina is about the (on-going) Falkland islands (Isla Malvinas) conflict.
Free walker tours are offered all around the world and give you a nice overview of the city and some behind the scenes information, off the typical tourist tracks. The tour does not have fixed price, but a tip (whatever you can and want to pay) is expected. Find here all details about the BA tours: http://www.buenosairesfreewalks.com/
2 Visit the Recoleta cemetery
I admit, this is a bit weird and usually I am not a fan of visiting any cemeteries, but I tell you the BA cemetery is something different. Honestly, I could not say I would go there again, because it totally creeped me out, but after all I guess it is worth seeing. The cemetery is nothing like we are used in Austria (or Europe I guess). The coffins are not buried into the ground, but instead they are visibly laid out in huge, decorated, (mostly locked) grave sites made of stone. One of such a “site” holds up to 10 coffins, eg. for the whole family, and has like a second floor downstairs. It’s pretty hard to explain, but you can check it out on Google first 😉
3 Relax in a garden or park
What i liked most about BA is its nature, with trees and parks literally everywhere. So whenever you need a rest, you can simply take one in the countless parks. Besides the famous Rose Garden is also definitely worth visiting and invites for a little boat tour in the small lake, or just hanging around and enjoy the calmness. Just a 15 min walk away, right next to the large shopping street (Santa Fe), you find the Botanical Garden, which is also very beautiful. Both gardens are free to enter.
4 Stroll around Boca
Boca is the southernmost district of BA, and former city centre until the population moved up in the wealthier north due to an epidemic. Boca is well known for its colorful buildings and small streets (Caminita). The centre of Boca attracts a lot of tourists with Tango shows, restaurants and street arts, whereas the majority of Boca is characterized by their inhabitant’s poorness. There is also a “Free Walker Tour” for 10 EUR per person offered. In our case the guided walk was organized by the hostel we stayed in. You can also easily do it yourself – just ask for the right bus line (not every bus to Boca goes to the right and safe spots of Boca).
Public transport in BA is very cheap and easy. There are like thousands of bus lines and a pretty straight-forward metro system. You need to get a rechargeable “SUBE” card to to on the buses or the metro. One drive is only about 0,30 Euro (also if you take the bus to get to AEP airport). Google maps is very good for route descriptions, besides there is also an app of the city (Cómo llego) that gives you the best public transport routes.
5 Visit a museum
A few museums are free in BA and therefore visiting one can be a good plan on a rainy (or too sunny) day. We can recommend the Museum of fine arts (the building itself is very beautiful) and the cultural center in Recoleta (Centro Cultural Recoleta) that offers a lot of interactive elements.
6 Go to Libreria Ateneo
This is a MUST for all book lovers. The bookshop Ateneo was a former theatre and is therefore especially impressive. Not to mention the huge offering of books. The theatre’s stage now hosts a little coffee shop. Either there or in one of the former “Loge” you can hang around for a while read a book.
Watch out: there are 3 different Ateneo libraries in BA. The “Libraria Ateneo Grand Splendid” on Santa Fe road is the one you need to see.
7 Visit the national library
The national biblioteca is a pretty impressive building and definitely a recommendation for everyone looking for a quite spot to do some study, work or simply read in order to take break from the busy big city life (which at least I need from time to time). If you say you are student, entry is for free. You are not allowed to carry a backpack in all the rooms though and for entering you need an ID (a copy is not accepted).
Hostel reco: we stayed in Portal del Sur hostel, which is a great building as well with a roof top bar. The staff is friendly and the shared kitchen is OK. The hostel lacked some cosy shared space though and if you are looking for an area to go out in the evenings to grab some drinks in cool, hipster bars you should rather look for a place in Palermo.