All Articles How to see Buenos Aires in 3 days

How to see Buenos Aires in 3 days

A green statue in front of Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires
Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires
Image: Image Source/Getty Images
Vanessa Bell
By Vanessa Bell6 Sept 2023 8 minutes read

Buenos Aires may be famous for its steak, polo, tango, and Malbec, but living life like the porteños—“people of the port”—means so much more. The city’s culinary scene exploded during the pandemic, with many young locals setting up third-wave coffee stores, artisanal bakeries, and Neapolitan pizzerias in converted garages. And while steak is still king in this carnivorous country, an explosion of plant-based and vegan-friendly options means there’s never been so much variety.

Ahead, you’ll find an itinerary for a whirlwind long weekend in Buenos Aires.


DAY ONE

Morning: Get the lay of the land

Starting your day with a walk along Avenida Libertador Avenue from Retiro to Palermo will help you get familiar with the city. Stroll along Posadas Avenue and Arroyo to take in the grandeur of the Parisian-style Recoleta neighborhood before heading to Plaza San Martin, which is carpeted with brilliant purple jacaranda blossoms in the spring. While there, make sure to scale the Torre Monumental—it offers unparalleled views of the art deco Kavanagh skyscraper, the Victorian-style Retiro station terminal, and the sprawling Barrio Pedro.

Along the way, pop into Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to see the detailed oil paintings of Argentinian battle scenes by Candido Lopez. Architectural highlights en route include the ‘60s Brutalist National Library and the imposing UBA Law School. Wind your way through the exclusive Palermo Chico neighborhood, which is dotted with grand embassies. For interior design inspo, visit the Casa de Victoria Ocampo, the sublime 1930s modernist home of the socialite and literary editor who corresponded with Le Corbusier and Virginia Woolf.

Afternoon: Dine al fresco

Various plates of food and glasses sitting on a marble table
Overhead shot of lunch at Casa Cavia, in Buenos Aires
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Enjoy a light lunch on Casa Cavia’s patio—the restaurant is housed in a converted private residence designed by the prestigious architect Alejandro Christopherson. The inventive cocktails are a must and be sure to pick up a bunch of bespoke flowers from the space’s florist on your way out. If you need a post-lunch boost, grab some caffeine from Birkin on the 20-minute walk to the lush Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss the greenhouse at its center—there’s often an art exhibit on display.

Evening: Take walk through history (with a side of shopping)

Hop in a cab and explore the vast, often-overlooked Chacarita Cemetery—it’s as impressive as the renowned cemetery in Recoleta, minus the tourists. Make time to take in the Brutalist architecture of the Sixth Pantheon, a striking portal to the underground crypts. Once you wrap up, Chacarita—Palermo’s cool sister neighbor to the south—boasts a plethora of independent stores around Jorge Newbery, from bespoke perfumers Blind to concept store Greens.

Travelers say: "With a large and detailed memorial, Carlos Gardel (tango singer) is one of the most famous people buried [at the Chacarita Cemetery]. Definitely check out his grave—full of signs and notes. Others include Maria Salome (faith healer)—we saw people tossing flowers towards the top of her grave, at her feet."—@SunshineGirl2929

Avoid the lines and enjoy an early supper of shared plates at Palermo’s Gran Dabbang—this spot was a trailblazer and still inspires the contemporary foodie scene. If you haven’t run out of steam, head to nearby Salon Canning to watch locals dance tango into the early hours.

MORE TO SEE IN PALERMO

  • Not in the mood for walking? The yellow tourist buses are a great way to get a general overview of the different barrios, offering a convenient hop-on, hop-off service with stops across the city.
  • If you’re an Eva Perón fan, the Museo Evita houses 400 original artifacts owned by the legendary Argentinian First Lady, from stunning Dior couture gowns to photos and period documents. Book a guided tour for an in-depth experience.
  • The futuristic Planetario Galileo Galilei opened in 1967 and offers guided tours and two daily shows digging into the history of space. Don’t miss checking out a piece of lunar rock from the Apollo XI mission.

