Buenos Aires is comprised of 48 barrios, or neighborhoods – far too many for most first or even second-time visitors. So which ones should you make sure feature on your itinerary? Here are our top 15 to fold into your trip:
Villa Crespo is Buenos Aires’ up-and-coming bohemian neighborhood. Nestled between the neighborhoods of Palermo and Caballito in the heart of the city, it’s bustling with art galleries, new cafes and artist workshops. Named after a former mayor of Buenos Aires, Villa Crespo also offers more Jewish and Armenian food than you’ll see elsewhere, thanks to the minority communities that have settled in the area. The neighborhood is also home to the city’s discount leather district. They even have their own neighborhood publication called Amo Villa Crespo, or “I Love Villa Crespo”.
Almagro is still very much a neighborhood rooted in tradition in Buenos Aires. It’s a place where you can stumble across old cafés with signs from the 1950s that remain in business, despite having menus that have remained the same for decades. The barrio‘s main street, Rivadavia, was a key thoroughfare for horse-drawn carriages at the turn of the last century. A working class neighborhood that derives its name from the Spaniard who once owned the land, Almagro is located practically in the dead center of the city. Walk around or visit its Parque Rivadavia and you’ll get a largely family-oriented vibe punctuated by a nod to the past (visit the park on the weekends and check out the book fair for a sizeable selection of antique books, for example).
Oh yes, Palermo – Buenos Aires’ flashiest neighborhood. The fact that it’s subdivided into areas nicknamed “Hollywood” and “Soho” speaks for itself; the neighborhood is full of high-rolling bars, restaurants and boutique shopping. It’s also the home to many remote workers and start-ups, giving it a slight Silicon Valley undercurrent. But the northeast barrio’s beauty isn’t just made of what money can buy. Full of long, leafy streets and sprawling, stately parks surrounded by elegant old homes, Palermo has long been a barrio beloved by locals.
San Telmo is so hot right now. Seriously, it’s true. Historically an artist’s enclave peppered with immigrant and minority communities, the neighborhood went from a rough-and-tumble industrial district to being a home to hipsters, renegade Argentines, beer brewers, artists and a smattering of other sub-cultures. One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and among the first to be industrialized, San Telmo is nestled right next to the port area of Puerto Madero, where European immigrants were off-loaded by the hundreds in the late 1880s. It’s not dangerous, but it is unpredictable, so stay aware.
La Boca, which translates as The Mouth in Spanish, gave voice to Buenos Aires’ large Italian immigrant community, which transformed the country at the turn of the last century. Their brightly-painted El Caminito, or little walkway, pays tribute to the artistry of the area. Located near a port in the city’s south-east, the area was settled mostly by Italians from Genoa and is famous for its Boca soccer team and excellent food. Residents felt so deeply about the barrio in the 1880s that they actually reportedly seceded from the country, calling themselves “The Independent Republic of La Boca.” The move didn’t last long though. The hot-blooded Latin barrio was soon reincorporated into the city proper. Not all areas of La Boca are safe for tourists, so take care if you are planning a visit.
Similar to Almagro, Boedo has retained its old-world feel and is relatively unknown to tourists. Kids ride their bikes on quiet streets while locals sit on the sidewalks on plastic chairs munching on an empanada, or just watching the light filter through the trees. If you’re looking for a down-to-earth, authentic Argentine experience, hang out in Boedo.
Flores! The land of great Korean food. That’s about all that needs to be said. Oh, and be careful – parts of the neighborhood can be a little risky.
A classic upstanding Buenos Aires neighborhood, Belgrano has a lot to offer – from lavishly-designed embassies to lush parks, shopping and fine dining (check out Fleur de Sel). It is also home to the city’s Chinatown, known as barrio chino, which, as you would expect, has plentiful Chinese food. As for the name, Belgrano was originally a person – Manuel Belgrano – a general responsible for the creation of Argentina’s sun-decked national flag. The northern barrio is largely middle-to-upper class, so generally a safe region.
Recoleta is in many ways the Paris of Buenos Aires. Famed for its grand European-inspired architecture, the wealthy northeast neighborhood is home to a number of national monuments and influential cultural sites. Among them is the Recoleta cemetery, a maze of ornate above-ground graves, many of which date back to the end of the last century. The neighborhood has many universities as well, so it all feels rather sophisticated – which may be why famed Argentine writer and thinker Jorge Borges chose to make it his home.
As its name suggests, Puerto Madero, or Port Madero, lies on the water in the city’s most easterly point. The waterfront area, which faces Argentina’s Río de la Plata, was developed more recently. It’s where you’ll find the famous Puente de la Mujer bridge, upscale sushi restaurants and, if you’re feeling arty, the excellent Colección Fortabat.
Parque Patricios is a quiet neighborhood in the city’s southeast that is home to several technology companies. There’s not much that’s “touristy” about the area, but it is a great place to visit if you’re wanting a taste of daily life in a traditional Buenos Aires barrio.
Coghlan is a northern neighborhood that almost feels like a separate little town. Originally settled by English and Irish immigrants, the community was named after the John Coghlan train station that runs through it. One of the places worth checking out in Coghlan is Almacén Plutarco, which sells fresh-baked artisanal bread that looks like it’s designed by elves!
Monserrat is where you’ll find most of Buenos Aires’ important government buildings, such as the president’s house, the Casa Rosada (do try to catch it at night when it goes all neon) and the famous Plaza de Mayo, where mothers and grandmothers continue to gather in protest in relation to a dark chapter in Argentine history (brush up on that here). Located in the city’s east, the historic neighborhood is full of neo-classical and belle époquearchitecture.
The northern neighborhood of Colegiales may be small, but it has a lot to offer. Namely, great restaurants. La Prometida is an established name, but the barrio has many lesser-known gems, such as Tu Jardín Secreto, an art gallery, garden and private restaurant.
Saavedra is a northern neighborhood known for its varied architecture, large, historic houses and sprawling sports park. One of the oldest parks in the city, Saavedra Park is a great place to go and people watch. There’s an old carousel, and even a bocce ball court, among other sport-related activities. Largely middle-to-upper-class, this tranquil neighborhood is quite safe.