3 Days in Buenos Aires: The Perfect Buenos Aires Itinerary

Tango through vibrant neighborhoods, savor world-class cuisine, and immerse yourself in rich culture and history. Follow this 3-day Buenos Aires itinerary for best results!

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

"Buenos Aires? Are you crazy?" That's what our friends said when Sarah and I announced our plans for a 3-day getaway to Argentina's capital. They conjured up images of drug cartels and dangerous streets, probably influenced by too many episodes of Narcos. But let me tell you, our 72 hours in Buenos Aires not only shattered those stereotypes but left us head over heels for this captivating city.

As we stepped off the plane at Ezeiza International Airport, the energy of Buenos Aires hit us like a warm, welcoming breeze. This city, often called the "Paris of South America," is a mesmerizing blend of European elegance and Latin American passion. Wide, tree-lined boulevards reminiscent of the Champs-Élysées lead to colorful street art that could rival any Banksy piece. And don't even get me started on the food – from mouthwatering asados to the most divine dulce de leche you'll ever taste.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's dive into how you can make the most of your 3 days in Buenos Aires. Whether you're a culture vulture, a foodie, or just looking to lose yourself in the hypnotic rhythms of tango, this Buenos Aires itinerary has got you covered. So, grab a mate (you'll learn all about this drink soon enough) and let's tango our way through the ultimate 72 hours in the heart of Argentina!

Before You Go: Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Before we jump into the day-by-day itinerary, let's cover some essential tips to ensure your 3 days in Buenos Aires are as smooth as a well-executed tango step.

What to Pack for Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has a subtropical climate, which means hot summers and mild winters. Here's what you shouldn't forget:

  • Comfortable walking shoes: You'll be doing a lot of walking, trust me. My Allbirds were a lifesaver!
  • Stylish but practical clothing: Porteños (Buenos Aires locals) dress well, so pack some nice outfits for evenings out.
  • Light jacket or sweater: Evenings can be cool, even in summer.
  • Adaptor: Argentina uses Type C and I plugs. I recommend a universal adaptor.
  • Power bank: You'll be taking tons of photos, and you don't want a dead battery when you're trying to capture that perfect sunset over Puerto Madero.

Where to Stay in Buenos Aires

For your 3-day trip to Buenos Aires, location is key. Here are some neighborhoods to consider:

  1. Palermo: Hip and trendy, with great restaurants and nightlife. We stayed at the Home Hotel Buenos Aires, and it was perfect.
  2. Recoleta: Upscale area with beautiful architecture. The Alvear Palace Hotel is the epitome of luxury if you're splurging.
  3. San Telmo: For a more bohemian vibe, try the charming Anselmo Buenos Aires.

Getting Around Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has an excellent public transportation system. Here's what you need to know:

  • Get a SUBE card: This rechargeable card works for buses and the subway. You can buy it at subway stations or kioskos (convenience stores).
  • Subway (Subte): Fast and efficient for getting around the city center.
  • Buses: They run 24/7 and can take you almost anywhere in the city.
  • Uber: Available and generally cheaper than taxis.

Money Matters

  • The local currency is the Argentine Peso (ARS).
  • Many places accept credit cards, but always have some cash on hand.
  • Tip: Due to inflation, the "blue dollar" exchange rate can be much more favorable than the official rate. Ask your hotel for reputable places to exchange money.

Safety in Buenos Aires

Despite what our friends thought, we found Buenos Aires to be generally safe. However, as with any big city, it's important to stay alert:

  • Keep valuables close and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas.
  • Avoid flashing expensive jewelry or electronics.
  • Use official radio taxis or ride-sharing apps rather than hailing cabs on the street.
  • In La Boca, stick to the main tourist area around Caminito street, especially after dark.

Now that we've got the basics covered, are you ready to dive into your 3-day Buenos Aires adventure? Let's go!

Day 1: Historic Centro and Tango

Morning: Plaza de Mayo and Surrounding Historic Sites

People gathered in Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, with Casa Rosada visible in the background
Stumbled upon a lively gathering in Plaza de Mayo. The energy here is electric - you can feel the city's heartbeat!

Rise and shine, it's time to kick off your 3 days in Buenos Aires with a bang! Start your day early at the heart of the city, Plaza de Mayo. This historic square has been the stage for many of Argentina's most significant political events.

Casa Rosada

Pink facade of Casa Rosada, the iconic presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Did you know Casa Rosada's pink color came from mixing cow's blood with whitewash? Talk about resourceful architecture!