Worthy detours along the way

DAY TWO

Morning: Learn all about architecture

Aerial view of a historic plaza with manicured gardens and palm trees, surrounded by city buildings
Aerial view of Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires
Image: Courtesy of Travel Buenos Aires

Start with breakfast at Los Galgos bar, founded in 1930, which serves the best medialunas (croissants) in town. Do as the locals do and pair it with a cafe con leche or cortado. From here, check out the grand Water Pumping station located a few blocks away. Built in 1887, it’s clad with 300,000 striking glazed tiles made by Royal Doulton.

Make the most of the weekend’s calm vibes and explore the downtown area. The Plaza Tribunales boasts eclectic architecture, from the Palacio de Tribunales (which was featured in the Oscar-nominated film 1985) to the Teatro Colon and Torre Massue. Visit Corrientes Avenue, awash with new and second-hand bookstores, cinemas, and theaters, like the modernist Teatro San Martin.

Then, head to the historic Plaza de Mayo, flanked by the Cabildo, the imposing Cathedral, and government offices La Casa Rosada. Meander along the cobblestone Defensa Street and explore the San Telmo neighborhood on foot. Pop into the central market for souvenirs, vinyl records, vintage, and plenty of food stalls. (Most folks will tell you to go to the bustling market on Sunday, but it’s packed with tourists; instead, go Saturday morning to rub shoulders with locals.)

Afternoon: An afternoon of art (and pizza)

Order a slice of heavenly muzza (mozzarella pizza) at Tío Felipe, a charming neighborhood joint, before taking a cab to Fundacion PROA, the contemporary art museum in La Boca. Take your time—the port and surrounding area are best observed from its rooftop cafe.

Evening: Taste a Buenos Aires Old-Fashioned

Experience a peña and traditional campo (countryside) food from tamales to empanadas at P’al Que Guste, which hosts live Argentine folklore music downstairs on Saturday evenings. Squeeze in a nightcap afterward at cult bar Dada Bistro, a bohemian melting pot of artists, local characters, brokers, and tourists. Order an Old-Fashioned cocktail—Buenos Aires has its own spin on the recipe, complete with a glass-coating paste of granulated sugar and bitters.

DOWNTOWN TOURS:

  • Explore the backstage areas of the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires’s grand opera house on a guided tour.
  • The Palacio Barolo, built in 1923 as an homage to the poet Dante Alighieri, was inspired by his Divine Comedy. Sign up for the tour to learn all about its secret and mystical elements.
  • Book a tour with academic and specialist guide Jessica Cymerman, who gives an insightful, informative run-down of Buenos Aires’ rich Jewish heritage.

Worthy detours along the way

DAY THREE

Morning: Shop for vintage flea-market finds

Las Violetas, a grand cafe frequented by locals in the traditional Almagro neighborhood, opens at 6 a.m. Enjoy a peaceful breakfast of sandwiches de miga (crustless sandwiches), ham and cheese toasties, and delicious sweet pastries (factura). Take the underground Linea A to Primera Junta and walk to the tram depot, joining the queue to ride the historic tram around the English Quarter of Caballito which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

From here, jump in a taxi to Parque Centenario’s Sunday flea market, which offers vinyl records, second-hand books, artisanal crafts, and bric-a-brac. The park itself, also a draw, is a popular spot for porteños to socialize, exercise, and drink mate. Check out the nautical-style Naval Hospital, which has cool porthole windows.

Afternoon: Tour a historic home

Feeling peckish? Duck into Don Zoilo, a fantastic neighborhood parrilla nearby—it's walk-ins-only, so plan to arrive before noon. Order flavorful cuts such as vacio or colita—the milanesas and pastas are also memorable.

After lunch, take a 20-minute cab ride to the Belgrano neighborhood to visit Museo de Arte Espanol Enrique Larreta, the former home of diplomat and writer Enrique Larreta that now houses a formidable art collection. The Andalusian-inspired garden here is a delight.

Evening: Grab dinner in Chinatown

Two pairs of dancers dance together in a square
Couples dancing at La Glorieta de Belgrano, in Buenos Aires
Image: Courtesy of Travel Buenos Aires

Rest for a bit in Barrancas de Belgrano, a Victorian-style park designed by French landscape gardener Carlos Thays. Watch locals dance tango in the charming glorieta (bandstand) into the early evening.

