Argentina

11 Photos That Will Convince You To Visit Buenos Aires

A lot of people seemed surprised when I told them we would be spending a month in Buenos Aires Argentina. It doesn’t top most travel bucket lists. But a visit to Buenos Aires has always been high on mine. I’d always heard this city referred to as “the Paris of South America”. And sure, there is a strong European influence as Buenos Aires was mostly built by European immigrants in the 1800s. However, I found that Buenos Aires very much has its own unique identity – different from any place I’ve ever been. Here are 11 photos that should convince you to visit Buenos Aires.

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Evita is Everywhere

An image of Evita along the side of a tall building in Buenos Aires

The specter of Eva Peron – also known as Evita – seems to hang over everything in Buenos Aires. Literally. Her image is one of the first things we saw as we entered central Buenos Aires from the airport. And, her image is the last thing we saw as we left Buenos Aires to return back home. Her profile is etched in metal, high up on the side of a tall building….both sides of the building.

Most people, of my generation at least, know of Evita thanks to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (and the movie version starring Madonna). But I don’t remember ever watching the movie – I wasn’t ever a big Madonna fan. I did learn a lot about Evita though during our month-long visit in Buenos Aires. And we visited many sites around town dedicated to her memory.

Very quickly…. Evita was the wife of Argentina’s President in the late 1940s & early 50s, and was very politically active herself. She was a champion of women’s rights and of social programs for the underprivileged. She died of cancer at the untimely age of 33. Evita was extremely popular before her death, and afterwards became a Saint in the eyes of many.

I’ve written an entire blog post dedicated to all things Evita. Click here to read about all the famous Evita sites in Buenos Aires.

The Widest Avenue in the World

The Obelisk sits in the center of the Widest Avenue in the World - Ave 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires

One of Buenos Aires’ most iconic landmarks is The Obelisk. It sits in the center of downtown, and was erected in 1936 to commemorate the founding of the city by the Spanish 400 years earlier. It’s a great landmark for the visitor as well – I used it many times to orient myself as I wandered around central Buenos Aires.

The Obelisk sits in the very center of Avenue 9 de Julio, and that’s why I chose this particular Obelisk photo. This major downtown thoroughfare happens to be the Widest Avenue in the World. 16 lanes of traffic across! In a major pedestrian area!

I had to cross the Widest Avenue in the World often, as our Airbnb apartment was only 1 block away from its edge. Generally, it would take me three different stops at three different crosswalk lights to make it all the way across. One time though, I did make it all the way without stopping – due to some lucky timing, an empty bus lane, and a full sprint across the last two lanes (just so I could say I did it).

The Most Modern Neighborhood

The Puerto Madero skyline  with the Woman's Bridge in front and both reflected in the water

Buenos Aires is huge – the 5th largest city in the Western Hemisphere with 15 million people. And like most huge cities, Buenos Aires is made up of many neighborhoods, each with a distinct character. The most modern neighborhood is Puerto Madero.

Built up on both sides of the city’s original docks (no longer in use), Puerto Madero is a complex of hotels, restaurants, corporate centers, and skyscrapers for both commercial and residential use. The area is linked by several bridges, including the pedestrian-only Woman’s Bridge which is centered in the photo above. The complex of skyscrapers in the photo is the most expensive real estate in all of Latin America.

On this particular evening we found a waterfront seat at sunset, ordered a drink, and watched the reflection and colors change as the sun descended behind us.

Yep, There is Definitely Some Paris Here

Old and new architecture juxtaposed next to each other in Buenos Aires Argentina

You’ll see a lot of classic 19th century French architecture in the downtown areas of Buenos Aires. That’s one of the reasons it’s called the Paris of South America. As I mentioned earlier, lots of immigrants came to Buenos Aires from Europe in the 1800s – including French architects. Consequently, many of the buildings constructed during that time period have a distinct Parisian quality. And I’m sure at the time, the boulevards all looked straight out of Paris.

Some of these old buildings have been torn down rather than restored, and replaced by modern ones. But many remain. And this hodgepodge of architectural styles makes wandering Buenos Aires an architecturally visual feast.

More Street Art, Less Graffiti

Street art in La Boca

One thing we definitely noticed during our visit to Buenos Aires was the abundance of street art. We always see street art everywhere we travel, but I was impressed with the art to graffiti ratio in Buenos Aires. In most European cities we’ve visited recently, graffiti predominates, with the occasional art gem here and there. In Buenos Aires, it’s the opposite. More art, less graffiti.

The long panel in the photo is from the La Boca neighborhood, close to the Caminito (I’ll explain below why specific La Boca location matters).

If you want to see other examples of the street art of Buenos Aires, then check out this great post from a local Buenos Aires blogger.

Plus, This Really Cool Sculpture

The Floralis Generica sculpture in Buenos Aires Argentina pointing towards the sun with the Palermo neighborhood in the background

The Floralis Genérica is another piece of great outdoor art, and an iconic Buenos Aires site. It sits in the center of one of the city’s many parks – in the Recoleta neighborhood. We stayed in Recoleta, so I passed by it often.

This giant metal flower is big – 75 feet tall. And it’s mechanical….theoretically, at least. It was designed to open its six huge petals at 8 am each morning, and then close them at sunset. However, it hasn’t been operational for the last several years. One of our tour guides said that fixing it has been a long-time goal, but the actual repair hasn’t been a government priority and is continually delayed.

It’s still cool to look at though, irregardless of whether it actually opens and closes.

The Most Amazing Cemetery I’ve Ever Visited

Vaults lined up in the Recoleta Cemetery

And speaking of Recoleta, one of the most popular sites to visit in Buenos Aires is located in this neighborhood. The Recoleta Cemetery. It’s the most amazing cemetery I’ve personally ever visited – and we love to visit cemeteries wherever we travel, so we’ve walked through quite a few. It’s always interesting for us to see how different cultures honor their dead.

