Buenos Aires is a colorful city in Argentina with many different neighborhoods and personalities to explore. I spent five days there on a recent trip and still felt like I could have kept exploring. If you only have one day to spare, however, here is my suggested itinerary.
Hostel: Stay at the Art Factory in San Telmo. This electic hostel exudes the neighborhoods vibrant characteristics with vibrant graffiti art adorning the walls and funky events like live jazz music, art exhibitions, film festivals and free tango lessons. It’s also super social, with a bar, terrace lounge, living room, and shared kitchen.
8:00 am: Enjoy the free breakfast at the hostel, which goes from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. Cereals, breads, spreads, juice, and hot beverages are offered.
9:00 am: Take a walk around San Telmo and explore some of the beautiful graffiti art of the neighborhood. I would also recommend doing a bit of research on the subject to learn more about the artists and their passions, which you can do by clicking here.
10:00 am: If it’s a Sunday, you’ll be able to enjoy the weekly San Telmo Fair, a massive market, arts and antiques fair. It’s also a great way to enjoy free tango shows and other unique performances.
11:00 am: Take the Buenos Aires Free Walking Tour. Beginning at the National Congress, you will learn about Buenos Aires’ political history and culture in three hours. Hear about the dark dictatorship of the 1970’s when many people went missing, see famous monuments and churches, and see local portenos protesting on Plaza de Mayo.
2:00 pm: Once the tour ends, head over to Recoleta to visit the famous Recoleta Cemetery. It is beautiful, with ornate mausoleums and sculptures. Moreover, many famous Argentinians are buried here, like Eva “Evita” Peron, Agustin Pedro Justo, Hipolito Yrigoyen, and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Make sure to stop into the adjacent Recolta Cultural Center, where you can learn about art and culture in a more avante-garde way. If it’s the weekend, you’ll also be able to enjoy the Recolta Fair, filled with market stalls, typical foods, and street performers.
5:00 pm: Head to Avenida de Mayo in Centro to Cafe Tortoni. Opened in 1858, this is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires. The inside has not changed since its birth, and you’ll be able to see antique furniture, orante wall designs, and beautiful artwork. Moreover, they serve some of the best coffee and desserts on the planet. I suggest ordering a “submarino,” a cup of hot milk served with a submarine-shaped chocolate bar and petite cookie. You drop the chocolate into the milk, where it melts, creating the most delicious hot chocolate you will ever taste. I suggest having the drink with a churro, as is a typical combination in Buenos Aires.
7:00 pm: Head back to the hostel and get ready for a night out. Locals typically don’t eat dinner until 10:00 pm, 11:00 pm, or even midnight, but that’s up to you. The hostel has a kitchen, so you have the option to cook. If you’re looking for something a bit nicer, Magdalana’s Party serves small plates and infuses street food from other countries into their menu. They also feature a pop-up menu on Wednesdays. If you want to try the best empanadas the area has to offer, head back to Reclota and stop by Cumana, on Rodriguez de Pena and Santa Fe streets. Moreover, Parilla La Cabrera is the best restaurant in town and offers free champagne and picadas while you wait.
Nightlife: Buenos Aires is legendary for its nightlife, and what you decide will really depend on your tastes. Techno-heads will love Pacha, a local favorite for beat-lovers. If you’d like a more relaxed setting where you can enjoy reasonably priced beers, wines and liquor, head over to Gibralter Bar in San Telmo. Their happy hour runs until midnight, with beers about 20 pesos and 2-fers on wine for 30 pesors. If you’d like a more sultry loundge, La Cigale is loved by both locals and tourists, and features some great international DJ’s. If you’d like to visit a milonga to enjoy some tango from the country where it was born, head to La Cathedral, which is reasonably priced and features some of the city’s best dancers.