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Whatever you do don't miss these 15 things to see in Buenos Aires

Updated: Jul 20


A white marble colonial-style building with zooming cars at night, it's called the Cabildo and is a must see in Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
One of the best things to see is Buenos Aires by night. ©AlonzoWright

What comes to mind when you think of Buenos Aires? Is it sensual tango dancers, pressed together in a dimly lit parlor? Maybe you see cuts of perfectly marbled meat, dripping juices onto a cast-iron metal grate, flames licking each succulent piece. Or maybe it’s a raucous football game where you cheer shoulder to shoulder with the most passionate fans in the world. Whatever you envision, it’s so much more.


Buenos Aires is one of the most visited destinations in all of Latin America, which should signal to you that people from all over the planet are flocking to this vivacious city for very good reasons. The history is palpable and diverse, the people are passionate, the food is tremendous, the architecture is inspiring, and there will be more things to do on any given night than most cities you’ve visited in the past. So what should you see on your trip to Buenos Aires? We’re glad you asked. Here are 15 of the best things to see in Buenos Aires.

 

don't forget to check out our Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

 

An antique wrought iron and glass dome in the center of an old market in Buenos Aires ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel's Things you must see before leaving Buenos Aires.
The San Telmo Market retains much of its original character and still serves as a center of commerce in Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright

1. San Telmo Market

Every Sunday, hundreds of people flock to the San Telmo Market. Artisans from all over the region bring their hand-made goods, antique finds, artisanal foods, and so much more to this outdoor bazaar. If you’re here through the week, there are hundreds of indoor stalls to get lost in, lots of places to grab lunch and coffee, and just as many photo opportunities. The building dates back to the late 1800s and still retains a beautiful glass and iron ceiling in the center.

 

Check out Where you should & definitely should NOT stay in Buenos Aires.

 

One thing you must see in Buenos Aires is a massive white bridge with a large fin and tension cords sits about the Rio de la Plata with skyscrapers in the background. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
The contemporary Puente de la Mujer Bridge was a private gift to the city of Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright

2. Puente de la Mujer

The sleek and futuristic Puente de la Mujer bridge in Puerto Madero is a pretty stark contrast to the historically preserved architecture you’ll find in most neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and that’s exactly why you should see it. The 558 ft. long (170 meters) rotating footbridge was designed by a Spanish architect to encompass the city’s commitment to its thriving art scene.


If you're interested in taking a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Colonia del Sacramento, you'll leave from a port in this neighborhood.


A couple dance the tango upon a rugged wooden floor in a dimly lit parlor in a milonga, one of the things you must see before leaving Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
A tango class before a traditional Milonga at La Catedral in Buenos Aires. P.S. that's really us! ©AlonzoWright

3. A Milonga

You may think that tango dancing is just something Argentinians do for the tourists. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are milongas, or tango dance parties, virtually every night of the week in Buenos Aires. And if you have no idea how to tango, but want to learn, some of the milongas will host a class to teach you about an hour before the party starts. Try this one if you’re a beginner.


Location: Sarmiento 4006, C1197AAH CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina


An ornate theater converted into a bookstore with red velvet curtains, and rows of books where seats once stood, featured in the must sees in Buenos Aires for Manifesting Travel
Named the most beautiful bookstore in the world by NatGeo, the Ateneo Grand Splendid still retains its old world charm. ©Jeison Higuita on Unsplash

4. El Ateneo Grand Splendid

Is this the world’s most beautiful bookstore? It sure looks that way. It opened as the Grand Splendid Theatre in 1919 with carefully painted frescoes on the ceiling, hand carved moldings and elegant private boxes along a stage that was curtained by heavy red velvet. Luckily for us, it hasn’t changed much, except maybe the addition of escalators and a hip coffee bar. You can practically trip over trendy bookstores in Buenos Aires, but this one in Recoleta really takes the cake.


Location: Av. Santa Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

There's so much more to explore in our

South America travel guide.

