Our must-see Buenos Aires itinerary covers the wildly-distinctive smells and flavors of every neighborhood, fully immersing you in the exuberance of a city that enthralls visitors, many of whom find it impossible to leave the charm and warm embrace of the city.

If you can, align this itinerary so that Day 3 falls on a Sunday, so you can enjoy the myriad pleasures of the Feria de San Pedro Telmo. This itinerary assumes you’ll be on foot or taking public transit, but it’s often just as easy (and cheap) to take a cab from place to place.

Centro is an ideal home base and starting point for this itinerary. Milhouse Hostel Avenue is the city’s hottest lodging for backpackers, while Hotel Castelar offers classy rooms and old-school charm.

Day 1

Centro and Puerto Madero

Start at Plaza de Mayo, the focal point of the city. It contains a wealth of attractions, including the Casa Rosada, Cabildo, and Catedral Metropolitana. Stop off at nearby Café Tortoni for refreshments during the morning.

Gilded box seats and a beautiful painted ceiling inside the Teatro Colon.

Inside the beautiful Teatro Colón. Photo courtesy of Teatro Colón.

Next, take a tour of the fascinating Teatro Colón, then walk to Plaza de la República and take a peek at the Obelisco. From there, it’s time to lunch on the finest beef at Cabaña Las Lilas.

To get to Cabaña Las Lilas from Plaza de la República, take a Subte Line B train from Carlos Pellegrini station to Leandro N Alem. Continue east on Av. Corrientes, then turn south onto Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo.

Cross the Puente de la Mujer and walk down the Costanera Sur to reach the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur. Work your way north, exploring the coastline and marshy areas and see what birds and wild animals you can spot.

Proceed to the Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat to appreciate an eclectic private art collection. After you’re done, stroll down the docks of Puerto Madero until you reach Rojo Tango. At this upscale spot, you’ll enjoy dinner while watching one of the most luxurious tango shows the city offers.

Day 2

Recoleta, Balvanera, and Amagro

Begin at the Cementerio de la Recoleta, the graveyard for many of the country’s most illustrious historical figures. Next door to the cemetery, check out the current exhibitions on offer at the Centro Cultural de Recoleta before meandering through the pleasant grass squares to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and spending a few hours admiring the work of international and Argentine masters.

Following a light lunch on the patio at Croque Madame, swing by the Biblioteca Nacional. Head up to the fifth floor for a panoramic view of the city.

To get to El Ateneo Grand Splendid from the Biblioteca Nacional, walk southwest one block to Av. Las Heras, then turn east and continue to Las Heras Subte station. Take Line H one stop south to Santa Fe. From the station walk about six blocks east.

Browse through the books in El Ateneo Grand Splendid, once an ornate theater. For more shopping, head south toward Balvanera to visit the Mercado de Abasto, a four-story mall.

The Mercado de Abasto shopping mall lit up at night.

The Mercado de Abasto shopping mall. Photo © Natalia Bianchi.

To get to Mercado de Abasto from El Ateneo Grand Splendid, walk south along Av. Callao to Av. Corrientes. At the Callao Subte station, get on a westbound Line B train. Disembark at Carlos Gardel station, which will deposit you directly in front of the mall.

You’ve likely worked up an appetite, so have a hearty dinner at one of the city’s many Peruvian restaurants, such as nearby Carlitos, on Avenida Corrientes, or La Conga, a 15-minute walk farther south into Balvanera. Combine your meal with drinks before or after at the classic Almagro bar El Banderín. From there, it’s just a few-minutes’ walk to La Catedral. Get there in time for the evening tango class or arrive later and watch others dance during the late-night milonga.

Day 3

San Telmo, La Boca, and Retiro

Head down to San Telmo for breakfast at Bar Británico, which looks out over the morning bustle of Parque Lezama. If it’s a Sunday, you’ll want to eat quickly to beat the crowds to the weekly Feria de San Pedro Telmo, where you’ll enjoy picking through the antiques on offer in Plaza Dorrego.

