20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Buenos Aires
One of the world's great urban centers, Buenos Aires offers a vibrant blend of indigenous culture, European heritage, and contemporary styles. It has something for everyone: great museums, a wealth of outdoor activities, exciting nightlife, and delicious dining options. The city is known for both its monumental architecture and its lively cultural offerings, including world-class theater, opera, and ballet.
But Buenos Aires is no mere playground for visitors. Its markets, entertainment, and nightlife also serve to make the city a haven for the locals who live there. Being so close to the border with Brazil gives the city an extra infusion of Latino influence, making it even more fun and lively.
A visit to Argentina would be incomplete without a stop in its capital city of Buenos Aires, so plan your trip with our list of the top tourist attractions in Argentina.
The Obelisk (1892-1913), or "Altar of the Progeny of Pius X" (as the plaque that was once on it described it), is one of the most striking structures in Buenos Aires. Designed by French architect Louis-Paul Rousseau, it is thought to have been intended as a replacement for the former central seat of Catholic worship in Buenos Aires. It stands on the corner of Corrientes and Paraguay streets, in the city's busy financial district, and was long known by the locals as the Guia, the Spanish word for "guide" or "attract". Even though it was removed from its central position a few years ago, to allow for the construction of a large new financial center, it's still worth a visit, for its over-the-top beauty.
Plaza de Mayo
Centred on Plaza de Mayo, in the heart of the capital of Argentina, this large square and its adjacent streets is the most popular site for demonstrations and protests in the country. It is named after the Spanish revolution, which led to the end of the Spanish colonial rule of Argentina. Initially begun by the Spanish revolution, the square is now named after the May Revolution, which saw the end of the dictatorial rule of Juan Domingo Perón in Argentina. The square is the heart of Buenos Aires politics and bustles with political activists, intellectuals and musicians. There are almost always protests happening, some of them political and some religious. There are a number of buildings on the square. The central building in the middle is the Casa Rosada (Pink House), originally the residence of the President of the Republic of Argentina, which now houses the Argentina government. To the right, the stately Casa de Gobierno (Government House) is the official residence of the President of Argentina. To the left, the Vice President's House is used by him when he is in town. On the south side of the square is the Argentine Supreme Court building, and to the east, the adjacent Congress.
Adjacent to the Plaza de Mayo in the center of Buenos Aires is Avenida Corrientes. First laid out in the mid-1800s, the stretch has long been considered the center of Buenos Aires' art and intellectual life. The avenue is so very the city, with its wisteria-clad colonnades, the colorful benches on the sidewalks and the old-fashioned street names (Academia, Florida, Corrientes, etc.) that ring of Buenos Aires' history. The Torcuato di Tella University and Buenos Aires' renowned museum and art gallery, Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) share Avenida Corrientes' pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. Among the first international modern art galleries to open in Buenos Aires, the museum also draws on local artists and supports an arts residency program.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) is a beautiful colonial building in Buenos Aires which houses a collection of early and late 19th century paintings and sculptures by Argentine and European artists. The building itself, however, is equally important, incorporating an Egyptian portico and elaborate frescoes painted by the Italian artist, Francesco Tentori. You'll find the museum with the beautiful Palermo Plaza in the heart of Buenos Aires. And it's open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and on Sunday from 2pm to 8pm.
Teatro Colón is the main venue for opera and classical music in Buenos Aires, having opened in 1888 in a former church. Its domed, horseshoe-shaped ceiling is supported by a baroque marble staircase and an oratory decorated with angels and cherubs. The theater has both an indoor seating and an outdoor amphitheater. Other features include a 10,000-seat concert hall, an old movie theater (with special screens for special events), a winter garden, and a small museum displaying memorabilia from the theater's early years, when it was the center of a powerful theater group and opera troupe. Take in a concert, then have a cocktail or a snack on the terrace overlooking the Plaza de Mayo, the massive traffic circle that's the downtown hub of the city.
