Quick note: Most people involved in this blog are Argentineans and some of them are from Buenos Aires. Moreover; we go every year to visit our families so we are well aware of the trendy areas and more.
Buenos Aires is a great and large city. There are many different neighbourhoods with their own personality, pros and cons. It can also vary if you are going for a short visit or you are going to remote work for a couple of months or you are planning to become an expat and live for a couple of years.
Palermo is the most popular area in Buenos Aires for expats, tourists and locals (Argentineans from other parts of the country who go to the capital to work or study).
It really is the “place to be” in many aspects. For starters, it has some of the greatest restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, malls, nightclubs, independent stores and all sorts of hipster corners.
It also hosts numerous art galleries, theatres, and cultural centres. It is home to some of the city’s most beautiful parks, including Parque Tres de Febrero (Bosques de Palermo) and the Botanical Garden.
It is also safer than other areas, having a relatively low crime rate, and it is well-connected by public transportation, including buses and the metro/subway. Its supply of hotels and flats is also huge, with a wide range of prices.
Despite its modern and cosmopolitan vibe, Palermo maintains a sense of authentic Buenos Aires with many authentic coffee shops and restaurants (cantinas) serving traditional Argentinean food.
There are two main areas within Palermo, as follows.
On the east side of Avenida Juan B. Justo is Palermo Soho, the favourite area of most people and our first recommendation on this list. There are no major differences in terms of architecture, style or vibe to Palermo Hollywood, but Soho has a more bohemian and creative atmosphere.
Some recommended hotels to stay in Palermo Soho are:
- Malevo Murana Hostel
- Corazón de Palermo Soho ($)
- Hotel Palermitano by DOT Boutique ($$$)
- BE Jardin Escondido By Coppola ($$$$)
Palermo Hollywood earned its name due to its concentration of television and radio studios, as well as production companies, being the heart of Argentina’s media and entertainment industry.
It’s particularly known for its upscale dining options and vibrant nightlife, making it a popular destination for evening entertainment.
It is characterized by modern, often industrial-style architecture. The neighbourhood’s streets featured a mix of contemporary buildings and converted warehouses, which lend it an urban and edgy feel.
Some recommended hotels to stay in Palermo Hollywood are:
Recoleta is the second most popular (and recommended) neighbourhood to stay in Buenos Aires. It is located just next to Palermo (Palermo Chico in this case, yes there is another Palermo, and also Soho) on the east side.
One of the critical advantages of Recoleta is that hosts some of Buenos Aires’ most iconic cultural attractions. For instance, the neighbourhood is renowned for the famous Recoleta Cemetery, where you can explore intricate mausoleums and the final resting place of Eva Perón. Additionally, it is also home to the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Library and the Floralis Genérica (next to the impressive building of the Faculty of Law).
It is as good as Palermo in terms of connectivity (enough metro and buses available) and safety. In terms of green spaces, Recoleta is home to several parks and squares, including Plaza Francia which is one of the most popular in the city.
The vibe is not as hipster as Palermo but has its own charm. Its beautiful tree-lined streets, elegant Parisian-style architecture, and historic buildings make it a more refined and upscale area.
Avenida Alvear is famous for its luxury boutiques, and you’ll find high-end fashion brands, jewellery shops, and art galleries throughout the neighbourhood. There are also a few upscale hotels in the area that are also emblematic such as Alvear Palace Hotel and Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt.
Some recommended hotels to stay in Recoleta are:
- Casa Franca Recoleta Hostel
- Dazzler by Wyndham ($$)
- Blank Hotel ($$$)
- Alvear Palace Hotel, Four Seasons and Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt ($$$$)
San Telmo is the oldest barrio (neighbourhood) of Buenos Aires. It is a well-preserved area of the Argentine metropolis and is characterized by its colonial buildings, cafes, tango parlours and antique shops on its cobblestone streets, which are often filled with artists and dancers.
It is known for its bohemian atmosphere, cultural richness, and unique character. It is a tourist attraction on its own, so even if you don’t stay in the area you should visit and walk the neighbourhood. But it is important to clarify that it is not as safe as the others on the list. I would not consider this a deal breaker, as its bad reputation is worse than reality, especially during the day, but I would recommend being more careful if you stay here. There are plenty of tourists that choose San Telmo every time!
It hosts the famous Feria de San Telmo, a vibrant street market held every Sunday in Plaza Dorrego. Here, you can shop for antiques, handmade crafts, clothing, and souvenirs while enjoying live music and street performances. It is also home to Mercado San Telmo, my favourite market in Buenos Aires, and some emblematic cafes such as Bar El Federal.
The area comes alive at night with its bars, pubs, and clubs. It’s a great place to experience Buenos Aires’ vibrant nightlife, from cosy bars to venues featuring live music and dancing.
