Discover the neighbourhoods (barrios) of Buenos Aires
You can guide yourself to historic architecture, colourful street art, parks, markets, bars, restaurants and tango clubs.
Buenos Aires tours, organised or self-guided, are a great way to get to know the city. You'll discover some of the best Buenos Aires sightseeing attractions and come across fascinating surprises along the way. There's a lot to see and do here, but our Buenos Aires neighbourhood guide will help you plan ahead and book your accommodation.
Local artist Marion Santa Maria has transformed the street of Pasaje Lanin by covering one home after another in colourful murals and mosaics.
This is the oldest barrio (neighbourhood) of the city. It was originally home to high society before they moved elsewhere in the 1870s to escape an outbreak of yellow fever. Their ornate homes were converted into convetillos to house poor immigrants, which saved San Telmo from the ravages of 20th century modernisation.
Restoration of the barrio's architectural gems began in the 1970s and today this bohemian district mixes historic charm, tall trees and narrow cobbled streets with shops, markets, cafes, tango-themed bars and some of the most popular parrillas (BBQ restaurants) in Buenos Aires.
To experience San Telmo shopping at its best, head to Calle Defensa, a long narrow street lined with stores and markets selling antiques, clothing and hand-made curios that are perfect for gifts. The social hub is Plaza Dorrego, where the famous San Telmo market sets up every Sunday. Close to the central business district, and popular with locals, expats and visitors, San Telmo's nightlife is authentic, legendary and not to be missed.
Once an industrial neighbourhood with small Spanish and Italian style stucco homes, in the 1980s Palermo Viejo (Old Palermo) became one of the most fashionable neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. Divided into two areas, Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood, the barrio features cobblestone streets, historic low-rise buildings, parks and huge old trees.
Palermo Soho to the south is artistic and bohemian. Many old houses are now home to trendy restaurants, bars, art galleries, boutiques and small-scale visitor accommodation. The focal point is Plaza Serrano, a small oval park surrounded by all kinds of cool bars and restaurants. Here younger locals meet at night to sing and play guitar; on weekends you'll find a craft market specialising in leather goods and jewellery.
Palermo Hollywood to the north is quieter and less wealthy. Its large warehouses once attracted film companies, hence the name. Today they have been refurbished or kept as garages, while the small houses have become attractive homes and fashion boutiques. Palermo Hollywood also offers numerous art exhibitions, top restaurants, bars and furniture stores. Shops typically open around 10:00 or 11:00am; the dining and dancing is still going strong after midnight.
Echoing the affluent areas of Paris, Recoleta is considered to be the most upmarket barrio in Buenos Aires. The French-style architecture is ornate and grand. Graceful avenues shaded by mature trees are lined with fashionable boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants, all waiting to be explored. The many plazas and parks are frequented by visitors and wealthy locals relaxing outdoors. On the weekends they also host art exhibitions, craft markets, sports events and street performers.
A must-visit highlight is La Recoleta Cemetery, where many of Argentina's rich and famous are laid to rest. It's like a miniature town with more than 6,400 large ornate gravestones, angel figures, life-size statues, cathedral-like domes and mausoleums that resemble small houses. Recoleta Cemetery opening hours are 8:00am to 6:00pm daily and you could easily enjoy half a day here. There are free Recoleta cemetery tours in English at 11:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Otherwise, a self-guided map will help you find the graves of particular significance, such as the actress and first-lady Eva Peron (Evita), past presidents and Isabel Colonna-Walewski, the illegitimate granddaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte.
This barrio was the main port area from 1880 to 1910, before a new one was built to the north and Puerto Madero took a back seat. In 1990s things changed dramatically, as apartments were built in the old brick warehouses along the riverbank and canals. Today it's one of the trendiest neighbourhoods with waterside restaurants and cafes attracting business people by day and a wealthy fashion-conscious crowd by night.
On weekends, locals cycle and walk the wide waterside paths, stopping to enjoy pastries and coffee in the many cafes. Most of the streets are named after important women from Argentina and the strikingly beautiful Puente de la Mujer (Women's Bridge) provides a focal point on the river. It's a perfect place for a romantic sunset walk while exploring Buenos Aires.
Along the eastern border of Puerto Madero lies the unique 350-hectare Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. This protected tranquil haven for animals, birds and native plants created itself over decades as a vast abandoned reclamation project was slowly overtaken by nature. Open daily except Mondays, it takes about an hour to walk around the park or you can hire a bike.
Originally a small separate village, Belgrano is now a leafy suburb of northern Buenos Aires. Older original homes have been joined by newer highrises in this peaceful residential neighbourhood. There are plenty of excellent cafes and restaurants to enjoy, and the busy main shopping street is home to well-known Argentinian fashion labels.
Parks and sports fields line the eastern waterside boundary of Belgrano. Inland, there are several more large parks and the Plaza Manuel Belgrano hosts a craft fair on the weekends. Inmaculada Concepción, a striking circular church completed in 1878, is alongside the plaza. The small Chinatown (Barrio Chino) nearby, is popular for its shops and authentic Chinese restaurants.
For something off the beaten track, head to Barracas. Rising prices in neighbouring suburbs, like La Boca and San Telmo, have increased the popularity of this suburb with younger people and artists. Once used as storage for the old port, some of the sheds and warehouses have become art centres and upscale apartments.
Street art is probably the most popular attraction in Barracas and a feature of many Buenos Aires local tours. The work of local artist Marion Santa Maria has transformed two blocks in the street of Pasaje Lanin by covering one home after another in colourful murals and mosaics, starting with his own studio. Barracas is also home to the largest mural in the world by a single artist. Painted by one of Argentina's first recognised street artists, Alfredo Segatori, and titled 'El regreso de Quinquela', it covers several adjacent industrial buildings where the street San Antonio meets the Matanza River.
La Boca district is another neighbourhood that's starting to become gentrified. Brightly coloured and with a distinctive European feel, it's a barrio that offers plenty to see and photograph during the day. Most La Boca walking tours include the hugely popular Caminito (little path), a cobblestone strip with humorous sculptures, murals and insanely colourful old houses. They'll also provide local tips on other things to do in La Boca, like enjoying lunch at a top La Boca steakhouse.
As the historic Italian immigrant area of the port and birthplace of the tango, La Boca is brimming with artists, singers and tango dancers, particularly on Sundays.
If you love football, be sure to visit La Bombonera (the chocolate box) stadium. It's the home of Boca Juniors, one of most successful clubs in Argentine football history, and their museum.