Things to Do in The Pampas
Less than one hour from Buenos Aires, Parque de la Costa is one of Argentina’s leading amusement parks. With more than 50 attractions—which range from gravity-defying rollercoasters to classic carousels—there’s something to appeal to both thrill seekers and toddlers.
With its scenic waterways, riverside fun fair, and lively handicrafts market, the charming provincial town of Tigre offers a welcome change of pace from nearby Buenos Aires. Located on the Tigre Delta at the meeting point of the Paraná River and the Río de la Plata estuary, it’s a popular choice for a day trip from the capital.
With its opulent architecture and fine acoustics, the Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón) ranks alongside Paris’ Opera Garnier and London’s Royal Opera House as one of the world’s most impressive theaters. Reopened after extensive renovations in 2010, the Colon Theatre is the premier venue for opera, ballet, and classical music in Buenos Aires.
Visitors to the Palermo Woods can’t miss the Galileo Galilei Planetarium (Planetario Galileo Galilei), with its futuristic silver dome towering over the surrounding park and lake. Inaugurated in 1966, the planetarium remains a popular family attraction, hosting a space-themed museum and daily shows.
With over 350 different animal species and an acclaimed exotic breeding program, Buenos Aires Eco-Park is the go-to place for urban wildlife spotting, hitting headlines at the start of 2013 when one of its Bengal White Tigers produced a rare litter of four cubs. Located close to Plaza Italia in the heart of the city’s Palermo district, the zoo has been running since 1888 and today houses over 2,500 animal inhabitants, as well as spearheading Argentina’s zoological research, education and preservation efforts.
The 18-hectare park aims to mimic a range of different ecosystems, with a variety of unique enclosures and architecturally impressive buildings, set around a boating lake and island inhabited by a population of Madagascan Lemurs. Highlights include the subtropical jungle exhibition, where a suspension bridge offers a prime view of the lush vegetation and birdlife; an aquarium where piranhas, sea sharks and tropical fish are displayed alongside a penguin and seal pool; a Japanese style pagoda housing a family of Giant pandas; and a dimly-lit bat enclosure. Giraffes, rhinoceros, pumas, lions, monkeys and elephants are just some of the zoo’s animal inhabitants, along with some more unique specimens like Red Pandas, Orangutans and a colorful array of native birdlife. There’s even a petting zoo where visitors can interact and feed goats, donkeys, llamas and Shetland ponies. The zoo also frequently opens its doors during the evening hours with after-dark visits offering the chance to see a different side of the animals’ lifestyle as well as getting the rare opportunity to watch the zoo’s nocturnal animals at large.
Once the tallest building in South America, the towering architecture of the Barolo Palace (Palacio Barolo) in Buenos Aires has stood the test of time. Built by Italian architect Mario Palanti in 1923, the building’s fanciful style was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, a poem in three parts that in turn represent Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.
The central barrio of San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires’ tango haunts. Formerly an upmarket residential area, the area’s “old mansions and faded glory” vibe set the perfect scene for the artists and musicians who now call this enclave home. The streets here are picturesquely cobbled, and the fascinating little shops are well worth a browse.
From the nomadic gauchos of the Pampas to the skilled champions of polo, Argentina’s illustrious equestrian history draws horse lovers from all over the world. One of Buenos Aires’ principal equestrian venues is the art nouveau–style Argentinean Palermo Hippodrome (Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo).
Temaiken Biopark, located just outside Buenos Aires, is more of a wild animal park than a traditional zoo. More than 7,400 animals representing 300 different species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish live in large enclosures designed to mimic their natural habitats. Barriers between the animals and human observers are also natural — no bars or cages obstructing the view. About 60 percent of the species living in the park are native, and many of them are endangered.
The biopark also features an aquarium, divided into three environments representing three different Argentine ecosystems: coastal habitat, freshwater rivers and the ocean. At the farm, visitors learn more about the agricultural species of the Argentine countryside through interactive activities like milking cows, feeding poultry or brushing down a goat. Guests of the park also enjoy a 360-degree movie theater, the largest bird house in South America and several animal shows and interactions scheduled throughout the day.
The Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (Museo de Arte Lationoamericano de Buenos Aires, MALBA) is Buenos Aires’ leading modern art institution. Since opening in 2001, the museum has amassed a varied collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and installation works by artists from all corners of Latin America.
More Things to Do in The Pampas
Few places in Buenos Aires are photographed as frequently as Caminito Street. The main artery of the waterfront La Boca neighborhood is a jumble of old buildings, brightly painted facades, and street-side market stalls, with hawkers, buskers, and tango dancers adding to the atmosphere.
