Buenos Aires was originally founded in 1536 and was named Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire, or Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air. Located on the south-east coast of the country, Argentina's capital is now home to around 3 million people. It is one of the most visited cities in Latin America. The city has a thriving arts scene, interesting history and amazing architecture drawing tourists eager to experience the 'Paris of the South.'
The tango is synonymous with Buenos Aires, and visitors have many opportunities to experience this passionate dance. Visitors looking for an authentic experience may wish to visit a milonga, where locals go dancing. They happen around the city every day of the week. The most interesting experience may be an open-air milonga where visitors can watch tango enthusiasts dancing in the street.
The Plaza de Mayo is at the center of much of Argentina's political history. On the eastern side of the Plaza is the Casa Rosada, which houses the offices of the president. Eva Perón addressed crowds of supporters from the balconies of this building. In the center of the Plaza is the Pirámide de Mayo, a white obelisk built to mark the first anniversary of independence from Spain.
Argentina is known for its horses, and Buenos Aires offers tourists many opportunities to appreciate the four-legged beauties. On race days the Palermo Hippodrome is the place to see the best horses up against each other, have a small bet, and see the French architecture on the grounds. For those who prefer polo, Argentina hosts some of the best competitions in the world. Check out the excitement at Campo Argentino de Polo between September and November.
Known locally as ferias, street markets can be found throughout Buenos Aires. Most tourists visit Feria de San Telmo, which is a good place to pick up souvenirs and is also known for the amazing antiques on offer. Other great options include Feria de Libros Parque Rivadavia, which has piles of books for book lovers and Feria de Mataderos, known for amazing food and live equestrian and dance performances. Visitors looking for a special keepsake may wish to visit Feria Plaza Francia, which is known for handmade leather goods, ceramics and silver jewelry.
Legendary soccer player Diego Maradona first played for the Boca Juniors as a young man, and he returned to the club at the end of his career. The Boca Juniors are the most successful team in Argentina and are known for their large and passionate fan base. Visitors can take in a game at their iconic home ground, the Bombonera stadium.
For those who want to get out of the city and spend the day as a gaucho, many local ranches offer day-long experiences with transport from the city included. These trips generally involve a meal with plenty of grilled meat. You'll dance, sing, and watch demonstrations on horseback by expert riders. Truly adventurous tourists can hop in the saddle and enjoy a ride on one of Argentina's famed horses.
Argentina's beef industry has certainly made an impression on Buenos Aires. The adventurous foodie can find many great restaurants with perfectly cooked steaks and glasses of local wine. Remember to also try the empanadas, which are everywhere and make a great snack while exploring the city.
Exploring Buenos Aires' past can lead you to some amazing places while you hear fascinating stories. A popular stop with history buffs is Recoleta Cemetery, where many make a pilgrimage to Evita's tomb. The cemetery is also home to ornate mausoleums where the rich and powerful of the city rest. El Zanjón de Granados is a maze of tunnels underneath a San Telmo house; some historians believe it is the first settlement of Buenos Aires. Those who like good food with their history can visit Café Tortoni, which has been serving locals and tourists alike since 1858 and is known for its Tiffany glass ceilings.
Buenos Aires offers art lovers many opportunities to delve into artistic beauty. El Caminito, in the La Boca neighborhood, is an alleyway full of colorful buildings and the creations of local artists. MALBA, or the Museum of Latin American Art, has a collection of the political and social art of South America, as well as historical and contemporary pieces by Latin America artists, including Frida Kahlo. In the Museum of Fine Arts, visitors can find tapestries, carvings, and paintings by greats such as Van Gogh and Picasso, as well as pieces by lesser-known South American artists.
Visitors who are looking for a day surrounded by nature without going too far from the city can explore the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve. Boasting 360 hectares of green space, this reserve is located on the edge of Puerto Madero. Other pockets of nature include the botanical gardens and Parque Tres de Febrero, which offers visitors lakes, groves and rose gardens.