So recently I returned from a 4 month (give or take a few days) stint in South America. I travelled over 5600km from San Jose, Costa Rica- my starting point- to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I travelled solo as a female on mainly buses around 6 countries and loved every minute, seriously, even the down moments I welcomed because not only does it make you appreciate the good times but travelling is an experience and I found that you really only have a rounded experience when you are flung into all sorts of emotions. Anyway, this post is not about that, it is the first of many updates from my travels to help inspire others or at least help with what can be found in the places that I visited. I spent many hours trailing through blogs and travel websites looking for things to do in each city, town, suburb, wherever and they were super helpful but I also did my own exploring (kinda the idea of travelling I think) but if you need a helping hand or just want to hear what I got up to in Buenos Aires, read on….
1 . A Night Dancing Away to Bomba del Tiempo
A bizarre one to start on maybe as I guess as a night time event it should come at the end but it features here as it is one of the most fun things to do on a night in BA. On a Monday , take the underground to Carlos Gardel and seriously just follow the crowds to Konex Cultural Centre, an outdoors, courtyard style venue with bars positioned around its perimeter. The place is the perfect venue to watch a 20 strong drumming group perform samba and more from the stage at the front; tourists and locals gather alike to dance away to the infectious rhythms of the band and after they finish, the surrounding streets are adorned with spontaneous “parties”. It costs between $100-130 for entry and beers are relatively expensive (but then you do get a 2 pint glass).
2. Browsing the Stalls of the Antique & Flea Market in San Telmo
If meandering around the cobbled streets of a vibrant, energetic environment whilst searching for a bargain on almost anything you can think of is your kinda thing then head on down to the market on a Sunday around La Dorrego. This square is a good place to start as you can watch locals gather to perform authentic Argentinian tango music with tango dancers of all ages accompany them; it really has a relaxed atmosphere with happy people enjoying soaking in the music and enjoying a sunny Argentinian Sunday. As I walked up and down the surrounding streets to La Dorrego, I found myself exploring hidden vintage stores in building courtyards, meeting local artists and crafters selling their own produce and my favourite, seeing this guy carrying a whole heap of feather dusters. A little stop off at DesNivel, one of the best places to get asado and choripan, grab a take away choripan and head to a comfy curb to enjoy!
3. Visit the Rose Garden in the Palermo Woods
Ok, so the Palermo Woods is not a woods, this is the main ‘park’ area of Buenos Aires. It is a great spot to walk to, after exploring the streets and trendy coffee bars of Palermo. Palermo Woods consists of the Japanese Garden, Zoo and the Rose Garden. Head to the left when entering the woods to get the gates of the Rose Garden. I loved this place because, well, it was beautiful and serene and a place not only to see an abundance of flowers but to watch the parrots fly overhead, see locals roller blading along the park streets and to have a break from the city scene. Take a camera and a book and relax amongst the flowers.
4. Take a taster Tango Class at a Milonga
So there is an abundance of shows on offer for tourists throughout the city, and these are quite spectacular however if you are like me and prefer a more down to earth experience of learning the ‘real’ Argentinian Tango then take a taster class at a Milonga. These places are for anyone and everyone that wants to dance including local dancers, tourists and even professional dancers from around the world wanting to sample some originality. I highly recommend Maldita Milonga on Peru St in San Telmo where classes are offered on Wednesdays and Sundays; we had an hour class with a great couple who explained the emotion felt whilst dancing tango, rather than learning just the steps, afterall Argentinian tango is about passion and desire and there is no better place to learn about this then in Maldita Milonga. Accompanied by a live band, patrons can dance into the night or enjoy a glass of red whilst soaking in the atmosphere.
