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Buenos Aires is an awesome, vibrant city with a ton of history and culture. From large parks to art nouveau buildings and soccer stadiums, there’s so much to discover. And with plenty of cafes and cute plazas, it really does feel like the Paris of South America.
The only problem? It’s also HUGE. With so much to explore, it can be really difficult to know where to start. When we first arrived, we were a bit overwhelmed with all the things to do in Buenos Aires.
As such, it’s a great idea to take a city tour on your first day or so. This way, you can learn about the culture and the many different neighborhoods that make up this Argentinian metropolis. Plus, it’ll give you an idea of how to plan the rest of your stay.
But as we said, it’s a big city, and there are many tours of Buenos Aires available. On our trip, we got the chance to try several of them and figure out which ones we liked most. So if you’re looking for the best sightseeing tours in Buenos Aires, keep reading! We’ve broken down our top choices so you can find the right one for you.
- Why do a Sightseeing Tour in Buenos Aires
- Quick Pick: Our Top Choice
- BEST Sightseeing Tours in Buenos Aires
- 1. Private City Tour of Buenos Aires
- 2. Buenos Aires Free Walking Tour
- 3. Buenos Aires Private City Tour by Car
- 4. Bike Tour: Half-Day City Highlights of Buenos Aires
- 5. Buenos Aires: Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus Tour
- 6. Sherpa Food Tour: Walking Local Foodie Adventure in Buenos Aires
- 7. Small-Group City Tour of Buenos Aires
- Other Activities to do While You're in Buenos Aires
- Where to Stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Planning your Trip to Argentina
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
Why do a Sightseeing Tour in Buenos Aires
To get your bearings
When visiting a new city – especially one as vast as Buenos Aires – a tour can help you get your bearings. It sets you up nicely for the rest of your trip whether you’re spending 3 days in Buenos Aires or three weeks! You’ll get a lay of the land and the local lifestyle. As such, you’ll be much more prepared for the rest of your time here.
Because Buenos Aires is HUGE
Plus, Buenos Aires is a really big city – we’re talking 48 different neighborhoods and 203 square kilometers (78.3 square miles). There’s a lot of ground to cover, and city tours often include transportation. So basically, you can travel all over the city in a single day!
Since the city is huge, it can be hard to know what to do and where to start. But with a tour, the itinerary is decided for you. There’s zero planning on your end, and you can rest assured they’ll take you to the top spots.
Because Buenos Aires is so unique!
Lastly – ask any local, and they’ll tell you that Buenos Aires is very different from the rest of the country. And while I highly recommend exploring other parts of Argentina, Buenos Aires deserves its own special tour.
In fact, it’s actually known as the Paris of South America because of its refined architecture, culture, and entertainment scene. There’s even a special name for people who live here: porteños (which means “people of the port”) because lots of people arrived here by boat.
Taking a tour of Buenos Aires can help you understand what makes this capital so different. A city tour will also give you a greater insight into Argentina’s history and appreciate its unique blend of influences. Overall, you’ll learn just how Buenos Aires was shaped into the charming and exciting city it is today.
Quick Pick: Our Top Choice
Our top choice is this small group tour of Buenos Aires. We did it our first time in the city and absolutely loved it. We got to see all the best sights in just 3 hours, including Plaza de Mayo (pictured above), the colorful La Boca neighborhood, and the fascinating Recoleta Cemetary.
Plus, our guide, Micaela, was really funny and told so many interesting stories about the city. Our group left with some invaluable (and entertaining!) insight into what life is like in modern-day Buenos Aires. By the end of the tour, I felt like I had learned a lot. I also had a much better idea of where else I wanted to visit while in the city.
What’s awesome is the tour includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel, so you don’t need to worry about logistics. You can also choose to be picked up around 9 am or 2 pm, making it easy to fit into your schedule. And for just $29 USD per person, it was a great deal. So for a stress-free introduction to Buenos Aires, book this city highlights tour online here!
BEST Sightseeing Tours in Buenos Aires
1. Private City Tour of Buenos Aires
If you want more control over your schedule, we suggest this private tour of Buenos Aires. You can start the 4-hour tour pretty much any time of day, so it’s easy to fit into your itinerary. You can make up to 12 stops across the city – hitting all the top sights! Plus, it’s shockingly affordable at $134 USD per group of up to 4 people.
