Nothing quite represents Argentina better than its beating heart – the country’s famed capital, Buenos Aires. And nothing will make your South America holidays complete without a few days soaking up the elegant ambience of this bohemian, vibrant and utterly beautiful city.
So read on for top vacation inspiration and advice for holidaying in South America’s most iconic city. Discover a kaleidoscope of history and eclectic European-inspired neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, as well as sun-soaked beaches that are only a quick hop and a skip away from the capital.
Wander past Argentina’s historic monuments and landmarks
Plaza de Mayo
Named after the revolution for independence held there on the 25 May 1810, Plaza de Mayo is Buenos Aires’ main square and makes a good initial stop off for exploring the city. Historically the location of protests and politics – and the home of Casa Rosada, where the offices of the president are located – it’s an excellent introduction to the spirited nature of the local porteños (residents of Buenos Aires).
Avenida de Mayo and Plaza de Congreso
Starting here, visitors can wander along Avenida de Mayo, which strikes out west from the main square past street-side cafes and relaxed restaurants to arrive at Plaza de Congreso and the Palace of the Argentine National Congress. The latter can be visited with guided tours during the week, but even just observing this monumental building from outside and attempting to do it justice with your camera is a worthwhile activity.
South to San Telmo
After exploring some of the city’s most historic political buildings, head southeast to delve more deeply into Buenos Aires’ patchwork of different cultures, all of whom have played an important part in developing Argentine society.
Make a beeline for the San Telmo district, the neighborhood credited with the birth of tango in the late 1880s thanks to the fusion of European and African heritage from its immigrant residents.
And for a unique experience on your South America holidays in the capital, spend your evenings with tango classes, at a milonga (a dance hall for tango), or even just watching the rhythmic moves of professionals dancing in the sultry twilight of one of the region’s squares.
Venture beyond the city
But if you’re visiting Buenos Aires for more than a few days, it’s likely you’re keen to explore further afield. Luckily, a whole range of pretty, accessible towns such as La Plata and Tigre are a short bus journey away from the capital and provide excellent respite from the hustle and bustle of this charming, but still very large, city. What’s more, the glorious sandy beaches of Mar del Plata and other tiny towns along the coast are also worth visiting.
You’ll also find that Argentina’s most spectacular and interesting northern cities are easily reached from the capital, with regular bus services and daily flights connecting places as varied as Mendoza, Argentina’s famed wine region, Iguazú Falls, the globe’s largest system of waterfalls, and the lesser-known but equally charming cultural hubs such as Salta and San Ignacio.
Stay safe on your South America holidays
Like in all capital cities, there are certain parts of Buenos Aires that are best avoided, particularly at night time. To stay safe:
- When planning your daily itinerary, consult with your hotel concierge about the safety of the barrios you plan on visiting.
- Plot a route that doesn’t require you to check your mobile phone or use an obvious map while on the street, thus making you less of a target for opportunist thieves.
- Read our tips on travel safety in Buenos Aires to avoid unfortunate situations and ensure that your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons.