Buenos Aires is a bustling city with so many different parts that it’s a little difficult to get your bearings straight at first. However, the city is well serviced by a subway system as well as a very extensive bus system that can get you around the city very quickly and efficiently. With that in mind, here are some things to do and 1 (in my opinion) overrated thing that everyone seems to talk about.
- Eat Choripan
- La Boca
- El Ateneo Grand Splendid
- Shop at Prune
At first, I thought this was one of the strangest tourist attractions out there. However, after going, I kind of get it. It’s strangely interesting.
The main attraction there is the mausoleum of Evita and you won’t have to go far to find it because everyone will be standing there to try and get a picture. That said, you can spend time just walking around and see all the family plots there. It’s certainly impressive and not something you see very often.
This isn’t a place but a thing. It’s a street food that’s available all over the city. Pretty much any store that sells meat will sell choripan. Think of it as an Argentine version of a bratwurst sandwich.
Basically, they have a chorizo sausage that’s grilled and put into a French roll (I’m sure it’s not a French roll but that’s what I’m calling it). These are cheap (I always got them for under $100 pesos about $2 USD) and absolutely delicious. They’ll have some condiments you can put on the sandwich like a chimichurri sauce and eat it as you’re on your way to the next stop. It’s seriously the ultimate street food and something you should absolutely try.
This might be controversial to say but if you only have a limited time in Buenos Aires, I would absolutely skip going down to La Boca. I’m sure the picture you see online of tango dancers and quirky, colorful, steel sided buildings might be appealing but to be honest, it’s just a giant tourist grab.
The area of La Boca isn’t very large and only covers a few blocks. As soon as you get there, you’ll be inundated by people wanting to charge you for photos with a tango dancer or stores keen on selling you all the things you’d find a tourist gift shop ie. magnets, key chains, that sort of thing.
Walking down the main boulevard (which honestly is about 2 blocks long), you’ll be approached by every restaurant owner asking you to come in. And if you think you’ll be able to walk by and take photos of the dancers without eating, think again. They’ve taken great pains to makes sure you can’t see inside the seating area.
Also, I took the bus down and mistakenly missed my stop. After I realized I was a few blocks away, I got off but that spit me out into a very dicey part of town. Let me be clear that at no time did I feel unsafe. However, I wouldn’t want to wander around the streets here at night and I certainly didn’t want to wander around during the day any more than I had to.
The area around La Boca is very well policed and completely fine. The city clearly understands that this is a tourist spot and the police presence is certainly noticeable. However, if you venture off the tourist path, it quickly changes from a strong police presence to none at all.
Overall, I would have enjoyed it more if I had been able to watch a soccer game since the stadium is about a 5 minute walk away. However, having spent about an hour strolling around, that was more than enough time for me to see the area.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
This is an old theater that has now been converted into a bookstore. It’s actually turned into a somewhat odd tourist attraction. You can find a book and read it in one of the former theater boxes as well. The stage has been converted into a cafe and although I didn’t eat there, I did walk around the cafe just to see what the perspective of the performer facing the audience. The old orchestra pit is converted into a children’s corner.
You won’t be spending hours here (unless you have some serious book shopping to do) but it is a nice stop to look around. The theater is absolutely gorgeous and it is fun to stroll around and imagine what it might have been like in its heyday.
If you’re in the mood for leather goods, you’ll certainly find your fill here. Argentines love their meat and with all the meat consumed, you’d naturally expect to find leather goods.
If you’re looking for a purse to take home, you might want to start at Prune. It’s a popular store here in Buenos Aires and it was certainly popular when I was there. The great thing is they offer (in my view) fashionable purses for a very reasonable price. Obviously pricing will change on the style but if you have $100 USD, you’ll see that you’ll be able to pick pretty much anything in the store. They also have stores all throughout the city so you won’t have to go far to find a store. It’s certainly a great place to pick up some gifts for those back home.
So, there you have it. For the foodie in me, I have to say the highlight was finding and eating choripan. It is absolutely delicious and something you just have to try while you’re here. It may be a little difficult to find at first but that’s only because you won’t necessarily know where to look. Just look for any restaurant that serves cooked meat (which is pretty much everywhere) and there’s a good chance they’ll sell choripan there.
Also, take the time to shop at Prune. I normally don’t do that much gift shopping but I made it a point to stop and get some gifts here. With the exchange rate what it is, I thought it was really cheap to get some quality leather products and the recipients back home really loved them.
Overall, the city is fantastic. I was lucky enough to be there during the COPA America game against Brazil and the city was about to burst. If you happen to be here for a big soccer match, watch out because the city with explode with excitement. I don’t think you’ll regret visiting this city at all.