Buenos Aires, much more than many cities, is defined by its very distinctive and unique neighborhoods. Every time I visit, I discover something new and unexpected in this vibrant South American city – certainly one of my favorites. There’s a wide array of choices in Buenos Aires, so you have the option of visiting the galleries, cafés and shops suited to your mood and tastes. Whenever I travel, I love to explore different areas of the city to truly get a feel for the culture, the people and the daily life. Below are some of my favorite barrios in Buenos Aires – each buzzing with an energy of its own.
La Recoleta: Cultural History & Parisian Elegance
Characterized by French-style mansions, La Recoleta is lined with elegant buildings and exclusive boutiques making it easy to see why Buenos Aires is often considered the “Paris of the South.” You’ll also discover a rich cultural scene surrounding the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Library and the Recoleta Cultural Center. I recommend that you take a stroll through the La Recoleta Cemetery, where many famous Argentinians are buried in lavish neoclassical, art nouveau and Art Deco mausoleums – the most famous of which is the one built for Eva Perón. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when a friend suggested I visit this cemetery, but it was a very memorable one-hour stroll through history.
Puerto Madero: Sleek Waterfront & Upscale Dining
This neighborhood offers the perfect combination of old and new. The redeveloped waterfront of a former port has turned into an exclusive and modern neighborhood with lively restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It’s anchored by the high-style Philippe Starck-designed Hotel Faena, where you can enjoy a glass of malbec or classic Argentinian dishes in fantastical surroundings. Here you have superb dining options and can take in a memorable late night tango show in an intimate setting where you are right amongst the performers.
La Boca: A Melting Pot of Culture, Football & Tango
Defined by its immigrant roots, this neighborhood has become a melting pot of different cultures that began settling here in 1830. This also introduced important cultural traditions like tango. The neighborhood offers a multitude of ethnic restaurants and is home to the famous football team Boca Juniors. Last time I was in Buenos Aires, I stopped by and got a Boca Juniors hat. Nearby is a super contemporary art museum, Fundación Proa, which showcases some of Argentina’s best established and emerging artists.
San Telmo: Authentic Old Buenos Aires
Distinguished by its narrow cobblestone streets with antique shops and classic cafes, San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhoods. Like its neighbor La Boca, the neighborhood is influenced by its immigrant cultures. It truly comes alive after dark – Plaza Dorrego brims with bars and tango clubs, and the sounds of tango fill the air.
Retiro: Sophisticated Grandeur
This part of Buenos Aires makes for the perfect neighborhood to enjoy a sophisticated visit. It offers exquisite cuisine, ornate palaces, luxurious apartment buildings and exclusive galleries and boutiques filled with the elegance and luxury that defines Retiro. With Torre Monumental, San Martin Palace and pedestrian-only Florida Street, this is a great place to soak up the local history and architecture as well as shop.
Palermo Soho: Chic & Creative
Finally, Palermo Soho is a hip area with streets lined with cool cafes and designer boutiques. The café tables spill out onto the sidewalks, perfecting for pausing and having an alfajor and cortado. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods for an afternoon stroll. Many of the houses are attractively painted in pretty pastels that lend a picturesque appeal to the neighborhood.