Buenos Aires offers a mix of European sophistication with Latin American flair. Distinctive metro neighborhoods are linked together to create a vibrant capital city and bustling port of call. It’s a fantastic city that should be given a lengthy visit to fully embrace, explore, and experience the place. BUT if you only have a day or two in town, you can pick up Buenos Aires’s cosmopolitan heartbeat by strolling through a small sampling of areas. The city may be large, but the main tourist neighborhoods are concentrated in easy-to-reach locations.

La Boca

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Image via Sandy Bornstein

In the city’s first port neighborhood, history and culture come alive in this well-known tourist trap. Calle Caminito, a cobbled street, is adorned with brightly colored corrugated houses and murals. If you’d like a snack or souvenirs, you’re in the right place. You might even come upon impromptu tango dancers. Look for a small open-air museum. Free tours of La Boca are offered on Wednesday mornings.

Plaza de Mayo

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Notable landmarks include the Pink House (Casa de Gobierno), and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Most will simply take pictures of the Pink House, especially the balcony where Evita Perón, the first lady of Argentina from 1946 to 1952, would address the nation. Considerably less will visit the museum. The main crowds congregate inside the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral or near the guards who march regularly between the cathedral and the Pink House. If you miss the changing of the guards, don’t fret. Guards are stationed in front of General San Martin’s mausoleum inside the cathedral. If you’re in the plaza, it’s worth a stop inside.

Travel Tip: Many hotels and tour groups instruct their guests to remove jewelry and expensive watches before going out and about. Don’t be a naïve tourist. As you walk the streets of Buenos Aires, be aware of your surroundings!

Drive Along Avenue 9 de Julio

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Don’t miss the opportunity to drive along the widest avenue in the world. Some sections have 7 lanes in each direction. It will be hard to miss the Obelisk that stands boldly along this mega-sized boulevard. Some may choose to make a short stop at the Teatro Colón for a photo op or tour.

Slightly off the beaten track is Memory Square. Visitors can take refuge between the two lines of trees planted to memorialize the attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992.

Recoleta

Image via Sandy Bornstein

Image via Sandy Bornstein

One could spend more than a day exploring the tree-lined avenues and parks in Recoleta. For a taste of history, we suggest taking an abbreviated stroll through the Recoleta Cemetery. Be careful. It’s easy to get lost amidst the 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins, and crypts. Maps are available at the entrance.

Art lovers can gain free access to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the home to Argentina’s most impressive collection of art masterpieces. Just a short distance away is one of Buenos Aires’ icons–the Floralis Genérica is a large steel and aluminum flower pedal sculpture.

Travelers preferring to remain outdoors can stroll along a seven-block section of Avenida Alvear to admire mansions that are reminiscent of 19th century Paris. For a special treat, stop in at one of the restored mansions, the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, for afternoon tea or try empanadas at El Sanjuanino

The day can be capped off with a quiet dinner at a restaurant that showcases regional dishes or a touristy (but still fun!) encounter at a pricey tango nightclub.

Are you an experienced visitor to Buenos Aires? Got a favorite place to visit or tip? Leave it in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Sandy Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein lived as an expat in India. Her award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, highlights what she learned as the only American teacher at an international Bangalore school. After living abroad, Sandy continues to explore the world and write about her travels. You can follow Sandy's adventures at www.sandrabornstein.com.