From nightlife hubs and foodie heavens to cultural epicenters and park-filled dreamscapes, the barrios of Buenos Aires are as diverse as they are exciting and make the city a truly dynamic destination. If you can’t tell your Puerto Madero from your Palermo, don’t stress; the city’s layout has no rhyme or reason to it when it comes to the shape or size of the barrios. Instead, they each boast their own personality and draws.
La Boca is known for its vividly-painted buildings, while San Telmo boasts an old-school bohemian charm. Recoleta contains its famous eponymous cemetery and San Nicolas is marked by a striking obelisk. Palermo is an upscale barrio offering some of the city’s best eats and bars, and Monserrat is home to the important Casa Rosada. Puerto Madero is a revamped port, while Almagro, Chacarita and Belgrano are slightly sleepier but equally beautiful neighborhoods. It’s a lot to wrap your head around, but once you read through this list you’ll get a better understanding of... which neighborhoods you’ll want to visit. Trust us, Buenos Aires truly has something for everyone.
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Situated along the Rio de la Plata, Puerto Madero is an old port that now houses some of Buenos Aires’ chicest hotels, restaurants and boutiques. Constructed from four old docks (or “diques”), the barrio boasts cobblestone streets lined with beautiful red brick buildings and freshly minted tourist spots. Previously a collection of industrial warehouses that were abandoned once the port was deemed too small, the new area takes advantage of a picturesque waterway, across which the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge) stretches. Futuristic in design, it’s worth a visit, and can be used to cross over to the barrio’s stunning green space. Spanning 864 acres, the ecological reserve is a favorite among locals, thanks to its waterfront trails and ample bird watching opportunities.
Be sure to check out the two massive retired naval vessels in the docks of Puerto Madero — they double as museums. While much of the food within the barrio is overpriced, there are a few great spots to check out. For... excellent Italian food, head to Sottovoce; for traditional meat-heavy Argentinian fare, check out Cabaña Las Lilas. If you want a truly lavish and unique night out, Universe Bar, which is located in the Faena hotel, boasts opulent decor and live DJs.
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Located six blocks south of Plaza de Mayo, San Telmo is one of the oldest barrios in Buenos Aires. Originally a poorer area, it attracted upper class citizens once more modern structural amenities were established, but a cholera epidemic in 1871 caused many to flee to Barrio Norte. This allowed for European immigrants to settle in, making San Telmo an intensely multicultural hub. Today, it boasts cobblestone streets, charming buildings and a decidedly bohemian vibe. It’s also the tango epicenter of Buenos Aires; head to Plaza Dorrego to have a drink (try El Balcón) and catch a plein air performance, or to El Viejo Almacén for a sit-down dinner and show. If you prefer to be the one getting down, Lost Hip Hop Culture Club is a great spot for late-night dancing. On Sunday, be sure to take a stroll down Calle Defensa; it fills up with merchants, artists, dancers, and antique sellers for a street fair-cum-party. San Telmo also houses incredibly diverse restaurant options: For elevated... Argentine street food, head to Los Infernales; for the best pho in the city, try Saigon; for a farm-to-table wine bar, check out Pulperia Quilapan; for a great steak, Parrilla del Plata is the spot.
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History, culture and luxury meld beautifully in Recoleta, which is home to a mix of posh cafes, impressive museums and stately homes. Known for its French architecture, monuments and green spaces, the barrio, which is situated directly northeast of the Buenos Aires City Center, is romantically picturesque. Its most famous highlight is the Recoleta Cemetery, an expansive grid of gorgeous tombs that serve as resting places for some of Argentina’s most important figures including Eva Perón (Evita). Head to the Centro Cultural Recoleta for art displays, concerts and workshops, or to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to see masterpieces by Goya, Picasso, Kandinsky and more. Don’t miss the Floralis Genérica, a striking steel flower sculpture, or El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a stunning theatre-turned-bookstore. On the weekend, spend an afternoon perusing Plaza Francia’s “Hippy Fair,” where singers, dancers, artists and performers make for great entertainment. Splurge on a dinner at upscale... French restaurant La Bourgogne or for something more reasonable, try Cumana for traditional Argentine food. Recoleta is where you’ll find some of the best nightlife in Buenos Aires; Club Shampoo and Shamrock are the hotspots.
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Visitors could easily spend all of their time in Palermo and still not make it to the myriad of attractions — from museums to parks to restaurants and more — that call the trendy barrio home. The largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, it has been subdivided into several distinct sub-barrios. Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are the biggest subsections and sit next to one another, separated by Avenue Juan B. Justo. To the north and northeast of them is Alto Palermo (a newer addition), Palermo Viejo (the oldest part of the barrio), Palermo Chico (a popular place for celebrities and the well-to-do to reside), and Las Cañitas (a bar and restaurant hotspot). Must-see attractions include the Parque Tres de Febrero, an immaculately maintained green space containing the Galileo Galilei planetarium and an impressive Japanese garden; the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA); the Evita Museum; and the National Museum of Decorative Arts.
