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Top 10 Places To Visit In Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is Argentina’s big, cosmopolitan capital city. Its center is the Plaza de Mayo, lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace. Other major attractions include Teatro Colón, a grand 1908 opera house with nearly 2,500 seats, and the modern MALBA museum, displaying Latin American art.

Most first-time visitors are surprised to find that this big city has managed to preserve its old traditions. Each of its 47 "barrios" boasts its own distinct character, and you'll never tire of exploring these delightful neighborhoods.

Here are the Top 10 Places to Visit in Buenos Aires, which are worth visiting on a Buenos Aires trip:

1. Plaza de Mayo

Buenos Aire's Belle Époque is evident in the splendid old colonial buildings found in Plaza de Mayo. Established in the 16th century, this delightful two-block-long plaza has been the stage for many important events in the city's history, from the uprising against Spain in 1810 to the continuing vigils held by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo) whose children "disappeared" during the military junta's reign from 1976 to 1983.

Much of the area is now entirely pedestrianized, including popular Florida and Lavalle Streets, and numerous attractions can easily be included in a fun walking tour of the area. As a result, Plaza de Mayo is the perfect place to begin your Buenos Aires sightseeing adventure, getting your bearings as you take in such important landmarks as Casa Rosada.

2. Carlos Thays Botanical Garden

Carlos Thays was a French landscape artist who came to Buenos Aires when he was 40 years old and proceeded to change the face of the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Under his supervision, a number of parks were developed and existing ones renovated. But the botanical garden was his pet project. Located in the Palermo district near the zoo, the botanical garden is home to more than 5,000 species of plants, many in organized displays and others not.

3. Cafe Tortoni

Travelers who collect dining experiences may want to visit Café Tortoni, Argentina’s oldest and most famous café. Started by a Frenchman in 1858 who modeled it after a Parisian café, the Tortoni remains a popular place to enjoy coffee or snacks with friends as well as hobnob with writers, painters, and other artists. It’s also a good place to see the tango performed on stage by professional dancers.

4. Caminito

Caminito, which translates as “little street,” wasn’t always a street. It was originally a stream; when the water dried up, railroad tracks were built on the dry bed. When the tracks were removed, it became a landfill. Today it is considered one of Buenos Aires’ most colorful streets. Located in the neighborhood of La Boca, the street is a good place to watch artists at work and view their completed works.

5. The Costanera

Buenos Aires’ ecological reserve, the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve (Costanera for short), offers a flora-filled walk along the river that, depending on the time of year, can be full of butterflies. As you walk you will be looking out at a river, not a sea, although from a distance it does look like the sea. No crashing waves, just tranquil shores, and cool plants. If you’re big into nature, try to ignore the skyscrapers in the background of the 865-acre reserve, or simply start planning your trip to Patagonia. There are numerous food stands around the Costanera praised by locals.

6. Recoleta Cemetery

Fashionable Recoleta takes its name from the Franciscan convent that was built here around 1716 but is perhaps best known for its astonishing burial ground. The Recoleta Cemetery (Cementerio de la Recoleta) has long been popular among locals and tourists alike, drawn here for the many elaborate mausoleums that serve as final resting places for a veritable Who's Who of famous Argentines, including such illustrious souls as Eva Perón, now embalmed in the Duarte family tomb.

7. La Boca and the Caminito Street Museum

For artistic and creative types, many of whom take their art outside and onto the streets, decorating balconies and patios with amusing sculptures of tango dancers and other characters.

Much of the fun here for visitors is exploring the Caminito Street Museum, a colorful pedestrian-friendly zone that has functioned as an open-air museum and art market since 1959. Painted a patchwork of colors, this string of bright and extremely photogenic buildings offer quality crafts and souvenirs, sculptures, and, for the footloose, free open-air tango demonstrations.

8. National Historical Museum

San Telmo is well known as one of Buenos Aires' more colorful districts, its narrow cobblestone streets, and old colonial-style buildings home to numerous art studios and interesting galleries. The area is also popular for its cafés, tango parlors, and boutique shops and is a delight to explore, particularly during the San Telmo Sunday Fair (Feria de San Telmo), an antique fair that draws crowds of eager shoppers and sightseers alike.

The biggest attraction in San Telmo, though, is the excellent National Historical Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional) with its displays relating to the history of Argentina.

9. The Metropolitan Cathedral

While construction of its Neoclassical façade wasn't initiated until 1822, Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) overlooks Plaza de Mayo and can trace its roots back to the early 16th century when the Spanish established one of the country's first churches here. Despite its rather plain exterior, this catholic church boasts a lovely Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque interior along with numerous important artworks, including 18th-century altarpieces and statues.

10. The Colón Theater

No lover of great theater (or, for that matter, great theaters) should pass up the chance to visit Buenos Aires' many fine performance halls. Perhaps the best known is the stunning Colón Theater (Teatro Colón), a world-class opera, ballet, and classical music facility opened in 1908 that has hosted the likes of Callas, Toscanini, Stravinsky, Caruso, and Pavarotti.

Guided tours of the theater, considered to boast some of the world's best acoustics, provide a fascinating glimpse into the building's inner workings, from set-building to costume making (even wig-making). It's an experience that can only be topped by enjoying a performance in its sumptuous auditorium.

Besides these, there is much more to see in Buenos Aires like The Sunday fair in San Telmo, which is always packed for a reason: it’s tons of fun! Brimming with antiques, vintage clothing, handmade craft items, local artists, tango musicians, and street food, the market lasts most of the day in the city’s cosmopolitan San Telmo neighborhood. Whether you’re souvenir hunting or just looking to soak in some local color, the Sunday fair is a must-go.

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