I was excited about seeing Buenos Aires. After hearing so many amazing reports about this beautiful capital, I had decided to include it upon my South American itinerary.
Arriving into Buenos Aires I felt as though I had been transported back to Europe. There's a reason that it's called the “Paris of South America.” The French-style buildings and Florentine-style architecture reminded me of the French capital.
Then as I turned another corner I felt as though I was back in London. Although it’s a Latin city, Buenos Aires is multicultural and diverse. Bars, tango and food are a large part of its vibrant culture. I spent five nights here in total but there is enough to do to stay for a week if you prefer slower travel. If you are planning a visit to this cool city, below you will find my top 8 things to do in Buenos Aires as a solo.
- Learn the Tango
- Take the Free Walking Tour
- Admire the Palacio Barolo
- Step Inside the Oldest Cafe
- Explore Recoleta Cemetery
- Dine Argentina Style
- Buenos Aires Bar Crawl
- Lose Yourself in a Library
- Accommodation in Buenos Aires
- From Santiago to Buenos Aires
- Is Buenos Aires Good For Solos?
Things To Do in Buenos Aires
1. Learn the Tango
Where better to be learning the tango in Buenos Aires than in the birthplace of tango itself, and at a nonprofit organisation in the city. I tried a lesson for the first time and loved it.
The Argentine Tango Foundation is situated at Avenue Córdoba, and helps to improve the lives of children living on the street using the teaching of dance as a method of social and economic integration. Tango classes are offered here from the basic tango introduction to advanced. Read my review of learning how to Tango here
If you prefer to watch it than practice it, you can experience this classic dance complete with orchestra in a gorgeous theatre. The Tango Porteno Show is one of the city's best shows in the luxurious art-deco surroundings of the MGM Theatre (near the Obelisk).
Tickets can also include drinks and a 3 course dinner with a pickup and drop-off service or you can just go and watch the show ticket only. Perfect for us solos who want to venture out in the evening and experience some of the city's culture. * Click here for prices and tickets for Tango Porteno Show
2. Take the Free Walking Tour
Wherever I go I always take a free walking tour. Not only does it give me an insight into the history of the city but it also helps me to find my bearings and know where things are. The Buenos Aires Free Walks are everyday at either 10.30am or 3pm. You don’t need to prebook, you can just show up.
The tour begins at the gate of the National Congress building, a building which was built between 1898 to 1946 and went several times over budget. Two interesting white statues stand at the front of the building. Walking along Avenida de Mayo, a grand boulevard in the city you learn about the politics and history of the city including the recent revolution whilst admiring some of its most stunning architecture.
See the cathedral, the unique pink government house and the famous Obelix on 9th July Avenue – a monument which wasn’t popular when it was first erected. Visit the famous statue of The Thinker, one of only 3 of Rodin’s originals, before admiring Evita’s mural, the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until 1952. The tour also takes you past Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires, and the National Academy of Tango, Argentina’s most famous dance.
The tour was really informative and I found out more about Argentina’s black market money and learned how the economy is affecting the local people. The tour ended in Plaza de Mayo, which has been the heart of the city since the colonial period. I took the free walking tour below and met a couple of people to have a drink with afterwards. Perfect for solos!
3. Admire the Palacio Barolo
This gorgeous piece of architecture in Avenida de Mayo was the tallest building in the city when it was built and was named a historic monument in 1997. In a mix of neo-Gothic and neo-romantic styles, this tall palace with its Indian stye dome was built to represent the union between Dante and Beatrice from Divine Comedy, the famous poem by Dante Alighieri.
You pass the building on the free walking tour but it’s definitely worth going back to enter inside and go up to the lighthouse on the 22nd floor to get one of the best views of the city from the top.
4. Step Inside the Oldest Cafe in Buenos Aires
Opened in 1858 by a French man, Cafe Tortoni is the city’s oldest cafe. This French-style cafe used to be where you’ll find the creme de la creme of Buenos Aires; the painters, musicians and writers of the city. Today you can enjoy a tango show whilst enjoying a cup of coffee in a cafe where time has stood still. The cafe is open from 8am to 1am every day except Sunday when it opens an hour later at 9am.