If you decide to see all 12 stops on this tour, your itinerary will be fairly jam-packed. However, if you don’t want to rush, you can customize it by spending more time at your favorite attractions. Perhaps you’ll want more time to soak up the atmosphere of La Boca’s colorful cobblestone alleyways or sample yummy food and craft beer at the San Telmo Market. It’s a private tour, so just say the word!
One exciting highlight of this tour is that you can visit the famous Ateneo Grand Splendid, which is a bookstore built inside a very opulent old theater. It’s enormous – in fact, it’s the second-largest bookstore in the entire world. There’s even a bar on the stage where you can sit and read.
The only thing that’s not included on this tour is admission tickets for the Recoleta Cemetery. You can decide whether you want to pay extra to explore inside. When we went, it cost roughly $5 USD per person. Otherwise, you can admire the cemetery from the outside while your guide tells you all about it.
We think that this tour is perfect for families, couples, or groups of friends who want to explore together (rather than join a big group tour). And if you’ve got 4 people, the private experience costs about the same per person!
So for a comprehensive overview of the city (on your own schedule), book this private tour online here!
2. Buenos Aires Free Walking Tour
One of the best sightseeing tours in Buenos Aires is a free walking tour. It’s a very flat and sunny city, so walking tours are a great way to explore. You’ll learn all about the city’s history, culture, and architecture while getting some exercise too. We also found it was a great way to meet fellow travelers!
There are several companies offering free walking tours in Buenos Aires. We learned that the most reputable is Buenos Aires Free Walks, which we ended up choosing as well. They have two free walking tours on offer: the City Center and Retiro and Recoleta.
The City Center Tour is more focused on the political history of Buenos Aires. You’ll start at the National Congress and make stops at several important landmarks. Your guide will teach you all about Argentina’s fascinating history, from the prosperity of the early 1900s to The Dirty War. As the name suggests, this was one of the darkest periods in the country’s past.
The Retiro and Recoleta Tour is more cultural, focusing on the city’s parks, architecture, and religious landmarks. You’ll meet your group at the Teatro Colon. From here, you’ll walk through some of Buenos Aires’ most beautiful areas while learning about some of the city’s famous figures, from war heroes to eccentric aristocrats.
The City Center Tours run Monday to Saturday at 3 pm and last for 2.5 hours. The Retiro and Recoleta tours are on Monday to Saturday at 10:30 am, lasting 3 hours. This means that you can easily do both (and you may as well since it’s free!).
However, if you only have time for one, we prefer the Retiro and Recoleta Tour. It was more engaging and really showed us the character of the city.
The only downside to free walking tours is that the groups can get pretty big. And even though it’s free, you’ll want to reserve your spot ahead of time. Click on these links to reserve the City Center Tour or the Retiro and Recoleta Tour.
And of course, remember that free tours are always tip-based – so be generous!
3. Buenos Aires Private City Tour by Car
This full-day private tour of Buenos Aires is perfect if you’re short on time! You’ll see all the important stuff, like the Plaza de Mayo, the Cathedral, and the famous Casado Rosa (where Evita addressed the nation). But my favorite part of this tour was spending time in some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods – and getting a feel for what porteño life is really like.
Buenos Aires is one of the best cities in South America and on this tour, you’ll understand why as you explore its unique neighborhoods.
When we took this tour, there was plenty of time to walk through the bohemian San Telmo area, where you can visit the famous market. Just a warning, there are a couple of toy stores here that sell REALLY creepy dolls. Just ignore those and focus on the food!
At the market, Hierro San Telmo is the place to go if you’re in the mood for a steak. The smells wafting out of here were so mouthwatering even my vegetarian friend considered trying one. If you prefer beverages, try a local craft beer at Hoboken.
You’ll also hang out in the exclusive Palermo Chico neighborhood, with its cute boutiques and cafes. And for some greenery, you’ll visit Bosques de Palermo, which is basically Buenos Aires’ version of Manhattan’s Central Park.