As you step into the plaza, you'll be immediately struck by the pink facade of the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. Yes, it's really pink! Legend has it that the color was chosen as a mix of the red and white colors of the opposing political parties of the time. It's from this very balcony that Eva Perón (Evita) famously addressed the masses.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Interior view of the ornate Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, showcasing its neoclassical architecture
The Metropolitan Cathedral took my breath away. It's hard to believe Pope Francis used to give mass here!

Next, turn your attention to the Metropolitan Cathedral. This neoclassical church might not look typically cathedral-like from the outside, but step inside and prepare to be wowed by its ornate interior. Fun fact: This is where Pope Francis, a Buenos Aires native, used to give mass before he became the leader of the Catholic Church.

Key Information:

  • Location: Plaza de Mayo, San Nicolás, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: The plaza is always open. Casa Rosada museum is open Wed-Sun, 10am-6pm.
  • Admission: Free for the plaza. Casa Rosada museum is free but requires prior reservation.

Why Visit: Plaza de Mayo is the political and historical heart of Buenos Aires, offering a glimpse into Argentina's tumultuous past and vibrant present.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Thursday afternoon and you might catch the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who still march in memory of their children who disappeared during the military dictatorship.

After soaking in the history, it's time for a coffee break. And not just any coffee break – we're talking about one of Buenos Aires' most iconic cafes. Head to Café Tortoni, just a short walk from Plaza de Mayo.

Café Tortoni

Coffee and medialunas (Argentine croissants) served at the historic Café Tortoni in Buenos Aires
Best cortado in Buenos Aires! Café Tortoni's been serving up coffee and history since 1858. Don't miss the medialunas!

Founded in 1858, Café Tortoni is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires and boy, does it show. As soon as you walk in, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time. The Belle Époque decor, complete with Tiffany lamps and marble tables, is simply stunning. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to a life-size statue of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges – he was a regular here, along with many other famous intellectuals and artists.

While the cafe is known for its hot chocolate and churros, I highly recommend trying a cortado (espresso with a dash of milk) and some medialunas (Argentine croissants). Trust me, it's the perfect fuel for your morning of sightseeing.

Key Information:

  • Location: Avenida de Mayo 825, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Daily, 8am-1am
  • Price: Moderate

Why Visit: Café Tortoni offers a taste of Buenos Aires' golden age and some of the best people-watching in the city.

Insider Tip: There's often a line to get in, but it moves quickly. If you're short on time, there's a separate line for takeaway.

Afternoon: San Telmo

Antique stalls and shoppers in the historic Mercado de San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Got lost in time at Mercado de San Telmo. Found a vintage mate gourd - perfect souvenir to remember BA by!

After lunch, it's time to head to the charming neighborhood of San Telmo. This is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires, and it shows in the best possible way. Cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, and antique shops create an atmosphere that's both romantic and slightly bohemian.

Start your San Telmo adventure at the Mercado de San Telmo. This indoor market has been around since 1897 and is a feast for the senses. Stalls selling everything from fresh produce to antiques line the aisles, and the smell of empanadas and grilled meats will have your mouth watering in no time.

Take your time wandering through the market. Stop for a choripán (chorizo sandwich) if you're feeling peckish, or pick up some mate gourd and bombilla (metal straw) if you want to try drinking mate like a local. Just remember, there's an art to preparing and drinking mate that you'll need to learn!

Key Information:

  • Location: Carlos Calvo 495, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Daily, 10am-8pm (some stalls may close earlier)
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: The Mercado de San Telmo offers a glimpse into everyday Buenos Aires life and is a treasure trove for antique lovers.

Insider Tip: Look out for the beautiful original wrought-iron structure of the market building. It's a great photo opportunity!

After the market, take some time to wander the streets of San Telmo. This neighborhood is known for its street art, so keep your eyes peeled for colorful murals. If you're interested in learning more about the art and the artists, consider joining a street art tour.

As the afternoon winds down, make your way to Plaza Dorrego. This small square is the second oldest in the city and on Sundays, it hosts a famous antique market. Even if you're not there on a Sunday, it's a great place to sit at a cafe, enjoy a drink, and watch the world go by. You might even catch some impromptu tango dancers performing in the square!

Evening: La Boca and Tango Show

Vibrant, colorful buildings lining El Caminito street in La Boca neighborhood, Buenos Aires
El Caminito is like walking through a living painting. Each building tells a story of immigrant history and artistic spirit.

As the sun starts to set, it's time to head to one of Buenos Aires' most colorful neighborhoods – literally! La Boca is famous for its brightly painted buildings, passionate football fans, and of course, tango.

Start your evening with a stroll down El Caminito, the most famous street in La Boca. This vibrant pedestrian street is like an open-air museum, with colorful conventillos (tenements), street performers, and local artists selling their work. The colors are a photographer's dream, so make sure your camera is charged!

