We think the best way to get to know a city is with your feet on the ground – which is exactly why we created this free walking tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The route of our Buenos Aires walking tour includes the top city highlights and must-see sights. Our Buenos Aires city tour is organized as an easy-to-follow trek through the city. Lace up your shoes and hit the pavement with our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Buenos Aires!
Free Walking Tours Buenos Aires
Most Buenos Aires Free Walking Tours are not actually free. The name is a bit of a misnomer – as the guides of the free BA tours expect to be tipped. However, our free walking tour is absolutely free! Just follow the step-by-step directions to the top sights in BA.
This blog post outlines everything you need to complete a self-guided walking tour in Buenos Aires. Bookmark, Pin or Save this information that serves as a Buenos Aires tour guide so that you can access it during your trip!
What You Will Need to Tour Buenos Aires
Before you set off on our Buenos Aires free walking tour, make sure you are prepared for the adventure! You won’t need much, but the following items are recommended.
Water and Snacks
Bring a water bottle and snacks. While there are plenty of places to buy food and drinks along the way, it’s better to already have some.
Capture the iconic sights of the city with an actual camera! While a bulky DSLR (we use a Canon Rebel) may attract unwanted attention, a slim Canon Powershot is a great option for high-quality photos.
Protection from the Elements
Wear a slim money belt concealed beneath your clothes. BA is notorious for pickpockets, so make sure you keep your cash and personal items secure. In addition to the money belt, I have used a convenient bra stash.
It’s always a good idea to travel with insurance! Basic travel insurance can come in handy at the worst times – like if you require emergency medical attention or are the victim of theft.
Buenos Aires Walking Tour: Free & Self-Guided
Our free tour of Buenos Aires covers 6.5 miles (10km) and provides an introduction to the city. Our BA free tour begins in historic San Telmo and ends in fashionable Palermo. To aid in your sightseeing adventure, we include information about each sight, directions and a link to Google Maps for the route from sight-to-sight. We have also added a useful BA map at the end of the post.
Begin your city tour of Buenos Aires at Plaza Dorrego (map).
#1 Plaza Dorrego
At the heart of the San Telmo District is Plaza Dorrego, the second-oldest square in the city – and the perfect place to start a day of Buenos Aires sightseeing. The square is ringed with cafes and bars that spill into the open space. On Sundays, Plaza Dorrego is filled with vendors of the famous antique market, Feria de San Telmo. Street musicians and tango dancers often perform in the square. Fuel your day with a coffee from Bar Plaza Dorrego, a traditional café that celebrates the history of Buenos Aires…and is also a great spot for people watching.
From the Plaza Dorrego, walk north on Defensa to the San Telmo Market. Map directions.
#2 Mercado San Telmo
A Buenos Aires landmark and national monument, the Mercado San Telmo building dates to 1897. Constructed with iron, metal and glass, the structure is as impressive as the vendors’ displays. Produce stands, butchers and bakeries share the space with small restaurants and antique shops. Wander through the beautiful market space – and maybe pick up some fruit for your walk.
Exit the market the same way you entered and continue walking north on Defensa. Map directions.
#3 Defensa Street
Strolling the length of Calle Defensa is most popular on Sundays when it is filled with the overflow of vendors from the Plaza Dorrego Flea Market. Visitors on other days of the week, however, can wander north along the cobblestone street and admire the architecture. Visitors may want to visit El Zanjon, a archaeological museum featuring tunnels and artifacts from the first city settlement in 1536.
At Calle Chile, turn right and head east toward the revitalized docks on Rio Darsena Sur in the Puerto Madero district. Map directions.
#4 Puerto Madero Waterfront Walk
In the late 1800s, the Rio Darsena Sur served as the city docks. However, shortly after the then state-of-the-art docks were built, bigger cargo ships started arriving in the city and the New Port (Puerto Nuevo) was built. The warehouses and riverside fell to disuse and became a blight on the city. In the 1990s, the urban area was revitalized – turning old warehouses into upscale accommodations and office space. The now trendy area, which still features elements of a port, is one of the most sought-after areas to live in the city. High-rises stand on the eastern bank and house corporate headquarters and high-end hotels.
