Buenos Aires Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, abundant in architectural and historic landmarks. The city center is dominated by Plaza de Mayo, lined with majestic 19th-century buildings, including the iconic presidential palace Casa Rosada. Other major attractions include Teatro Colón, Obelisk of Buenos Aires and numerous plazas. Take this orientation walk and explore these and other top attractions of Buenos Aires.
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Buenos Aires Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Buenos Aires Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Argentina » Buenos Aires (See other walking tours in Buenos Aires)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Mayo
  • Casa Rosada Museum (Pink House Museum)
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Avenida de Mayo (May Avenue)
  • Palacio Barolo (Barolo Palace)
  • Plaza del Congreso (Congress Plaza)
  • Plaza de la Republica (Republic Plaza)
  • The Obelisk of Buenos Aires
  • Teatro Colón
  • Plazoleta Cortazar
  • Galerías Pacífico
  • Calle Florida (Florida Street)
Plaza de Mayo

1) Plaza de Mayo (must see)

The Plaza de Mayo is named in honor of the May revolution that led to the independence of Argentina. It is located in the heart of Buenos Aires and is surrounded by many of its landmarks.

The Plaza de Mayo was the site chosen by the founder of Buenos Aires, Juan de Garay for a central square in 1580. His plan did not materialize because the Jesuits got the title to the property. In 1661, the land was purchased again for a plaza and a colonnade was erected. In 1881, the colonnade was demolished and the present Plaza de Mayo took shape. The May Pyramid was built at the center to commemorate the May revolution.

The Plaza de Mayo remains the hub of political activism where a rally always takes place. It also hosts the cathedral, the Casa Rosada, the Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution.

Why You Should Visit:
Emblematic of Argentine history, but also a beautiful picturesque square as those found in Spain.
Always a pleasure to walk around, especially since it has been completely refurbished.
Casa Rosada Museum (Pink House Museum)

2) Casa Rosada Museum (Pink House Museum) (must see)

The Casa Rosada Museum is located inside the main office buildings of the President of Argentina, The Casa Rosada or Pink House. The museum has exhibits showcasing the 100 years of the Casa Rosada as the seat of power in Argentina.

The Casa Rosada Museum hosts an array of exhibits and collections of objects belonging to the rulers of Argentina through the ages. It was created in 1957 for the purpose of exhibiting presidential memorabilia. It has objects from the remains of an old fort that once stood on the site of the Casa Rosada and the Customs House designed by British architect, Edward Taylor. The Customs House was once the largest building in Argentina.

Exhibits at the museum include books, furniture, swords, uniforms, and carriages used by former Presidents of Argentina. Objects like the flatware and dolls used by presidential families are also on display. Some of the underground rooms lay beneath well-known government buildings that once stood there. An extension was built in 2011 to house a mural by the Mexican artist, Jose David Alfaro Siqueiros. There is also a section devoted to the popular Eva Peron. Visitors need to make advanced reservations for the free tours that are conducted around the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Nice well-kept museum that complements your visit to the actual Casa Rosada.
It's free and you can learn more about all the phases of the city's development.
As a plus, the mural by Siqueiros is one of the artist's top works and will flood your senses.

The free tours are totally worth it and easy to arrange, online, in advance; they are conducted in Spanish, unless specially arranged/paid for, also in advance.
On a weekend, you can also visit Casa Rosada (for free as well) on a guided tour, so plan accordingly as both visits do take their considerable time.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 10am-6pm
Metropolitan Cathedral

3) Metropolitan Cathedral (must see)

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires is the main Catholic Church in the city. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Metropolitan Cathedral was erected on land donated by the founder of Buenos Aires, Juan de Garay in 1580. Many church buildings were erected and demolished at the site and the construction of the present cathedral began in 1753 based on the design of Italian architect, Antonio Masella. The dome was built in 1770 and the cathedral was consecrated without a façade in 1791. An elaborate façade was designed by French architects, Prosper Catelin and Pierre Benoit in neoclassical style based on the design of the Bourbon Palace in Paris. The ornamentation of the façade by French sculptor, Joseph Dubordieu was completed in 1863.

Notable features in the Metropolitan Museum include an elaborate mausoleum with the body of General Jose de San Martin who is regarded as the Father of the Nation and a memorial to the Unknown Soldier. The eternal flame in honor of the Unknown Soldier burns on the façade of the cathedral. The Saint Jean Nepomucen’s Chapel has a statue of Holy Christ of Great love carved from Lebanese cedar by sculptor Luis Alvarez Duarte and donated by two well known international soccer players, Daniel Bertoni and Hector Scotta.

Why You Should Visit:
Not that big or impressive on the outside but quite beautiful on the inside, with a nice mosaic floor.
Probably the biggest claim to fame is that the current pope was Archbishop of this cathedral.