Key Information:

  • Location: La Boca, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Best visited during daylight hours
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: El Caminito is quintessential Buenos Aires – colorful, artistic, and full of life.

Insider Tip: While El Caminito is safe and touristy, be cautious if you wander into other parts of La Boca, especially after dark.

Now, no visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without experiencing a tango show, and there's no better place to do it than in the neighborhood where tango was born. For dinner and a show, head to El Querandi. This historic venue has been around since 1867 and offers an intimate tango show that will leave you breathless.

Tango dancers mid-performance at El Querandi, a historic tango venue in Buenos Aires
Watched world-class tango at El Querandi. The passion and skill of these dancers is unbelievable!

The show at El Querandi takes you through the history of tango, from its humble beginnings in the immigrant neighborhoods to its current status as a world-renowned dance. The dancers are incredibly skilled, and the live music adds to the passionate atmosphere.

Key Information:

  • Location: Perú 302, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Shows typically start at 8:30pm
  • Price: Varies, but expect to pay around $90 USD for dinner and show

Why Visit: El Querandi offers one of the most authentic and intimate tango experiences in Buenos Aires.

Insider Tip: Book in advance and request a table close to the stage for the best views.

As you head back to your hotel after the show, you'll probably find yourself humming tango melodies and maybe even attempting a few dance steps. Don't worry, that's just the Buenos Aires effect – it'll only get stronger over the next two days!

Day 2: Arts, Culture, and Parks

Morning: MALBA and Recoleta

Art exhibition featuring Latin American artworks inside MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires)
MALBA opened my eyes to the incredible diversity of Latin American art. The Frida Kahlo piece was a highlight!

Good morning, art lovers! Today we're diving into Buenos Aires' rich cultural scene, starting with one of the city's premier museums. After a quick breakfast at your hotel (or a medialunas and coffee at a local cafe if you prefer), head to the MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires).

MALBA houses an impressive collection of 20th-century Latin American art. You'll find works by famous artists like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Antonio Berni. But what I love most about MALBA is how it showcases lesser-known Latin American artists, giving visitors a comprehensive view of the region's artistic movements.

The museum itself is a work of art, with its modern design providing the perfect backdrop for the colorful and often provocative pieces inside. Take your time wandering through the exhibits – there's a lot to take in!

Key Information:

  • Location: Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Thursday to Monday, 12pm to 8pm; Wednesday 11am to 8pm; Closed Tuesdays
  • Admission: 1000 ARS for adults (as of 2023, but check the website for current prices)

Why Visit: MALBA offers a unique perspective on Latin American art and culture that you won't find anywhere else.

Insider Tip: If you're visiting on a Wednesday, admission is half price!

After your artistic morning, it's time to explore one of Buenos Aires' most elegant neighborhoods – Recoleta. Start with lunch at La Biela, a historic cafe that's been a meeting point for intellectuals and celebrities for decades. Sit on the terrace if the weather's nice – the view of the ancient gomero (rubber) tree is spectacular.

Key Information:

  • Location: Av. Pres. Manuel Quintana 596, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Daily, 7am to 2am
  • Price: Moderate

Why Visit: La Biela offers a taste of old-world Buenos Aires charm and great people-watching.

Outdoor seating area of La Biela cafe in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, with its iconic gomero tree
Enjoying a coffee under La Biela's famous gomero tree. This 200-year-old tree has seen more of BA's history than any of us!

Insider Tip: Try the picada (a selection of cold cuts and cheeses) – it's perfect for sharing!

Afternoon: Recoleta Cemetery and Bosques de Palermo

Ornate mausoleums and pathways in the historic Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires
Recoleta Cemetery is hauntingly beautiful. Each mausoleum is a work of art, telling stories of Argentina's past.

After lunch, it's time to visit one of Buenos Aires' most famous attractions – the Recoleta Cemetery. Now, I know what you're thinking – a cemetery? Trust me, this isn't just any cemetery. It's more like an open-air museum, filled with ornate mausoleums and sculptures that tell the stories of Argentina's most notable figures.

The most famous resident is Eva Perón, whose tomb is always adorned with fresh flowers from admirers. But don't just make a beeline for Evita's grave – take time to wander the narrow alleys between the tombs. Each one has a story to tell, from tragic love affairs to political intrigue.

Key Information:

  • Location: Junín 1790, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Daily, 7am to 5:30pm
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Recoleta Cemetery is a unique blend of history, art, and architecture that offers insight into Argentina's past.

