Buenos Aires is the second most visited city in Latin America after Mexico City and for good reason, this cosmopolitan city has it all.
The city was once the capital of one of the world’s wealthiest nations and, although, times are tougher now than they once were, Buenos Aires’ personality remains. Known as the Paris of South America, evidence of its European ties can be seen everywhere, but most noticeably in its architecture.
Our family lived in Buenos Aires for nearly two years and, after five years living in Delhi, we particularly enjoyed the blue skies, being outside in fresh air, and cheap, easy to navigate public transportation. Not to mention all the things there are to do in Buenos Aires with kids. From beaches and wide open green spaces to the myriad colourful neighbourhoods and lively markets, excellent museums and incredible food, there is so much to enjoy in Argentina’s capital.
Updated for 2021. Guest post by Kristen
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If you’re visiting Buenos Aires with children, especially younger kids, then one fun way to keep them engaged is to combine sightseeing with a scavenger hunt. We would regularly make up “treasure hunts” with our kids to keep them occupied while we all explored the city.
Some fun local things to look out for in Buenos Aries include: people wearing Boca Junior shirts, dog walkers with four or more dogs, platform shoes, tango dancers and one or two favourite displays of urban art. If you have a young artist with a sketchbook in your family, he or she might want to sit a while and try to create a copy of the street art that they see.
Things to do in Buenos Aires
Discover the street art
No matter where you find yourself in Buenos Aires there is always plenty of urban art to check out. Big, bold colors and curious characters are the hallmark of these eye-catching, oversized pieces throughout the city. If you have interest in learning more about some local artists and what they aspire to convey via this medium, consider a walking tour with non-profit organization, graffitimundo. One of the best places to go to see street art is in La Boca (see below).
Explore La Boca
There are 48 barrios (neighbourhoods) in Buenos Aires but the most colourful is definitely La Boca. This colourful neighbourhood (its name translates as ‘The Mouth’) is alive with character. It’s here where you’ll find La Bombonera, once home to footballing idol Diego Maradona.
Today La Bombonera is the home stadium for the Boca Juniors football team; catch a game for a true insight into South American life! If you don’t fancy a game but would like a peek inside, take a look at our recommended walking tour below.
Nearby is El Caminito, the “little walkway” and the most famous street in the neighbourhood. This cobblestone street is always busy with buskers playing music and vendors selling all manner of art and souvenirs. Tango dancers regularly put on impromptu performances.
Don’t miss a visit to the Museo Benito Quinquela Martin dedicated to local artist Benito Quinquela Martin. He is the man responsible for the vibrant murals that you’ll see throughout La Boca. Martin also donated to numerous local causes including a theatre and public school. The museum is home to his private collection of art and includes some of his own works.
Do be aware of your belongings while enjoying La Boca, pickpockets are active.
Enjoy the San Telmo Market
On Sundays throughout the year, head down to San Telmo – one of the oldest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires – and take in the art, crafts, and antiques for sale at the Feria de San Telmo. You can spend the better part of the day exploring the cobblestone streets in search of gifts and souvenirs and chatting with the artists who make them.
For antiques your best bet is to head to Plaza Dorrego. This is where you’ll find antiques dealers selling all manner of items from matchbox cars and gramophones to fully functioning old telephones, art and more. For entertainment or a short break, there are musicians, food vendors, and plenty of ice cream shops in the neighbourhood as well.
The market takes place from 10am to 4pm every Sunday. You can visit on other days of the week and enjoy the lively indoor market where dozens of food stalls rustle up tasty local foods.
Go to the brilliant Museo de los Niños
The excellent Museo de los Niños has been specifically designed for children aged 0 to 12-years-old and is a wonderful day out. The museum revolves around pretend play and children can go to “work” in a bank or a TV studio or even in the kitchen at McDonalds. It’s a lot of fun and always a hit with kids.
You’ll find the Children’s Museum in the Abasto Shopping Mall, one of the biggest shopping centres in the city.
Enjoy the many green spaces of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is home to some wonderful parks. The largest of these is the Parque Tres de Febrero, popularly known as Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods). This enormous green space covers some 400 hectares and can be found in the neighbourhood of Palermo. There’s a lake, Lago Regatas, where you can hire pedal boats and a carousel.
Also located within the Parque Tres de Febrero is the Planetario Galileo Galilei. This planetarium is considered to be one of the best in the world but is just as enjoyable for space newbies as it is intergalactic geeks. On display is a moon rock collected by Apollo XI and a meteorite that is over 4,000 years old. The five-story spherical dome shows a variety of films about space and the universe.
Take a walking tour
Buenos Aires is a fantastic walking city and Buenos Aires Free Walks provides four opportunities to learn about the history of different neighborhoods. We have been on all all four tours and think that the most kid-friendly is the one offered in La Boca, the neighborhood at the southern end of the city limits from where the Tango originated.