Travelers say: "This was, for us, the perfect introduction to the milongas which take place all over Buenos Aires. Neither my wife nor I have any experience in tangoing, so we just wanted to watch without being too conspicuous as non-participants. ...The only caveat: don’t come too late. On the night we went, the dancing stopped abruptly at 11 p.m."—@383alanh

From here, make your way to Chinatown for dinner, which sells specialty goods, with a variety of food stalls and restaurants to choose from (China Rose and Lai Lai are favorites). If you’re still stuffed from lunch, opt for a light snack and a glass of something refreshing at the cute wine bar Vina.

SUNDAY ALTERNATIVES

  • Escape the urban jungle and spend a relaxing day in the delta on Isla El Descanso, which fuses nature, art, landscape gardening, and delicious food.
  • Take a bike tour: Discover the city on two wheels with BA Bikes.

Worthy detours along the way

Know Before You Go


Buenos Aires is best enjoyed in spring and autumn, when the temperature tends to be in the 60s and 70s and the humidity drops. Enjoy brilliant purple jacaranda blossoms which blanket the city in November, or take in fall foliage in March and April. With fewer tourists and a cultural calendar in full swing, Buenos Aires’s summer months of January and February also tend to be quiet as locals head to the coast or to Uruguay. (Just plan for hot, humid weather.)



Buenos Aires really is a city that never sleeps. While more restaurants are opening earlier to cater to visitors (around 8 a.m.), most dinner spots don’t start getting busy after 9 p.m. and many are still serving at midnight. Lunch is often available until 4 p.m. with some brasseries offering a full menu all day. Store hours are typically 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.



Friday-Sunday is ideal, as many restaurants are closed on Monday evenings.



Recoleta: If you want to get a taste of Argentina’s golden era, you can’t go wrong with this grand Parisian-style neighborhood. It’s traditional, elegant, and a great place to people-watch. It’s also where many of the best hotels are located. The Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau is a highlight—book a room on the palace side for great views. Other options include the Four Seasons or, if you’re looking for something with a boutique vibe, Hub Porteno.

Palermo: This vibrant neighborhood is ideal if you want to have everything at your doorstep. Home Hotel, a design-conscious boutique hotel with a secluded garden and pool, offers two apartment-style suites at the rear. Legado Mitico is another boutique option in Soho. Both will leave you spoilt for choice with dining and shopping options within walking distance.

San Telmo: The bohemian neighborhood of San Telmo still maintains its community spirit. Get a feel for the area with a stay at reasonably priced Anselmo, located on the historic Dorrego Square. Patios de San Telmo, housed in a historic building from the turn of the 20th century, is a good alternative.



Public Transportation: Buses are plentiful and cheap, and the extensive bus network allows you to visit all corners of the city and its suburbs. You’ll need a SUBE card, which you can purchase at many kiosks around the city, as well as at metro stations. The metro network (Subte) is also cheap with frequent service until 10.30 p.m. or 11 p.m.

Biking: Buenos Aires is essentially flat so cycling is a breeze, especially given the bike lane network across most parts of the city. You can hire bikes from the government-funded bike system Ecobici, which is free for locals—passes are available for tourists. For more info, download the app.

Taxis: Taxis are generally safe and reliable. You can also book cabs in advance via taxi company apps or with a fixed fare over the phone—Taxi Premium is a professional and reliable option. Uber and Cabify are also decent alternatives.

Airport Transfers: Ezeiza Taxis offers fixed fares for rides into town, which are paid upfront at their stand in the arrivals hall. Manuel Tienda Leon also offers a half-hourly comfortable coach service into town, which usually takes about 50 minutes outside of rush hour.


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Vanessa Bell
I lived in Paris and the UK before moving to Buenos Aires permanently in 2010. I’m British Argentina and 100% bilingual and have written extensively for international lifestyle media and specialize in Argentinian architecture and design and published a map of Buenos Aires Brutalist architecture. I create made-to-measure tours of Buenos Aires, offering off the beaten track and authentic experiences, specializing in architecture, design, art, fashion and food.