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Greetings, Internet Stranger! So you want to know exactly how to spend 24 hours in Buenos Aires? Well, first off, I have to say that 24 hours is certainly not enough time to spend in the beautiful capital of Argentina. But every itinerary begins one day at a time. So I think the best way to spend one day in Buenos Aires is to combine two of its most famous neighborhoods: La Boca and San Telmo into one colorful, steak-filled extravaganza.

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca

Where Do I Stay?

When I was in Buenos Aires, I stayed in an extremely cheap and clean hotel, but I can’t recommend it because it was so far outside of town. It took an hour for me to get to see anything. That’s why the next time I spend 24 hours in Buenos Aires, I’m going to stay in a more centrally located hotel. I’d pick either the Centro neighborhood downtown or the chicer Recoleta neighborhood.

If you’d like to check out great deals on over 5,000 hotels in Buenos Aires, just click here.

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca

What to Pack?

You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.

Buenos Aires is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen, especially if you want to tango in the streets all day. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.

Finally, if you’re American, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. Argentinian electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca

Morning: Explore La Boca

Even if you only have 24 hours in Buenos Aires, you have to see La Boca. The colorful houses decorate just about every postcard of Buenos Aires. The area is small, but there’s enough to do for you to spend the entire morning here. So I’ll help you out with…

approximately top 5: la boca edition

la boca evita
1) El Caminito

El Caminito is the main street in the La Boca neighborhood, and it is primarily famous for its gorgeous colored houses. Ordinarily I encourage my readers to spend some time on their own exploring a neighborhood. However, in this case it’s important to keep in mind that the La Boca neighborhood is not safe enough to explore. Stay near El Caminito when you are here, and never go down a street if you don’t see other people there. Better safe than sorry.

You will probably want a cab to take you to El Caminito. Don’t worry because cabs in Buenos Aires are super cheap. I took them all the time, and usually I hate spending money on cabs.

El Caminito is not for those who are looking for something off the beaten track. It is full of tourists, tango dancers looking to get tips from tourists, and shop owners looking to sell unbelievably tacky T-shirts to tourists. However, I think El Caminito is one of those places that every tourist should see at least once in his or her life, like the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower.

la boca 24 hours in buenos aires
2) take silly pictures with the statues around la boca

Look! There’s a big sculpture of Evita! Over there! It’s Pope Francis! Hmmm…that might not be the real Pope Francis.

As long as you have an upbeat attitude and don’t mind crowds, you’ll enjoy El Caminito just fine.

fundacion proa
3) Fundacion Proa

Fundacion Proa is an excellent contemporary art museum located right next to El Caminito. It’s about as classy as El Caminito is tacky, the Gallant to El Caminito’s Goofus.

I saw a show there done by an artist named Cai Guo-Qiang who creates work with gunpowder. According to the artist, he does this because then even he does not know what the finished artwork will look like. I adored the idea of an artistic process so spontaneous that even the artist himself cannot control it, but I do think this whole exhibit should come with a “Do not try this at home” disclaimer.

4) have lunch at the Proa cafe on the roof

It is only 120 pesos for a main course, water, and dessert and the food is excellent. Also you get a fantastic view of the surrounding area, as one would expect with any roof restaurants.

I had a deliciously creamy vegetable risotto and an equally creamy flan for dessert. Remember that the Italian food in Argentina is generally fantastic because so many Italians have settled in Buenos Aires.

24 hours in Buenos Aires Street Art

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca

Afternoon: Urban Art and Activism Tour

You are in luck, Internet Stranger, because after you have eaten your fabulous lunch, you will be able to head right outside the museum to your next stop. The street art tour meets just by the entrance of Fundacion Proa. You will need to buy your tickets in advance here. Be sure to buy the Urban Art and Activism Tour because it’s the only one that meets in La Boca.

This tour is perfect for you if you like looking at beautiful things and also learning information. Lucky for me, aside from eating, those are my two favorite things to do! Our adorable guide Ana is a Porteno, which means she is from Buenos Aires, so she had lots of excellent facts to share with us. Allow me to share with you some of the highlights of the tour. Of course, given the ephemeral nature of street art, you will probably see a very different collection of works when you take the tour.

Approximately top 5: street art in buenos aires

Mural mothers of the plaza de mayo
1) The mural for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

These are a group of women who lost their children during Argentina’s military government that lasted from 1976-1983. When I say lost, I mean that the government actually had their children disappeared. Ever since then, these mothers have been protesting every Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo. As much as I love to travel, sometimes I find it overwhelming to learn about all the miserable things that have happened in the world. When will people stop being terrible?

buenos aires street art cat
2) a cat who sails. a sailor cat.

