Much To See On A Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

Private Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires Argentina

So Much To See On A Private Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

We found so much to see on a private guided tour around Buenos Aires.  Our tour started in the Palermo area with stops at Floralis Generica and El Rosedal Garden.  We continued to the famous Recoleta Cemetery.  From there we explored the Plaza de Mayo and the Metropolitan Cathedral.  We finished up in the colourful La Boca following the Caminito (or the “Little Path”).  But no day was complete without sampling some interesting coffee shops on our visit to Buenos Aires.

After a busy cruise to Antarctica and 3 days exploring Iguazu Falls, we arrived in Buenos Aires exhausted.  But we had so many things we wanted to see.  So were were really glad we booked a private guide and driver for our tour of the city.  We saw everything and more than we planned.  Our guide knew the perfect timing to visit each site with less crowds.

Planning To Tour Around Buenos Aires

On our first visit to Buenos Aires on our cruise around South America we did not see all we wanted.  One day we wandered around the city and on another we did a day trip to the Tigre and the Parana Delta.  We knew there was much more to see.  So when we planned our Antarctica cruise we added in an extra 8 days in Argentina.  

We enjoyed wandering around Santiago in Chile on our own on this visit to South America.  So we considered starting our visit to Buenos Aires with a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and then visiting selected sites on our own.  But we ultimately chose to book a full one day private tour through Tully Luxury Travel.  We decided there were advantages to having a car and driver to provide local expertise.  And we then wandered in Buenos Aires on our own on the other days.

We provided a rough list of places we wanted to visit on a guided tour around Buenos Aires.  But we expected the guide to add many other gems as we moved around the city.  Laura did not disappoint.  She made sure we saw so much of the city on our tour and we learned so much about Buenos Aires as we went.  Our driver got us close to each site and was there to move us quickly to the next spot.  A great way to travel around busy Buenos Aires.

Gardens In The Palermo Area

Our first stop was in the Palermo area of Buenos Aires.  This was a new and very green part of the city along the waterfront.  When we saw the Floralis Generica statue the driver pulled over and we got out for a quick stop.  This steel flower sculpture was animated and was meant to be a symbol of hope. At sunset the petals closed and the sculpture was lit with an amber glow. The petals reopened in the morning to symbolize the regeneration at dawn.  This polished sculpture reminded us of the Cloud Gate sculpture we saw in Chicago.  

Floralis Generica - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

There were two large gardens in the Palermo area.  The driver let us out at the Paseo El Rosedal (the Rose Garden) in the heart of Tres de Febrero park.  When in season, the park was filled with over 18,000 roses (over 1,000 varieties).  It was the end of rose season when we visited but we still occasionally got bursts of colour.  Our guide Laura urged us to return in November (the spring for South America) for roses and the beautiful blooming Jacaranda trees.

Paseo El Rosedal

As we wandered around the garden we saw an artificial lake complete with swimming ducks and small boats to rent.  We stopped at the Andalusian patio and admired the colourful tile work we remembered from many visits to the Andalusia area of Spain.  The White Bridge (or Lovers Bridge) was a common point for lovers to stop.  Local legends suggested that lovers must hold hands, step on the first step at the same time with their right feet first, then stop in the middle of the bridge to kiss.

Paseo El Rosedal
Paseo El Rosedal White Lovers Bridge - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

As we headed back to the parking lot, we wandered past the poets garden with 26 busts of famous world-wide writers.  Our final stop was under the massive rubber tree.

Paseo El Rosedal Poets Busts

The Japanese Garden ((Jardín Japonés) was located beside the Rose Garden.  It was the largest Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.  The park was created in 1967 and donated to the city to thank Argentina for welcoming Japanese immigrants. With temperatures around 40C (104 F), we were not prepared to stroll through a second garden at this time.  So we saved the Japanese Garden for a future trip.

Relaxing green spaces and gardens were the perfect way to start our guided tour around Buenos Aires.

