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5 Touristy Things to Do in Buenos Aires and Their Hidden Gem Counterparts

A whistle-stop tour of the city's cliche spots, with a twist.

By | [email protected] | August 20, 2018 3:00pm

38819474591_5a36cd980f_bPhoto via Flickr/TefaAlvarado

Buenos Aires, like any capital city, is bursting full of amazing sights and sounds to engage both tourists and residents alike. Some of these delights are more hidden gems that you have to hunt around for, places you’ve heard about from friends of friends and feel almost like your spot that you’ve discovered.

There are other places, however, that are simply somewhere you have to whip out your phone, snap the Insta, absorb the atmosphere for a few minutes or so, and then move on never looking back. We at The Bubble have pinpointed the top 5 whistle-stop tourist spots you need to visit: but with a twist.

A lot of these places (shout-out to La Boca) are a ways away from our typical watering holes, so trekking out for a quick 30-minute pit-stop could max-out your Uber bill and leave you feeling a little disappointed. Instead, we’ve searched the lesser-known and less-crowded sites to visit after you get your fill of milling about among 300 other tourists trying to get the same ‘original’ snap.

Emiliana Miguelez (Photo Via Clarin)

The Cliché: El Obelisco

Ah, the sweet sound of Avenida Corrientes’ car horn screeches swirling around your eardrums while you queue up for 15 minutes to get a snap with those famous BA letters with the Oblesisco standing proudly behind. The intrusive phallic-shaped cylinder is unmissable for all tourists from a mile-off and is the subject of many selfies of both tourists and porteños far and wide (for good reason). It is, of course, pretty exciting to see it up close and personal for the first time, and the view of the blaring traffic lights and dusky streets gives a pretty dynamic first impression of the city.

The Hidden Gem Nearby

The Obelisco is obviously in a very central downtown location, so you shouldn’t struggle to find something to distract yourself from the aftermath of trying to cross Corrientes. Don’t miss amazing pizza joint Pizzería Las Cuartetas where you can grab a slice and upload that Instagram guilt-free from the wrath of time-wasting. It can get pretty busy, so make sure you don’t go at peak time otherwise you may find yourself queuing outside, which can only add to the disappointment. The almost diner-like setting makes this place feel authentic and free from the cheto vibes you get from some fancy downtown restaurants.

(Photo via Facebook/ @PizzeríaLasCuartetas)

The Cliché: Caminito

(Photo via Flickr)

Imagine this: you’re surrounded by magnets with “La Boca” plastered everywhere, Tango dancers wait in the streets for tourists to pay to grab a snap (no, they don’t actually dance), and crowds literally queue one after the other to take a picture of the classic Caminito shot with the Havanna store shining proudly.

Although this sounds like some kind of Disneyland-cum-Tango nightmare, Caminito can be fun for a half-hour or so. It’s an explosion of vivid colors and there are a couple of cute cafés tucked up in the almost tavern-like street corner shops. However, the threatening whispers of “Don’t stray away from the one colorful street of La Boca, it’s far too dangerous!” ring around your head as you’re there. This is the word of most porteños guiding clueless tourists who want to go visit the streets they’ve seen online.

There’s truth in those warnings: La Boca can be a little dangerous, especially if you wander off the beaten track, day or night. However, there are some other areas to visit too, and your trip doesn’t solely need to include a stroll down that one singular street.

The Hidden Gem Nearby

Photo via TTnotes

Fundación Proa is an modern, innovative art center a mere two-minute walk from the Caminito chaos. Its café opens from Tuesday to Friday if you want something a little different to the tourist fare you will get just one block away. And of course, there are always some awesome exhibitions on so you can check out the latest on their website. Past installments included Ai Wei Wei; coming up the first week of September look for a massive Alexander Calder retrospective.

The Cliché: La Floralis Genérica

(Photo via Argentear)

The Floralis Genérica is a gigantic sculpture made of steel and aluminum by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, and to be fair, is a pretty cool site to tick off your hypothetical list. What is a little different about this sculpture is that the petals open and close according to the light; in the evening it closes up into itself. (It was out of commission for a few years there but it’s getting back into action, thankfully.)

The sculpture stands out in a green space of trees and woods and is truly breathtaking. I would recommend going in the late afternoon, where you may be lucky enough to see its petals slowly shift from open to closed. It’s located in Recoleta, where luckily you can also pop into the famous Cemetery and take your snap of Eva Peron’s gravestone, or go into the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes which is right across the way.