The tour lasts about two hours and perfectly doable for children. It concludes just outside the Boca Juniors stadium with a few stories about the history of this club, the most successful fútbol team in Argentina. When the tour is over (at about 1:00pm), there are friendly parrillas (grill) nearby for a traditional Argentine lunch.
Taste the best ice cream in the world!
In all our travels we’ve not found anywhere that does ice cream better than Buenos Aires. And, no matter what the temperature is outside, Porteños (locals) will wait in line to get their fix.
A unique feature of how it’s done in Argentina is that unless you order the tiniest option on the menu (and why, oh why, would you do that?), you will be expected to choose TWO flavors and it’s fun to watch as one is skillfully stacked and swirled on top of the other. Be sure to try Argentina’s most popular flavor, Dulce de Leche.
Have an empanada picnic
Snacks are essential when traveling with kids and this city has you covered. Empanadas are inexpensive, available on every block, easy to transport to a picnic spot, and come with range of fillings to suit everyone’s palate.
The most popular empanada options are beef, ham and cheese, chicken, and spinach. The fold on the empanada indicates what is inside. The neighborhood of Palermo contains several large parks which are filled with families on the weekends. Pack up your empanadas and get ready for great people watching under blue skies.
Look and Touch
The wonderful interactive Museo Participativo de Ciencias boasts the slogan “Prohibited Not To Touch” and is constantly encouraging young visitors to learn through play. The No Tocar Museo is a perfect place on a rainy day or whenever the kids to burn off some energy in between seeing the sights. Even with little or no Spanish skills the exhibits, which include Perception, Mechanics, Art, and Forces of Nature, are accessible to children (and adults) of all ages.
The museum is located in the Recoleta neighbourhood, near the “must see” Recoleta Cemetery. It’s housed within the brightly coloured Centro Cultural Recoleta, an exhibition and cultural events centre.
Visit the Recoleta Cemetery
After you finish at the science museum it’s well worth stopping by the Recoleta Cemetery. Although visiting a cemetery with kids might seem like an odd choice, this is actually one of the most interesting places to see in Buenos Aires. This
The Recoleta Cemetery has been called the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It’s home to some 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins and crypts all organised in neat rows. It’s located on prime city real estate and is the resting place for some of the city’s most famous and wealthiest residents.
The most famous grave belongs to Eva Perón, the former First Lady of Argentina.
Look for books at El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Surely one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, a trip to Buenos Aires would not be complete without a visit to El Ateneo Grand Splendid. The building began life in 1919 first as a performing arts theatre and later as a cinema before becoming the bookstore that it is today. You can still see the original frescoed ceilings on display today as well as the elegant theatre boxes, curved balconies and even the red stage curtains.
You’ll find children’s books in the basement and a cafe on the old theatre stage. The bookstore is located in the Recoleta neighbourhood.
Visit Plaza de Mayo
Plaza de Mayo is the main square of Buenos Aires. It’s also the oldest public square in the city and where many of the most important events in the city’s history took place. The white obelisk – the Pirámide de Mayo – in the centre was erected in 1811 to mark the first anniversary of the May revolution.
Surrounding the piramide are a handful of white women’s shawls painted on the ground. These represent the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women who continue to lobby the government about missing family members who vanished during the Dirty War, a period when the country’s military dictatorship turned against its own people. Some 30,000 people were “disappeared” between 1976 and 1983.
Plaza de Mayo is home to the Casa Rosada (the Pink House), the official executive office of the President of Argentina and where Eva Perón gave her famous final speech.
Check what’s on at La Rural
This centrally located exhibition center offers something new throughout the year. We have see the traveling Bodies Exhibition, filled our bellies at a food truck festival, bought souvenirs at a handicrafts fair, attended a wine tasting (okay, that was without kids in tow!) and most recently went to our first international auto show.
In July, La Rural hosts a ten-day Exhibition of Livestock, Agriculture, and International Industry at which representatives from all provinces across Argentina share their traditions and expertise.
Brush up on your Argentine history at Museo Evita
The Museo Evita in Palermo is dedicated to one of Argentina’s most beloved and controversial political figures, the former First Lady Eva Perón. Housed within a beautiful 1923 mansion, Casa Carabassa, that was once the headquarters for the Eva Peron foundation, the museum is a fascinating insight into the life of the Argentine heroine.
On display are videos and historical photos as well as books and posters. The real draw, however, is Eva Peron’s wardrobe. The wife of President Juan Domingo Peron was a style icon and the museum is a wonderful glimpse into her fashionable wardrobe: dresses, shoes, hats, blouses and handbags are all on show.
Next door is a good restaurant with a pretty garden.
Float upstream for lunch
When in need of a break from the big city, it’s great to spend a day on the Tigre Delta. It’s easy to access via the Mitre from Retiro Station. From the station in Tigre it’s a very short walk to the boat taxis. From there, take a ride on the Gato Blanco boat, which drops passengers off at their lovely restaurant where typical parrilla fare is served in a breezy garden setting.
There is a green space and play set behind the restaurant and families can easily spend two hours here, taking in the peaceful surroundings and watching boats glide by.