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EXCLUSIVE: Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in Buenos Aires

City Guide January 9, 2024

 

 

Welcome to the vibrant heart of South America - Buenos Aires! This eclectic city is a melting pot of culture, history, and modern flair, offering experiences far beyond the typical tourist attractions. If you're eager to delve into the essence of Buenos Aires like a local, this exclusive guide is your golden ticket. Immerse yourself in the less-traveled paths and discover the non-touristy gems that define the city's character.

Explore the hidden cafes in the quaint streets of barrios like Palermo and Recoleta, or visit the lesser-known art museums that showcase a diverse range of Latin American art, far from the crowds of the more frequented sites.

Don't miss the chance to experience the fervor of Argentine football at La Bombonera, the iconic stadium steeped in history and passion. For a touch of historical significance, the legacy of Eva Perón, a pivotal figure in Argentine history, can be felt throughout the city, from museums to memorial sites. Arm yourself with these Buenos Aires travel tips, and prepare to uncover the city's unique and less frequented spots, where the true heart and soul of Buenos Aires come alive.

First off, let's make your exploration hassle-free. Carrying luggage around can dampen the spirit of adventure. Thankfully, drop & go luggage storage in Buenos Aires provides a perfect solution.

Drop off your bags and roam the city streets freely, soaking up the authentic Buenos Aires atmosphere without extra weight. Imagine strolling unencumbered through the historic Plaza de Mayo, admiring the iconic Casa Rosada, the presidential palace with its distinct pink hue, symbolizing Argentine politics.

Wander to the renowned steakhouse, Don Julio, where a good time is guaranteed with delicious local cuisine. Remember, having your credit card handy is a good practice when dining out, especially in upscale restaurants. As you continue to explore and stay in Buenos Aires, you’ll find these small conveniences, like hassle-free luggage storage, invaluable in enriching your travel experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and history of this enchanting city.

 

Explore the Offbeat Neighborhoods

For a unique perspective of Buenos Aires, venture beyond the well-trodden tourist paths and explore the charming neighborhoods of Colegiales and Barracas. These areas, less frequented by tourists, offer an authentic glimpse into the everyday life of porteños (Buenos Aires locals). Colegiales, with its tree-lined streets and family-run businesses, exudes a serene residential charm.

Barracas, known for its rich industrial heritage, is now a canvas for local artists, boasting vibrant murals and street art. Both neighborhoods are home to quaint cafes, vintage shops, and local markets that provide a true taste of Buenos Aires' local culture and lifestyle.

Engage with the locals at cozy neighborhood cafes. Many residents are proud of their barrio and would be delighted to share insider tips on the best local eats or hidden gems nearby.

 

Discover the Underground Art Scene

Buenos Aires' underground art scene, vibrant and pulsating with creativity, finds its epicenter in neighborhoods like Villa Crespo and Palermo Hollywood. These areas, less touched by commercial tourism, offer a raw and authentic insight into the city's artistic soul.

Villa Crespo

Once a traditional residential area, Villa Crespo has become a haven for street art enthusiasts. The neighborhood's walls are canvases for local and international artists, showcasing a range of styles from surrealistic murals to political graffiti. One notable spot is the intersection of Calle Thames and Calle Velasco, where various murals depict various aspects of Argentine culture and history. Another highlight is the Pasaje Russel, a small alleyway turned into an art gallery with its vibrant, ever-changing graffiti.

Palermo Hollywood

Known for its trendy bars and vibrant nightlife, Palermo Hollywood also boasts a flourishing art scene. This district is home to numerous independent art galleries and design studios. One such place is the Hollywood in Cambodia, an art gallery above the popular bar Post Street Bar, known for its urban art exhibitions.

The streets of Palermo Hollywood are adorned with murals that blend seamlessly with the area's fashionable ambiance. As you stroll through the neighborhood, you'll encounter a mix of abstract and figurative art, reflecting the diverse influences that shape Buenos Aires' art scene.

Impromptu Art and Local Artists

Villa Crespo and Palermo Hollywood are dynamic neighborhoods where art is confined to galleries and spills onto the streets. Watch for impromptu art installations in unexpected places like construction sites, abandoned buildings, or small plazas. These areas are also great for spotting local artists at work, offering a chance to see the creative process in action and maybe even chat with the artists about their inspirations and techniques.

When exploring these neighborhoods, always have your camera ready to capture the transient nature of street art. Many murals and installations are temporary, giving the art scene a fleeting yet exciting character. Additionally, checking out local event listings or following Buenos Aires' street art blogs and social media pages can help you stay updated on new murals, gallery openings, and art events.

 

Local Markets Over Touristy Ones

To truly experience the heart of Buenos Aires' local culture, bypass the popular San Telmo Market and head to the lesser-known local markets scattered throughout the city. The locals shop in these markets which are bustling with a genuine community vibe. You'll find a wide variety of items, from the freshest produce and traditional foods to unique handmade crafts and goods. These markets provide a more authentic shopping experience and a chance to see the everyday life of porteños (Buenos Aires residents).

