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South America

Four days in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls

March 1, 2020
girl walking in colorful La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires Argentina

For the penultimate leg of my South American trip I left Patagonia and headed to the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires before jetting up to the Argentina side of Iguazu Falls. Here’s my itinerary for four days in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls:

BUENOS AIRES

I could easily spend another week in this vibrant city no question. I loved exploring the neighborhoods and trying tons of new delicious food.

jacaranda tree

We started off with a free walking tour to cover the historic sites and got to photograph the Obelisk and the Pink House. After that we headed to the chic Palermo district to eat at Artemesia Cocina Natural and explore. This is sort of the West Hollywood of Buenos Aires and it was full of trendy restaurants and boutiques.

The Pink House

On our walk back to San Telmo from Palermo we passed a really cool park area with several hip bars. This is near the Japanese Gardens and in sort of “Palermo Soho.” The bars and restaurants are located under a train overpass in the park and have outdoor areas. Search for Lucciano’s Ice Cream, Williamsburg Burger Bar or Blest Palermo.

Palermo Soho

park in Palermo area

Another quintessential bucket-list item I wanted to check off was seeing live tango dancing. The most highly recommended show was Tango Porteno, which is located in a historic art deco building. I enjoyed it a lot as the dancing is phenomenal, however I wish they had stuck to a more traditional set (they did a lot of contemporary numbers to dubstep – gag!). The show starts pretty late, plan to be there from about 10pm to midnight.

My other favorite neighborhood is La Boca. This is the vintage Buenos Aires with colorful houses and streets and people dancing tango in the streets. Important to note: this is a major tourist area that is surrounded by a very poor area, you should not try to walk here (uber to the center and leave by uber) and you should not stay until or after dark. I heard a lot of stories of people being robbed here. That being said, it is very touristy so if you stay in the main area you will be fine. You need to plan to spend several hours here if you are visiting Buenos Aires. We took a free walking tour and then spent a little time exploring after. The walking tour was long and tiring, but very comprehensive and gave a great history.

El Ateneo – this is a famous bookstore that’s located inside a converted theater and is definitely worth checking out.

Recoleta Cemetery – I agreed to visit the cemetery to check it off the list, but had no idea how much I would enjoy wandering around the rows of beautiful tombs. I think we spent at least an hour exploring and photographing. It reminds me of the famous cemeteries in New Orleans and Paris and has a very romantic feel. We went first thing in the morning when they opened and were the only ones there at 8am.

Café Tortoni – go here early when there is no line (I stopped by around 8am). This famous coffee house is definitely a tourist spot, but when I was there the elderly man next to me, a local, started chatting with me and told me that he used to come here back when he was a student because it was so cheap and he still stops by for his coffee and newspaper in the early mornings.

Additional things to do if you have time:

MALBA – this wasn’t the best museum I’ve ever been to, but they did have a very nice Frida Kahlo self-portrait.

Decorative Arts Museum – a close walk from the modern museum, this is a beautiful building and has gorgeous rooms to explore.

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve – we were told that the river is beautiful and a must-see. I wouldn’t agree with that, but this is a nice park and if you have time for a little exercise the loops take about an hour round-trip.

Artemesia was amazing – definitely a top-tier vegan restaurant and one I highly recommend. The building and décor is stylish, but it also feels like a casual café where you could just bring a laptop and sip coffee or have an afternoon drink. My favorite thing may have been the complimentary bread with mayonesa de zanahoria (a carrot dip that I later found a jar version of in a health food store). The burgers are delicious and they have a good selection of craft beer.

pasta with artichoke, lemon peel and crispy garlic from Tierra

Tierra is located in a busy area but it’s a really nice hotel restaurant. Our servers were really friendly and they were happy to accommodate my vegan diet. The food was delicious, although a little pricey.

La Oficina – this restaurant is awesome. We went here with our tour group and I was highly skeptical, but they were so happy to accommodate me. They made fresh pasta for me without egg (spinach ravioli with a tomato veggie sauce). The next time we stopped in we tried the rice pasta with veggies (sort of an Asian stir fry dish) and shared a small margherita pizza sans cheese for a starter. This was a little confusing to the staff as they kept questioning if we really wanted the pizza with no cheese, but everything was really good and they are very nice.