5.Cycle through Boca del Toro to Constanera Sur Ecological Reserve
On my final day in Buenos Aires whilst I had visited Boca del Toro previously, I wanted to take a bike and cycle through this colourful, vibrant, if not overtly touristy area and up through to one of the cities only concrete jungle escapes, Constanera Sur Ecological Reserve. There are plentiful places to hire bikes, our hostel had their own to hire – pretty simple if you ask me; we were staying in Puerto Limon Hostel. To get to Boca del Toro you do have to cycle along some rather busy roads without cycle lanes but drivers are well aware of cyclists and we encountered no problems getting there. Once in Boca del Toro there are lanes and many cyclists (nothing like Amsterdam but there are lanes and you need to stick to them). Boca del Toro is a tourist trap, mainly due to its coloured corregated iron buildings, created from old shipping containers and its regular market stools selling crafted items like silverware, art, leather bags, belts. It is a great scene to pull up your bike, order a beer and enjoy some music and discover art in one of the many courtyards hosting mini galleries. After resting for a moment, you take the main freeway towards Constanera Sur Ecological. It was a weekend day that I went here and it was bustling with people walking dogs, with prams and working out. The reserve is suitable for cycling and there are lots of lanes leading to different parts of the reserve to explore. Along the way, if you are interested, the park hosts signs with information on the natural birdlife in the area. There are small alcoves for privacy if you want to take a picnic, a book or just enjoy the view overlooking Rio de la Plata where you can pull up, again, and rest. You can while away the hours in this area enjoying some calmness away from the excitement of the city.
6. Take a Stroll around San Telmo to Discover the Street Art
For some reason it took me almost the whole time I spent in Buenos Aires to get my sense of direction when in San Telmo. This is the district where I spent most of my time and where my hostel was based. Normally I can fit easily into a new landscape and pick up landmarks in order to navigate around the city, however in San Telmo, the streets just didn’t make sense to me (I’m sure others will be better at navigating than I) but the thing that I actually appreciated with this was being able to discover the many artworks that adorn the buildings on different street corners. It was surprising to me when after 5 days, I was still discovering new artworks. I suggest taking the afternoon with a camera to just walk the streets in this district. As always, be cautious but the area is pretty safe and I was mainly doing this sort of thing solo and I was fine.
7. Take Selfies at the Obelisco de Buenos Aires on 9 de Julio Avenue
Ok, so this a touristy thing today but I feel it necessary to add in to one of things not to miss in BA, plus it only takes maybe an hour in your day to visit and then its onto your next stop. Situated at the junction of 9 de Julio Avenue and Corrientes and built in 1936, the obelisk is a famous landmark in the city that has been the central location for concerts, demonstrations and rallies over the years. To cross over to the monument, you also will be walking on the world’s largest avenue in terms of traffic lanes, 7 in each direction with parallel streets on each side with 2 lanes and if you walk South you will see the former Ministry of Communications building which displays 2 steel portraits of Eva Peron (Evita) which light up at night.
8. Join the Crowd for a Free Walking Tour around La Recoleta
This area of Buenos Aires is a little more up market than other areas in the city and is where architectural styles interconnect. At 10.30am everyday there is a free walking tour starting from Teatro Colon which takes you through the district of Recoleta and ending near to the cemetery should you wish to visit and find the crypt of Eva Peron. This area is full of architectural diversity, where luckily a number of French designed buildings from the early 20th Century still stand amongst newer erected, flat glass panelled apartment buildings. Taking the tour showcases the history and the development of Recoleta’s architecture over the last 100 years with some funny anecdotes about rival affluent families.
9. Sample THE BEST Choripan in BA
This is quite a statement but I stand by it. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, my friend had already scouted out the best place to get a choripan (and the cheapest). Taking the metro to Plaza de Mayo, head down towards Rio Dique and Macacha Guemes street that crosses the river. There on the corner of Macacha Guemes and Av. Eduardo Medero you will find a gentleman on the street with his grill flaming any time of the day, every day of the week (unless of course it’s raining). Fresh bread, chorizo sausage, lettuce, peppers and an assortment of sauces, and cooked fresh in-front of you within 5-10 minutes, this is the best place to grab one of these and head for a walk along the river or just people watch. So good and my stomach is rumbling thinking about it….
There are countless other adventures to be had in Buenos Aires but these are the ones that I would say are not to be missed, are on the cost effective front and can be a solo or group activity regardless. I can’t wait to get back to the energy of BA hopefully in the not too distant future.