The Recoleta cemetery is truly a City of the Dead. Almost 5000 above-ground vaults of various architectural styles are lined along multiple tree-lined walkways all laid out in a grid. This is where Argentina’s rich and famous are buried including Presidents, military commanders, and captains of industry. Evita is buried here too. Some of the tombs are extremely elaborate and many have been declared as national historic monuments. Others have fallen into disrepair and neglect.

It’s easy to spend hours here wandering amongst the tombs. You can actually see inside many of them. And the architectural variety is truly stunning. We visited twice. Once with a guide to tell us some of the stories and legends, and once on our own to more slowly appreciate the vaults.

How’s This For a Bookstore?

The interior of the El Ateneo Grand Spendid bookstore which has been called the Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

This is the inside of El Ateneo Grand Splendid. In 2019, National Geographic named it The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World. And I doubt few would argue. The bookstore sits within a converted theater originally constructed in 1919. All the original detail has been restored including a large mural that encompasses the entire ceiling. Bookshelves are everywhere – spread along the main floor and throughout the upper tiers as well. The prime balcony seats – near the stage – are now reading nooks. The stage has been converted into a coffee shop.

It’s a very unique and creative way to repurpose a beautiful old building.

Football is Life

A boy kicks a football against The Republica de La Boca mural

Football is everywhere in Buenos Aires.

Argentina just won the most recent World Cup – and there are celebratory reminders of this glorious achievement in just about every shop and restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona are universally considered the world’s two greatest football players of all time. Their images grace the front of countless buildings, store windows, and billboards.

Argentine football fans might be the most passionate in the world. As proof – opposing fans are no longer allowed into rival stadiums. Too much fighting. Too many resultant fan deaths. That’s some serious sports passion!

One of the most, if not The Most popular football club in Argentina is the Boca Juniors. Their stadium sits in the middle of a neighborhood called La Boca. La Boca is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and tourists are strongly advised to stay off most of its streets.

However, a 2-3 block subsection of La Boca – called the Caminito – is ironically the most touristy part of Buenos Aires. It draws in visitors to admire its colorful 19th-century tenement houses which have now been converted into super-touristy souvenir shops and restaurants. You obviously can safely visit the Caminito – you just are advised not to wander off into the rest of La Boca.

On the edge of the Caminito, you’ll find a mural that celebrates the Republica de La Boca – La Boca briefly and unsuccessfully seceded from Buenos Aires in 1882.

And here, I found a future Boco Junior practicing his beloved sport.

Tango in the Park

Tango Dancers in Plaza Dorrego during the San Telmo Sunday Market in Buenos Aires Argentina

Another of Argentina’s passions is the Tango. Tango dancing originated in Argentina and nearby Uruguay, and is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (like Fado in Portugal or Flamenco in Spain). And when you visit Buenos Aires, you will find many opportunities to witness Tango for yourself.

You can attend one of the city’s lavishly-produced late night Tango shows (like this one). These are directed mostly to tourists and are held in large theaters throughout the downtown area.

You can visit a Milonga – these are dance halls where locals go to dance Tango. Here’s a great guided Milonga experience with Detour BA – a local tour company (use the code thoroughtripper to get a 10% discount on this or any of their tours).

You can see Tango at many of the tourist-focused restaurants in the Caminito section of La Boca. We saw several performances on outdoor restaurant stages as we simply strolled through this area.

Or you can wander the city’s huge San Telmo street market which is held every Sunday. Here you’ll see Tango dancers performing for tips along the streets and in the nearby Plaza Dorrego (where I photographed the two dancers above).

And finally, if you really want to experience Tango yourself, you can even take a Tango lesson. Many such experiences can be found on Viator, like this one.

A Meat-Lovers Paradise

An charcoal grill covered with various kinds of meat at El Gran Paraiso in La Boca

And for my final photo, I’ll share yet another Buenos Aires passion. Asado. Or Barbecue. Just imagine how wonderful it smelled when we walked past this collection of meat on the smokey charcoal grill.

I took this photo at a popular restaurant called El Gran Paraiso in La Boca. It’s located on the edge of the Caminito, so is less touristy than the restaurants located closer to the center, and seemed filled mostly with Argentines. It was one of our favorite dining experiences during our entire visit to Buenos Aires. We ate our way through a huge pile of barbecued meat – featuring several different cuts of beef plus chorizo – in a beautiful outdoor courtyard on a perfect April afternoon.

The Argentine diet overall is very meat-centric, and charcoal grills like this one are a very common site when eating out. Beunos Aires is most definitely a meat-lovers paradise. Be sure to check out my previous two posts for more detail on both the Food of Buenos Aires and on Mate – Argentina’s Favorite Drink.

Final Thoughts

So as you can see, there is plenty to do and lots to explore when you visit Buenos Aires. We were never bored during our stay. And even after a month, didn’t come close to seeing it all. Make sure Buenos Aires finds a deserved spot on your own travel bucket list.

If you want to consider some other cities for that list, then check out these posts:

11 Photos That Will Convince You To Visit Athens Greece

11 Photos That Will Convince You To Visit Lisbon Portugal

And if you would like some further practical information about traveling in Buenos Aires, then check out this one:

10 Practical Buenos Aires Travel Tips

2 Comments

  • Peggy Zipperer

    Buenos Aires was on my list, thanks to Phil Rosenthal! Great post with lots of interesting things to do and see. The Widest Avenue in the World is crazy! And the cemetary was pretty incredible. Looking forward to more posts (that Evita one!). Glad you both emjoyed your stay!

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