I absolutely loved these six crazy and unusual things to do in Buenos Aires from learning to ride a polo pony to taking a tango lesson then dancing in a local milonga, to attending a football game (that was epic!) to visiting Evita’s grave and I even made empanadas at a cooking lesson.
Before Covid Air New Zealand flew direct from Auckland to Buenos Aires. Sadly they have cancelled that route indefinitely, but I got to visit courtesy of the airline, and as you are reading this, you must be planning to go!
What a brilliant city and you might like this three-day itinerary in Buenos Aires.
Here are my picks for the first time visitor to Buenos Aires:
See a football game!
Hands down, this was the best night out in Buenos Aires! Football is a passion here with 24 professional teams in Buenos Aires and more than 11 home stadia across the city. However you’ll never get a ticket as season passes are sold out! But never fear, go with a couple of hard-case tour guides who will “rent” you a membership card for the night and prepare to chant your head off, swing your shirt and become staunch fans.
I went to a Boca Juniors game, Diego Maradona’s club, at Estadio Alberto J. Armando stadium, which is also known as La Bombonera (which means the candy box) and the atmosphere was like a Rugby World Cup match – every week!
And here’s an interesting factoid that my Aunty Maryn told me: Boca Juniors didn’t always wear blue and yellow and how they came to wear that colour is really quite hilarious. In 1905 they wore a white shirt with thin vertical black stripes. The problem was it was a similar colour to Nottingham de Almagro so in 1906 a game was played and the winner would keep their colours. Boca lost.
But how did they decide on their new strip? Easy. The colours of the next ship to sail into Buenos Aires would become their colours. And that ship was the Swedish Drottning Sophia sporting blue and yellow. Originally it was worn with a diagonal stripe but since 1913 Boca have worn their “Swedish” colours in horizontal stripes. There, tuck that away for the next pub quiz!
Tango Buenos Aires style!
Of course one must learn to tango when in Buenos Aires, so because I had never worked my feet in such fashion before, I went to a lesson followed by an appearance at one of the many milongas in town.
My instructor was an Irish man named Gerry and his Argentinian wife Lucia (here’s my post about my lesson with pics!) But if you don’t fancy a bit of Buenos Aires tango yourself, I still recommend you visit a milonga just to watch and drink in the vibe. But be aware that they don’t get started until 11pm – at the earliest.
Learn how to play polo
Being terrified of horses, I was not looking forward to my polo lesson, but it was actually brilliant fun. The ponies are trained to teach novices like me. We met the horsey set at Puesto Veijo ranch and watched a game (it’s flippin fast with thunderous hooves everywhere!), then donned our gear to look the part and tried hitting the ball around for an hour or so.
If you’re more of a polo pro then me, you’ll love the option of staying in the 10-room hotel here and having lessons each day and games each afternoon. Or do what I did and just have fun! (See my post on my polo lesson here>>)
Take an empanada cooking class
I love to learn to cook local food on location, so it was with great delight that I found myself kneading dough and dicing fillings to make scrumptious empanadas – the South American version of the Cornish pasty. If learning to barbecue Argentinian style is more your thing, you can do that too at Cook Abroad classes.
Visit Recoleta Cemetery
Argentina’s queen of hearts is undoubtedly Eva Peron, or Evita, as she was affectionately known. Her legacy and death at the age of 33 is shrouded in mystery and just enough skulduggery to shine intrigue over her resting place.
A tour of the elaborate tombs at Recoleta Cemetery is a fascinating insight into what became of Evita and her final resting place after her body had been stolen and was discovered in Milan.
Visit La Boca
There are so many colorful neighborhoods and hidden gems to visit in Buenos Aires and La Boca is just one of them.
Not to be confused with Boca Juniors (the football team!). La Boca is the quaint and colorful neighborhood you’ve seen all the famous photos of.
The buildings are wooden and higgledy piggledy jostled together as owners would paint their houses from the left overs the ships brought in to the docks at the end of the street.
It is very touristy, but don’t let that put you off because it’s where you’ll find local art, tango dancers hoping for a peso to pose for a pic and the color and culture of this cool bohemian quarter.