Puerto Madero, once a lackluster cargo port, is now one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable districts, teeming with upmarket restaurants and glitzy nightclubs. Marooned from the mainland by the Rio de la Plata estuary, the largely pedestrianized island is celebrated for housing some of the city’s most architecturally stunning buildings.
Buenos Aires’ largest barrio, the northeastern district of Palermo is one of the city’s most affluent and fashionable neighborhoods. Known for its beautiful parks, grand monuments, and art museums, Palermo is whereporteños (locals) come to eat, shop, and party, with a buzzing nightlife and some of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and cafés.
While it may seem odd that one of Buenos Aires’ principal attractions is a cemetery, this is no ordinary graveyard. Recoleta Cemetery(Cemiterio de Recoleta) is one of the world’s most exquisite necropolises—home to more than 6,400 tombs, mausoleums, and monuments laid out in formal tree-lined avenues, including the grave of Eva Perón (Evita).
The beloved Boca Juniors soccer team plays its games at the Alberto J. Armando stadium, affectionately known as La Bombonera (Spanish for “the chocolate box”), which is also home to a museum and behind-the-scenes tour opportunities. With a capacity of 49,000, the stadium is known for vibrating when fans start jumping about—either out of excitement or frustration—as well as for its unusual shape.
Spend some time in Buenos Aires, and you might be asked the question, River Plate or Boca Juniors? These soccer rivals fuel the city’s sports scene, and the River Plate Museum (Museo River Plate) gives insight into one half of the epic rivalry.
Housed within the team’s Monumental stadium, the museum showcases photos, jerseys and silverware from Club Atlético River Plate’s century long history. A Time Tunnel leads visitors through a chronology of the team’s leading personalities — Enzo Francescoli and Alfredo di Stefano to name a couple — and big moments, while a 360-degree cinema screens a 25-minute video about the team.
Buenos Aires’ Chinatown (Barrio Chino) has been a popular gathering place for the city’s Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants since the late 1980s. Tucked in the heart of the Belgrano residential area, the small 4-block area is a colorful ode to the city’s Asian population and a foodie hot spot.
Just outside of Buenos Aires, the town of Lujan is famous for its neo-Gothic cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of Lujan, the patron saint of Argentina. The basilica is an architectural landmark—its twin towers stand an imposing 348 feet (106 meters) tall—as well as one of Argentina’s most visited pilgrimage sites.
With a variety of midrange and upscale international brands, Galerias Pacifico is one of Buenos Aires’ most atmospheric shopping centers. Inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, the beaux arts building was constructed during the 1890s as the Argentinean headquarters of Le Bon Marché.
An elegant residential district just north of downtown, Recoleta is Buenos Aires at its most polished—think luxury apartments, upscale boutiques, and perfectly manicured parks. The grand centerpiece is Recoleta Cemetery, a mini city of marble mausoleums and ornate crypts, where Eva “Evita” Perón was laid to rest.
Art lovers will find plenty to appreciate at the Buenos Aires National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), Argentina’s top fine arts collection. With 24 galleries devoted to pre-20th-century European art, the museum is a trove of works by famous names such as Renoir and Picasso, as well as the world’s largest collection of Argentinean art.
While the weekly San Telmo antiques fair is the most famous of the outdoor markets in Buenos Aires, the Mataderos Fair is considered to be the most authentic. Staged in and named after the Mataderos neighborhood, the fair features more than 700 vendors selling traditional Argentine arts and crafts; leather goods, silver jewelry and mate gourds are particularly popular items.
Just as important as the shopping are the other fair traditions: folk music, dancing and gauchos showing off their skill on horseback. Come hungry, as Argentine street cuisine features heavily, with specialties like choripan (chorizo sandwich), locro (a corn and meat stew), tamales and various types of empanadas on offer.
The San Telmo Market (Mercado de San Telmo) is a historical indoor market in the eponymous neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Every Sunday, the area around the market hosts the city’s most famous street fair, the Feria de San Telmo, when hundreds of vendors line the streets surrounding Plaza Dorrego, most of them dealing in one-of-a-kind antiques.
Covering 18 acres (7 hectares) and housing 5,500 plant species from six continents, the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays) offers an idyllic escape from the city's busy streets. Highlights include a Roman garden, a formal French park inspired by the Palace of Versailles, and an art nouveau greenhouse that was designed for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair.
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