We really like that this private tour gives you plenty of time and flexibility. You’ll have 7 hours to experience the parts of the city that interest you the most. It covers all of the coolest areas as well as the historic highlights. Plus, when we went, our driver knew all the best shortcuts to save on driving time.
The price varies between $95-$220 USD per person, depending on group size. It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, and there’s also an option to get transported to the airport after your tour. So if you have an evening flight and haven’t hit up all the sights, here’s your chance!
For this super comprehensive private tour, pick your date and book online here!
4. Bike Tour: Half-Day City Highlights of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is a very cyclist-friendly city with over 130 km (80 miles) of bike lanes. And this 4-hour tour allows you to easily explore on two wheels.
You’ll start at San Martin Square and cycle through the revamped Puerto Madero area, which feels totally different from the rest of the city. It’s right by the docks and the river and is home to lots of upscale restaurants and finance buildings. Then, you’ll cycle through the Ecological Reserve, which is so cool to see when you’re in the middle of a concrete jungle!
And, of course, no city tour of Buenos Aires would be complete without a visit to La Boca (our favorite part of the city!). You’ll have time to explore the vibrant Caminito Street, where you’ll have some time to walk around. Afterward, you’ll cycle past the famous Bombonera Stadium, where the Boca Juniors play.
Last but not least, you’ll cycle through artsy San Telmo before ending back in Plaza San Martin again.
We think that this bike tour is such a fun way to see the eastern parts of the city, which covers a lot of ground! It really does showcase just how diverse and interesting Buenos Aires really is. And when we went, the streets were flat, and it was a beautiful sunny day – ideal for cycling, really.
Tours last about 4 hours and begin at either 9:30 am or 2 pm. Make sure to be at the meeting point at least 15 minutes beforehand.
At $35 USD per person, we think it’s really good value for money! It covers the beach cruisers, allowing for a comfortable ride over the city’s flat streets. Plus, you’ll also be given a water bottle, helmet, and rain gear (when necessary). Hopefully, it won’t be required, but there’s also medical assistance if needed.
To explore the streets of Buenos Aires by bike, don’t hesitate to book this tour online here!
Related Read: If you love exercise, there are plenty of great hikes in Argentina. Read more about one of our favorites, the Mount Fitz Roy Hike (Laguna de los Tres) here!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
5. Buenos Aires: Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus Tour
We love a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour because you get all the convenience of a tour – but with the flexibility to explore at your own pace. In a big city like Buenos Aires, it’s also a great way to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time.
There are 20 different stops on the Buenos Aires Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus route. You’ll also pass by several major sights, like the Casa Rosada, Cafe Tortoni, and Plaza de Mayo. There is a ton of commentary along the way. So, even if you decide not to get off and explore each stop, you’ll still learn about its cultural significance.
I’d definitely check out the map when you book your tour and decide where you’d like to hop off. But honestly, with this Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. Buenos Aires is your oyster! You can catch one of the amazing Buenos Aires tango shows at Tango Porteno, hang out and explore the cafes of trendy Palermo, walk the colorful streets of La Boca, or head to some art museums.
There is a ton to see in the city, so you can opt for a multi-day pass if you prefer. It’s $28 USD per person for a 24-hour pass, $33 USD for 48 hours, or $36 USD for 72 hours. You can take it at your own pace and explore the city bit by bit over several days. It runs daily from 9:40 am – 5:30 pm, with buses passing every 30-40 minutes.
Personally, I think this is an excellent way to see the city’s top attractions on a budget. The subway is cheaper, but it’s a hassle to navigate, and it can get super crowded. The hop-on hop-off bus is much more convenient, and you’ll learn a lot more this way, too.
For the easiest transport to all the top sights, grab your ticket and hop on this Buenos Aires bus tour!
Related Read: If you’d prefer to get out of the city for a bit, these are the best day trips from Buenos Aires to choose from!
6. Sherpa Food Tour: Walking Local Foodie Adventure in Buenos Aires
Palermo is hands down the best area for eating and drinking in Buenos Aires. It’s home to so many cafes, bars, and restaurants that you could probably dine out every day for years (without ever going to the same place twice!). It’s hard to know where to begin, which is why I’d highly recommend a tour!
