Day One in Buenos Aires takes you to the downtown, San Telmo, La Boca, and Puerto Madero neighborhoods where you’ll be able to encounter some of the city’s richest cultural experiences and historical landmarks. From observing the eclectic architecture of the city to trying Argentina’s most iconic dishes, here’s what to do in Buenos Aires if you only have one day.
Regardless of where you’re staying in the city, we recommend heading downtown for breakfast. Cafe culture is a large part of life in Buenos Aires, and starting your day with a café con leche (coffee with milk) and a medialuna (croissant) at one of the traditional historic cafes, or the more modern Negro Cueva de Café or Coffee Town, is a great way to kick off a quick trip to the city. Porteños, aka locals, tend to indulge in pastries and sweets for breakfast, but if you don’t have a sweet tooth, try a traditional sandwich de miga tostado — a ham and cheese sandwich.
After your morning coffee, visit the impressive Palace of the Argentine National Congress and walk up Avenida de Mayo, enjoying the street art as you go. Make sure to stop at the Palacio Barolo, which was architecturally inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Then make your way to Tribunales and spend some time people watching in the nearby park. From there you can spot the Obelisk and the visually stunning Plaza de Mayo.
After all that walking, you’re going to be in need of some lunch, and we suggest heading to San Telmo. There you have countless options for a sit-down plate of fresh salad, grilled meat, or sandwich — but we suggest Bar El Federal.
Stroll along Defensa Street if you’re interested in craft, boutique, and antique shopping. And if you’re there over a weekend, there’s a lively flea market. A lovely green space, Parque Lezama is the next stop. Check out the ornate Russian Orthodox church in front of the park then indulge in an ice cream from nearby vendors; if you can’t decide on a flavor, it doesn’t get better than dulce de leche.
From Parque Lezama, take a taxi to Caminito, in the La Boca neighborhood. Here, you’ll see the iconic colorful houses commonly found on many postcards of Buenos Aires. For football fans, no trip to BA is complete without visiting the Bombonera stadium, and you can easily fit that into your trip here. If football is not your thing, enjoy the art at Fundación PROA, visit the Benito Quinquela Martín Museum, or simply walk among the crafts and souvenir stalls.
By now it’s probably time for merienda, the local version of afternoon tea. Argentine people drink mate, a social drink that tastes like green tea but has as much caffeine as coffee. Mate is an acquired taste, but pair it with a sweet alfajo — a local cookie made with dulce de leche — and you’ll fit right in with the locals.
Take a taxi from La Boca to recently developed Puerto Madero. This is the perfect place to watch the sunset, from either the built-up area by the river or the nature reserve. Also check out the artistic footbridge, El Puente de la Mujer, and the picturesque A.R.A. Sarmiento Frigate museum ship.
After the sun has set, there are many options for you to experience one of the exclusive parrillas (steakhouses) in the area; you can’t go wrong with anything that has a line out the door. To end the night, head to one of the great tango spots in the city, such as El Viejo Almacén, Tango Porteño, Rojo Tango, and Madero Tango. Note that some shows might include dinner or an open bar.