Stopping At The Nuestra Senora del Pilar Cathedral In The Recoleta Area

We headed to the Recoleta area and were dropped for our first stop at the Nuestra Senora del Pilar Cathedral.  This simple, whitewashed colonial style church was built in 1732.  In the outer courtyard we stopped and looked at a tile art piece that showed Buenos Aires from that period with the churches and steeples across the waterfront.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church

While simple on the outside, we were amazed when we entered and saw the baroque main altar with Inca ornamentation and silverwork from Peru.  As we wandered the ornamentation continued in the side altars and pulpit.  Only the organ seemed simple.

Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church Altar - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church

Our next stop was the Recoleta Cemetery.  It sat in what was once the orchard of the Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar church.  

History In The Recoleta Cemetery

On our first visit to Buenos Aires we had the Recoleta Area on our plans but we just ran out of time.  One of the key attractions in the Recoleta area was the Recoleta Cemetery.  We often visited cemeteries when we travelled and learned much about the history of an area.  When we visited New Orleans, we could not leave without visiting the St Louis Number 1 Cemetery.  

The Recoleta Cemetery was built in 1822 and was the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires.  We went in the main entrance and found the small chapel.

Recoleta Cemetery
Recoleta Cemetery

Much like in New Orleans, we found the above-ground graves displayed a stunning variety in architecture and art in the Recoleta Cemetery.   We saw styles from Greek temples through to miniature Baroque cathedrals and Roman-inspired structures.   There were about 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins and crypts that commemorated some of Argentina’s most celebrated people.  We learned that more than 90 crypts have been declared as National Historical Monuments.

Recoleta Cemetery - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
Recoleta Cemetery - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
Recoleta Cemetery

As we walked around the cemetery our guide Laura provided us with historical background on the people and events in Buenos Aires.  Some of the small buildings even included small alters.  And many had stairs that went down to the coffins.

Recoleta Cemetery
Recoleta Cemetery - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
Recoleta Cemetery - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

The Art In The Recoleta Cemetery

Like the cemetery we visited in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this cemetery was an outdoor art gallery.  We found statuary everywhere we looked.  Stained glass adorned many of the tombs.  At the tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, we found a bronze sculpture of her dog Sabú.  It was said to be good luck to rub the dog’s nose.  So of course many people stopped for a little extra luck!

Recoleta Cemetery - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

The most visited spot was the burial site of Eva “Evita” Perón.  Evita’s remains were in a heavily fortified crypt five metres underground.   When we got close to this tomb we were quickly deterred by the very long line.

We wandered around the aisles in the Recoleta Cemetery and were fascinated.  It deserved much more time.  But when the cruise ship bus tour crowds descended it was time for us to move on.  On a guided tour around Buenos Aires it was great to visit the Recoleta Cemetery very early in the day.

More Of The Recoleta Area On A Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

After we left the Recoleta Cemetery, we did a slow drive around the area.  We saw beautiful buildings in different styles.  The area was known for its Paris-style houses, former palaces, and lovely boutiques.  As we drove along, we saw quiet tree-lined streets and continued to be amazed at how green the city was.  The current embassies in the area were once large palaces occupied by local wealthy residents.

Embassy
Statue

Everywhere we looked we saw monuments and statues.  Laura had the driver pull over beside the monument to Eva Peron.  Much better than waiting in line to see her grave!

Eva Peron Statue - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

When we passed by the new location of the Colon Theatre we talked to Laura about visiting this opera house.  Opera season was on but she said that back-stage tours were still available.  On a return visit we hoped to take in a performance.

Colon Opera Theatre - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

Our final stop in the Recoleta area was at the Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid.  At one time, this building was one of South America’s most opulent theatres. There was now a bookshop in this beautifully restored building.  It reminded us of the fun Livraria Lello and Irmão bookstore we visited in Porto in Portugal that was used for a Harry Potter movie!  

When we entered we got our first glimpse of the theatre and a lovely dome painted with frescoes.  We wandered around and looked at the array of books.  But we passed on stopping at this coffee shop in the bookstore.

El Ateneo Library Coffee Shop - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
El Ateneo Library Coffee Shop - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
El Ateneo Library Coffee Shop - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

The Recoleta area was a beautiful spot to visit on our guided tour around Buenos Aires.

