Many places claim to be the "city that never sleeps," but few live up to that claim as energetically as Buenos Aires. Some call it the Paris of Europe, but Buenos Aires is unique—an explosion of color, energy, and music that sweeps you into its frenetic rhythm. Each district could be a separate city. There’s artsy, alternative Palermo where new coffee-cum-record shops spring up daily. There’s chic, polished Recoleta. There’s the markets and music of San Telmo and the history and vibrant color of La Boca.
I first lived in Buenos Aires in 2014, and it has sucked me back again and again. Three days isn’t enough, nor three months, nor possibly even three years. Here's how to squeeze it all in.
Summers can be stifling, winters are mild, and spring and autumn are most pleasant.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Recoleta Cemetery, a masterpiece of Catholic mausoleums.
Grab an airport transfer to the city center—it’s inexpensive and public transport ranges from one to three hours. You’re likely tired from the journey, but Buenos Aires has too much on offer for rest. Experiencing a tango show, Argentina’s national dance, is a good way to ease yourself in. Swept up in the energy of the city already? Go deeper and take a tango class to learn the dance for yourself.
Begin your day at colorful La Boca before all the crowds arrive. The houses were painted with what was salvaged from docking boats and are brighter than an elementary school classroom. Next, hit San Telmo, where tango music and dancing liven up the streets around the clock. Bonus points if you’re here on a Sunday for the enormous flea market. The rest of the week, San Telmo’s historic covered market is a delight. Finish at Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. It’s time to cry for former first lady Eva Perón, who lived here and regularly appeared to address the public from the balcony.
Buenos Aires is constantly on the go, and nowhere shows this better than the three Palermo districts (Soho, Hollywood, and Viejo), where new street art pops up seemingly daily. Take a guided tour to make the most of the best public art displays. Afterwards, it’s time for some downtime in Recoleta Cemetery (if you coincide with the Sunday market, prepare for crowds). Look out for the tombs of Buenos Aires’ most famous former inhabitants, namely the Perón family, but many of Argentina’s other former presidents, too.