The birthplace of the tango, Buenos Aires is one of the largest, most diverse cities in South America — and currently one of the continent’s best travel deals, thanks to a weak Argentinian peso. Where else can you stay in a boutique hotel (the former home of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, nonetheless) for under $200 dollars per night, or savor filet mignon and a glass of premium Argentinian wine for under $20?
But, value isn’t the only reason more than five million visitors visit Buenos Aires every year. The city is a melting pot of Latin American and European cultures, which allows visitors alike to cheer for the hometown Boca Juniors soccer team with locals in a pub one day, and stroll through a Parisian-style park and attend an opera the next.
Depending on when you visit, you can also enjoy the city’s many festivals, including the Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival in November and the Buenos Aires International Book Fair in April and May. Here's what to do, eat, see, and more in this dazzling destination.
The Perfect Time to Visit
October and November, April and May
In Buenos Aires, the climate is moderate and the average temperature tops 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months of January and February. In the city's coldest months, June and July, the temperature drops to a high of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (Remember, since Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere, they have opposite seasons.) For the best weather, schedule a trip either during the spring months of October and November, or between the fall months of April and May.
Another great time to visit is November. Not only is the weather ideal, but also, purple flowers color the city’s jacaranda trees and nearly 15,000 rose bushes bloom at Parque Tres de Febrero. The city also holds several annual events in November, including its Pride Parade and its world famous polo championship.
Despite the summer heat and humidity, tourism peaks in January and February, so you can expect to pay more for flights as well as for accommodations. However, for lower prices and fewer tourists, visit sometime between May and August.
The Smart Place to Stay
Buenos Aires is divided into 42 neighborhoods, each with its own unique personality. Palermo, known for its boutique shops and restaurants, makes an ideal hub for exploring the rest of the city. It also happens to be the largest neighborhood in the city.
If you're craving a more laid-back, quieter stay with a European flair, base yourself in historic Recoleta, where you'll find Parisian-style houses, lavish former palaces, and chic boutiques. It's also home to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Recoleta Cultural Center, and Plaza Francia, the latter of which hosts weekend flea markets. One of the most famous attractions in the neighborhood is the massive Recoleta Cemetery (but, more on that later).
Be Jardin Escondido by Coppola
The home of Francis Ford Coppola while he directed Buenos Aires-based Tetro, quaint Be Jardin Escondido has just seven rooms, one of which the Oscar-winning filmmaker stays in when he's in town. While his room can easily top $500 per night, others go for less than $200 — a steal considering the property’s beautiful courtyard, manicured gardens, and solar-heated pool. Here, friendly English-speaking staff can direct you to the best shopping and dining in the trendy quarter of Palermo Soho. Rates from $153 per night, depending on the season.
Located in Palmero Hollywood (where you’ll find many of Buenos Aires’ TV stations and film studios), Hotel Home is designed to feel like a home away from home and is complete with comfy common areas and a solar-heated pool surrounded by lush foliage. We love the little personalized touches here, like the fresh cookies left at turndown every night. Added bonus: the 20-room hotel is just a short walk from some of the city’s best restaurants and bars, including Cucina Paradiso and Vico Wine Bar. Rates from $114 per night, depending on the season.
Mio Buenos Aires
For a more luxurious experience, book a room at Mio Buenos Aires in the Recoleta neighborhood. All 29 rooms feature king-sized beds, private balconies, doormats made from French oak wine barrels, and oversized bathtubs carved from native Calden wood. If a long soak in the tub isn’t relaxing enough, you can also book a massage at the spa, or curl up with a book in the library. Rates from $145 per night, depending on the season.
What to See and Do
Many of the iconic attractions in Buenos Aires are free. Make your first stop Caminito, the brightly-painted buildings in the La Boca neighborhood. There, you can watch tango dancers perform in the streets, purchase a La Boca Juniors soccer jersey, and chow down on choripán (a chorizo sandwich).
Next, head to San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Here, you'll find cobblestone streets lined with antique shops, coffeehouses, and pubs. Come on Sunday night to watch the free tango show in Plaza Dorrego.
We recommend setting aside a few hours to tour Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of some of the city’s greatest residents, including Argentina’s former first lady, Eva “Evita” Perón. You can take a self-guided tour past more than 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, and crypts. Alternatively, take advantage of the free guided tours conducted in English at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays (free).
Often overlooked by visitors, the city’s parks rival those of Paris, thanks to Carlos Thays, a French-born landscape architect. Don’t miss the 900-acre Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve with its three lagoons and more than 500 species of native vegetation. The park is free to enter, and there's also complimentary guided tours on weekends at 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Another must-see is Teatro Colón, one of the greatest opera houses of the world. It’s well worth the $20 guided tour to see its ceiling frescoes (murals), sculptures, massive chandeliers, and six-tiered theater. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and last approximately 50 minutes. We recommend booking in advance during the summer months.
You don’t need tickets or a guide to visit El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a theater-turned-bookstore that now holds a whopping 120,000 books. Although the English-speaking section is tiny, it’s still worth a visit to grab a cup of coffee and people-watch.
Love art? Head to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which contains an impressive collection of 19th-century European art, featuring works by famed artists like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Paul Gauguin. Admission is under $5 USD, and the museum offers free English-speaking tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1 p.m. If you prefer Latin American Art, the similarly priced Museo de Arte Latinoamericano highlights Latin American artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without a stop at Casa Rosada. Juan and Eva Perón addressed the masses from the balconies of the “Pink House” during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Today, it still serves as the country’s executive mansion. While you can only walk around the exterior Monday through Friday, free guided tours are available on the weekend.
Tips to Save Even More
The city offers a number of free guided tours, many in English, ranging from a walking tour of San Telmo to a free bus tour of the significant places in Pope Francis’s life. Check the city’s website for a comprehensive list of available tours.
Of course, you’ll want to see tango while in Buenos Aires. Skip the expensive tango dinner shows designed for tourists. Instead, watch dancers perform for free in the streets of Caminito (or, as mentioned above, catch a free tango show in Plaza Dorrego on Sunday evenings). You can also visit one of the city’s historic coffeehouses, like Café Tortoni, where, for the price of a coffee, you can watch live performances in the evening.