Green Eat – This is a casual chain of grab-and-go foods that I totally loved. They had a tasty tofu bahn mi sandwich and hearty salads. Healthy, affordable and multiple locations throughout the city, with vegan options – what more can you want?

hand-drawn divider

IGUAZU FALLS

There are two sides of the falls: Argentina and Brazil and I’m glad I got to experience both. I enjoyed walking around on the Argentina side a lot and there are more loops and viewing points, you could spend several hours exploring there. Then in the afternoon we took the boat ride up to the falls, which is also offered on both sides, but the Argentina side is a more sturdy boat vs. a raft-type boat. It was nice to see the falls up close, but I was really worried about taking any photos due to water damage and the entire experience otherwise I would probably skip. We got soaked of course (they call it the shower for good reason) and was pretty cold afterward. The part that wasn’t my favorite was when the boat drove into the waterfall we were in it for a long time and it was impossible to breathe and your eyes got so flooded with water. Then we would drive back in again right as you’d regained your breath. I did the shotover jet boats in New Zealand at Huka Falls and this was a much more enjoyable experience!

The following day I saw Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side, which was also incredible and had one of my favorite South American experiences at the Parque de Aves.

view of the falls from the boat ride



  • Reply
    Iuliana Marchian
    March 4, 2020 at 7:36 am

    I love the way you have captured the local atmosphere in your photos. South America is well-known for its vivid colors and I enjoyed to see the colorful buildings and the picturesque graffitis on the walls of so many houses. As far as I can see here, it would take me far more than 4 days to explore Buenos Aires. Usually, I need a whole week to explore a capital or a big city at my own pace. I also loved the Iguazu waterfall and the monkeys you have photographed in the nearby forest.

  • Reply
    Linda (LD Holland)
    March 4, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    We were just in Buenos Aires. We had 2 days but got stuck in cruise ship processes and did not see as much as we wanted. Your blog post reminds me of how much we missed. We too could spend another week there. A free walking tour sounds great. And of course a tango show. I would love to do lessons but hubby can’t hear a beat! We made it to Cafe Tortoni but the line up was so long we could not wait. Just another for a return visit. We will definitely add a visit to Iguazu Falls when we come back.

  • Reply
    Subhashish Roy
    March 5, 2020 at 11:54 am

    What a beautiful colorful place Buenos Aires. I had heard it’s so but your pictures really tells the story. Such wonderful pics showcasing the different sides of this place. Love the Iguazu Falls.I too always start in a new city with a free or even paid walking tour. Good way to experience.

  • Reply
    Jane Dempster-Smith
    March 5, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Your article brought back our memories of Buenos Aires and the Iguazu Falls. We too used bafreetours for our walking tour around BA. We have such fond memories of San Telmo, La Boca and trying to find Evita Peron’s grave at Recoleta. With Iguazu Falls visiting both sides is definitely the way to go. They are so impressive.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    March 6, 2020 at 12:51 am

    I am dying (no pun intended) to visit Recoletta Cemetery for exactly the reasons you mentioned! It looks as though it has the romantic feel of Paris and New Orleans. Buenos Aires is at the top of my travel list, and you’ve only stoked my wanderlust further. I can’t wait to use this as a guide when I visit. I love that you started chatting with a local elderly man at Cafe Tortoni. Those are the most magical travel moments!

  • Reply
    Vanessa Ball
    March 6, 2020 at 3:29 am

    I went to Rio, BA and Iguazu Falls about 10 years ago, it was a wonderful trip. It was great to see many of the places I visited in BA like Recoleta Cemetery, Palermo and San Telmo. Seeing Iguazu Falls is just immense, such stunning place for nature. Loved your photos!

  • Reply
    Yukti Agrawal
    March 8, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Your Four days in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls looks worth doing and your first photo with colorful building behind you has won me over for this place. I too would add tango dancing show in my bucket-list item and as per your recommended show – Tango Porteno. I loved the location of this dance, which is played in a historic art deco building. Café Tortoni really look like a famous coffee house and a worth tourist spot. I loved that La Oficina has veggie varieties too.

  • Reply
    AMAR SINGH
    March 11, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    I have not travelled to this part of the world and have it high on my list to visit. Indeed as you say the city does look vibrant and filled with colours and life. Street art takes my fancy and there seems to be a fair bit in Buenos Aries for sure so a lot of photos to be clicked. You could not visit here and not go to the beautiful Iguazu waterfall. Your photos have certainly added life to this post and gives a great insight of how to make the most of Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls in 4 days trip
    Thanks for sharing

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