It’s just a short walk of several blocks north to the next stop. Drop into El Zanjón de Granados to take a tour of underground tunnels and learn about the earliest moments in the city’s history. Break for lunch at El Federal, a few blocks southwest of the tunnels.

The elegant and decorative wooden bar at El Federal.

The elegant and decorative wooden bar at El Federal. Photo © Natalia Bianchi.

Make your way east to Avenida Paseo Colón to see the Canto al Trabajo monument. Stroll around the colorful Caminito and adjoining streets, with their open-air tango shows and rustic shops.

To get to Caminito from Canto al Trabajo, take a southbound 152 bus from in front of the statue to the last stop on the route, which is on La Boca’s waterfront. Walk west along the waterfront until you reach Caminito.

Walk a few blocks north and take a tour of the Boca Juniors soccer stadium and museum (as long as there’s no match scheduled). Then head back toward Caminito to peruse the exhibits in one of the city’s best art museums, Fundación PROA. Enjoy the views of the old port from the museum’s café before heading back into the city center to explore the Retiro neighborhood.

To get to Retiro from Fundación PROA, catch a northbound 20 bus, which passes the museum entrance. Disembark at the bottom of Plaza San Martín (intersection of Av. Eduardo Madero and San Martín).

Once you’re at Plaza San Martín, listen for the bells of Torre Monumental, which imitate those at Westminster Abbey. In the southern part of the plaza, you can catch sight of the elegant Palacio de San Martín and Palacio Paz.

Top off the day with dinner from the parrilla at BASA, just a block from the Torre Monumental, and a well-earned cocktail from Florería Atlántico.

Day 4

Palermo

Sleep in a bit, then head to the Palermo neighborhood. Have a light breakfast of French pastries and coffee at Le Pain Quotidien before taking in the renowned collection of art at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), just around the corner, when it opens at noon.

It’s about a 20-minute walk southwest to Museo Evita, today’s lunch destination. From here, walk just a short distance south to reach the Jardín Botánico. Wander amid the Roman, French, and oriental gardens and enjoy the shade from the botanic garden’s many trees. For more greenery, visit the adjacent Parque Tres de Febrero and stroll its paths or rent a boat and paddle around one of its lakes. Try and count the number of roses on display in the Rosedal or explore the Jardín Japonés, the city’s large well-kept Japanese gardens.

A statue of Mercury in the Jardín Botánico

A statue of Mercury in the Jardín Botánico. Photo © Natalia Bianchi.

Once you’ve had your fill of parkland, cross Avenida Santa Fe to reach the Palermo Soho shopping district, where you can explore boutiques and high-end shops.

Have a Mexican dinner at María Felix or an Armenian feast at the acclaimed Sarkis. Afterward, paint the town red in Palermo Soho at beer haven Antares or Paris-themed Oliver’s Club.

With More Time

Greater Buenos Aires

Though it’s not far from the western edge of Palermo, plan on devoting a half day or more to visiting the hard-hitting Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA). On one of their three-hour tours (book in advance), you’ll learn about one of the darkest periods in Argentine history.

Tigre and the Paraná Delta

If you have an extra day, heading out to Tigre and the Paraná delta is not to be missed. Pack a picnic and take a train from the Retiro station to Olivos, then the connecting Tren de la Costa to the final station, Delta, which lies in the heart of Tigre.

Browse around the Puerto de Frutos before wandering along the coast to the spectacular Museo de Arte and eating your picnic lunch overlooking the river along Paseo Victorica.

Choose from one of the guided boat excursions at the estación fluvial (port) and head out into the maze of islands and rivers, or simply take the Interisleña, a type of boat taxi, to the end of the line and back again.

Catch the train back to the Retiro train station from Tigre station, which is five blocks south of Delta station. From Retiro, take the Subte to Uruguay station on the red B line for a pizza dinner at Centro’s Güerrin.

Must-See Buenos Aires 4-Day City Itinerary text over a photo of the Obelisk on a sunny day.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Buenos Aires