The Hidden Gem Nearby

The whole neighborhood around this sculpture is bountiful with places to see, things to do, coffee to drink, and crepes to consume. It is home to many embassies, and there are gorgeous old mansions cropping up all over the place. It’s easy to spend an hour or so simply meandering around, taking a snap or four, or making up a fantasy world where you would live in one of the houses.

However, if you have completed all three of those spots and meandered and still feel energized, then I have found two less-known spots to visit before you crawl back in your Uber to Palermo.

(Photo via Instagram / @floreriaatlantico)

If you are at the flor at sunset, then it might be time to “get yo drank on.” To continue on the botanical theme, Florería Atlántico is a renowned speakeasy based in Retiro and has some of the best-trained cocktail masters around. In fact, it has even been named top dog by World’s 50 Best Bars.

Inspired by the waves of immigrants that arrived to the nearby port during the last century, the menu is divided into countries: you can go Argentine and have a mate-infused gin, or keep it British and have an Earl Grey cocktail (and also, let me know how that tastes?). It’s hidden beneath a flower shop and has plants and petals everywhere, so you can be sure to keep your Instagram theme continuous well into the wee hours.

(Photo via Tripadvisor)

However, if you are visiting the sculpture during the daytime and feel like getting cultural, wonderful museum Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández displays an extensive array of Argentine art pieces from textiles to paintings. It has plenty of artisanal and traditional fabrics on the show, so you can track the country’s history through its diverse artifacts.

The Cliché: The Rosedal

(Photo via Pintrest)

The prettiest spot on this list, this truly is a lovely afternoon trip. Grab some rollerskates (and with that, someone you can lean on in case you fall over in a heap) and make your way to Bosques de Palermo Park where you can stick your head around the gates to the Rosedal, take a peek at the roses and stroll around the little patch of quietness away from the metropolis buzz.

The roses are a sprawling explosion of pink and red and make a change to the monotony of green you find in so many of the city’s parks. As hard as you may try to resist, you can’t help but feel pretty ecstatic skating (or biking, for the less daring or coordinated) around the park, joining anyone from a seven-year-old girl to a gaggle of 75-year-old pensioners.

The Hidden Gem Nearby

Although this is a feast for your eyes, you can tick off the park in an hour or two depending on whether or not you take a quick power nap on the grass. So again, you’ve got two options: one for the more cultured (or simply someone who doesn’t want to drink at 11 AM), and one for the gal or guy who simply wants to end a peaceful day with a tall glass of wine or an icy cold beer.

(Photo Via Museo Sivori)

There’s a museum literally smack bang to the left of the Rosedal and it is hard to miss even if you are rollerblading past it at a million miles per hour. Even so, it is not one of the city’s most visited museums; we at The Bubble think it is overlooked and adds a certain je ne sais quoi to your park trip.

The Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívori holds some wonderful pieces of artwork from the early 20th century and has work from Italian impressionists Faustino Brughetti and Alfredo Lazzari to French-born post-impressionists Fernando Fader and Victor Cúnsolo.

(Photo via Avant Garden)

However, for you beer lovers out there, pop around the corner from the park to see the beautiful bars tucked under the bridge under the train tracks (it’s not as shady as it sounds, we swear). There’s plenty of lovely places to grab a pint, but we especially recommend Avant Garten beer garden.  If you want to totally embrace the German theme, grab a bowl of pretzels, strap on your lederhosen, and sip on a pint of Warsteiner.

The Cliché: Puente de la Mujer

The bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in 2001. Its name (the Woman’s Bridge) was given to the bridge because the streets of Puerto Madero are all named for famous and important Argentine women. Another fun fact (although I personally can’t see it): the bridge looks as if it is two lovers dancing the tango. It is well worth a trip but beware that however original you try to be, there will be roughly 100,000 other photos taken with the exact same composition.

The Hidden Gem Nearby

(Photo via Buenos Aires Travel)

A great hidden gem that isn’t so hidden due to its 865-hectare size is the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. You can rent bikes and take a wonderful day out, grabbing a chori from one of the food trucks, spotting a few members of the park’s fauna population, and trying to avoid the mud swamps. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

(Photo via miBsAs)

Equally, if you have enough dinero in your pocket, or simply feel like treating yourself, pop over to the swanky Alvear Icon Hotel where on the 32nd floor you will find the Crystal Bar, one of the most panoramic bars in BA. You can see the ecological reserve from a swankier angle while sipping on a Spritz. What could possibly be better than that?
So instead of groaning, rolling your eyes and sighing the next time someone suggests going to the main touristy spots in Buenos Aires, you can wow any guests or friends by whipping out one of these (not always so hidden) gems.