 

One of the things you must see before leaving Buenos Aires, The Cafe Tortoni's maroon and orange stained glass ceiling is lit up with hanging glass chandeliers, sconces and marble pillars. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
The 19th century stained-glass Tiffany ceiling was installed in the Café Tortoni in the 1800s and casts a warm glow over the patrons. ©AlonzoWright

5. The Café Tortoni

This one is a bit of a touristy spot but only because it’s one of the most beautiful cafés in the city. The Porteño café opened in 1858 and is decorated with marble pillars, ornate crown moldings, and a $1.4 million Tiffany glass ceiling and matching lamps. Its rich history includes being the oldest café in Buenos Aires and hosting a who’s who of notable patrons and dignitaries over the last century, including Albert Einstein, the King of Spain, U.S. Secretaries of State, Hollywood elite, writers and musicians. And probably Robert DeNiro, because that guy’s photo is on everybody’s wall.


Location: Av. de Mayo 825, C1084 CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A three-story presidential palace, La Casa Rosada, sits behind the wrought iron gates with security in Buenos Aires and is a must see attraction. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
The Argentinian presidential office, La Casa Rosada, has retained its pink hue since the 19th century. ©AlonzoWright

6. La Casa Rosada

If this presidential palace looks familiar to you, it’s likely because you recognize it as the site of where beloved first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón addressed the nation (with her husband…the president) in the 1940s and 1950s. It is commonly believed that it was painted pink in order to represent each opposing political party, red for the Federals and white for the Unitarians. Today, it’s the site of the Argentinian president’s office and you can take free tours on the weekends.


La Escondida is a traditional Buenos Aires steakhouse that looks like a converted horse stable with barn rafters, long wouldn't tables and guests dining on asado into the night. It's a can't miss steakhouse in Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
La Escondida in B.A.'s Palermo Soho neighborhood has the look and feel of converted horse stables. ©AlonzoWright

7. A traditional steakhouse

Buenos Aires is known for its asado, in fact, they built an entire lifestyle around grilling. The most decadent dishes in the city rely on a few staples: meat, salt and an open flame…ok except maybe a great bottle of Malbec to wash it all down. You can literally walk through the streets and get hit with the delicious fragrances of roasted meat and grilling smoke.


But don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian or plant-based eater, the city truly is a foodie destination and there are several high-profile restaurants to cater to your tastes. If you need help finding a traditional steakhouse, read about five of the best places to eat meat in Buenos Aires.


Location: Costa Rica 4464, C1414 BSF, Buenos Aires, Argentina


A couple walks arm in arm, under the protection of an umbrella, down the rainy cemetery walkway lined with ornate mausoleums in the Recoleta neighborhood , a must-see attraction in  Buenos Aires, Argentina. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
The Recoleta Cemetery is considered one of the most extravagant and beautiful in the world.©AlonzoWright

8. Recoleta Cemetery

Believed to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, El Cementerio de la Recoleta is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the entire city. That may sound a little strange until you find out just how extraordinary the city’s first public cemetery is.


There are nearly 5,000 ornate mausoleums that serve as the final resting place for Buenos Aires’s most influential people including presidents, Nobel Prize winners, military officers and of course, the most famous gravesite of all, Eva Perón. Visiting the cemetery is like walking through a serene city that is lined with more sculptural masterpieces than even some museums.


A low lying wetland and ecological reserve in Buenos Aires with a view of skyscrapers in the background called Costanera Sur Eco Reserve. It's a must see in Buenos Aires.
This tranquil nature preserve is a stark contrast to the bustling city it sits in. ©Buenos Aires Tourism Board

9. Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Although there are lots of open green spaces throughout the city, the ecological reserve in the Puerto Madero neighborhood along the river is next level. It sits on 865 acres of low-lying land along the Rio de la Plata and is home to more than 2,000 species of flora and fauna with multiple walking trails.


The reserve came about by pure happenstance. It had once been intended for an administrative complex that fell through, and nature reclaimed this section of the city while the humans were still trying to decide what to do with it.


A leafy plant shoots up from the middle of a trickling pond surrounded by greenhouses and trees at the Jardin Botánico Carlos Thays botanical garden, a must-see in Buenos Aires. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
Buenos Aires is known for its sprawling green spaces, but this is botanical garden is definitely my favorite. ©AlonzoWright

10. Jardin Botánico Carlos Thays

Imagine walking down a bustling city avenue and running smack into a lush, green garden spanning seven hectares. That’s exactly what happens when you stumble upon Jardin Botánico Carlos Thays. The red gravel pathways curl their way around more than 6,000 plants and trees, trickling fountains, an herbarium, botanical library and five greenhouses.