Walk north along the riverside to Azucena Villflor and cross to the east bank. (There are public toilets near the bridge.) Walk north and cross back to the west side at Puente de La Mujer, an iconic rotating pedestrian bridge. Walk south past the Maritime Museum, which is housed in a 19th century ship, to Moreno Street. Follow the street west to Bolivar. Turn right and walk north to the St. Ignacio de Loyola Church. Map directions.
#5 San Ignacio de Loyola Church
Iglesia Saint Ignatius is the oldest church in the city. Completed in 1722, the façade and south tower date to 1686 and are among the oldest structures in BA. This Roman Catholic Church is preserved as a National Historic Monument.
From St. Ignacio, walk west on Adolfo Alsina to reach Manzana de las Luces. Map directions.
#6 Manzana de las Luces
Both Iglesia St. Ignatius and the building complex directly to the west comprise the Manzana de las Luces – or Block of Enlightenment – which is a historical culture center. The colonial building was constructed in the late 1600s as part of the Jesuit compound and features an arcade courtyard. Inside, there are antique shops and a restaurant. Visitors can take a Spanish only tour. Note: The complex features a network of tunnels, which are currently inaccessible.
From Manzana de las Luces, walk northeast on Avenue Pres Julio A. Roca to Plaza de Mayo. Map directions.
#7 Plaza de Mayo
Plaza de Mayo is the central square of BA and the heart of Argentina’s politics. The square is named for the successful May Revolution of 1810 when the colony fought for its independence from Spain. Throughout history, the square has been the site of numerous political demonstrations and is surrounded by some of the city’s most famous landmarks. In addition to Casa Rosada and the city Cathedral, the city hall, Cabildo museum and national bank headquarters are also on the square.
Walk to the center of the square to the May Pyramid and then to the east end equestrian statue. Map of Monuments on the Plaza.
#8 Monuments on Plaza de Mayo
In addition to the buildings that ring the square, there are two important Plaza de Mayo monuments: The May Pyramid and the Belgrano Monument. The May Pyramid – or Piramide de Mayo – sits in the center of the square and ranks as the first (and oldest) monument in Buenos Aires. The 61-foot-tall slender pyramid was erected in 1811 in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the May Revolution. The equestrian statue of General Manuel Belgrano stands at the east end of the square in front of Casa Rosada. A military leader, Belgrano is recognized as one of the country’s liberators – or Libertadores. The statue shows Belgrano hoisting the Argentinian flag, which he is credited with designing.
Walk to the east end of Plaza de Mayo to Casa Rosada. Map of Casa Rosada.
#9 Casa Rosada
The ‘Pink House’ on the east end of the square, Casa Rosada, is the office of the president of Argentina. The official name of the building is Casa de Gobierno, or Government House, and it is a National Historic Monument of Argentina. The current structure evolved from a fort that dates to 1594. Inside, there is a historical museum that displays presidential memorabilia.
Walk to the northwest side of the square to the cathedral. Map directions.
#10 Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires
The columned, neoclassical façade of the Catedral Metropolitana resembles a stoic government building more than a church. After being rebuilt numerous times due to faulty plans, the cathedral that now stands was completed in 1791 (the façade, however, would take another 90 years to be decorated). The interior of the church has 3 aisles, numerous side chapels and is adorned in art. The Metropolitan Cathedral is the home church of Pope Francis.
On the right aisle of the cathedral is the Mausoleum of General Jose de San Martin. The General is a national hero and is credited for liberating South America from the Spanish. The black tomb is surrounded by three statues, which represent Argentina, Chile and Peru. In addition to General San Martin, the remains of two other generals and those of the Unknown Soldier of the Independence are housed at the grave site. The mausoleum is protected by two soldiers (stick around for the Changing of the Guards if you see two soldiers entering the church).
From the cathedral, walk northwest on the diagonal Avenue Pres Roque Saenz Pena to 9 de Julio. Map directions.
#11 Avenida 9 de Julio Buenos Aires
Named in honor of the Argentina Day of Independence (July 9, 1816), the wide 9 de Julio Avenue carries seven lanes of traffic in each direction. The width of the street is equal to an entire city block – and it’s often claimed to be the widest street in the world. Crossing the street requires a few minutes, because pedestrians are made to stop at several points while attempting to get from one side to the other.