Find Cafe Tortoni at: Av. de Mayo 825, C1084 CABA, Argentina.
5. Explore Recoleta Cemetery
Visiting a cemetery may seem like a strange thing to do when you’re travelling (unless you’re in Paris that is) but the cemetery in Recoleta isn’t an ordinary cemetery. Inside its neo-classical gates you’ll find graves of some of Argentina’s most important people such as Eva Peron (Evita), the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 who has a very interesting story.
Amongst the Greek columns and surprising architecture are some of the city’s most interesting stories. To find out more about the history of Recoleta cemetery take a tour of the area.
6. Dine Argentinian Style
Argentina is known for its steaks and wine which are a huge part of the culture. Dine like the locals do in the Palermo area where you’ll find amazing restaurants such as La Cabrera with 24 different cuts of beef. Bear in mind that most people don’t eat until after 10pm so check opening times for restaurants if you prefer to dine earlier.
N.b. If meat isn’t part of your diet you can also find vegan restaurants in the city. Sacro in central Palermo offers dishes such as sweet potato ravioli and activated charcoal empanada (a twist on this traditional dish).
A good way to experience an Argentinian barbecue and learn more about the culture is at an Argentine Gaucho Day. Not only do you get to try grilled steak at a traditional ranch but you can also watch folklore dancing and marvel at gaucho horsemen (plus riding your own horse too).
7. Go on a Buenos Aires Bar Crawl
Buenos Aires is the place to come to party. If you are a party solo and a social butterfly then you’ll love the nightlife. Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo are where you’ll find cool bars and vibrant nightlife. If you're a night owl and want to visit the hottest clubs then Buenos Aires won't disappoint.
If you don’t feel comfortable going out alone then find a pub crawl to join instead. They offer free drinks within the price and you've got a ready-made group of people to experience the nightlife with. The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl even offers free pizza! (Update August 2022: the pub crawl hasn't yet returned since the pandemic. Hopefully it comes back soon)
8. Lose Yourself in a Library
If you love literature or just want to escape the crowds and get some peace and quiet, Buenos Aires has some very cool literacy cafes to hang out in. You can’t get more stunning than El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a former theatre with palacio decor, now a stunning bookstore.
Enjoy some live piano music whilst having a coffee in the city’s most beautiful bookstore. Just don’t forget to browse the books. El Ateneo is open from 9am until 10pm daily and until 12am on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays it opens at 12pm instead of 9am.
Find El Ateneo Grand Splendid at: Av. Santa Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Argentina
These are only some of the activities to do in the city. There honestly is so much more to see and do that you'll need at least a week to explore in your own time. And once you've exhausted everything to do in the city, you can take a boat trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site for a day. Find out more details or read my Colonia review.
Accommodation in Buenos Aires
The choice for hostels is mind-blowing in Buenos Aires. I stayed at Eco Pampa in Palermo which was huge! It was a bit of a party hostel so if you prefer a quiet hostel I wouldn’t recommend staying here on the weekends, but for social butterflies it’s great. Read my review of Eco Pampa. From hostels, hotels to home stays there is plenty of accommodation to choose from. You can even stay at an Airbnb. Click on the link below to find the best accommodation for you.
From Santiago to Buenos Aires
There is a bus which runs from Santiago to Argentina. I travelled during the winter when there was a chance that the road was closed to Mendoza so I decided to fly straight to Buenos Aires instead. My airline ticket cost $145 through Sky Airline and took 2 hours. I booked an airport transfer with TransVIP for my arrival which was only 7,000 pesos and cheaper than taking a taxi. Rome2Rio helps you to plan your overland journey or use Skyscanner for flights.
Is Buenos Aires good for solos? I can definitely say yes. I stayed in Palermo which felt extremely safe but don’t forget that the locals like to party so you may encounter a few wandering around the streets in the early hours.
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