I am very actively-excited to present this week’s guest writer, Melissa Ruttanai, who offers insider tips and information for you of the local neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Melissa has been active trekking and touring through Latin America in depth this past year. Thank you very much, Melissa!
Where to Stay in Buenos Aires, By Melissa Ruttanai
Buenos Aires seems like a cluster of neighborhoods, one running into the next in a shapeless mélange of activities and sites. But like any travel destination, location can make or break your trip. While the city is growing and new neighborhoods garner reputations as prime locales, here is an overview of some of the core barrios to explore.
Tree-lined and well maintained, Recoleta boasts high end shopping, fancy cafes, and enough boutiques to empty out your bank account. Apartments and hotels lean toward the upper echelons of service with price tags to match. But this doesn’t mean it is all starched collars and pin-striped suites. Recoleta is a major stop on the tourist route.
The Recoleta Cemetery houses remains of Eva Perron and many of the city’s socialites from centuries past. A half-day is warranted here so that you can wander around the marble statues and black stone mausoleums. Outside the cemetery, a green field holds weekend markets and a public space for picnicking and sipping mate.
While nightlife starts late in the city, Buller Brewery offers lunch and microbrews for patrons looking to kill time before visiting disco clubs and tango halls. It is true that many visitors will enjoy the cobblestone charms of this neighborhood, please know that this comes with a price. There are no subway stations here. Moving around the neighborhood involves buses and taxis though it is located on the Hop On-Hop Off Bus route.
A case-in-point of “never judge a book by its cover”, San Telmo has some uneven sidewalks, colorful graffiti, and long bus lines. But San Telmo is at the heart of contemporary culture and music. Street graffiti are works of art and self-expression as local painters purposefully maintain multi-hued designs on walls and buildings. Meanwhile sidewalks are lined with world class cafes.
|Balcony Window in San Telmo (Buenos Aires)|
This neighborhood boasts two of the oldest tango halls in the city-- as well as the grandfather of all cafes, El Federal. For lunch, sit in the dark wood ambiance of the confiteria as waiters bring out trays of freshly sliced sandwiches and espressos. Live music spills from hundreds of bars at night and it is conveniently located for subway and bus travel.
Large apartments in the neighborhood were originally built for the wealthy until a strain of yellow fever in the last century cleared out all the hobnobbers. Eager artists and blue collar workers have taken their place. As such, culture is key in San Telmo and accommodation offers high quality with reasonable price tags. Within walking distance, travelers can visit one of the oldest markets in town and cut into juicy steaks at La Rosalia.
Popular for beautiful buildings and chic cafes, Palermo is a top destination for accommodations. Within the district, sub-neighborhoods sidle up next to each other with Palermo Viejo being a general preference for travelers. Trees line the street offering shade and reprieve from the sun during the summer.
At night, clubs and bars welcome a mixed crowd of ages and nationalities. Within walking distance, Parque Tres de Febrero is the largest green space in Buenos Aires. From the hotels and cafes, travelers can visit the Botanical Gardens, the Planetarium, and polo fields at the Palermo Gardens.
On the weekends, many locals and tourists head to Plaza Serrano for handicrafts, street musicians, and a people-watching afternoon under the Argentine sun. For more affordable accommodations close to Palermo, consider hotels in Villa Crespo just north of Palermo. The Hop On-Hop Off Bus route runs close to the neighborhood as well as the park. One metro line services the neighborhood’s edge but in general, buses and taxis will bring you into the heart of this barrio.
Buenos Aires Local Inside Information
When visiting Buenos Aires, consider the core sights that you’d like to see and how willing you are to walk to them. If you prefer subways and trains, it is best to situate yourself in San Telmo, closer to the Microcenter. If wider boulevards and street cafes comprise your travel dreams, then start hunting in Recoleta and Palermo.
Alternatively, consider booking an Argentina tour package with a specialist such as Tucan Travel, and ask your travel advisor for their recommendations for your budget and travel preferences.
San Telmo Image, Courtesy of Matthew Barker