After living in Buenos Aires for four months and practically becoming a local (at least in my dreams), I like to think that I’ve done everything that the city has to offer, from the touristy spots to the hidden gems. So when my dad and my sister decided to come visit me at the end of my program and stay in Buenos Aires for two days before we flew to El Calafate to hike through Patagonia, I stressed out for days about where I would take them. How do I compress four months of tours and walks and museums and cafes into forty-eight hours?
It wasn’t easy, but I’ve picked some of my favorite things in the city to do with my family during the weekend they're staying. Here are some of my recommendations:
Breakfast: Start off the morning with some café con leche and medialunas to get the full porteño experience. Because these are staples at any café, you’ll be able to find them almost wherever you are in the city. You’ll have the best luck with local, non-chain cafes for good prices and unique experiences, but if you’d like to try your luck with a chain café, you can find a Café Martinez or Havanna on almost every block. If you’re near a Buenos Aires Bakery chain, they also sell my favorite medialunas and a good range of facturas (pastries). Bonus, they also sell chocolate-covered churros filled with dulce de leche, so what more can you want?
11AM Walking Tour of Centro: If you’re visiting between Monday and Saturday, consider taking a walking tour around the city. There are two main free tour companies competing in Buenos Aires, BA Free Tours and Buenos Aires Free Walks, that offer pretty similar routes in English around the city at different times of the day for tips. Both offer a tour of the city center (going roughly from the Plaza de Congreso to the Plaza de Mayo or the Obelisk) that offers a political, historic, and cultural background of the city. I chose to take BA Free Tour’s 11AM walking tour of centro because it fit my itinerary better, but the 3PM Buenos Aires Free Walk tour is just as good and offers much of the same information.
Lunch: After your morning tour, enjoy lunch in one of Buenos Aires’ many restaurants or cafes. Empanadas are a great idea for lunch so that your family can experience typical Argentine cuisine.
Recoleta Cemetery & Feria de Recoleta: Take a taxi or walk to the Recoleta Cemetery after lunch. If you’re visiting on a Saturday or Sunday, the late afternoon is the perfect time to walk through the Recoleta fair, an artisan craft and knick-knack fair held in front of the Cemetery on the weekends. While you’re there, head into the haunting, creepily beautiful Recoleta Cemetery. Take a picture with Evita’s tomb but make sure you walk through the entire thing to see some impressive tombs. If you hire a tour guide, you’ll be able to hear the ghost stories behind some of the biggest or most expensive tombs, but it’s also a great experience if you just want to walk through and admire the tombs without a guide. The Recoleta Cemetary is a three minute walk away from the Museo de Bellas Artes, a free art classic art museum, and the Hard Rock Café, if you’d like to spend a little more time over there.
Dinner: Almost every hotel and hostel offers packages for dinner and a tango show if you’re interested in seeing the dance Buenos Aires is famous for. There are a ton of great options at different price points, and if you’d rather save money, you can opt to just see a show and find dinner somewhere else too. If you don’t like tango, consider going to one of Buenos Aires’ parrilla restaurants to get asado (Argentine barbeque). Some really good recommendations are La Carniceria and Don Julio.
Feria de San Telmo: Start off your morning wandering through the San Telmo fair. Much like the Recoleta fair from yesterday, it’s an artisan market where venders sell everything from photography to jewelry to antique bottles.
Hop On, Hop Off Bus: Nothing paints you as a tourist more than riding the big, yellow city tour bus—but, it’s a necessary evil. The Hop On, Hop Off bus through Buenos Aires is one of the best ways to see the biggest portion of the city quickly and intelligently. With stops at almost twenty of the most popular locations in Centro, Retiro, Palermo, Recoleta, San Telmo, and La Boca, the bus is basically a taxi to the places you would’ve gone to by yourself anyways. Make sure you take advantage of the numerous stops and get around to explore. My favorite stops are El Caminito in La Boca, Los Bosques de Palermo in Palermo, the Recoleta Cemetery, and the Plaza de Mayo. Try to catch lunch or a snack in Palermo Soho—with some of the cutest cafes and restaurants in the city, you’ll definitely find someplace you’ll love. You can easily spend an entire day on the bus if you’re hopping off often.
Buenos Aires has so much to offer, but if you’re in a time crunch, check out some of the places I listed above! If you have more time in the city, consider making a daytrip to El Tigre, a town an hour outside of Buenos Aires, or Uruguay--Montevideo and Colonia de Sacramento are both popular daytrips
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<p>I am Maria Oldenburg, and I'm a sophomore Economics and International Studies double major at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. On campus, you can find me pretending to be a professional photographer, exploring the local coffee scene, or hopelessly planning my dream backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I can't wait to eat my weight in empanadas, learn quality puns in Spanish, and tango with the best of them during my semester in Buenos Aires!</p>