Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top 10 Things To Do In Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a large and cultural city that offers a plethora of choices for museums, galleries and attractions. Here are the top 10 things to do from The Traveling Munschkin.

1) Recoleta Cemetery: Open daily from 8am to 6pm, this is the final resting place of many of the wealthiest and most important Argentine historical figures. Weather permitting, free English-language tours are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am. If you can’t take a tour or want to explore on your own, cemetery maps are also for sale at the gate, with proceeds going to the Friends of Recoleta Cemetery, a private group that helps with upkeep. The area around the cemetery is beautiful to explore and has fantastic cafes and shopping. It is also well-known for its weekend market.

Cost: Free. 10 pesos for a map of the cemetery.
2) Tango Shows: Tango and Argentina are synonymous with one another and there are endless options when it comes to learning to tango and seeing a tango show. I chose to not go to one of the many large productions in B.A and instead opted for a more intimate encounter, learning from some of the best in a gorgeous and charming ambiance. There are seven (7) well-known and original “milongas” (a term for a place or an event where tango is danced) in Buenos Aires and each of them have their own night, so as avoid competing with one another. La Catedral is where I went to learn and enjoy tango and its night is Tuesday. Others choose to go to the large productions and spectacles. Ask your concierge or hostel staff for recommendations. 

Cost: 20 pesos without a lesson, 30 pesos with. Lessons are at 8pm and 10pm but as with Argentinean time they typically begin a little bit later. I didn’t really see a show afterwards, just watched people dance.

3) Sunday Market at San Telmo and Ricoleta Cemetary: San Telmo is a fantastic, centrally located area where many like to stay and the Sunday San Telmo market is quite popular and runs about two kilometres long. One can buy a variety of knickknacks, leather, mate cups (South American tea known for its appetite suppressant) and watch people tango, and play live music in the streets. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when so much is closed on Sundays. 

4) La Caminito Street in Bocca Barrio: I did not visit this street although it is popular for tourists to take the subway to Bocca Barrio, walk down this street and photograph the colourfully painted houses. My main reason for not going is that Boca isn’t a safe neighbourhood and one simply visits to see this one street. It did not seem worth my time to take a taxi or subway there, photograph it and head back downtown. The houses were pretty enough on postcards! 

5) Two Free City Tours with Buenos Aires Free Tours: Impeccably done with a ton of information. The tour at 11am begins at Argentina’s Congress and goes down Avenida de Mayo ending at the Casada de Rosa, the executive mansion of Argentina. The tour at 5pm begins at Plaza St. Martin and takes you through luxurious residential areas, spotlighting stories of Argentinean aristocracy and architecture. 

Cost: Tours are led by Gaston and his partner Sol and are absolutely free although many tip between 30 and 50 pesos per person. Tours typically last between 1.5-2 hours. 

6) Palacio Barolo: A landmark office building, located at 1370 Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Italian architect Mario Palanti was commissioned to design the building by the empresario Luis Barolo, an Italian immigrant who had arrived in Argentina in 1890 and had made a fortune in knitted fabrics.

7) Day trip on ferry to Colonia del Sacremento:  Colonial Uruguay is a beautiful, charming colonial town located an hour’s ferry ride from Buenos Aires. I would definitely recommend visiting it for the day or even for one night, especially if you’re part of a couple as it is romantic and quaint. “Colonia del Sacramento (formerly the Portuguese Colónia do Sacramento) is a city in southwestern Uruguay and it is the oldest town in Uruguay and capital of the Colonia Department. 
Cost: Take either Buquebus Ferry or Seacat Ferry. Prices depend on how far in advance you book and level of service. I checked both sites and found a lower fare for the same ferry (boat), operated by Buquebus. It’s worth checking both. (Approx 190 pesos or $45 CAD).
8) The Buenos Aires Botanical Garden: The official name in Spanish is Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires and it's located in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires in Argentina. The garden, which was declared a national monument in 1996, has a total area of 751,020 sq ft, and holds approx 5,500 species of plants, trees and shrubs, as well as a number of sculptures, monuments and five greenhouses. Cost: Free 
9) Graffiti Tours: An exceptional tour highlighting Buenos Aires’ street art and artists. Check out these highlights and some cool photos I took.  Cost: Tours may be arranged at hostels and hotels but it will be cheaper by booking directly (120 pesos or $25 CAD) 

10) Museums and Art Galleries 

Museo Evita is a museum devoted to disclosing the life, work and set of beliefs and values of María Eva Duarte de Perón. 

The National History Museum is the perfect place to begin your Argentine adventure and makes an interesting trip for those that are really hot on their history as well as those that want it all explained from the beginning. The museum deals with every aspect of Argentina’s past, bringing us right up to date with modern day life in the country. The exhibits and artifacts are varied, well displayed and fascinating for all ages. 

Museo del Tango is located below the Academia Nacional del Tango and is for fans of the dance only. Just a couple of large rooms are filled with tango memorabilia, from old records and photos to historic literature and posters. Tango shoes are also featured, but the highlight has to be one of Carlos Gardel’s famous fedora hats. 

Zavaleta Lab or Contemporary Art is a gallery for exhibiting, promoting and reflecting upon new art. Its program is based on the search for young artists with contemporary styles and the representatives of current international trends resulting from the globalization of the artistic discourse. The gallery is located in a four-storey Italian-style building that dates back to 1907, which has been completely recycled. There are two exhibition rooms on the first floor and on the mezzanine floor. On the underground floor there is a special exhibition room where works by Zavaleta’s artists and by special guests will be exhibited. 

Museo Fortabat rivals Palermo’s MALBA museum for cutting-edge looks in this fancy art museum. It shows off the collection of multi-millionairess Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, Argentina’s wealthiest woman. The museum’s airy salons exhibit works by famous Argentine and international artists – look for Warhol’s take on Fortabat herself. Tip: Call ahead for tours in English.

Julie Munsch is the Founder of The Traveling Munschkin. A site devoted to budget, luxury, travel tools and tales. Julie has traveled to over 60 countries.

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