Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with 48 fascinating neighborhoods, or barrios, to explore.
While studying Spanish here, I spent much of my free time getting lost in the enchanting streets of its diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.
From the cobblestone streets of San Telmo to the bohemian vibes of Palermo, each neighborhood in Buenos Aires has its unique personality and stories to tell.
Here’s a guide to my favorite corners of Buenos Aires, along with recommendations on where to stay in each.
San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, dating back to the city’s founding in the 15th century. It was originally the home of aristocratic families until the yellow fever epidemic of 1871 reshaped its landscape.
Today, it’s loved for its bohemian vibe, each cobblestone street echoing with tales of its rich history and vibrant artistry. It’s the perfect area to walk around, with cobblestone streets, endless restaurants, and tango dancers performing on the street.
The center of San Telmo is Plaza Dorrego, with numerous cafes, restaurants, and antique shops concentrated around it. Every Sunday, it comes alive with one of the biggest flea markets in Buenos Aires.
You can pick up unique arts and crafts there, browse for antiques, and indulge in some of Argentina’s best food from the many parrillas. The market goes on forever through the streets and is worth spending a day exploring.
Recommended Hostel: America Del Sur is a reputable hostel chain in Argentina. They offer modern decor and comfortable accommodation in the heart of San Telmo, with friendly staff that can help you plan your activities around Buenos Aires.
Palermo is one of the largest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. It’s really a neighborhood of neighborhoods, each with its unique personality.
Palermo Soho is a relatively new area whose name stems from its similarity to New York’s Soho. I have yet to go to the original Soho, so I can’t comment on whether this is a true statement or made up by smart developers. Either way, the area is loved by backpackers, hipsters, and designers, including myself.
Palermo Soho features an excellent market every weekend where you can find unique clothing, crafts, and jewelry. But my favorite part about this neighborhood is all the amazing graffiti on the streets. There are even graffiti walking tours you can join if you want to know more information about the pieces.
At night, head to neighboring Palermo Hollywood to eat and drink. This area is Buenos Aires’s largest concentration of bars and restaurants, where you can find any type of cuisine.
Buenos Aires is a drinker and late-night partygoers’ paradise, with many bars open until 7 am.
Recommended Hostel: Benita Hostel is located in the heart of Buenos Aires, the popular Recoleta area, within a few minutes’ walking distance of Palermo. The hostel is in a 19th-century building and has maintained its character, but comes with modern amenities and furnishing.
Recommended Hotel: Home Hotel is aimed at the partying crowd drawn to late-night Palermo Hollywood. This 17-room hotel sits among the coolest bars and restaurants in the area. The decor in the hotel is gorgeous, and the hotel has excellent service.
Monserrat is in the business district neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and houses some of the city’s most significant and historic buildings. Free daily walking tours will take you through the most important buildings and tell you about their history.
Plaza Del Mayo is the square containing the government’s house, and on any given day, you will likely find protestors camped out (Argentinians are very passionate about politics). It’s the historical and political heart of the city, dating back to 1580.
The square is also a vibrant hub surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and historic landmarks. Two not to miss are Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace) and the Catedral Metropolitana, from the late colonial era.
The proximity of many hostels and hotels in Monserrat makes it a convenient and lively place to base your exploration of Buenos Aires. I felt safe walking around the area alone, even at night.
Recommended Hostel: Rayuela Hostel Boutique is where I spent most of my time in Buenos Aires, and it was an excellent base. The hostel is in a beautiful historic building, but the best part about it is the atmosphere.
I met many great people here, as the staff creates an easy social environment. Once a week, they host an Asado night for all the guests, which was some of the best food I ate while in Buenos Aires.
Recommended Hotel: Lemon Suites & Apartments is a great option if you’re looking for a spacious place to stay in the heart of the city for the longer term, as they have rooms with a kitchenette. Plus, they have an outdoor pool to cool off from the heat!
La Boca is a famous neighborhood in Buenos Aires for its two main attractions: the Football stadium and Caminito, the colorful artists’ street near the water.
The name La Boca means ‘the mouth’ and comes from its location at the mouth of the Riachuelo River. During the 19th century, La Boca was the main entry point for Italians who immigrated to Argentina.
During that time, most homes were constructed using materials from the shipyard, such as leftover metal scraps and salvaged wood. The residents painted the exterior of their homes in bright colors to make them more appealing.
While most of those deteriorated over time, a local artist recreated a small section of houses in the 1960s around the street of Caminito to show how old La Boca used to look. This street is now very popular with tourists, who come to take photos.
However, La Boca is a working-class neighborhood with a reputation for being unsafe outside of the main street due to muggings. Locals stopped us twice, telling us not to go further past the main street.
Despite its reputation, La Boca is worth an afternoon visit to admire its colorful features or watch the Boca Juniors play home games at La Bombonera stadium. Still, I wouldn’t recommend staying there for safety reasons.
Read also: Safest countries in Latin America
Recoleta is among the most elegant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, known for its Paris-style townhouses, palaces, and boutique stores.
The neighborhood started establishing itself in the 1800s when an outbreak of yellow fever forced the residents to move away from the river and insects carrying the infection. Recoleta was born due to its higher terrain.
When the neighborhood was developing, the aim was to be the ‘Paris of the South,’ and the French heavily influenced the architecture.
Take a leisurely walk through Avenida Alvear and marvel at the elegant architecture that reflects its French influence. You’ll find many opulent mansions, most of which were constructed by affluent cattle ranch owners during the early 20th century when Buenos Aires was among the world’s wealthiest cities.
This neighborhood is also home to the famous Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. While going to a cemetery may seem strange on your vacation, it’s a pretty popular spot because of the thousands of intricate architectural details on the tombs.
There are over 6,400 statues, coffins, and crypts, and many are national historical monuments. It is the resting place of some of Argentina’s most important families, including the grave of Evita Peron, a former First Lady of Argentina.
While Recoleta may not be the best place to stay on a budget in Buenos Aires, it makes for a nice afternoon to stroll around.
Recommended Hostel: Voyage Recoleta Hostel is set in a historic French-style building, offering both shared and private rooms. The hostel has a large kitchen and beautiful common areas, including a moonlit terrace to meet new friends.
Recommended Hotel: Casa Calma Hotel is devoted to the culture of wellness. This urban oasis hotel features a beautiful vertical garden. It’s in the heart of the city, yet hidden away from the city in its own healing atmosphere.
Buenos Aires became one of my favorite cities in all of Latin America, and that was in large part because of the charming neighborhoods.
San Telmo, with its cobblestone streets and Sunday markets, paints a picture of Buenos Aires’ rich history. Palermo, the city’s largest barrio, offers a little bit of everything – from tree-lined streets and antique houses to the bohemian energy of Hollywood and Soho.
Whether you’re exploring street markets, admiring the architecture, or simply savoring the local cuisine, each barrio offers a distinct flavor of life in Buenos Aires.
Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country and pet as many dogs as possible. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled solo to 70+ countries and six continents. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home, where she runs the website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta.
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