Cross Avenida 9 de Julio to the Obelisk. Map of the Obelisk.
#12 The Obelisk on Plaza de la Republic
The Obelisco de Buenos Aires stands in the center of Plaza de la Republic at the intersection of 9 de Julio and Corrientes. The 235-foot-tall monument was built in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city.
Walk Northeast from the Obelisk on the pedestrian-only street to Plaza Lavalle. Map directions.
#13 Plaza Lavalle
Plaza Lavalle is a green park that stretches three city blocks. Although the park is not of major importance, there are several significant buildings that border the park. The most important buildings that overlook the park are the Teatro Colon opera house, the Federal Courthouse (housing the Supreme Court), Escuela Presidente Roca (a public school) and Teatro Nacional Cervantes (an ornately decorated theater).
Walk through the park to the middle square; on the east side is Teatro Colon. Map of Teatro Colon on Plaza Lavalle.
#14 Teatro Colon
Teatro Colon first opened in 1857, but the present building dates to 1908. The world-famous theater is consistently ranked as one of the top opera houses in the world and has notably superb acoustics. Visitors who cannot attend a performance can take one of the guided tours.
From Teatro Colon, walk north on Libertad to Avenue Santa Fe. Turn left (west) and walk to the El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore. Map directions. Note: The walk between the two sights is about 1 mile. If you need to rest your feet, you can hop on a bus instead.
#15 El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore
Perhaps the World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore, the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop resides inside a historic theater. Bookshelves occupy the space where there were once theater seats and rows of books line the upper balconies. The red velvet curtain still frames the stage, where visitors can sit and sip coffee from the on-site cafe.
From the bookstore, retrace your steps half a block to Avenue Callao. Turn left (north) and walk – following the slight angle to the right – to Vicente Lopez street. Turn left (northwest) and walk to Junin. Turn right (northeast) and walk to Buller Brew Pub. Map directions.
#16 Buller Brew Pub for Lunch
One of the pioneers of craft beer in Buenos Aires, Buller has been brewing since 1999. The brew pub offers a range of beers, a full menu and a rooftop view. Located across the street from the Recoleta Cemetery, it’s a good spot for lunch and a sample platter of beer before continuing on your walking tour of Buenos Aires.
From the brew pub, continue walking northeast on Junin to the main entrance of the Recoleta Cemetery. Map directions.
#17 Recoleta Cemetery
Comprised of nearly 7,000 above-ground tombs, the Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place for the city’s upper-class citizens, military heroes, presidents and – most famously – Eva Peron. The land is rumored to be the most expensive real estate in the city. Graves range from elaborate and intricate to dilapidated and derelict, but even the ones that were almost falling down have a sense of beauty. Like other renowned cemeteries (for instance Pere Lachaise in Paris and Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv), wandering the paths at Recoleta Cemetery is like walking through an open-air museum of sculptures.
Free Walking Tour Recoleta Cemetery
There are free, English-speaking Recoleta Buenos Aires cemetery tours. One was beginning as we wandered into the cemetery, so we joined the Recoleta Cemetery Tour to listen to the stories. We learned about the architecture, the famous (and not-so-famous) people buried at the cemetery and how they arrived at their tombs. Tales of ghosts (like that of Rufina Cambaceres, who was buried alive) and superstitions (like rubbing the nose of a dog statue for good luck) were entertaining anecdotes. Most informative was the story of Eva Peron and how it took 20 years after her death before she – or what is believed to be her – was buried with her family at Recoleta Cemetery.
Exit the cemetery at the main gate and continue walking northeast on Junin to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. Map directions.
#18 Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
The stark white Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar – or Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Pilar – ranks as the second-oldest Buenos Aires church. Built in 1732 for the Franciscan monastery, the church has a richly decorated interior that glitters with gold accents.
From the Basilica, continue walking on Junin and then walk north through the park to Libertador. Turn left (west) and walk to the Bellas Artes museum. Map directions.
#19 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
One of the best art museums in Buenos Aires, the Bellas Artes museum features international and Argentinian art. Housing one of the largest collections of art in Latin America (including masterpieces by Monet, Rodin and Van Gogh), the museum occupies a former pumping station. Most of the exhibits are free to visit.