Wandering Around The Plaza de Mayo

Our next stop was the Plaza de Mayo.  This was the oldest public square in Buenos Aires and was the backdrop for many of the most important events in the city’s history.  We passed by the Plaza de la Republica and got a glimpse of the Obelisco de Buenos Aires (Obelisk of Buenos Aires).  This national historic monument and icon of Buenos Aires was something we saw on our first visit to Buenos Aires.  

Obelisk

We stood in the Plaza de Mayo and looked around at the interesting and decorative buildings.  We saw the Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo with the clock tower behind it.  

Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

At the other end of the square was the Casa Rosada.  This was where the President’s office was.  In front of the Casa Rosada we walked around the Pirámide de Mayo.  It was the oldest National Monument in Buenos Aires and was built to commemorate Argentina’s revolution of Independence.  

We found reminders of the history of Argentina in Plaza de Mayo on our guided tour around Buenos Aires.

Visiting The Metropolitan Cathedral And The Mausoleum

The Metropolitan Cathedral was on of the Plaze de Mayo and looked a bit like a Greek temple from the outside.  The columns represented the twelve apostles of Christ.  This was the main Catholic Church in Argentina.  This cathedral was often very busy but Laura got us here at a perfect quiet time.

Metropolitan Cathedral - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

When we entered we saw the first sign of the Venetian mosaics that covered the floors.  We headed towards the gilt wooden altar that depicted the Holy Trinity.  When we looked up, we admired the decorative ceiling.  

Metropolitan Cathedral Tile Floor
Metropolitan Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

Along the side we found small chapels.  On the back wall we saw the Walcker organ built in Germany with more than 3,500 pipes.   We were sorry we did not hear it play while we visited.

Metropolitan Cathedral

On a guided tour around Buenos Aires we were glad we did not miss the fascinating Metropolitan Cathedral.

The Mausoleum of San Martín And The Unknown Soldier

We were surprised when we found one of the side chapels with guards outside.  We learned this was the mausoleum of San Martín and the Unknown Soldier.

As we prepared to enter we stopped for the changing of the guard. We enjoyed many different changing of the guard ceremonies around the world. But we did not expect it inside the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Metropolitan Cathedral Mausoleo del Gral Jose de San Martin - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

As we walked around the sarcophagus we saw three female figures that represented the countries liberated by General San Martín – Argentina, Chile and Peru.

On a guided tour around Buenos Aires plan to see the changing of the guard inside the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Heading To La Boca On A Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

From the Plaze de Mayo we headed towards the La Boca area.  But we had one stop along the way.  We loved visiting local markets on our travel and Laura planned a stop at the Mercado San Telmo.  The market sold an interesting variety of goods.

Mercado San Telmo

We found two different shops that specialized in the local dulce de leche treat.  We sampled a tasty variety in flavours of dulce de leche.  Although the traditional was still my favourite!

Mercado San Telmo

We knew we were close to the La Boca neighbourhood when the colour started to show up in the buildings.  And we found colourful street art.

While we searched for parking, we passed the La Bombonera football stadium where the junior team played.  It apparently got its name because the stadium resembled a chocolate (bombon).  We checked out the colourful scenes we found displayed all around the outside.

La Bonbonera Football Stadium
La Bonbonera Football Stadium

As we got closer to La Boca we got excited on our guided tour around Buenos Aires.

Colour In The La Boca Neighbourhood Following El Caminito

La Boca may be the most colourful and photogenic district.  We felt its bohemian charm as we wandered the streets.   

La Boca El Caminito - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

We explored the former rail route called El Caminito (“Little Path or Walkway”) and found houses painted in a rainbow of colours.  Historically the locals painted their houses with leftover paint found in the nearby dockyard.  It reminded us very much of the Jellybean house we found when we wandered in St John’s in Newfoundland in Canada.  

La Boca El Caminito

We strolled into alley at the Conventillo Centro Cultural de los Artistas and took in the vast murals on the walls.  As we walked deeper we found more colour and fun displays.

La Boca El Caminito Conventillo
La Boca El Caminito Conventillo - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
La Boca El Caminito Conventillo - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

Everywhere we looked as we strolled we found art on the walls.  Much of it paid tribute to the history and culture of the area.  