Entrance is completely free, but you can buy souvenirs in the shop.
Avenida de Mayo (May Avenue)

4) Avenida de Mayo (May Avenue)

May Avenue (Spanish: Avenida de Mayo) connects the Plaza de Mayo with Congressional Plaza. Built on an initiative by Mayor Torcuato de Alvear, work began in 1885 and was completed in 1894. The avenue is often compared with La Gran Vía in Madrid, although the Spanish avenue was built later (1910). It is also compared to those in Paris or Barcelona due to its sophisticated buildings of art nouveau, neoclassic and eclectic styles. The avenue was named in honor of the May Revolution of 1810 (the event that led to Argentine Independence).

The avenue's layout, built through existing urban blocks instead of via the widening of a parallel street, was designed by the municipal public works director, Juan Antonio Buschiazzo. Buschiazzo was also commissioned to design a number of the buildings along the avenue (among them, City Hall) after Mayor Miguel Cané enacted strict architectural zoning laws for the area facing the new thoroughfare. The recession caused by the Panic of 1890 led to delays and a rollback of many of the more ornate plans for the avenue, which was inaugurated on July 9, 1894 (the 78th anniversary of Independence).

Mayor Cané's strict regulations initially governed architecture along the 30 m (99 ft)-wide avenue, which limited the height of real estate facing it to 24 m (79 ft). The Barolo Tower was the first to be granted an exception to this and since then, numerous office buildings have been built in excess of these stipulations (though they remain largely an exception).

The Avenida de Mayo was the site of the first Buenos Aires Metro stations; opened in 1913, these were the first outside the United States or Europe.

Seeking to halt future demolitions along the avenue, Decree 437/97 of the National Executive Branch declared the Avenue a National Historic Site in 1997 and, as a result, the aesthetics of the buildings, billboards, and marquees could not be changed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palacio Barolo (Barolo Palace)

5) Palacio Barolo (Barolo Palace) (must see)

The Palacio Barolo was a building used to house offices by Argentine textile magnate, Luis Barolo. It was the tallest building in South America until 1935.

Luis Barolo commissioned architect Mario Palanti to design the building in 1910 because he believed like many Europeans in his day, that Europe would soon cease to exist because of the many wars being fought at the time. Palanti was a great admirer of Dante Alighieri and designed the Palacio Barolo based on his work, The Divine Comedy. It has 24 floors including 2 underground floors and 22 above. The basements and ground floor represent Hell, the first to 15th floors Purgatory and the 16th to 22nd floor represent Heaven. The height of the building was 100 meters which was four times the allowable height for buildings in the avenue. Luis Cantilo, the then mayor gave the structure a special concession and allowed the increased height. It was completed in 1923 and was inaugurated by the blessings of the papal representative, Monseñor Giovanni Beda Cardinali.

Bilingual English and Spanish tours take visitors on a tour of the building telling them of its owner and describing how Dante’s Divine Comedy was factored into the design. The balconies of the top floor offer panoramic views of the city and it has a revolving lighthouse fitted with 30,000 spark plugs that flash messages of important events. Today, it houses lawyers’ offices and was declared a National Historic Monument in 1997.

Why You Should Visit:
Stunning building, knowledgeable tour guide, and a remarkable level of access.

All tours are available by reservation only; check out the official website for the exact dates & times.
Night tours are worth the additional cost – amazing night views from the lighthouse, plus tango performance with a bit of wine tasting.
Plaza del Congreso (Congress Plaza)

6) Plaza del Congreso (Congress Plaza)

The Plaza del Congreso is located in front of the National Congress Building. It is one of the largest squares in the city.

It is also called "Plaza de los dos Congresos" because the Monumento de los Dos Congresos is located within the square. The Plaza Lorea, the Plaza Mariano Moreno and the Plaza de Congreso form a set of plazas in front of the National Congress Building. It was developed for the centenary celebrations of the May Revolution in 1912.

The Plaza Lorea was named after the man who once owned the land, Isidro Lorea. The Plaza Mariano Moreno was named after Mariano Moreno who played a leading role in the war of independence. In 1908, a law was enacted to establish a public square in front of the National Congress Building and Carlos Thays was chosen to design it. It was completed in 1910 with two sections, one with sculptures and the other, a French-style garden. Two notable sculptures are an original variant of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ that is signed by Rodin and a monument to the two congresses that honor the Congress of 1810 of Buenos Aires and the Congress of 1816 in Tucuman that led to the independence of the nation.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the prettiest squares in the city! The monuments commemorate Argentine's independence and are rich in symbolism.

