24 Hours in Buenos Aires: European City, Latina Soul

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is known for its hustle and bustling streets, wine, music, dancing, and where European and Latina influences intersect. While 24 hours is too short to be able to take in all that Buenos Aires has to offer, there's still so much that you can see and do within a day to enjoy the best of the city.

Buenos Aires sunset

Start your morning at an Argentinian cafe.

For breakfast, head to a traditional Argentinean Cafe such as Cafe Tortoni or Los 36 Billares. The classic breakfast is a medialuna (similar to a sweet croissant), coffee with milk and orange juice. If you head to either of these cafes, it will position you nicely to explore the rest of central Buenos Aires.

Plaza de Mayo

Go visit one of the most historically and politically important squares in Buenos Aires, which houses La Casa Rosada, where the President works, and El Obelisco, a monument that celebrates the founding of the city.

Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo

Stroll through the streets of San Telmo

San Telmo, the heart of colonial Buenos Aires, is a conveniently short walk from La Casa Rosada. It is the city's most romantic neighborhood with cobblestone streets, colonial houses, Spanish churches, and antique stores.                 

San Telmo Buenos Aires

El Caminito at La Boca 

Next, take a taxi to nearby La Boca, the port-side suburb once home to Spanish and Italian immigrants and now a working-class and bohemian district. Once you arrive, head on over to El Caminito, a beautiful, colourful cobblestone street in the famed neighborhood known for its colorful conventillos (tenements) built by Italian immigrants. Today, you'll see artists selling their work along the street.

La Boca Buenos Aires

This barrio is a very significant part of Buenos Aire’s history; due to its close proximity to the sea, this is the area in which immigrants settled after arriving in Argentina. There is a rich historical context behind these vibrant hued buildings, but to put it briefly, the immigrants that would arrive in the area would use leftover paint they had on their boats to protect the material of the buildings. 

The European influence that still stands in La Boca is due to the strong mix of immigrants that began to arrive from places such as Italy, Spain, France, England, Ireland and other eastern European countries. La Boca is essentially the birthplace of Tango – it’s a place that you really wouldn’t want to miss!

However, keep in mind that La Boca can be filled with several tourists and is located near a poorer area so there are a lot of petty crimes here. To prevent this, stay where the action is at El Caminito and don't stray off to abandoned streets.

Lunch with the locals

Ready to eat? Set aside at least an hour for lunch at El Obrero, a popular restaurant in the back streets of La Boca (Agustin R. Caffarena 64). Its food has attracted Argentina's biggest names as well as visiting celebrities, but make sure to take a taxi there as the surrounding neighbourhood can be rough. We recommend the eggplant for starters, the tender filet mignon for main and the syrup-soaked figs for dessert.

El Obrero Buenos Aires restaurant

Get some shopping in while observing some of the most beautiful historical landmarks. 

Avenida Santa Fe is considered the main shopping and strolling area of the city. It’s the perfect place to shop, but also to admire the incredibly picturesque buildings that bring this avenue to life.

One place that you can't miss while in Buenos Aires is the El Ateneo Bookstore, a 100-year-old theatre that was converted to one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The building initially opened as a theatre in 1919 was renovated 80 years later and now serves as a major attraction, with more than a million people walking through its doors annually.

El Ateneo Buenos Aires bookstore

Visit the Recoleta and Chacarita cemeteries

Venture through a labyrinth of narrow passageways as you make your way through the Recoleta and Chacarita cemeteries. It is located in the upscale, northern barrio with the same name and has been the burial place of choice for Argentina's elite since the mid-19th century. The most famous site is the grave of Eva Peron, whose passage to that grave site is fascinating.

The Cementerio de la Recoleta closes at 5:45 pm every day. Make sure you arrive before then as you'll likely want to explore for at least 30 minutes.

Cementerio de la Recoleta Buenos Aires cemetary

Stop by a heladeria (ice cream shop) for an afternoon pick-me-up 

Recoleta is home to Argentinean ice cream spot, Valance. If you've never had ice cream from this country, this is not something you should miss as it's similar or "more delicious", as the locals say, than it's Italian cousin's gelato. To eat ice cream like an Argentine, order dulce de leche, the most popular flavor (you'd be surprised how many different variations of the dulce de leche flavour itself are available in most heladerias!). 

An interesting thing to note is that when you order ice cream you need to choose two flavors which are then served to you in a cone. This is standard and is great because it allows you to try more options.

Buenos Aires ice cream Un Alto

Take a much-needed rest

You'll want to sneak in a nap sometime in the afternoon because most Argentinians begin dinner around 9pm. Yes, you heard us right, 9pm.

Try a Milonga class in the birthplace of tango.

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.

Buenos Aires tango music dance

End the day with a late dinner.

For dinner, head to El Gran Mosquito, an authentic parilla where the locals go. Parilla is an iron grill barbecue and is extremely popular in Argentina. We love this place for several reasons; it's cheap, they serve unlimited and authentic cuisine and we found it through speaking with locals. This restaurant will not be found in guidebooks because it is a place where the locals go for dinner. They don't open until 9pm and there is always a long line of portenos waiting by the door anxiously for the doors to open.

Buenos Aires parilla restaurant food