Don’t miss out on trying local delicacies at these markets. You'll likely find they are fresher, more authentic, and less expensive than what is offered in tourist-centric areas. It's also a great opportunity to interact with local vendors and learn about the food and culture of Buenos Aires.

 

Culinary Adventures in Non-Touristy Restaurants

Buenos Aires offers culinary delights for food lovers, especially when you step off the beaten path and into non-touristy restaurants. Often tucked away in quieter neighborhoods, these establishments are where you can savor authentic Argentinian cuisine. From classic empanadas and mouthwatering asado (Argentine BBQ) to indulgent dulce de leche desserts, these hidden culinary gems offer a more intimate and genuine dining experience, often at a fraction of the cost of the touristy spots.

When dining at these local eateries, ask for the 'plato del día' or the day's special. This is usually a dish prepared with the freshest ingredients of the day and is a great way to taste the best of what the chef has to offer. It's also a chance to try something new and local, which might not be found on the regular menu.

 

 

Experience Local Tango

To truly immerse yourself in the culture of Buenos Aires, seek out local milongas, the traditional Argentine tango gatherings. These are where residents, rather than tourists, go to dance and experience tango in its most authentic form. Milongas can be found in various neighborhoods and offer a more genuine and intimate tango experience than well-known, tourist-targeted tango shows. In these local settings, you'll witness the passionate and intricate dance up close and see how deeply embedded it is in the city's culture.

If you're interested in joining the dance, don't hesitate! Milongas are usually very welcoming to beginners and often have a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. It's a great opportunity to learn some basic steps and immerse yourself in this quintessential part of Buenos Aires culture.

 

Art Beyond the Mainstream

Buenos Aires, a city pulsating with artistic energy, offers a treasure trove of art experiences beyond the mainstream allure of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The city's smaller, local galleries are vibrant hubs showcasing the works of contemporary Argentine artists. Nestled in trendy neighborhoods like Palermo, Villa Crespo, and San Telmo, these galleries are essential stops for art lovers seeking to dive deeper into the local art scene.

They provide a platform for emerging talents and established artists to display their creativity, ranging from traditional techniques to avant-garde and experimental art.

These galleries often host innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions, presenting a fresh perspective on Argentina's cultural and societal issues. The art displayed here is a mix of paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations, and, sometimes, interactive pieces that engage directly with the audience.

To fully immerse yourself in Buenos Aires' art scene, regularly check local event listings for gallery openings, special exhibitions, or artist talks. Many of these events are free or have a minimal entry fee, making them accessible to all art enthusiasts.

Attending these events is not just about viewing art; it’s an opportunity to interact with artists, curators, and fellow art lovers, providing a richer understanding of the artwork's context and inspiration. It's also a chance to experience the city’s cultural pulse firsthand, as these gatherings are often vibrant, social occasions reflective of Buenos Aires' lively spirit.

 

 

Parks and Recreation, Buenos Aires Style

Buenos Aires is not just about vibrant street life and tango; it's also home to numerous tranquil parks and green spaces, often overlooked by tourists. These lesser-known havens offer a peaceful respite from the city's fast pace and are perfect for a relaxing afternoon. You can find beautiful parks in neighborhoods like Belgrano, Caballito, or even the more residential parts of Palermo. These areas boast lush landscapes, charming walking paths, and, often, delightful playgrounds and sculptures.

Embrace the local lifestyle by packing a picnic. Grab some fresh pastries, cheese, and perhaps a bottle of Malbec wine, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon soaking up the sun and tranquility like a true Porteño (Buenos Aires local).

Uncover the City's Hidden Historical Gems

Buenos Aires, with its rich tapestry of history, is not just about the famous Plaza de Mayo or the iconic Recoleta Cemetery. The city is replete with hidden historical gems waiting to be discovered, particularly in its less frequented neighborhoods. San Telmo, known for its antique shops and colonial buildings, is a treasure trove of history. Here, you can explore the old, cobbled streets and find landmarks like the historic Church of San Pedro Telmo, which dates back to the 18th century.

The Congreso neighborhood, named after the Argentine National Congress building, is another area rich in history. It's home to Avenida de Mayo, a grand avenue filled with architectural marvels like the Palacio Barolo, inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and once the tallest building in South America.

Barracas, a neighborhood often overlooked by tourists, is a hidden gem with its unique history. It features impressive street art and early 20th-century architecture. Notably, the Santa Felicitas Church in Barracas has a tragic and romantic history tied to the early immigrant communities of Buenos Aires.

To delve deeper into the history of these neighborhoods, visiting local libraries or cultural centers is highly beneficial. For instance, the San Telmo Library offers resources and sometimes guided walks that delve into the neighborhood's past.

The cultural center in Barracas often hosts exhibitions and talks about the area's history and development. These institutions provide valuable resources like historical maps, brochures, and knowledgeable locals who can provide insights into lesser-known sites. They may also offer guided tours, offering a more structured and informative exploration of these historically rich neighborhoods.

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