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Which Buenos Aires barrio is for me?

There is no simple answer to this question. It all depends on what type of person you are, and what you want to get out of your time in Buenos Aires. The following descriptions of the main areas to stay in Buenos Aires should help you choose. Leave us a comment if you have any questions about a particular Barrio, Hotel [1] or Hostel.

‘Microcentro’ (City Center)

Busy pedestrian Florida street in the center of Buenos Aires

This area is OBVIOUSLY central! For many people this is ideal, and it will put you close to major tourist attractions such as the Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo, the Pink House, the Cathedral, Avenida de Mayo, Congress, Florida Shopping Street, Teatro Colon, Plaza San Martin and a whole lot more. However, in other ways it is not so perfect, because this area is also the most busy with dangerous traffic, polluted, noisy, and lacking in space. You have to weigh up these pros and cons to make your decision. But if you do stay in the Microcentro, it is very easy to get around on the subte (subway) system, which serves this area well, as opposed to other further-flung parts of Buenos Aires.

Slightly North of Center – Recoleta, Retiro, Barrio Norte

The Recoleta Design building

These are generally the most exclusive areas of the City of Buenos Aires (particularly Recoleta [2]), where you will find high class hotels such the Alvear, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Sofitel and the Marriott Plaza. Although they obviously come at a price! In keeping with the exclusivity of these areas, you will also find some of the most upmarket shopping centers, leather shops, cafes, restaurants, bars [3], nightclubs, art galleries, and parks in Buenos Aires. Also, you’ll be fairly close to the remarkable Recoleta Cemetery, where Evita Peron is laid to rest among many other amazingly decadent mausoleums of the rich and famous. Recoleta and Retiro (mainly near Plaza San Martin) are probably the most pleasantly upmarket areas to stay, if you have the cash required.

A little Further North – Palermo

Palermo is the largest barrio of Buenos Aires, mainly filled with tranquil, green parks. And so it can be one of the most laid-back areas to base yourselves in. Among the parks you will find the Rosedal (Rose Garden), Botanical Gardens, Japanese Gardens, the 3 de Febrero boating lake, the horse racing track, and the Buenos Aires Zoo. In recent years, parts of Palermo [4], such as Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho, have become the hippest parts of Buenos Aires [5], with fashionable bars, nightclubs, restaurants, boutique hotels and small designer label shops springing up almost by the minute.

Palermo is quite well served by Line D (Green Line) of the subte system, which conveniently takes you into the city center, or a little further north to Belgrano (which is another nice, tranquil place to stay, although a little bit further out of the way than the other areas mentioned here). The area is great for both families and young couples alike, and is a very popular place for visitors who decide to rent an apartment in Buenos Aires [6].

Go South! – San Telmo and Monserrat

Why, if it isn't your typical street in San Telmo or Monserrat

These adjoining barrios, just south of the Microcentro, are the most ‘historic’ areas of the city. The olde worlde Buenos Aires, if you like. This is where the city was first founded, and is where some of the few remaining Spanish colonial buildings can be found, mixed in with some beautiful art nouveau and gothic styles from the following historical periods, all in a state of atmospheric decaying grandeur. Cobbled streets abound!

The rich of BA used to live in San Telmo until a yellow fever outbreak in 1871, when they first moved north away from the lowland river areas to their current residences in Recoleta and Retiro. These days, San Telmo is the home to modern Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, where you will find many Tango shows, clubs, lessons, street performers and even Tango hotels! Sunday in San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego sees the most famous street market (antiques, tango paraphenalia, etc) here, along with the compulsory outdoor Tango dancers and singers.

Adjoining Monserrat has similar architecture, and some of the most interesting churches in the city. However, these areas can be a little sketchy (lots of almost deserted, badly lit streets with little or no police or security presence) at night, and something on the dirty side, so please bear that in mind before deciding on a hotel or apartment in this more ‘atmospheric’ part of town!

Well, those are the main areas to consider. There are of course others, but these are where most visitors will consider staying. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about these or other areas of BA. I hope you enjoy wherever you stay!

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11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Which Buenos Aires barrio is for me?"

#1 Comment By Teralinda On January 16, 2007 @ 2:52 am

Belgrano!!!

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#2 Comment By Alan Patrick On January 16, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

I know…I know….I need to get to Belgrano and some point and take some pictures etc…it will be represented on this blog fairly soon, I promise!

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#3 Comment By Liv On March 12, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

I stayed in an apartment in Monserrat and the area was great!!! It is not dangerous at all! In fact, a friend of mine stayed in a hotel in Palermo and she was robbed there! Maybe I was lucky… but I had such a great time!!. I do recomend these neighborhoods!

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#4 Comment By Della On March 19, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

Hi how is the area near the Zoo and Botanical garden. I am interested in tango and shopping. Thanks.

Della

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#5 Comment By Lucho On April 9, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

Algo mas tranquilo. Coghlan!!

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#6 Comment By carache On August 26, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

I appreciate that you’re planning on writing more about Belgrano, but it sounds like you know quite a bit about it. Could you give a quick thumbs up or thumbs down re whether a first-time visitor would be disappointed staying there? Is it very suburban and off the beaten track, say, like traveling to Manhattan but staying in New Rochelle? Thanks.

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#7 Comment By julian On October 13, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

Belgrano is actually a more residential kind of area. It has a very large shopping street, but not much else for tourists to see. You can actually find very busy streets there, but if you move a little far from Cabildo (which is the main street) you can find more laid back areas. It is recommended because it is very close to the subway, and it has much less expensive hotels and rentals than palermo (which has raised to the “fashionable” level by now). The cons is that it is a bit farther away than other barrios, so you will be traveling 30-45 minutes each way, daily.

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#8 Comment By Edwin On March 2, 2008 @ 5:57 am

Don’t forget “Las Cañitas”, a small enclave within Belgrano, bordering Palermo, often considered a barrio in itself. Here you will find the famous Polo Field as well as some of the hippest bars and restaurants in the city. Undoubtedly one of the best areas to base any stay in Bs As.

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#9 Comment By Ana On March 6, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

How’s Caballito? I have a friend offering me an apartment (for my vacation)there, but I’m not sure if I should stay there. Would some other barrio be better?

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#10 Comment By gerry On April 15, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

HI,Alan. I am very surprissed to know than an English guy is showing the city that I grew up and love.
I am living in New York for many years and I have some American friends that would like to go there and I will recommend you, because they don’t speak any Spanish. What about you? GERRY

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#11 Comment By Mark On April 23, 2008 @ 9:43 am

Hi!! I’ll come to BA and I need to know the possible areas to consider for an appartment close to catalinas plaza.
Please give me some ideas and help.
Many thanks
Mark

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