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One Day in Buenos Aires (from a local’s perspective)

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Buenos Aires is a beautiful, vibrant, and cosmopolitan city, often referred to as the Paris of the South. It’s also the biggest city in Argentina and has a rich history and cultural heritage.

With a European influence, lively Latin culture, and colorful arts scene, there is so much to see and do in Buenos Aires. Not to mention, you will also eat and drink some of the world’s best food and wine here, with traditional steakhouses and patio dining on almost every corner.

Luckily, Buenos Aires is also a very walkable city, making it an easy city to get around. So, if you’re short on time, there’s a lot you can see in just 24 hours. To pack in as much as possible, I recommend getting an early start in the morning and wearing your most comfortable shoes.

This one day in Buenos Aires itinerary will allow you to experience the best of the city, including the Recoleta, Palermo, San Telmo and La Boca neighborhoods. It will be a long day, but you will get to see some of the city’s most important historic and cultural sites and experience Buenos Aires like a local.

How to Spend One Day in Buenos Aires from a Local’s Perspective

Advice on how to visit Buenos Aires in one day from a local’s perspective. Go beyond the best things to do in Buenos Aires and discover the local favorites.

Morning

Enjoying Plaza de Mayo during a one day in Buenos Aires itinerary

Have Breakfast at Café La Biela

Start your day in Recoleta, by having breakfast at the historic café La Biela. Dating back to 1850, and considered to be the oldest café in Buenos Aires, this is the best place to enjoy a traditional Argentine breakfast.

Typically, breakfast is a light meal in Argentina, consisting of toast or facturas (pastries), accompanied by a coffee or glass of fresh Orange Juice. Argentines prefer to save their appetite for later in the day and I recommend following suit, as there will be plenty of other delicious foods to sample throughout Buenos Aires in one day.

La Biela (meaning ‘the connecting rod’) took on its current name in the 1950s after becoming the meeting place of a motor enthusiasts club. The interior is now decorated with motorsports memorabilia, so it’s an interesting place to sip your morning coffee. However, weather permitting, I recommend sitting outside on La Biela’s patio, under the shade of the oldest tree in Buenos Aires – the Gomero de la Recoleta – a giant rubber tree planted in 1800.

Visit Recoleta Cemetery

After breakfast, walk across the square to Recoleta Cemetery. This might sound a bit creepy, but this is actually one of the most beautiful and interesting cemeteries in the world.

Recoleta Cemetery was officially named Buenos Aires’ first public cemetery in 1822, when it was taken over from the monks of the Recoleta, after who the Recoleta neighborhood is named. There are more than 6,400 crypts, towering mausoleums, statues, and coffins in Recoleta Cemetery (including many carved from marble), depicting a mix of neo-gothic, baroque, and art nouveau architecture.

Here, you will also be able to see the final resting place of a lot of high-profile Argentines, such as past presidents, Nobel prize winners, and wealthy local families. The most famous tomb is that of Eva Perón (or ‘Evita’), the former first lady of Argentina, politician, activist, and actress. You can find her grave under her family name, Duarte.

Entry to Recoleta Cemetery is free for locals, but foreign visitors must pay an entry fee of $2,338 ARS (around $10 USD). This can be paid by card before entering the cemetery. To learn more about this history and stories of Recoleta Cemetery’s most notable residents, you can also book a walking tour ahead of time.

Walk Buenos Aires’ Most Famous Streets to The Obelisk

Your final stop for the morning during your 24 hours in Buenos Aires will be to visit the ‘Obelisco de Buenos Aires’ (Obelisk of Buenos Aires). This iconic structure was erected in 1936 to commemorate the first foundation of the city and marks the place where the Argentine flag was raised for the first time. It is also the city’s most popular attraction and is what most people picture when they think of Buenos Aires. Therefore, it’s something you must see when visiting the city!

The Obelisco is about a 35-minute walk from Recoleta Cemetery, and the walk itself is an activity worth doing. The route will first take you down the lavish Avenida Alvear. This magnificent avenue extends seven blocks and is lined with luxury hotels, haute-couture shopping, and multiple embassies, all housed in buildings that will make you think you’re in Paris.

