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Buenos Aires, Argentina is a big city with a plethora of sights. Each BA neighborhood is distinct with an array of sights. We were quick to learn that there is no shortage of things to do in Buenos Aires. In an attempt to see the highlights of the city, we created an ambitious One Day in Buenos Aires Itinerary. Our plan led us on a 4-mile journey through the heart of the Buenos Aires downtown neighborhoods of Centro, San Telmo and Puerto Madero.
Sightseeing Buenos Aires in a Day
A day in Buenos Aires is just enough time to get a feel for the city. We prepared by wearing comfortable shoes (I like these by Columbia – and Kris prefers his Merrell shoes). Carrying a water bottle is also a good idea. A paper map of the city is useful, but you can use our Buenos Aires map of the route we took, which we include at the end of the post.
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Our One Day in Buenos Aires Itinerary
In order to make the most of our 1 day in Buenos Aires, we started early in the morning and began our exploration at Plaza Lavalle in Centro. (Top Tip: From Retiro Station and the Port, you can take the subway, Subte C, two stops to Lavalle.)
The three blocks of green space at Plaza Lavalle are home to the famed Teatro Colon opera house and Palacio of Justicia. After admiring the architecture, we proceeded down the Diagonal Norte to Avenida 9 de Julio. Known as the widest avenue in the world, the street is a Buenos Aires must-see. At the intersection of the two major streets is the Obelisco, the icon of Buenos Aires, which stands in the Plaza de la Republica.
Continuing on our discovery of Buenos Aires attractions, we walked south toward Plaza de Mayo. When we arrived at the Catedral Metropolitana, we were just in time to catch the end of mass. As luck would have it, our timing was spot on for the changing of the guard at the tomb of Argentina’s liberator Jose de San Martin, which is located inside the church. (The changing of the guard occurs on odd hours; 7:00, 9:00, 11:00, etc.)
Visiting Plaza de Mayo is one of the top Buenos Aires things to do. The plaza has always been –and clearly still is – a place for political demonstrations. The Casa Rosado commands attention (and encourages some tourists to recreate Evita by singing, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina!”). The square is ringed by government buildings and Buenos Aires museums. At the center of Plaza de Mayo is the Piramide de Mayo, a pillar that marks the Argentina May Revolution.
From the plaza, we headed south toward one of the historic things to see in Buenos Aires: the colonial structures of La Manzana de Las Luces. We stepped inside the Iglesia de San Ignaciso de Loyola, the oldest church in the city and appreciated the quiet before embarking on one of the top activities in Buenos Aires, the Feria de San Pedro Telmo.
San Telmo Sights
The popular flea market, Feria de San Pedro Telmo, only takes place on Sundays, but has evolved into one of the most visited Buenos Aires tourist attractions. We began our exploration of the market near the north end of Defensa Street. Vendors – of everything from authentic antiques to dollar store junk – line the six blocks of the cobbled street from Plaza de Maya south to Plaza Dorrego. The only thing more densely packed than the vendors area is the amount of visitors shopping for a souvenir.
We weren’t long on our route before an open-air Parrilla (grill) grabbed our attention. In a side enclave along the street, large grills were covered in sizzling meat, plastic tables otherwise filled the space and a band played in the corner. We settled in for a choripan (sausage sandwich), a little toe-tapping and a lot of people watching before continuing to wade through the crowds.
Near the south end of Defensa Street, we detoured into the Mercado de San Telmo, an indoor produce market where fresh fruits, vegetables and meat are sold. We made our last push through the crowds to Plaza Dorrego. The square is in the heart of San Telmo and is the second-oldest plaza in the city. There was barely room to walk, but plenty of room to tango. When a table opened at the Bar Plaza Dorrego, we sat down for a much-needed rest and a chopp (draught) of local cerveza (beer).
Puerto Madero Sights
Only halfway (distance-wise) through our One-Day Buenos Aires Itinerary, we left the madness of the market and headed east to our final neighborhood of the day, Puerto Madero. The neighborhood is a sea of modern skyscrapers along the old port. A breezy stroll north along the old locks took us past upscale restaurants to the famous Puente de la Mujer pedestrian bridge. We continued walking north and ended our journey at the boat terminal where we docked less than 24 hours prior.
Buenos Aires Map of Sights
Find the walking route on Google Maps.
More Tips of What To See in Buenos Aires in 1 Day
If you have the energy and the time, you can add these top things to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina to your itinerary.
The Cemeterio de la Recoleta is the famous final resting place for elite citizens of Buenos Aires. Dating to 1822, mausoleums and artistic statues decorate the cemetery. Among the many notable ‘residents’ is Eva Peron.
The city’s trendy barrio, Palermo is filled with boutique shops, fashionable eateries and fun bars.
Use our detailed Buenos Aires Walking Tour as a step-by-step guide to Buenos Aires!
We want to know: Do you have any tips of things to do in Buenos Aires in One Day? What would you add to our One-Day Buenos Aires Itinerary? Tell us in the comments below! Are you also visiting Bariloche?
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