Walk to the north side of the museum and cross Avenue Pres Figueroa Alcorta. Walk west, enter the park and walk to the Floralis Generica. Map directions.
#20 Floralis Generica
The steel flower sculpture, Floralis Generica, sits in the center of a large park in a pond. The petals open in the morning and close again each day at sunset. The 75-foot-tall sculpture was a gift to the city in 2002 by artist Eduardo Catalano.
Retrace your steps to exit the park. Turn right (west) on Avenue Pres Figueroa Alcorta and walk to Austria. Turn left (south) and walk to Libertador. Turn right (west) and walk – passing the popular Museo Nacional de Arte Decorative and the Plaza Alemania before arriving at the roundabout and Monument to the Carta Magna and Four Regions of Argentina. Map directions. Note: The walk between the two sights is 1.5 miles. Hop on a bus instead if you need a break from walking.
#21 Monument to the Carta Magna and Four Regions of Argentina
The 80-foot-tall brass and marble Monument to the Carta Magna and Four Regions of Argentina is one of the most emblematic tributes to Argentina’s independence. Often referred to by the nickname, “Monument of the Spanish,” the statue was gifted to the city in 1910 by Spanish residents living in Argentina to celebrate 100 years since the May Revolution. Due to several delays (the designer passing away, supplies sinking in the ocean and other interruptions), the monument was not completed until 1927.
The Monument to the Carta Magna and Four Regions of Argentina – or Monumento a La Carta Magna y las Cuatro Regiones Argentinas – is symbolic of ‘The Republic’ and the four regions: El Plata, Pampa, Andes and Chaco. Phrases from the constitution are etched on the base. The monument stands in the center of a roundabout at the intersection of Libertador and General Sarmiento Avenues.
From the monument, walk into the northwest corner park to the Rose Gardens. Map directions.
#22 Palermo Gardens
Almost 1,000 acres of gardens surround the Spaniards Monument. Formally called the February 3 Park – or Parque Tres de Febrero – it is often simply referred to as the Palermo Woods. The land was personal property of dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. However, the estate was confiscated when he was overthrown in 1852 the new president, Sarmiento, transformed the land into a public park.
The planned parks include botanical gardens, rose gardens and the Japanese gardens. The walking paths (which are popular with dog walkers) lead to ponds and through woods. Also on site are the planetarium, the city zoo and museums.
From the gardens, return to the monument and walk southwest on Avenue Sarmiento to Plaza Italia. Map directions.
#23 Plaza Italia
A hub of transportation, Plaza Italia is dominated by the central equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. On the northwest side of the plaza, there is a 2,000-year-old Roman column. The pillar was given to Buenos Aires by the city of Rome and ranks as one of the oldest monuments in the city.
From Plaza Italia, walk southwest on Thames into Palermo SoHo. Map directions.
#24 Palermo SoHo
The tree-lined streets of Palermo SoHo – one of the many sub-districts within Palermo – beckon visitors to wander and explore….and shop and eat. Designers and fashionistas hang out in hip Palermo SoHo – and they do so alongside foodies and travelers. At the heart of the trendy district is Plaza Serrano (formally called Plazoteta Julio Cortazar) – an area that is packed with cafes, restaurants and bars.
One of the top things to do in Palermo Buenos Aires is dine out. Numerous traditional grill restaurants – or parrillas – are found in Palermo Soho (most notably La Cabrera). However, hipsters head to Burger Joint. The aptly-named restaurant serves incredible burgers at good prices. We recommend ordering the La Bleu, which is a grass-fed burger that is piled high with Roquefort cheese, spinach, roasted peppers, sautéed onions and mushrooms. For craft beer, check out popular Antares (which we tried in Bariloche).
Buenos Aires Walking Tour Map
Use this map to locate the sights on our Free Buenos Aires Walking Tour route. Each sight, listed above, has step-by-step directions from the previous sight, as well as a link to Google Maps to help get you from sight-to-sight.
Tips for Walking in Buenos Aires
Our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina covers some ground! While our walking tour is manageable for people who love to walk like ourselves, there are lengthy stretches between the districts of Centro, Recoleta and Palermo.