Once you’ve finished marveling at the beautiful French architecture, at the end of Avenida Alvear turn right and you will find yourself on Avenida 9 de Julho – the widest avenue in the world. In the distance, at the center of the avenue, you will be able to see the iconic landmark, so just keep walking toward it. This area is much more urban than where you will have just come from. It is the heart of the city, filled with traffic and people, where you can experience the true hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. Once you reach the Obelisco, make sure to stop and take some photos in front of the BA sign!

If you’re not yet sick of all the walking in Buenos Aires, you can continue by foot to the next stop – San Telmo. Take Avenida Roque Sáenz Peña (also known as ‘Diagonal Norte’) straight to the Plaza de Mayo. This is the city’s main foundational site and the location of some of Argentina’s most significant historic events. Then head south down Calle La Defensa (Defensa Street), which takes you into San Telmo.

Afternoon

Colorful buildings in La Boa on a 24 hours in Buenos Aires itinerary

Have Lunch at The San Telmo Market

San Telmo is Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhood, with cobblestone streets, beautiful colonial buildings, and plenty of arts and culture.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a Sunday, you will get to experience the San Telmo Street Fair, which stretches 13 blocks down Calle La Defensa and has been running for over 50 years! Here you will be able to see live street performances and browse handmade goods, clothes, antiques, original art, homemade food, and souvenirs. Although even if it’s not a Sunday, Calle La Defensa is still a charming and interesting street to explore.

By this point, you’ve probably worked up an appetite! Luckily, there will be plenty of food options to choose from at your next stop – the San Telmo Market. Located at the corner of Avenida Carlos Calvo and Calle La Defensa, this large indoor market has everything you could think of, from stalls selling antiques and trinkets to fresh meat, fish and fruit, spices, and coffee. But the best part is the variety of restaurants you will find inside the market, all serving the freshest quality food, cooked in front of you as you dine at the counter.

Each restaurant has its own specialty – from steak or fish to pasta or salad – you will be able to find something to suit your appetite. You might have to wait for a spot to open up at your preferred counter, but each restaurant generally has a pretty quick turnaround, so you probably won’t have to wait for too long.

Visit Colorful La Boca

After lunch, head over to the colorful neighborhood of La Boca. Although La Boca is within walking distance of San Telmo, for safety reasons it is generally not recommended to walk outside of the main tourist areas here. Therefore, I recommend getting a taxi or Uber – you can ask them to drop you off by the Caminito, which is the busiest area.

La Boca is a harbor neighborhood and was actually Buenos Aires’ first port. The Caminito (meaning ‘little path’) is a pedestrian-only street full of brightly colored buildings, which the neighborhood is now most famous for. It’s rumored that La Boca’s tradition of painting homes with bright colors came from the fishermen who first settled in the area and are thought to have used the leftover paint from their boats on their homes. However, Caminito is actually the product of a local artist – Benito Quinquela Martín – who took it upon himself to turn the once-abandoned street into an art haven.

Warning – the Caminito is a very touristy area, but it is still worth visiting to see what is considered the most colorful street in the world. Plus, you will find local artists displaying their work here, tango dancers in the street, and quirky shops where you can buy souvenirs.

Once you’ve had enough of the Caminito, make your way a couple of streets north to see ‘La Bombenera’ stadium – home of the Boca Juniors football team. This iconic blue and yellow stadium is known for its intense and passionate atmosphere, due to the die-hard Boca Juniors fans and the fact that the stands are only a few meters away from the pitch. To see the inside of the stadium you can book a tour or visit the museum of ‘La Pasión Boquense’, inside the stadium.

Join Locals for Afternoon Activities in Palermo

After the excitement and chaos of La Boca, San Telmo and Central, you will probably be ready to escape the crowds by this point. To do this, get a taxi or Uber to the leafy green neighborhood of Palermo. Here, you will find beautiful tree-lined streets and parks, making you forget you’re in the city. Wandering the streets of Palermo under the green canopy, you will hear birds chirping, be able to seek refuge from the sun, and see locals going about their day.

Stop in either Palermo Hollywood or Palermo Soho to indulge in ice cream (Buenos Aires has some of the best gelato outside of Italy) or have a drink on one of the many sidewalk patios. If you have the energy to continue exploring a bit more, head to Tres de Febrero Park (north of Avenue del Libertador) where locals go to enjoy after-work activities.

The central point of the park is a small lake, surrounded by a pedestrian-only road and tons of green space. Here, you will find people rollerblading, running, walking, playing football, working out, and generally just enjoying the fresh air. If you’ve had enough walking for one day, you can rent bikes and small boats here to explore the park with, or just relax under a tree and people-watch.

The center of the park is also home to a sprawling rose garden and the ‘Jardín de Los Poetas’ (garden of the poets), where you can see the busts of literary icons. Although, please note, this section of the park is only open until 6 pm and is closed on Mondays.

Evening

caminito facade buenos aires 51625
Enjoying Tango is a must for every one day in Buenos Aires itinerary

Have a Traditional Parrilla Dinner

The one thing you must eat while in Buenos Aires is grilled meat, so this is exactly what you should plan to have for dinner. Parrilla (meaning ‘grill’) refers to any restaurant specializing in grilled meats, which are cooked on grates over an open fire.

Traditional parrilla restaurants are not hard to come by in Buenos Aires, and generally, the quality will be excellent no matter where you go. Although, if you do have the chance to visit one of the most notable parrilla’s in Buenos Aires, you will have a truly memorable experience.

La Cabrera, Don Julio, and La Carnicería (all located in Palermo Soho) are three of the most highly-rated parrilla restaurants in the city. They all offer melt-in-the-mouth meat and an exceptional experience.

Be warned, portion sizes in Argentina are huge, and most of the cuts of meat are enough to be shared between at least two. I suggest going easy on the appetizers, as the main course really is the star of the show. If you’re not a meat eater, don’t worry as there are always some vegetarian options on the menu -including delicious grilled vegetables, hearty salads, or pasta dishes.

Visit a Milonga (Tango Salon)

After dinner, if you still have some energy left, immerse yourself in a key Buenos Aires tradition, by experiencing tango. If you’re planning to spend one day in Buenos Aires, Argentina, you probably already know that tango is synonymous with Argentina’s culture, and going to a tango show is a popular activity for visitors to Buenos Aires. However, if you’re interested in having a more authentic tango experience, instead of going to a tango show, try visiting a local Milonga, which is a tango salon.

Milongas are a long-standing tradition in Buenos Aires and are where locals go to dance the night away. To attend a Milonga you should be dressed neatly and there is some etiquette to know before visiting. If you’re not comfortable dancing the Tango, you can stay on the sideline and simply observe the dancing, while enjoying a drink.

If it’s your first tango experience, there are also tango lessons and Milonga ‘tours’ which can be booked ahead of time. This is a great option to have a local dancer introduce you to the tango basics and accompany you to a Milonga.

Experience a Buenos Aires Nightclub

If Tango isn’t for you, but you’re not ready to call it a night, luckily Buenos Aires is also known for its nightclubs (although these usually only open very late at night). One notable club is Terrazas del Este in the Bayside area – entry can be pricy, but they often have well-known DJs playing and are one of the most popular clubs in the city.

Tips for One Day in Buenos Aires

Best Time of Year to Visit

Buenos Aires is beautiful at any time of year, but the summers are very hot and humid and can be uncomfortable. In fact, a lot of Buenos Aires locals leave the city in January and February to avoid the heat! On the other hand, the winters can get quite cold and windy. Generally, spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are thought to be the best times to visit Buenos Aires, as the temperatures are milder and there is lots of sunshine.

Best Way to Get Around

When you’re not exploring on foot, the best way to get around Buenos Aires is by taking a taxi or Uber. Buenos Aires also has a great public transport system, with regular buses and a subway. But if you’re short on time, to save trying to figure out the transit network, getting a taxi or Uber is the way to go. Both options are cheap in Buenos Aires, although I have heard stories of taxi drivers overcharging tourists, so keep that in mind.

Safety

Buenos Aires is actually one of the safer cities in South America, although theft and scams are unfortunately quite common here. So make sure to apply common sense while exploring. Like any big city, you should always be aware of your surroundings, stick to busier areas, and don’t wander around by yourself at night. You should also avoid carrying valuables or large sums of cash with you and don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches.

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