Like all mega-metropolises, Buenos Aires, Argentina is home to neighborhoods as varied as their names indicate. There’s Recoleta, Retiro, La Boca, and Puerto Madero. There’s the microcenter, downtown, and Abasto. Upon first arrival, I loved the cobblestone streets and graffiti artwork. Each day, I would visit a new barrio and experience an incredibly different vibe. After three weeks of living in San Telmo and a week of exploring top sights these are some highlights of my Buenos Aires visit.
Constructed for Buenos Aires’ upper class citizens who later abandoned the neighborhood due to a flu outbreak, San Telmo offers colonial architecture with a youthful vibe. Bakeries, resto-bars, and pizza joints line the streets, offering afternoon marathons of empanada tastings. Cafés range from minimalist trendy sidewalk establishments to traditional darkwood watering holes. For great sandwiches, El Federal is the oldest in the business with a bustling coffee bar and sweet pastries for lazy mornings. At night, check out the string of bars hosting live music from an extremely gifted generation of young artists.
Just one hour from Retiro Station, the Tigre Delta is a water wonderland experience that should not be missed. We took the “scenic” Tren de la Costa (coastal train) but were disappointed with its views. It’s best and cheaper to use the regular public trains which only cost 1.35 pesos (30 cents). In the port, I bought a ticket for the launcha which are wooden boats that take local river residents to and from stilted homes. The ride is fabulous as you skim past little cabins and sprawling mansions on the delta. For lunch, El Hornero is a good choice in the town of Tres Bocas. A giant tree and leafy trellis offer shade beside the canal as the classic Argentinian grill churns out perfectly char-crusted meats, made medium rare and juicy. As I applied a healthy dose of bug spray, I watched seacraft park ashore for a fill up at a riverside gas station.
Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay
It’s almost like a two for one. I came to Argentina and slipped in a sidetrip to Uruguay while in the capital. Via ferry, I crossed the small stretch of water between the countries and landed in a UNESCO world heritage town. Cobbled and charming, Colonia is ideal for romantic sunset strolls and boasts posadas, or bed and breakfasts. I read and lounged under shady trees and drank famed Montevideo wines. Slightly more expensive than neighboring Argentina, Uruguay hospitality has simple rooms with private bathrooms starting at US$75 though a few hostels provide more affordable options as well.
With four weeks in the city, I felt as if I’d seen very little when thinking of the grand scale of Buenos Aires. Even with an apartment and easy access to public transportation, I still had to prioritize the sights. Nature, music, and architecture were high on my list. But no matter your preferences, Buenos Aires has museums, trains, and neighborhoods to satisfy all travelers.