I didn’t go to a tango show, I didn’t eat a whole grilled cow, and no, I’m really not going to Patagonia—been there, done that, it’s cold and windy down there.

There’s more to Buenos Aires than tango, leather goods and football.

These are the experiences that made my 12-day stay interesting.

My two Buenos Aires Airbnb

For me, renting an apartment is practical because I can cook and do my own laundry. But it’s also a way to see how locals live and test a few neighbourhoods.

My first Airbnb was a tiny studio with tons of quirks with the microwave on top of the washing machine. I had to plug in the converter every time I was doing laundry because it worked on 220v instead of 110v or the other way around. Obviously, I had to light the gas stove burner manually and only one of the two was working—I got really good at removing my hand quickly when using matches. Oh, and there was no shower cabin, it was just a showerhead in the corner of the bathroom.

It sounds like an Airbnb from hell but I liked it. The bed was super comfortable, the studio was very clean and I got to see a different protest every day since I was only a block from the Congress.

My second Airbnb was at the very end of a shopping gallery on Lavalle, one of Buenos Aires’ busiest pedestrian streets and the one where you can exchange dollars for pesos at the black-market rate. I could almost hear the daily rate from my window—”cambio, cambio, dólares, cambio…!”

The building was very old but the apartment, a “reverse duplex”, was super modern and brand new.

My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My first Airbnb a block from the Congress, tiny but cozy
My second Airbnb on Lavalle, a busy pedestrian street, at the end of a shopping gallery
My second Airbnb on Lavalle, a busy pedestrian street, at the end of a shopping gallery
My second Airbnb on Lavalle, a busy pedestrian street, at the end of a shopping gallery... so many keys to make it to the apartment!
My second Airbnb on Lavalle, a busy pedestrian street, at the end of a shopping gallery… so many keys to make it to the apartment!
Inside the gallery at night
Inside the gallery at night
Waiting for the elevator for five minutes... and giving up, taking the stairs
Waiting for the elevator for five minutes… and giving up, taking the stairs
Inside my second Airbnb
Inside my second Airbnb

Buenos Aires’ very walkable streets

Buenos Aires is flat with very large sidewalks. I used to call it a “stroller paradise” when Mark was a toddler—looking at you, Brazil, where trees grow in the middle of the sidewalk and every two metres is paved differently…

Argentina’s capital is perfect for long, long walks. It’s also easy to get around because it’s (mostly) built on a grid system. Unlike in Brazil, I wasn’t particularly worried, safety-wise—it’s quite unlikely you’re going to end up in the wrong neighbourhood. That said, unlike in Brazil, scams and pickpockets are more common.

Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires

Grandiose buildings and hidden jewels

If you like statues, architectural gems and buildings in general, Buenos Aires should make you happy. It’s a very pretty city, especially under a clear blue sky.

I do recommend stepping inside El Ateneo Grand Splendid, named “the world’s most beautiful bookstore”—it used to be a theatre.

Plaza Lavalle, Av. Córdoba 1250, C1055 CABA
Plaza Lavalle, Av. Córdoba 1250, C1055 CABA
Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar, C1113AAV, Junín 1898, C1113 CABA
Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar, C1113AAV, Junín 1898, C1113 CABA
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Belén / Parroquia San Pedro Telmo, Humberto 1º 340, C1103 C1103ACG, Buenos Aires
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Belén / Parroquia San Pedro Telmo, Humberto 1º 340, C1103 C1103ACG, Buenos Aires
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Av. Sta. Fe 1860, C1123 CABA
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Av. Sta. Fe 1860, C1123 CABA
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Av. Sta. Fe 1860, C1123 CABA
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Av. Sta. Fe 1860, C1123 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA

Colourful street art

Sure, Buenos Aires isn’t Valparaíso and there is less street art than in Brazil as well. Still, you can find interesting murals in the otherwise pretty boring district of Palermo—I don’t understand why it’s a trendy neighbourhood, there isn’t much there except bars and fancy stores.

Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Centro, Buenos Aires
Centro, Buenos Aires
Defensa, San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Defensa, San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Centro, Buenos Aires
Centro, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Pages and pages of history on sidewalks and walls

You will probably notice the many handmade “memory tiles” dedicated to all the people that were “disappeared” during the dictatorship.

It’s also common to see graffiti or signs about the Islas Malvinas—”Argentinian territory”. This refers to the Falkland War. Even city buses have a sign that says (in Spanish) “Islas Malvinas are and will be Argentinian”.

References to the IMF are also common. It’s a longstanding challenge for Argentina, the country owns US$44.5 billion…

Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
"Get out, IMF", Centro Buenos Aires
“Get out, IMF”, Centro Buenos Aires
Get the English out of the Falkland Islands and get the IMF out of Argentina, Centro, Buenos Aires
Get the English out of the Falkland Islands and get the IMF out of Argentina, Centro, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo, Buenos Aires

The nightlife on Corrientes

Argentinians are night owls and the city comes alive at night—and by “at night”, I mean you can go see a movie or a play at 12:30 a.m.

Avenida Corrientes is packed every night with people looking to grab a slice of pizza, an empanada, some ice cream and more before going to see a play or a musical.

Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires
Avenida Corrientes around midnight, Buenos Aires

The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

I quite enjoyed this art museum, located in the picturesque neighbourhood of La Recoleta. It’s free and you can admire artwork from Goya, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Rodin, Manet and Chagall, plus many great artists from Latin America.

Plaza Francia, Av. del Libertador 1400, C1112 CABA, Argentina
Plaza Francia, Av. del Libertador 1400, C1112 CABA, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente peatonal Dr. Alfredo Roque Vítolo, Puente Facultad de Derecho, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Av. del Libertador 1473, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Puerto Madero

If you want to escape the crowds and pretend Buenos Aires is a super-modern city, head to Puerto Madero.

Some ports are seedy while others were redeveloped and improved—this is the case here and Puerto Madero features the latest architectural trends.

Plaza Del Correo, Buenos Aires
Plaza Del Correo, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires by night

Buenos Aires comes alive at night and it’s quite a sight and buildings are lit up. It’s the chance to see a completely different side of the city—especially if you’ve been walking around blinded by the sun all day long.

Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Congreso de la Nación Argentina, Av. Entre Ríos, C1033 CABA, Argentina
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA
Teatro Colón, Tucumán 1171, C1049 CABA

Avenida 9 de Julio and Obelisk

I have a love-and-hate relationship with Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to cross it, you will have to stop halfway through it. But it’s also quite picturesque, especially around the (very phallic) Obelisk.

Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires

Questionable technology and infrastructures

Buenos Aires is… not modern. Supermarket fridges never seem to be cold and forget about air con. Garbage bins are overflowing (if you’re lucky, you’ll spot rats at night) and conveniences that exist in neighbouring countries just don’t.

A detail always makes me laugh—the lack of automatic doors. I’m not a big fan of air con but refrigeration does help keep food fresh… I ain’t buying lukewarm yogurt. On a side note, this is the first time ever I can’t buy cans of Coke, only bottles!

At least, the convenience stores are open… 25 hours a day.

Your typical supermarket door, not automatic and heavy
Your typical supermarket door, not automatic and heavy
Your typical supermarket door, not automatic and heavy
Your typical supermarket door, not automatic and heavy
Electricity being fixed... saw that all over Buenos Aires
Electricity being fixed… saw that all over Buenos Aires
One of the ubiquitious convenience stores on Corrientes, Buenos Aires
One of the ubiquitious convenience stores on Corrientes, Buenos Aires
Plaza del Congreso, Buenos Aires
Plaza del Congreso, Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

Next up… the jungle.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to Get From Buenos Aires to the Brazilian Jungle

  2. Kiky January 31, 2024 at 10:04 am

    I (especially during your escaping from Canada winter) religiously read your South American trip, but never realized Buenos Aires is soo beatifull, seems interesting city. Traffic seems manageable compare to say…Sao Paulo ?

    Reply
    1. Zhu February 2, 2024 at 11:22 am

      People seem to walk more in Buenos Aires than in Sao Paulo. And drivers are nicer too, they actually let you cross the street!

      Reply

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