Be careful of the people camping in the square – although they usually do not bother tourists, there are always exceptions, especially at night.
Also, don't be surprised to see a demonstration here.
Plaza de la Republica (Republic Plaza)

7) Plaza de la Republica (Republic Plaza)

The Plaza de la Republica is a large elliptical plaza in the heart of Buenos Aires. The Obelisk of Buenos Aires, a monument built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city is located in the center of the square.

The Plaza de la Republica is located in the San Nicholas Quarter of Buenos Aires. Originally, the church of St. Nicolas of Bari was located here. It was at this church that the Argentine flag was hoisted for the first time. The church was subsequently demolished and the site was chosen to establish the plaza and erect the obelisk.

The Plaza de la Republica was designed by local architect, Alberto Prebisch. It was inaugurated in 1937. He designed it as a stone paved circular esplanade. In 1962, it was enlarged and became an elliptical park with its present dimensions. The layout was changed to reroute one of the main roads of the city, the Corrientes Avenue through the park in 1971. The change was made to ease car traffic in the financial district of the city. Today it lies at the intersection of the three main arteries of the city. The Plaza de la Republica is a popular location for celebrations in the city especially when the Argentine Soccer team wins a major trophy.
The Obelisk of Buenos Aires

8) The Obelisk of Buenos Aires

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires stands at the intersection of the two most important roads of the city. Erected to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Buenos Aires, it has over the years become the main symbol of the city.

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires was designed by architect Alberto Plebisch who was famous for constructing Tucuman modernist structures. It was built by the German construction company, G.E.O.P.E. - Siemens Bauunion - Grün & Bilfinger who completed construction in a record 31 days. The location chosen was that of the demolished San Nicholas of Bari church where the Argentine Flag was first hoisted in 1812. It was made of concrete and Olaen white stone from the Cordoba region.

The Obelisk of Buenos Aires was inaugurated in May1936. It is 67.5 meters high and ends in a lightning rod. There is one entrance and one can reach the top to view the city from the four windows at the summit by climbing 206 steps. The monument has suffered vandalism and covered with graffiti with political overtones. Some Argentine dictators have placed forbidding signs on the obelisk. It is also the venue of celebrations caused by Argentine sporting victories, music concerts, political demonstrations, religious congregations and candlelight vigils.
Teatro Colón

9) Teatro Colón (must see)

The Teatro Colón or Columbus Theatre in Buenos Aires is regarded as one of the finest opera houses in the world. It took several years and many architects to complete the structure but the result was an architectural masterpiece.

The flourishing operas performed by touring companies in Buenos Aires resulted in the construction of the first Teatro Colón in 1857. It flourished for 30 years. It soon became clear that a new and larger venue was needed because of the increasing popularity of opera in the city. After a 20 year construction period, the present Teatro Colón opened in 1908 with the performance of the opera, Aida.

The present structure was made with carefully selected material from Europe. It was decorated with several different Italian marbles, French stained glass, mosaics from Venice and Slavonic woodwork. The main hall is horse-shoe shaped and can seat over 2,500 spectators. There are four levels of galleries and an additional standing space for a thousand spectators. The orchestra pit can host 120 musicians. The acoustics are near perfect causing the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti to describe it as one of the most challenging halls in the world where even the slightest mistake can be easily detected. The dome has a hidden gallery for a choir to give a dramatic effect as if angels are singing from the skies. There is also a large underground area where workshops and ateliers are located that make all that is needed to support the stage productions.

Why You Should Visit:
To see the most representative theater in Argentina and, perhaps, in South America.
The acoustics are magnificent and attending an opera representation here is a great idea.
With sculptures, marble, gold leaf, stained glass windows, artwork, and ornate chandeliers the building itself is just beautiful and well worth a visit.

Several tours are conducted daily in different languages, so inquire at the box office.
Unfortunately, if you want to arrange seats for a ballet or opera you need to book a long way in advance because the theatre is justifiably popular.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm; Sun: 9am-5pm
Plazoleta Cortazar

10) Plazoleta Cortazar

Plazoleta Cortazar - or Plaza Serrano, as locals call it - is a famous square that's well known to both city-dwellers and tourists alike. During the day it hosts an open-air market where you'll find lots of nice crafts, clothing, art objects, jewelry and much more. At night the square - which is considered the bohemian heart of Palermo Soho - becomes a meeting point for the young people of Buenos Aires, who are also known as portenos. The Plazoleta Cortazar also doubles as a great shopping area.
Galerías Pacífico

11) Galerías Pacífico (must see)

The Galerías Pacífico is a covered shopping center famous for its fresco-covered ceilings by leading Argentine artists. It is located between Florida Street and Cordoba Avenue in Buenos Aires.