Insider Tip: Pick up a map at the entrance or join one of the free guided tours (in English on Tuesdays and Thursdays) to learn about the most interesting tombs.

After the cemetery, it's time for some fresh air. Take a leisurely stroll through the Bosques de Palermo, also known as Parque Tres de Febrero. This vast urban park is Buenos Aires' answer to Central Park, and it's the perfect place to relax and watch porteños enjoying their leisure time.

Rent a bike or paddle boat, smell the roses in the Eduardo Holmberg rose garden, or simply find a quiet spot to enjoy a mate (you did buy that mate gourd in San Telmo, right?). If you're lucky, you might catch an outdoor yoga class or a impromptu drum circle.

Key Information:

  • Location: Av. Infanta Isabel 410, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Always open
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Bosques de Palermo offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city and a glimpse into how porteños spend their free time.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Sunday when the park is at its liveliest, with families picnicking and street performers entertaining the crowds.

Evening: Palermo Soho

People relaxing and enjoying outdoor activities in Bosques de Palermo, Buenos Aires' largest park
Sunday in Bosques de Palermo feels like all of BA is here! Perfect spot for a picnic and people-watching.

As the sun sets, it's time to experience Buenos Aires' nightlife. Head to Palermo Soho, the trendiest part of the already hip Palermo neighborhood. Start your evening with dinner at Don Julio, consistently rated as one of the best steakhouses in the world.

Perfectly grilled steak and glass of Malbec wine served at Don Julio steakhouse in Buenos Aires
If there's a heaven for meat lovers, it's Don Julio. This bife de chorizo might be the best steak I've ever had!

Don Julio is the place to indulge in Argentina's famous beef. The parilla (grill) here is legendary, and the wine list is impressive. Don't be intimidated by the size of the steaks – they're meant to be shared! And don't forget to try the provoleta, a grilled cheese appetizer that's a staple of Argentine asado.

Key Information:

  • Location: Guatemala 4699, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Daily, 12pm to 1am
  • Price: High

Why Visit: Don Julio offers the quintessential Buenos Aires steakhouse experience with top-quality beef and excellent service.

Insider Tip: Reservations are essential. If you can't get one, arrive right when they open and put your name on the list – they'll give you a free glass of champagne while you wait!

After dinner, it's time for some bar hopping in Palermo Hollywood, just next door to Palermo Soho. This area is packed with trendy bars and clubs. Some favorites include:

  1. Florería Atlántico: A speakeasy hidden beneath a flower shop. Enter through the refrigerator door for some of the best cocktails in the city.
  2. The Harrison Speakeasy: Another hidden gem, this time behind a sushi restaurant. The password changes regularly, so you'll need to do some detective work (or make friends with a local) to get in.
  3. Uptown & The Bronx: A more laid-back option with great beer and live music.

Remember, nightlife in Buenos Aires starts late. Don't be surprised if bars are empty before midnight – things don't really get going until after 1am!

Day 3: Food, Shopping, and Local Life

Morning: Cooking Class at The Argentine Experience

Participants making empanadas during The Argentine Experience cooking class in Buenos Aires
Learned to make empanadas at The Argentine Experience. Pro tip: the secret is in the dough folding technique!

On your last day in Buenos Aires, it's time to dive deep into Argentine cuisine. Start your day with a cooking class at The Argentine Experience. This isn't your typical cooking class – it's a full immersion into Argentine food culture.

You'll learn how to make empanadas, craft the perfect steak, and even mix up your own mate. But the best part is the cultural exchange. The friendly staff will teach you about Argentine customs, from the right way to say cheers (chau) to how to order your steak (jugoso for medium-rare).

Key Information:

  • Location: Fitz Roy 2110, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Classes typically start at 7:30pm, but they also offer daytime classes
  • Price: Around $120 USD per person

Why Visit: The Argentine Experience offers a fun, hands-on way to learn about Argentine cuisine and culture.

Insider Tip: Come hungry! You'll be eating everything you make, plus some extras.

Afternoon: Shopping and Café Culture

Bustling scene of shoppers on Avenida Florida, a popular pedestrian shopping street in Buenos Aires
Avenida Florida is shopper's paradise! Found amazing leather goods here - BA's leather craftsmanship is world-class.

After your cooking class, it's time for some shopping and cafe-hopping. Start on Avenida Florida, a pedestrian street in the heart of the city. While it can be touristy, it's a great place to pick up souvenirs like leather goods, which Argentina is famous for.

For a more upscale shopping experience, duck into Galería Güemes. This beautiful Art Nouveau shopping arcade is worth a visit even if you don't buy anything. Take the elevator to the top floor for great views of the city.