Get a feel for the barrio by exploring it on... foot and reveling in its plant-filled terraces, vibrant large-scale murals, and tree-canopied cobblestone streets. Head to Full City Coffee House for breakfast in a hipster-chic setting; to Péron Péron for a kitschy, affordable, and delicious dining experience; to Chori for a quick yet satisfying choripán; and to Proper Restaurant for their famed off-menu ribeye. Palermo is also home to an excellent smattering nightlife options including Club 69, which boasts a wild Thursday night party filled with a mixture of dancing and performers, and Uptown, a New York-themed bar (you enter through a turnstile and subway car) the offers excellent cocktails.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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La Boca may be the most photographed barrio in Buenos Aires. Situated at the mouth of the Riachuelo river, La Boca, which translates to ‘the mouth,’ was originally comprised of shipyards and the homes of people that worked in them. In an effort to beautify the working class area, Argentine artist Benito Quinquela Martín painted the walls of what was then an abandoned street in hues of red, blue and yellow. Known as Caminito, this street museum has become one of the main locational emblems of Buenos Aires. While overrun with tourists and hawkers, the colorful alleyways are still worth a visit, even if only for Instagram’s sake. Fundación Proa, a beautiful modern and contemporary art museum, is situated right next to Caminito and is definitely worth a visit. The Boca Junior soccer team's stadium, La Bombonera, is also located in La Boca, and while tours are offered during the day, the best way to see it is undoubtedly during a game. Tickets for most games are available, except for... tournaments or big rivalry games, which often sell out. For cheap but delicious local food, head to neighborhood parrilla, El Obrero. For an exponentially more refined experience there’s Patagonia Sur, an exclusive restaurant owned by world famous chef Francis Mallman. It’ll run you about $180 USD for a three-course meal, but it’s well worth it.
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San Nicolas (El Centro)
San Nicolas, also referred to as El Centro, is the business epicenter in Buenos Aires. Situated to the north of Monserrat, it’s one of the oldest barrios in the city. Its namesake chapel was where the Argentine flag was first raised in 1812. Avenida 9 de Julio splits through the barrio’s center and is largely recognized as the widest street in the world. In its center it houses one of Buenos Aires' most famous landmarks, El Obelisco, which stands 67 meters tall. Spend a day enjoying the pedestrianized Avenida Florida which boasts cafes, street vendors and clothing shops, or check out the impressive buildings which house the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires Stock Exchange. If you are interested in theatre, this barrio will entice you; it’s home to the famed Teatro Colon opera house, as well as the Teatro Gran Rex and Teatro Opera. The New Brighton is a gorgeous spot to grab a good steak, while Club Bahrein is an eclectic multi-room dance spot not to be missed.
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Though its total area only measures 0.8 square miles, Monserrat contains some of Argentina's most important historical buildings. Situated in the middle of San Nicolas, Puerto Madero, San Telmo and Balvanera, it’s home to Plaza de Mayo, where a week-long revolution occured in 1810 that led to the Argentine War of Independence against Spain. Located within the plaza are the Casa Rosada, a pinkish gem of a building where the president greets the public; and the Museo del Bicentenario, which exhibits modern Argentinian artifacts. Cabildo (City Hall) and the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral are also located in the barrio. Their gorgeous architecture alone makes them worth a visit. For lunch or dinner, a stop at French-style Café Tortoni is a must; it’s Buenos Aires’ oldest and most-loved café, meaning you’ll likely have to wait in line to get a table. (It’s worth it!) Chan Chan is an excellent spot for cheap Peruvian cuisine, while El Imparcial is a seafood-lover’s heaven.
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Although it’s one of Buenos Aires’ largest barrios, Belgrano is relatively void of large tourist attractions and must-visit sights. Instead, it’s a residential area composed mainly of house-lined streets that are perfect for aimless strolls. Head to the Barrancas de Belgrano park during the weekend and visit the pergola at its center to catch a public milonga (tango dance). Afterwords, peruse the local artisans fair that takes place at Plaza Manuel Belgrano and offers an array of crafts and jewelry. If you only have one afternoon to dedicate to Belgrano, Barrio Chino (Chinatown) is where you should spend it. The area is comprised of around 100 Asian-owned business and you’ll immediately feel like you’ve been transported East. For authentic Chinese food, head straight to Mian, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that forgoes hanging red lanterns and kung pao meats for dishes featuring glass noodles, fish balls and silky meats. Rumi Ba is another good spot; a favorite haunt of Buenos Aires’... most glamorous, it’s a restaurant and nightclub all in one. Grab a late dinner and stick around for the dancing, which really kicks off at 2am.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Thanks to its proximity to Palermo Hollywood, Chacarita is an up-and-coming barrio in terms of nightlife and dining options. Its most compelling attraction, however, is undoubtedly the Cementerio de la Chacarita, which is nearly twenty times larger than the cemetery in Recoleta. A yellow fever epidemic that struck Buenos Aires in 1871 caused the cities existing cemeteries to overflow, calling for the building of new ones. Beautifully eerie, the Cementerio de la Chacarita is the perfect place to get lost in for a day. A short walk away is the Teatro Gargantua, where local musical, comedy and theatre productions are held. If you’re into shopping for local produce, Chacarita hosts a farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday called El Galpon that offers a range of fresh, organic options. One of Buenos Aires’ best closed-door restaurants is also located within the barrio. Called Casa Felix, its a mix between a restaurant and dinner party and begins with garden cocktails before launching... into a 5-course tasting menu. For traditional porteño dishes including pasta and pizza, head to Albamonte.
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Informally split into three subsections called Once, Abasto, and Congreso, Almagro is located west of Monserrat and serves as a bustling commercial center. If you’re in the mood for flower shopping, Acuña de Figueroa street is lined with vendors selling bright blooms of every type, and on Sundays, the nearby Plaza Almagro park hosts a book fair. The most exhilarating attraction in Almagro comes in the form of a weekly drumshow, La Bomba de Tiempo, which is hosted every Monday night in the Ciudad Cultural Konex. Locals and tourists alike come together to dance to the beats of a stage full of drummers before the party is taken to the streets in parade-style. La Cresta is an excellent spot for takeaway street food, offering burgers, salads, and wraps, while Bar de Roberto is a live music-lover’s bohemian dream.