From Iguazu waterfalls we decided to head to Buenos Aires to explore the city of Tango. I am not usually drawn to large cities and we have often avoided the capitals on our travels, but Buenos Aires seemed to attract me. So we took another overnight bus with Rio Uruguay for 624 pesos each. There was actually a special offer for 20% off the normal fare for the “cama” bus, so needless to say, we treated ourself to the fully reclining seats.
We had spent a great deal of time trying to find an affordable hostel in the city, and despite looking at all different options we were unable to find one within budget, without opting for dorms. Then we accidentally stumbled across Airbnb, a website for rooms and apartment rentals. Against the odds, we found an actual apartment in the Federal district with lower rates than the hostels!
We initially booked for 4 nights and after a few phone calls met the owner at the apartment. We didn’t have huge expectations of the place but it actually turned out to be a full apartment with a small living room, bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen. We were thrilled.
After a couple of days of exploring the area we decided to extend our stay for another week and the owner gave us an even better rate of 140 pesos per night!
Buenos Aires is a large city with the usual traffic congestions and suits rushing around the place. However, there is also another side to the city, in fact several sides. Each district of the city has its own feel and character to it, from the business centre of the Federal district to the charming area of San Telmo. During our time we visited the following areas:
The business centre of the city is filled with shopping outlets from small stores to large commercial centres like the Galerias Pacifico, and eateries, from upmarket restaurants to fast food places. However, the area also has the famous Obelisk located on Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the world’s widest avenues, the government palace, the cathedral and the plaza San Martin with the beautiful Palacio Paz.
Located just south of the chaotic Federal district, San Telmo has a different pace and feel to it. Strolling through the cobbled streets filled with old buildings, cafes and antique markets, you can feel yourself relax. Although there aren’t many actual places of interest to see, apart from maybe the Russian Orthodox church, the district is worth an afternoon to chill out in the sun and catch the odd Tango show with your coffee.
Probably one of the most famous districts of Buenos Aires, La Boca feels like it belongs to a different era. The walk there is not great and you can be forgiven for thinking you are heading towards the worse part of town, because in essence this is also one of the poorest. Yet when you turn the corner onto el Caminito you step through to another world. A brightly coloured world filled with beautiful buildings unlike anywhere else in the city. The actual tourist area is only a couple of roads but it is not to be missed.
Located just north of the Federal district, Recoleta is most known for its cemetery. The area itself is not unlike the centre except there are larger parks which make it feel less busy. However, the Recoleta cemetery is not something to be missed, despite how unusual it may seem to pay one a visit. You need to allow at least 2 hours to see the whole thing properly. It is open everyday until 6pm and you can take photos without any problems. It is most famous for having the tomb of Evita Peron along with other national figures, but walking through this cemetery feels like being in some strange other worldly village.
Located just above Recoleta, Palermo seems to be more catered towards nature, with its expansive parks and zoo. Our favourite places were the free botanical gardens, filled with many different species of trees and plants and the Japanese gardens. There is an entry fee of 16 pesos each for these gardens, but it is definitely worth it. Originally built for the visiting royalty of Japan, the gardens are a little gem in the city. With bridges, ponds, waterfalls and a Japanese cafe it makes for a perfect afternoon place!
We really enjoyed our time in Buenos Aires, and ironically it was our cheapest place yet in Argentina, a country where you really have to make your money work!