Visitors with 2 Days in Buenos Aires
Visitors with at least two days in Buenos Aires can split the walk into two separate days of sightseeing: City center sights one day, then Recoleta and Palermo sights the following day. This will eliminate the long walk between Centro and Recoleta. Breaking the walk up into two days also allows additional time to enjoy the sights along the way, like the museums and parks.
Buenos Aires City Bus
To cut down on the length of the walk, visitors can hop on city buses. Buenos Aires public transportation features a network of options. We used the Subte (subway) to easily arrive at the starting point of our outlined tour of Buenos Aires. However, after that, the subway is not very useful for our outlined sightseeing route.
Other Buenos Aires Tours
If our detailed Self-Guided Buenos Aires Walk is not what you were looking for, perhaps one of these tours in Buenos Aires is more suitable to your style of travel.
Guided Free Walk Tours in Buenos Aires
As we previously mentioned, Buenos Aires Free Walks aren’t really free. The guides of free tours in Buenos Aires should be compensated for their time and effort in the form of a respectable tip. Visitors who want to join one of the guided free walks in Buenos Aires will have no problem finding one. We recommend searching online for a free city tour of Buenos Aires, where you can read reviews from fellow travelers. (Sandemans Buenos Aires free sightseeing tours are quite popular!)
Hop On Hop Off Buenos Aires
Not free – and not a walking tour – a Buenos Aires bus tour is more suitable to visitors who would rather ride than walk. A popular bus tour in Buenos Aires is the Hop On Hop Off bus. However, recent reviews of the sightseeing bus are rather unfavorable. You can read them here.
Bike Tour Buenos Aires
For an alternate way to see the city, join a biking tour in Buenos Aires! Most of the BA Biking Tours receive rave reviews from fellow travelers. Check it out here!
Wine Tour Buenos Aires
More interested in sampling wine than city sights? Join an expert sommelier for a 2-hour tasting of local Argentinian wines. The small-group tasting includes snacks, too. Find out more!
Street Art Tour Buenos Aires
Some call it graffiti…we call it street art! Check out the latest and best BA street art murals on a guided mini-bus tour. Venture into lesser-visited neighborhoods and learn about the street art scene. Get the details!
Jewish Tour Buenos Aires
Did you know BA has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world? We certainly didn’t! Learn about the history of Jews in the city on one of the Jewish Buenos Aires guided tours. Get more info!
Private Tour Buenos Aires
Want a guide to customize a tour for you? Book one of the Buenos Aires private tours and let a guide lead you to the sights that interest you most! Read the rave reviews of this tour!
More Things To Do in Buenos Aires
Walking tours in Buenos Aires are a great way to get acquainted with the city – but there are more ways to experience the city. Check out these fun things to do in Buenos Aires and add them to your BA Itinerary!
Tango in BA
Watching tango is a must! Take in a tango show (with optional dinner upgrade) in the historic San Telmo district. Book this performance! For a really unique experience, take Tango lessons with a professional dancer!
Buenos Aires Museums
There are numerous history and art museums in Buenos Aires! We mention some of the best museums in Buenos Aires in our outlined walking tour. However, you can find the top BA museums – and read reviews – on TripAdvisor.
Day Trips from Buenos Aires
There are numerous Buenos Aires day trips for travelers who want to explore beyond the capital city. Search for highly-rated BA day tours on Viator.
What You Need To Know For Your Trip
We have just a few more tips for your trip!
Where To Stay in Buenos Aires
During our trip, we chose to stay in an apartment in Buenos Aires that we found on Airbnb. We have discovered that staying in apartments usually costs less than hotels – and yet we often have more space, with the added benefit of a kitchen. Start your search for apartments in Buenos Aires on Airbnb.com.
Visitors who want to stay in a traditional hotel or inexpensive hostel can find a plethora of options on Booking.com.
How To Get There
The city can be reached by plane, boat, bus and car. We arrived to the city via boat and departed via plane. Our ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires docked at the city’s main port.
The main airport in Buenos Aires is the Ministro Pistarini International Airport (also called the Ezeiza Airport / EZE) – but there are two other BA airports: Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) and El Palomar Airport (EPA) for domestic flights. You can start your search for the best fares on flights on SkyScanner.com.
We Want To Know: What sights would you add to our Buenos Aires Walking Tour? Do you have any tips for BA sightseeing? Give us your best advice in the comments below!
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