With a combination of Latin flair, European influence, elegant boulevards and gritty backstreets, Argentina’s capital city is worth more than 24 hours of your time – but we know that isn’t always the case. Whether you find yourself in town for a short stay, during a layover, or squeezing in a little “bleisure” travel, we’re here to share some recommendations and explain how to spend 24 hours in Buenos Aires. Of course, our local travel experts at Say Hueque are also available to arrange any sightseeing tours during your time in Buenos Aires.
Before You Arrive in BA:
Home to almost one third of Argentina’s total population, Buenos Aires is a massive metropolis, sprawling across what was once a flat patch of pampas beside the River Plate. It’s known for being fast-moving, exuberant, and architecturally stunning with tons of characters to meet, things to see, and places to visit. In fact, Argentines take pride in styling themselves as Europeans which you will immediately notice in their food, fashion, architectural design and customs.
A majority of incoming international flights land by descending over the immense, Río de la Plata (River Plate). Look out for the delta to the west, Buenos Aires on the coast and also Uruguay. You can take in the green pampas as you land – you won’t see a lot of nature once you’re in the heart of the city, unless you make an effort to venture to one of the public parks or dedicated green spaces, like the Botanical Garden in Palermo. Here are some more things to know about the city from our website.
At the Airport:
Located 22km south-west of the city centre, the Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini, better known as Ezeiza, was expanded and modernized in the 2000s and a new terminal added in July 2011. Passport control can be a bit slow, with waiting times reaching up to 40 minutes. U.S. nationals don’t require visas and a 90-day stay is granted on arrival.
Getting into Town:
The taxi ride into town takes 30-40 minutes from the airport. There is also a public bus that is cheaper but can take up to up to 2 hours, stopping all over the city en route. At this time, there is no train service.
If you arrive in Buenos Aires from a neighboring country, you’ll most likely come into the Retiro bus terminal. Get a taxi (black with yellow roof) away from the main exit. From Uruguay, you’ll arrive in the ferry port, walkable from downtown or a 5-15 minute taxi ride to hotels in the centre/Palermo.
The domestic airport, Jorge Newbery (also known as Aeroparque), is about a 20 minute taxi to town; agree a price before getting in. To avoid touts and overpaying, you can try to prearrange a driver through your hotel, especially if you can’t speak Spanish. Remember it’s not customary to tip cab drivers. You can also use free wifi at the hotel to hail an Uber if you already have it linked on your phone.
What to Do, See, and Experience in BA:
Here are some of the must-see neighborhoods and sites (depending on your interests) that you’ll want to keep on your radar:
- La Boca Barrio: The colorful neighborhood, it’s probably the most visited and photogenic area of the city. The “all colors” houses, where immigrants used to live, are now a big attraction on the main street.
- San Telmo: This section of the city retains some of the colonial flavor of past years and is steeped in the city’s history. It has charming cobblestone streets, low buildings, antique shops and the famed Sunday antique market in the main square of the barrio.
- Teatro Colon – Opera House: The second largest performing arts theater in the southern hemisphere, second only to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Teatro Colon is venerable, opulent and perfect. Tours are run, every day in English and Spanish.
- El Ataneo Bookstore: Situated at 1860 Santa Fe Avenue in Barrio Norte, the building opened as a theatre named Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919. It was renovated in February 2000 and now serves as a major attraction, with more than a million people walking through its doors annually.
- Recoleta Cemetery: The ritzy Recoleta neighborhood draws visitors in the numbers for a wander through Buenos Aires’ up-market residential streets and public parks, which also happens to include an ornate necropolis so large it’s like a mini city of states and marble sarcophagi. One of the most famous tombs is that of Eva Peron (Evita).
Buenos Aires contains a number of museums, galleries, and exhibition halls. The most unique and interesting works are by local artists while the internationally renowned European artists are a bit under-represented in Argentina- although you still can find good pieces in Museo de Bellas Artes, or the Private Collection of Amalita Fortabat.
- Museo Evita: Lafinur 2988. Tel. 4807 0306. This interactive museum shows videos, objects and magazines of one of the most emblematic political figures.
- Museo de Arte Decorativo: Av. Del Libertador 1902. Tuesdays to Sundays in the afternoon (except January and February when it closes on Sundays too). Open from 14 to 19 hrs. This mansion, once a family house, shows how the aristocracy used to live in the country at the beginning of the 1900s.
- Museo de Bellas Artes: Av del Libertador 1473. Tuesdays to Fridays, 14:30 to 20:30- Saturdays and Sundays 12:30 to 20:30. Our major art collection on the first floor holds excellent argentinan art. There are also rooms dedicated to European and pre-Columbian art. Free entrance.
- Malba: Figueroa Alcorta 3415. Open from Thursday through Monday and Holidays from 12:00 to 20:00. Wednesday till 21:00. Closed Tuesday. If you like modern art, you will love this museum. It is consider the best modern art collection of Latin America.
- Museo de Ciencias: Prohibido No Tocar: Centro Cultural Recoleta, Junin 1930. Monday to Friday 10 to 17 hs. Saturdays, Sundays and hollidays from 15:30 a 19:30 hs.(includes school holidays from December to March). This science museum is mainly for kids, but also to anyone interested in science. This museum shows in a very interactive way that science can be easy understood if you can touch it!
Lastly, no trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without a little tango! Milongas are the discotheques of tango. Usually they offer classes first and with the same ticket you can stay to enjoy the Milonga. Entrances start at around $30 pesos.
Here is a selection of the ones we highly recommend you to visit!
- La Viruta: Tel 4774-6357. Armenia 1366 Downstairs. A must for starters, classes are everyday from early afternoon to 22 hrs. You pay once and can stay for all the dance classes of the day and the milonga (usually gets good around midnight and lasts until 6 or 7am!). Teachers are friendly, and although the class is in Spanish they are happy to try to use their English!
- La Catedral: Tel 1553251630; Sarmiento 4006. The rough and tumble warehouse space gets full on Tuesdays. Surrounded by a bizarre decoration of old artifacts, colorful lamps and accompanied by vegetarian menu, it gets full and vibrant. Classes held everyday 19:30 or 21 hrs. The milonga starts after 22:30 goes until the dancers decide to go home.
- La Ideal: Tel. 15-4526-7580. Suipacha 384. The old confiteria, just one block from the obelisk, has a good mixture of locals, tourists and old fashion architecture. It has been going on for the last twenty years, long before the young people rediscovered tango. Maybe that is why you will find many white-haired ladies taking their high heels from their bags while the DJ plays the first tango. Sunday afternoons are one of the best days, but check their schedule at the entrance of the Confiteria as they change it quite often.
- Salon Canning: Tel 4832-6753; Scalabrini Ortiz 1331. A great dance floor and some of BA’s finest dancers grace this traditional venue’s stage. It gets very full and stays open very late. Milongas and classes everyday, but the most popular one is on Fridays.
- Niño Bien: Tel 4147-8687. Humberto Primo 1462. Takes place on Thursdays at the Central Regional Leonesa, attracting a large variety of aficionados- some consider it the best milonga in town. It has a great atmosphere, large ballroom and good dance floor. Take taxi to go and come back.