Located on a small island surrounded by Guanabara Bay in the northwest of Buenos Aires, San Telmo (Sant El'x) is one of the city's oldest and most picturesque quarters. The neighborhood was originally established in 1537 as a small fishing village to serve the rural areas of the nearby Palermo district, but it has remained one of the most attractive, charming, and well-preserved old districts in Buenos Aires. San Telmo contains many historical sights and one of the most beautiful colonial squares in the city. Highlights of a visit to the neighborhood include Casa Rosada, the old building that has served as the seat of government for Argentina since the time of the viceroys and is now the residence of the president of the country, the Jujuy Historical House, the National Congress, the oldest European-style cemetery in the Americas, the Andrés Bello National Theatre, and the great Plaza de Mayo. Take advantage of the beautiful views of the city to relax at one of the many scenic benches or fountains located in the heart of San Telmo, or visit the district's oldest church, the Convento de San Francisco, and its art gallery.
The Sun, Buenos Aires
The Sun was built in 1888 to provide a place for the wealthy to dine in style, drink wine, listen to music, and read newspapers. After being damaged by a fire in 1908, it was restored and now offers visitors one of the city's most elegant spots for dining. The interior features a cantilevered art nouveau balcony, which is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and the views. Though the interior of the restaurant itself is a romantic space, the best views are from outside, where there are a number of bars. The Sun also offers a range of evening and afternoon concerts and entertainment in the basement of the building. Not only is the restaurant itself elegant, but there are also a number of very inviting outdoor spaces.
The Recoleta Cemetery
The Recoleta Cemetery, which dates back to 1827, is the most important cemetery in Buenos Aires. The distinction is not entirely accidental; according to legend, General San Martín is buried here. Here as well are the tombs of countless others important to the development of the country, from presidents and military chiefs to religious leaders, pioneers, scientists and artists. The Recoleta is very close to the center of the city, only about 15 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires.
The Plaza Hotel
Located in the heart of the city at Calle Puerto Buenos Aires 2348, The Plaza Hotel has been a renowned and luxurious hotel for more than a century. It has a European style reminiscent of past times when a city like Buenos Aires was a frontier for explorers and adventurers and, therefore, an appropriate homage to a city that has also been defined as the New York of South America. Originally a banking house established in the 19th century, the new owners of the hotel, the Crevecoeur family, made this hotel one of the finest in the city and created the perfect ambience for business travelers in Buenos Aires. Guests can enjoy numerous luxury services, including an exclusive spa, which features treatments and massages inspired by the hotel's past. Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, this is the most exclusive hotel in the city and is often chosen by the wealthy businessmen, celebrities, or politicians for their weekend trips to the city.
The National Congress of Argentina is one of the capital cities' best-kept secrets. The 25-year-old building, part of the Bicentennial Landmark site, dates back to the early 20th century. It is home to numerous events in the year, including the Argentine Film Festival and the Tango Festival, the latter a highlight featuring renowned Argentine Tango Dancers and their exquisitely turned-out partners. For additional events and schedules, visit the Facebook page of Congress Cultural Center - La Plata, the city's official Congress and Film Festival Centre.
When Argentina was ruled by the Spanish until 1816, the city of Buenos Aires was the country's capital. Today the Argentine capital retains a colonial feel, its Baroque and neo-baroque architecture dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. The Casa Rosada was built in 1821 and now houses the Presidential Palace, home to the President of Argentina.
Retiro is a sprawling park and recreational area surrounding a world-renowned sculpture collection in the northwest of Buenos Aires, in the city's northwest corner. Originally created as a public space in 1871, it served as the city's first stadium until a new field was constructed in 1883. Retiro is also home to the largest metro system in South America, and its emblem is the golden star of Orion, the nearest constellation to the earth.
Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero is the charming bohemian waterfront district that is home to Europe's fastest growing business district and is being called the best place in Latin America for start-ups. It is also where one of the most successful organic farmers of Argentina, Luis Giannetta, lives and grows food in an extraordinary 10-hectare, 180-tree plant nursery. The best way to get to Puerto Madero is by cab; walkers can use the free ferry service from Puerto Madero, located next to the Puerto Madero station, to explore the area. Things to do in Puerto Madero include joining a guided tour of Giannetta's organic farm, with fabulous views of the port and a chance to meet the family and learn all about the start-up scene, including which farms are the latest trend and the ways in which farmers are helping themselves as the world goes green. You can also visit a number of other small local producers in the area. The rooftop restaurant of Hotel Armina, designed by Ian Jasper, is a favorite among the city's many bohemian locals.
Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo
This impressive museum is housed in an Art Deco building by Spanish architect Mariano Ricci and is full of fabulous decorative arts from around the world. Spanish ceramics from the 17th and 18th centuries show the connection between the Iberian Peninsula and South America, while collections of Asian and African furnishings and works of art give insight into the relationship between Spain and its former colonies. For a true taste of Buenos Aires, make sure you visit this fabulous museum. You can also take a bus from the city's main square, Plaza de Mayo.
Built in 1844 as the headquarters of the Central Bank, the Central Bank building in Buenos Aires is a gem of 19th-century architecture, in the neoclassical style. Its heavy granite masonry is crowned by a unique nine-story marble clock tower with a clock that remains constantly wound. Adjacent to the building is a beautiful park. The Central Bank building is one of the city's most beautiful landmarks and well worth a visit. If you are looking for somewhere to have a coffee, Palermo Soho is a cafe located in the city centre and offers coffee and pastries for a reasonable price.
Flores is Argentina's easternmost city, just 25 km north of the Paraguayan border. It is a pleasant and bustling colonial town with a number of fascinating museums, fascinating streets and old bars and shops. Every year around the December-January holiday season, the town is overrun with Roman Catholic pilgrims, a chance to visit the great basilica built by Don Bosco. It also has a very pleasant port with a wide range of restaurants, bars and shops and, as well as these places, there are plenty of cozy places to stay in the center and in the main square. There are three main monuments in Flores: the basilica of Don Bosco, the tower of La Roca and the Jesuit mausoleum at the Basilica and museum of Chacabuco. The most famous cultural event is the celebration of the Feast of Don Bosco. It is held in December-January, in a week-long festival, with a number of interesting events in the town of Palomar and the nearby villages. The town is at the end of the railway line to Paraguay and Uruguay, served by a nightly train from Asunción. There are ferries and catamarans from Buenos Aires' Mar del Plata port and Patagonia to Flotante, Santísima Trinidad, Port Darrel and Puerto Saldaña.
Buenos Aires' most famous market is at its liveliest on Saturday, when thousands of people fill the streets and stalls of Palermo at Puerto Cisnes in the once working-class district of Buenos Aires' most bohemian neighborhood, Palermo. Butterflies flutter about and vendors spread out colorful displays in preparation for the week ahead. The best places for finding such creatures include Estancias Río Verde and Viale de Mayo. The Butterfly Market has been ongoing for over half a century and attracts millions of visitors a year.
The Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), in the Argentine capital, is the largest cathedral in South America, and one of the largest in the world. Built on land donated by President Avellaneda in 1925, the current cathedral features neo-gothic and neoclassical elements and is the seat of the Archbishopric of Buenos Aires. Admission is free, but entry times are limited and you need to register online to book a ticket. The museum (Teatro San Martín) is divided into three parts, devoted to religious and artistic exhibitions, permanent and temporary. However, it is really the spectacular stained-glass windows that define the Metropolitan Cathedral and that distinguish this work from all other cathedrals in the world.
Plaza de la República
Plaza de la República is the most beautiful of the squares in the charming and culturally rich city of Buenos Aires. Rounded on all sides and set inside a ring of grassy hills, the square itself has impressive monuments of art deco style from the early 20th century, along with numerous cafes and street vendors that delight both locals and tourists alike. To get to Plaza de la República take a Circular Elevated Train or look for an "el" in the zone map. It is a little tricky to get to but with some perseverance you will find it.
Cementerio de la Recoleta
The Cementerio de la Recoleta, or the Cemetery of the Recoleta (the only Roman Catholic cemetery in Argentina), is a unique and vast necropolis. It lies in a quiet residential part of the south of Buenos Aires, in the northwestern corner of the Montevideo Peninsula. The monumental cemetery was founded in 1853 in the early republican period when the need for an institution to house a hundred thousand cadavers led to the construction of the present site, which was largely funded by president Jose de San Martín. The Jesuit architect and designer of the place is architect Carlos Thays de Croan. The cemetery is now in charge of the Municipality of Buenos Aires (or in Spanish, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires). The cemetery is open to the public and anyone can visit it freely. One can go there to visit the tombs of the famous people or to read their history. However, the Cemetery of the Recoleta is not a museum and its purpose is to allow the grieving to have a quiet place to visit and remember their loved ones.