The Galerías Pacífico building was constructed in 1889 for a large store called the Argentine Bon Marche. The beaux arts building was designed by architects, Emilio Agrelo and Roland de Vacher based on the design of the Parisian store, Le Bon Marche. Later, it became the first home of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. In 1908, the British Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway Company bought the building for its offices. The purpose of the company was to build a railway line through Chile to access the Pacific Ocean and the building was renamed Edificio Pacifico.

The Galerias Pacifico was remodeled in 1945 with the addition of a cupola and ceiling frescoes by notable Argentine artists including a magnificent central panel by artist, Antonio Berni. In 1987, a dungeon was found under the building where the military junta that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983 tortured prisoners. It was declared a historical monument in 1989 and became a high-end shopping arcade in 1991. Four ceiling frescoes were added in 1991 by well known Argentine contemporary artists including Guillermo Roux.

Why You Should Visit:
Worth a quick view of the cupola and frescoes or staying longer to shop, grab a bite at the food court, stop for a coffee/ice-cream...

If you're going to shop, keep in mind to look for the signs that say "tax-free" so you can request your tax refund before leaving Argentina.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-9pm
Calle Florida (Florida Street)

12) Calle Florida (Florida Street)

Florida Street (Spanish: Calle Florida) is a popular shopping street in Downtown Buenos Aires. A pedestrian street since 1971, some stretches have been pedestrianized since 1913. The pedestrian section as such starts at the intersection of Perú Street and Avenida de Mayo, a block north of the Plaza de Mayo; and runs northwards for approximately one kilometer to Plaza San Martín, in the Retiro area. It intersects Buenos Aires's other pedestrian street, Lavalle, at the heart of the former cinema district.

Florida is one of the city's leading tourist attractions. Florida Street bustles with shoppers, vendors, and office workers alike because of its proximity to the financial district. By evening, the pace relaxes as street performers flock to the area, including tango singers and dancers, living statues, and comedy acts. Its variety of retail stores, shopping arcades, and restaurants is of great interest to foreign tourists and business travelers.

One of the most iconic locations in Buenos Aires is the intersections of Florida Street and Diagonal Norte Avenue, built between 1913 and 1943. Two of the avenue's most distinguishable buildings are located at this intersection: the Plateresque BankBoston Building (1924), the Art Deco La Equitativa del Plata (1929), and two cupola-topped Bencich Buildings (1927). The intersection forms a triangular plaza adorned with José Fioravanti's monument to President Roque Sáenz Peña (1937).

Two important shopping arcades are located on the 100 block: Galerías Boston and the landmark Galería Güemes, designed by Francisco Gianotti and opened in 1914; distinguishable by the illuminated beacon atop its spire, it was one of the tallest buildings in Buenos Aires st the time.

The 200 block features the former Grand Florida Cinema (1925), created in an eclectic Art Deco design by Jorge Kálnay. The corner of Perón Street is overlooked by the Plateresque former Banco Popular Argentino (1931), today the headquarters of HSBC Bank Argentina. The 300 block includes the oldest existing bookstore of El Ateneo chain (one of two on Florida Street); founded in 1912, the booksellers opened their first Florida Street store in 1936.

The Julio Peña residence (1917), today the headquarters of the Argentine Rural Society, is one of the few private residences surviving from the time luxurious homes shared Florida Street with commercial establishments. Opened the same year, the Richmond Café next door was a favorite coffee house among local upscale patrons; Jorge Luis Borges, Graham Greene, and the Florida group of avant-garde writers were among the many literati who gathered there.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Create Your Own Walk in Buenos Aires

Creating your own self-guided walk in Buenos Aires is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

You may be surprised by the great number of churches, chapels and cathedrals around Buenos Aires. There are plenty of well known and frequently visited churches around the city, which is divided into 24 parishes and sub-parishes - each with a church of its own.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Old buildings are like mirrors of the past that reveal a little part of the history of a given place. There's much to admire in a historical building, whether its the architectural elements, the style or the décor that grabs you. Here in Buenos Aires, if you walk within its historical buildings, you can enter the history of the city and the spirit of the Argentine people.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Palermo Area Walking Tour

Palermo Area Walking Tour

Palermo is one of the most famous areas of Buenos Aires - it's well known to locals and among tourists as well. It's also the largest neighborhood of the city, and is divided into smaller sub-districts, namely: Palermo Chico, Palermo Viejo, Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, Las Cañitas and Alto Palermo. Check out our walking tour of the most popular places and buildings in these areas.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
Recoleta Neighborhood Walking Tour

Recoleta Neighborhood Walking Tour

Recoleta is one of most beautiful neighborhoods of Buenos Aires - it's the city's heart of art and elegance, grace and modernism, culture and leisure. Here you will find lots of things to do like: visiting museums, galleries and cultural centers; relaxing in one of the beautiful parks and plazas; or sampling the delicious local food. And if you travel to Recoleta with kids you will be...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles

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