Whether you’re a budget traveller or have deep pockets, you’ll really enjoy these free things to do in Buenos Aires. You’ll see different aspects of this wonderful, if at times chaotic, capital city. Art, music and dance, nature, culture and history at your fingertips.
7 free things to do in Buenos Aires
This famous cemetery opened in 1822 and was the first proper cemetery of Buenos Aires. It looks like a city with its grid layout and mausoleums that look like buildings. Go past the ick factor and appreciate the beautiful angel sculptures and the design of the mausoleums. They reflect the architectural trends of their time, like the Art Nouveau mausoleum of Rufina Cambacérès.
Recoleta is the final resting place of many Argentinean personalities. Former presidents, Independence heroes, tragic romantic heroines, war veterans, all share real estate space here. However, the most visited mausoleum is that of Eva Perón. Find out more about Recoleta cemetery here.
The historic zoo of Buenos Aires suffered a wonderful transformation. After many problems with the welfare of animals and run-down buildings, the local government stepped in. Most animals were either released into the wild or taken to animal sanctuaries elsewhere. A few were too old to be moved safely, so they stayed.
The Victorian-era buildings, the zoo opened in 1888, are in different stages of conservation. Many reflect the culture where the animals they housed came from, like India or China. The buildings are certainly beautiful.
The idea is to recreate ecoregions that are native to Argentina. At the moment, you can see native flora and some native fauna, like maras (Andean hares) or lagartos overos (Argentine giant tegu, a giant lizard) roaming free. Also peacocks, not native to Argentina but who cares, they’re beautiful!
Entrance is free but there is a limited number of visitors allowed at a time. Opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Access via Plaza Italia (Avenida Sarmiento 2601)
Librería El Ateneo, one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world
This spectacular bookshop occupies the space of the former Grand Splendid theatre from 1919. Come in, admire the beautiful frescoes, have a coffee on the former stage, pick up a book or two. And Instagram it to death, it’s well worth it!
Here’s a compilation of other bookshops in Buenos Aires that you must visit.
Av. Santa Fe 1860. Opens Monday through Friday from 9 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 12 am, Sunday from 12 pm to 10 pm.
Feria de Mataderos
Every Sunday from April to December, the countryside comes to the city. The “Feria de las Artesanías y Tradiciones Populares Argentinas” -Traditional Crafts and Argentinean Traditions Fair- takes place outside the old stockyards. You’ll find all kinds of arts and crafts like hand-made knives or ponchos. As well as traditional food like empanadas or pastelitos. Real gauchos demonstrate their skills and traditions, and music and dance ensembles play tango and Argentinian folk music.
Avenida Lisandro de la Torre and Avenida de los Corrales.
Jardín Botánico – Botanical Gardens
The Botánico, as is popularly called, is the proverbial oasis in the middle of the city. Its 17 acres are divided into several gardens with different characteristics” roman, French, Oriental, etc. Art is also present. Sculptures are dotted about the place. Use this map to discover them. Renowned French architect and landscape artist Carlos Thays designed the Jardín Botánico, which opened in 1898 and bears his name. If you like cats, you’ll be happy to know that they roam free here and is one of the things the place is famous for.
The garden has a triangular shape formed by Avenida Santa Fe, Avenida Las Heras and calle República Arabe Siria.
Milonga in Barrancas de Belgrano
Barrancas de Belgrano is a lovely park that slopes down to the river, or to where the river was in the 19th century. The city has claimed a lot of land from the river since then. Ancient trees provide welcome shade and oxygen. Like the Botanical Gardens and many other parks, Barrancas was also designed by Carlos Thays.
Back in the day, music ensembles payed in the bandstand, or glorieta, also used for political rallies. Nowadays, there is a milonga every day. A tango lesson kick starts the evening (it’s optional and it carries a fee), and then people dance afterwards. There is no set fee for the milonga, but the musicians pass the hat round for voluntary contributions.
Caballito historic tram
This is a fun ride for the family. The historic tram runs every 30 minutes and does a 25-minute loop in the neighbourhood of Caballito. You’ll find the stop at Emilio Mitre 500. No need to make a reservation, just show up.
April-November: Saturdays and national holidays from 4 pm to 7:30 pm, Sundays 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 7:30 pm. December-March: Saturday and national holidays 5 pm to 8:30 pm, Sundays 10 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 8:30 pm.