Last but not least, it also offers a range of accommodation options, including budget-friendly hostels and boutique hotels. It’s a great choice for travellers looking for affordable yet unique places to stay.
Some recommended hotels to stay in San Telmo are:
Puerto Madero is a relatively new neighbourhood compared to many others in Buenos Aires, and for sure the newest in this list. Therefore, it is ideal for travellers seeking a modern and well-maintained infrastructure, together with an upscale and waterfront experience.
The neighbourhood is conveniently located along the Rio de la Plata waterfront, offering stunning views and access to picturesque walking and jogging paths along the riverbank. It is known for its high-end hotels (e.g. Faena Hotel) and luxury apartment rentals, which makes most prices slightly higher than in other areas.
It also holds a significant title: it is -almost undoubtedly- the safest area in Buenos Aires. This is because it is “gated” and surrounded almost entirely by water, but more importantly because the Gendarmeria Nacional is in charge of its security. However; it seems that this responsibility is going to be moved to the Buenos Aires Police (the city’s police) in 2024.
While Puerto Madero is primarily known for its modernity, it’s not far from key cultural attractions like the Teatro Colon and the historic neighbourhoods of San Telmo and Montserrat. And it hosts a great green space by the river called Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur.
Some recommended hotels to stay in Puerto Madero are:
Centre (Microcentro / Montserrat)
Microcentro, often referred to simply as “El Centro,” is the central business district of Buenos Aires. It is primarily a business district, and its character is more commercial and formal. If you’re visiting the city for work-related reasons or need proximity to corporate offices, this area can be highly convenient.
But it has much more to offer than offices. The neighbourhood is home to several cultural attractions, including the historic Teatro Colon, one of the world’s top opera houses, Palacio Barolo and Obelisco. You’ll also find art galleries, museums, and theatres (most of them on Avenida Corrientes) within easy reach. Many traditional coffee shops are in the area, including the popular Cafe Tortoni.
It also offers excellent shopping opportunities. Calle Florida, a pedestrian street, is famous for its stores, ranging from high-end boutiques to more affordable options. Galerías Pacífico, a historic shopping mall, is another notable shopping destination.
Next to Microcentro, it’s a more authentic area called Montserrat, which goes all the way to San Telmo. And although it not technically the same area is quite close and you could stay in either of them.
Some recommended hotels to stay in Microcentro are:
The five neighbourhoods above are the best and most popular areas for the majority of people, from tourists spending a long weekend to expats moving to work for a few months or even years.
The following districts are less known and recommended, but are considered good areas nonetheless.
Belgrano is on the northern border of Palermo and is considered by many the best residential area to stay long term.
It is primarily a residential neighbourhood, characterized by tree-lined streets and a mix of architectural styles. You’ll find a blend of historic houses, apartment buildings, and modern developments, making it an attractive place to live.
Some of its highlights include Avenida Cabildo, a major commercial thoroughfare with a variety of shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants; Parque General Manuel Belgrano (also known as “Barrancas de Belgrano”), a beautiful park with a viewpoint overlooking the Rio de la Plata; and Buenos Aires Chinatown.
It is home to several prestigious educational institutions, including the University of Belgrano and the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, a renowned high school.
The main disadvantage of Belgrano is the distance to the city, despite being connected by public transport. So it is more convenient for digital nomads or long-term stays.
Villa Crespo is a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Situated in the city’s western part, it’s known for its mix of residential, commercial, and cultural elements.
It started as a residential area for the working class in the 19th century and now features a mix of architectural styles, from historic houses and apartments to more modern buildings. Despite seeing gentrification in recent years, it retains a residential character with tree-lined streets and a sense of community.
Staying in Villa Crespo is like being off the beaten path, but next door to the most vibrant area which is Palermo. It’s also known for its Jewish community, and you can find kosher restaurants and shops in the area.
Some of the district’s highlights are Parque Centenario, a large green space; Murillo Street, the place with the highest concentration of leather shops; Mercat Villa Crespo, a market offering international food; and Compañia Cervecera Perro Negro, one of the best breweries in the city.
Chacarita name comes from the Spanish word “chacra,” which means “small farm”, showing what this area used to be in the 19th century.
And for many years was just another predominantly residential area not too far from trendy Palermo and “posh” Belgrano. However; in the last 5 to 10 years has become a sort of low-profile sensation. While other more popular areas are getting super busy and crowded with cafes and shops, Chacarita has slowly become “the place to be” for many.
The neighbourhood is also home to the Cementerio de la Chacarita (Chacarita Cemetery), Buenos Aires’ largest and most famous cemetery. It’s known for its impressive mausoleums and the final resting places of many notable Argentines, including Carlos Gardel, Gustavo Cerati and Benito Quinquela Martín.