Key Information:

  • Location: Florida Street runs from Plaza San Martín to Plaza de Mayo
  • Hours: Most shops are open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm
  • Price: Varies

Why Visit: Avenida Florida and Galería Güemes offer a mix of shopping and architecture that captures Buenos Aires' blend of old and new.

Art Nouveau interior architecture of Galería Güemes, a historic shopping arcade in Buenos Aires
Galería Güemes is a hidden gem. The Art Nouveau details are stunning - don't forget to look up!

Insider Tip: Be wary of people on Florida Street offering to exchange money – stick to official exchange houses.

After shopping, it's time for a coffee break. Buenos Aires has a rich cafe culture, and there's no better place to experience it than at Café Martinez. This local chain has been around since 1933 and serves excellent coffee.

Order a café con leche and a medialuna, find a seat by the window, and watch the world go by. This is the perfect time to write some postcards or plan your return trip to Buenos Aires (because trust me, you'll want to come back).

Key Information:

  • Location: Multiple locations throughout the city
  • Hours: Typically 7am to 9pm, but varies by location
  • Price: Moderate

Why Visit: Café Martinez offers a taste of authentic porteño cafe culture.

Cafe con leche and medialunas (Argentine croissants) served at Café Martinez in Buenos Aires
Starting the day right with café con leche at Café Martinez. Their medialunas are addictive - you've been warned!

Insider Tip: Try the submarino – a glass of hot milk served with a bar of dark chocolate that you melt into the milk yourself.

Evening: Farewell Feast

For your last night in Buenos Aires, let's go out with a bang. Make a reservation at Tegui, consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in South America. Hidden behind a graffiti-covered wall in Palermo, Tegui offers an innovative tasting menu that showcases Argentine ingredients in surprising ways.

The menu changes regularly based on what's fresh and in season, but you might find dishes like beef tartare with smoked egg yolk, or heirloom tomatoes with burrata and peach. The wine pairings are excellent and focus on small Argentine producers.

Key Information:

  • Location: Costa Rica 5852, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8pm to midnight
  • Price: High

Why Visit: Tegui offers a fine dining experience that pushes the boundaries of Argentine cuisine.

Insider Tip: Make reservations well in advance – Tegui books up quickly, especially on weekends.

After dinner, if you're not ready for the night to end, head to Florería Atlántico for a nightcap. This unique bar, hidden beneath a flower shop, serves up creative cocktails that incorporate Argentine ingredients. It's the perfect place to toast to your Buenos Aires adventure.

Key Information:

  • Location: Arroyo 872, Buenos Aires
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7pm to 2am
  • Price: Moderate to High

Why Visit: Florería Atlántico offers some of the most creative cocktails in Buenos Aires in a unique, speakeasy setting.

Insider Tip: Try the Principe de los Apostoles, a gin made with yerba mate – it's uniquely Argentine!

Alternative Itinerary for Time-Crunched Travelers

If you're short on time and want to hit the absolute must-sees in Buenos Aires, here's a condensed itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada
  • Afternoon: San Telmo Market and Recoleta Cemetery
  • Evening: Tango show at El Querandi

Day 2:

  • Morning: MALBA
  • Afternoon: Stroll through Bosques de Palermo
  • Evening: Dinner at Don Julio

Day 3:

  • Morning: Cooking class at The Argentine Experience
  • Afternoon: Shopping on Avenida Florida
  • Evening: Farewell dinner at Tegui

This itinerary hits the highlights, giving you a taste of Buenos Aires' history, culture, food, and nightlife. It's fast-paced, but it'll give you a good overview of what the city has to offer.

Final Thoughts on 3 Days in Buenos Aires

As our taxi pulled away from our hotel on that last morning, Sarah and I found ourselves already planning our return trip. Three days in Buenos Aires had flown by in a whirlwind of tango, steak, and vibrant street life. We'd barely scratched the surface of what this incredible city has to offer.

Buenos Aires has a way of getting under your skin. Maybe it's the passionate porteños, always ready to chat about politics or football. Maybe it's the way the city seamlessly blends European elegance with Latin American zest. Or maybe it's just the dulce de leche – seriously, why isn't this stuff more popular worldwide?

Whatever it is, I guarantee that by the end of your 3 days in Buenos Aires, you'll be just as enchanted as we were. You'll leave with a suitcase full of souvenirs, a camera full of colorful street art photos, and a strong desire to master the tango.

So go ahead, book that ticket. Buenos Aires is waiting to sweep you off your feet. And when your friends ask "Buenos Aires? Are you crazy?", just smile and tell them they have no idea what they're missing. ¡Buen viaje!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:12 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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