The exquisite art nouveau greenhouse is made entirely of antique iron and glass and received an award at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900. Make sure you check out the butterfly garden that is open on the weekends.


The Buenos Aires city view with skyscrapers in the background and colonial style Museo Nacional de Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo on the busy Plaza de Mayo square, a must see. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
The former colonial town hall is now a museum and has retained much of its original character, including a water well on the property. ©AlonzoWright

11. The Cabildo

This beauty is the Cabildo, a former colonial town hall from the 1700s and the current site of the Museo Nacional de Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo. The Cabildo sits on one end of the Plaza de Mayo, the oldest public square in the city and easily one of the best places to people watch in all of Buenos Aires.


At any given time of the day, there could be protests, people going to work, political marches, people eating lunch, folks feeding the birds and everything in between. It is the intersection where history and modern-day life in Buenos Aires meet, with a constant river of people passing through.


A japanese wooden bridge with red handrails, zigzags across a pond that is lined with trees, lilly pads, and japanese sculptures in the Japanese Botanical Gardens in Buenos Aires, a can't miss attraction. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
Jardin Japones is one of the largest of its kind that is located outside of Japan. ©AlonzoWright

12. Japanese Botanical Gardens

By now you’re aware of all the European influences that make up Buenos Aires, but how about the Asian influences? Buenos Aires has a large Asian population; it’s estimated in the last 50 years alone more than 200,000 Asians immigrated to Buenos Aires.


In 1967, these botanical gardens were built to coincide with a visit by the Japanese emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko. It’s one of the largest of its kind outside of Japan and boasts many water features like a koi pond where you can feed the fish, islands connected by bridges, fountains and sculptures. There’s also a restaurant on site, a cultural center, a gift shop and even a nursery where you can pick out your own bonsai trees.


A white marble opera house with ornate carved pillars and details, a glass porte cochere, and dramatic uplighting with hundreds of theater goers lining up outside, one building you must see in Buenos Aires.
The opulent Teatro Colón is considered one of the finest opera houses in the world. ©Teatro Colón

13. Teatro Colón

The famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires was built in late 1800s and has been named one of the best opera houses in the world by National Geographic. Considered on par with the Opera Garnier in Paris and London’s Royal Opera House, it is considered the place to see classical music, the ballet and of course, an opera. The theater recently hosted a concert benefit to support Ukrainian refugees featuring the one and only, Plácido Domingo. If you’re a true aficionado, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s one of the only theaters in the world that has its own factory that employs artists in theatrical trades to create all the stage sets, costumes, wigs, shoes and even special effects. And you can tour that facility too! Click here for Teatro Colón tickets and tour information.


Location: Cerrito 628, C1010 CABA, Argentina

A huge crowd of football/soccer fans cheering during a game, wearing Argentina's blue and white stripes, waving flags and celebrating in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
You'll be hard pressed to find more spirited and loyal football fans. ©Buenos Aires Tourism Board

14. Watch a football game

It’s commonly believed that Buenos Aires’s top two football teams (soccer for the Americans in the bunch), the Boca Juniors and River Plate have one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in the history of the sport.


These two teams have been battling it out since 1913 and the lines have been proverbially drawn in the sand between the blue collared Boca Juniors and the white collared River Plate fans. Whichever team you choose, it promises to be a match you’ll never forget, as both fan bases are known for their fiery and undying support of their team.


A white marble obelisk stands in the center of a city square, the Plaza de la Republica in the city of Buenos Aires, it's a must see attraction ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
The Buenos Aires Obelisk stands 235 feet (71.5 meters) tall in the Plaza de la República. ©AlonzoWright

15. The obelisk

Throughout history, you’ve probably seen obelisks erected all over the world and had no idea what they meant. Ancient Egyptians associated them with strength and vitality, evoking a sense of immortality for the civilization. Buenos Aires is no different.


The Obelisco de Buenos Aires was built in 1936 to commemorate the city’s 400th anniversary and serve as a national monument in the Plaza de la República.

 

Check out more things to see in Buenos Aires


 
Headshot for Ashley Onoz-Wright, editor in chief at Manifesting Travel

Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.


 

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