This walking food tour of Palermo will take you to four different restaurants, where you’ll sample lots of local foodie favorites. You’ll wash them down with Malbec and maybe even some Fernet, a classic Argentinian beverage that some say is an acquired taste (although personally, I quite like it!).
You’ll be accompanied by a local guide who will teach you all about Argentine cuisine and related traditions. It was super interesting learning how the country’s food culture has grown and evolved over time.
Eating, drinking, and socializing is a very important part of life for Argentinians. As such, this tour gives you an authentic taste of local life. By the end, you’ll understand why dining out is such an important part of the Buenos Aires experience!
We love this Sherpa Food Tour because we generally try to eat and drink as much as possible when traveling. And with 8 different dishes and drinks, this tour definitely delivers on that front!
You’ll meet at Cacho Rotisserie by 5:30 pm, and the tour ends at the Plaza de Armenia. It’s not a ton of walking, but enough to get a refresher between restaurants. Since the tour finishes around 9 pm, you can return to your hotel or go out in the neighborhood!
For $65 USD per person, we think it’s a great choice for anyone who loves food or socializing. Since you’ll be in a small group, it’s super easy to make new friends throughout the evening. And after your tour, the guide will even recommend some nearby bars to carry on the fun.
So for a fun experience with amazing food, check availability and book this tour online here!
Related Read: For another city full of good food, wine, and culture, head to Mendoza! To learn more, read about the best things to do in Mendoza here.
7. Small-Group City Tour of Buenos Aires
Last but not least is our top choice! I loved this small-group tour because it was such a fantastic introduction to the city. The 3-hour tour felt very well-rounded, covering some of the best neighborhoods and top tourist sights with great commentary.
We traveled around in a van with a very helpful guide who answered all my questions (and there were many!). She gave us a really interesting insight into life in the city. We learned about everything from the reasons behind the frequent protests in Plaza de Mayo to how yellow fever played a role in the development of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods.
We covered a lot of ground in just 3 hours. It also helped me to decide where I wanted to return to later on (Spoiler alert: La Boca was high on that list!). If I were you, I’d make some notes and pin locations on your map as you go!
I also really enjoyed visiting the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral and learning more about the Casa Rosada. We also got to see a makeshift covid memorial. This started after the government allowed public mourning for Maradona’s funeral, which was quite touching.
One small thing I also appreciated was our super flexible driver! At the end of the tour, he went out of his way to drop me off in a pretty out-of-the-way neighborhood.
Overall, this is a fantastic option for getting to know Buenos Aires, and I felt totally comfortable going by myself. The guide was super welcoming, and I wasn’t the only solo traveler on the tour. Everyone was very friendly, and we all chatted as we drove around.
This small-group tour costs $29 USD per person, including roundtrip transportation from your Buenos Aires accommodation. Morning tours pick up around 9 am, and afternoon tours pick up around 2 pm. There’s also an option to be picked up at the port for an extra $5 USD.
If you’re not done sightseeing, you can choose to end the tour at the Recoleta Cemetery. When I went, it costs roughly $5 USD to enter and was filled with ornate tombs and mausoleums, including those of famous Argentines like Evita Peron. However, you’ll have to make your own way back after.
For the price, duration, and experience, this was my favorite sightseeing tour in Buenos Aires. If it sounds like the right fit for you too, don’t hesitate to book it online here!
Other Activities to do While You’re in Buenos Aires
The Argentine Experience is just one of many fun things you can do in Buenos Aires. So if you’re looking for even more activities, check out some of my favorites below!
- See a tango show – Since Buenos Aires is where tango was born, you just know the tango shows in Buenos Aires are next level. But seriously we were blown away by the dancers and the incredible meal as part of this House of Tango Show.
- Gran Café Tortoni – Gran Café Tortoni is one of the oldest cafes in the city and has even been named one of the most beautiful cafes in the world! This is the perfect place to grab a late-morning coffee or medialunas (mini croissants).
- Eat amazing food – One of the best meals I’ve EVER had was at The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires. This was an interactive night out with a bit of cooking and a lot of eating. It was so much fun and you can book a spot online here to experience it too!