I need to move on to something more cheerful after that, so how about this mural of a cat wearing a sailor costume? There. I think we all feel much better now.

buenos aires street art  tango
3) a mosaic of people doing the tango

It’s not Argentina without the tango!

buenos aires street art  blu
4) get to know blu

This is a work by famous Italian street artist Blu. Ana asked us what we saw when we look at this piece, and to me it seems clear that the world is falling apart because people aren’t taking care of each other. Ana told us about the economic crisis in Argentina in 2002 and how you would meet people who had gotten their PhDs who were now homeless on the street. So you can read this work as a commentary on the greed that led to that economic crisis.

Now I feel sad again and I don’t even have another cartoon character to show you. How about a story about a ninja instead?

buenos aires street art  soccer
5) soccer street art–because it’s argentina

We found this mural under a bridge in a neighborhood that Ana told us was not very safe. Because of safety concerns, we didn’t walk from one area to another, instead we drove around in a minivan. We even had a guard looking out for us so we wouldn’t get hassled. Ana told us to think of him as a ninja because it sounds more fun. Ana had my kind of sense of humor!

The tour was also fun for me because I made a friend! I will call her Patsy because she was from England and drank a lot. Also her top kept kind of falling off.

After the tour, Ana dropped us off in the San Telmo neighborhood, our ninja disappeared into the night, and Patsy I decided to look for a place to drink. Unfortunately Patsy had had her wallet stolen, so she needed to borrow some money from me for a beer. I think Patsy might have been a con artist just like the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist! How exciting!

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca


24 hours in Buenos Aires san telmo

San Telmo is a neighborhood that is mostly famous for having an amazing street fair every Sunday. Hordes of people, Portenos and tourists, come out to shop, eat, and tango in the Plaza Dorrego. If you go to San Telmo on a Sunday, it will look something like this:

san telmo tango

But on a Tuesday, you will be able to grab a drink at a table in the Plaza, and it won’t be so crowded. Just sit at any table you want, and a waiter will come and take your order. I ordered a chopp, which is a draft beer and Patsy and I chatted about lots of things, from English politics to why people in England have a prejudice against gingers. Patsy claimed it’s because gingers are “just rubbish”, but that doesn’t sound right to me.

24 Hours in Buenos Aires: La Boca

Evening: Dinner at El Desnivel Parrilla

Keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to get dinner in Buenos Aires before eight PM, so don’t even bother trying! Fortunately Patsy and I had been filling up on beers, so we were all good. We were joined for dinner by Patsy’s Italian boyfriend and his four single guy friends (don’t worry, none of them were even a little cute).

They insisted on going to a restaurant called El Desnivel for dinner. This is a well-known parrilla (Argentinian steakhouse), so they didn’t need to twist my arm to get me to go in. El Desnivel has gotten very popular with tourists, and some people say that the quality has declined as a result, but I think you’ll do just fine if you order carefully.

Because we were a large group we just tried a bunch of different dishes, so I can state with confidence that you should stick to the plain grilled steaks like the bife de lomo or bife de chorizo with potatoes on the side. Those were hot and bloody off the grill, just like I like my steaks and my men. (Rimshot!) This simple repast should be accompanied by a glass of the house red. Patsy and her friends insisted on ordering light beer with the steak, which I think is gross, but then I am not a con artist.

We ran into a little trouble when we tried a more complicated order of one steak with cream sauce on it, and one of the Italians decided that would be a good moment to tell everybody that he had chlamydia, so we were all unable to try the cream sauce. It’s probably just as well.

Further Reading: 24 Hours in Buenos Aires

Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Buenos Aires? I’m happy to make some suggestions for reading for your 24 hours in Buenos Aires. I like Lonely Planet’s guide to Buenos Aires, each chapter is divided into neighborhoods, which makes planning easier.

If you’re passionate about travel and travel writing, like I am, you have to read Bruce Chatwin’s travelogue classic In Patagonia. You’ll feel like you’re exploring southern Argentina right along with him.

Jorge Luis Borges is most probably the most famous Argentinian writer who ever lived. So before you go to Buenos Aires, read his Collected Stories. It won’t take you very long because they’re short! That’s why they’re called short stories!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Buenos Aires. If you have another 24 hours, try checking out some of Buenos Aires’s amazing nature. If you’re in the mood for cemeteries, try this itinerary out for size.

Stella Jane
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