- Walk through the Botanical Gardens – The Botanical Gardens provide a beautiful natural refuge right in the Palermo neighborhood. Entry is free, and you’ll find an impressive array of flora, fauna, and butterflies. Right across the road, you’ll find the Ecoparque Zoologico, which no longer houses caged animals. Instead, you’ll spot free-range capybaras and peacocks in an open-air environment.
- Experience the gaucho lifestyle – Gauchos are Argentina’s cowboys and an integral part of the culture. To experience this firsthand, head to the countryside on this Estancia Tour, which includes horseback riding, a barbecue feast, and stories from the gauchos themselves.
Where to Stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you’re heading to Buenos Aires soon, you might want to figure out where you’re staying! Luckily, there are many great options in the city. As you’re narrowing it down, you can take a peek at our guide to the best areas to stay in Buenos Aires.
You don’t need to break the bank to stay here, but if you are searching for a luxurious getaway, you can find that too. Here are my top picks for various price ranges!
Hilton Buenos Aires – $$$
You can’t beat the location with the riverside Hilton Buenos Aires. You’ll be within walking distance of downtown. There’s a rooftop pool to relax in or sit down for a meal or drink at the hotel’s restaurant or bar.
The service is exceptional, and the rooms are spacious. It’s a more expensive place to stay at $250-350 USD per night, but worth it if you’re looking for a five-star experience. So for the ultimate luxury in Buenos Aires, book your stay at the Hilton online here.
Broadway Hotel & Suites – $$
Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, the Broadway Hotel & Suites offers really spacious rooms at a great price. The swimming pool on the roof has amazing panoramic city views and a sun deck to soak up some rays. The rooms feature large windows, minimalistic art deco-type décor, and bathrooms with marble fittings. You’ll also have plenty of choices for shopping and restaurants nearby.
A junior suite here can be under $70 USD! To snag this awesome deal, I highly recommend you check availability and book online in advance.
Selina Palermo – $
Stay in one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires on a budget! Selina Palermo puts you close to the best bars and nightclubs and within walking distance of the Sherpa Foodie Tour. The place feels really modern, and there are nice extras like a rooftop bar, breakfast, and bike rentals available.
Shared dorm rooms with bunk beds are around $20 USD per night. If sharing isn’t your style, there are affordable private rooms with nice balconies overlooking the city starting at around $90 USD. You can easily book your stay through Booking.com or HostelWorld.com.
Planning your Trip to Argentina
Accommodation in Argentina
Booking accommodation is one of the biggest aspects of your trip, and we should know as we stay in a new hotel up to 40 times per year! Funny enough, we make 99% of these bookings on one website and that’s Booking.com – and there are a few reasons why we use this site!
Number one is the website is easy to use and sorts accommodation options. That takes the stress out of planning, which honestly still affects us, and we do it more than not.
Second is the price guarantee. We have literally booked a hotel months before and then 1 week out found it cheaper (we always do a quick search), and they’ll match that price from anyone’s website, including the hotels!
And third is the Genius loyalty program. If you make a certain amount of bookings per year, you get a Genius discount. We are level-two geniuses because we make more than 5 a year. At participating hotels, we get things like free breakfast included, early check-in, and up to 15% off.
You can check out all their accommodation options throughout Argentina!
Renting a car in Argentina
We enjoyed a rental car for our second trip to Argentina when we traveled in Patagonia – and wow, what a way to travel! But the best part was that we only paid $40 USD per day for a 5-person sedan!
But how? Well, if you’re renting a car in Argentina, the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap! It’s a great website and the one we used for our rental.
If you do want to compare prices (and you should), do a quick search on Airport Car Rentals too. They’re another big competitor, and each company often has its own deals to offer!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Buenos Aires is a huge, vibrant city with so much to explore. When you first arrive, I highly suggest taking a sightseeing tour. It definitely helped me get my bearings and plan the rest of my stay. And if you weren’t sure which to choose, I hope you’ve found one from this list!
If you want to learn more before planning your visit, read my blogs all about Argentina here. This country is just so diverse, with everything from mountains and glaciers to beautiful cities. To give you an idea, I’ve linked to a few articles below. Thanks for reading and safe travels!