As we wandered, we passed many antique stores, art galleries, and crafts shops.  Shops sold great local food and drink.  And we even saw a couple dancing tango in the streets.

La Boca El Caminito Art
La Boca El Caminito Tango - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
La Boca El Caminito Food Drink
La Boca El Caminito Food Drink

We were so glad that Laura left the La Boca region until later in the day.  Much of the crowds has disappeared and we enjoyed our slow walk.  This was certainly a highlight of our guided tour around Buenos Aires.

Beautiful Coffee Shops

We had a very busy day as we moved from spot to spot around Buenos Aires.  We hoped to enjoy some good food and drink along the way.  The first stop of the morning was at the fun La Biela Cafe.  The statues of Jorge Luis Borges and Bioy Casares greeted us at the door.  And we even saw statues of them seated at their favourite seat.  But sadly we did not get to stop to try this local cafe.

La Biela Cafe - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires
La Biela Cafe - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

When we visited Buenos Aires the first time we had the iconic Cafe Tortoni on our list of things to visit.  But the line up was really long and we did not get inside this Parisian-style cafe.  Laura said she had an even better treat for us.

When we pulled up to the La Ideal Cafe we were not missing a chance for a coffee stop.  But the first thing we found stopped us in our tracks.  Tango moves were painted on the sidewalk.  And Laura took David through the steps!  They sure did better than when David and I tried to follow the stops.

La Ideal Cafe Tango

The La Ideal cafe originally opened in 1912 but was closed in 2016.  We were glad it re-opened in 2022.  We entered a stunning cafe filled with restored French chandeliers, Italian furniture, stained glass windows and other period treasures.  The stunning ceiling kept us enthralled.

La Ideal Cafe
La Ideal Cafe - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

We found a table and ordered coffee for all.  And we got our first taste of the local Alfajores treat.  The different flavours all provided a great thick layer of dulce de leche deliciousness!  When we left we stopped at the store in the front and found the counters filled with delicious treats.  This coffee stop sated our hunger for sugar! 

La Ideal Cafe
La Ideal Cafe Dulce de Leche - Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

We never stopped for lunch on our long guided tour around Buenos Aires.  But the sweet stop at La Ideal kept us going!

A Great Day On A Guided Tour Around Buenos Aires

It was great to explore the city on a private guided tour around Buenos Aires. Our tour took us to many different areas and we got a real taste for the history of the city.  We saw so much on this visit to Buenos Aires.

Our stops in South America on this trip were busy and filled with amazing sights.  Booking our private tour in Buenos Aires was one of the smarter things we did.  We were absolutely sure we would not have seen anywhere near as much on our own.  

Have you taken a guided tour around Buenos Aires?  Did we see some highlights best visited with a guide?

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66 Comments

  1. It looks like you made the right choice to do a private tour. Buenos Aires looks like a lovely city and you clearly saw the best parts. I was so impressed by the cathedral, I would never have expected this to be a church. La Boca and El Caminito are very famous areas and your photos do it justice! I’d like to visit myself one day.

  2. Wow this private tour sounds fantastic. It packed in a lot and you definitely learned a lot about the city’s history too. We’re planning a trip to Argentina next year, so I’m saving this tour option for reference.

  3. A guided city tour definitely sounds like the way to go if you’re pressed for time. I hope to make it to Buenos Aires someday and I will keep your article saved for when I’m planning that trip!

  4. The gardens in the Palermo neighborhood are such a great place to wander. They’re great for an early morning jog too!

  5. I’ve yet to visit South America. A private guided tour around Buenos Aires would be perfect! Love the history and architecture. And like you, we also like to visit cemeteries on our travels.

  6. Wow – you managed to pack a lot into your one day private guided tour in Buenos Aires. But it was worth it. I have never been to Buenos Aires, but got a lot of good ideas for a future visit. I would definitely stroll through the Japanese garden and the cemetery looks amazig too (although a bit creepy, as cemeteries always do to me). And I absolutely love the bookshop in the theater!

  7. This guided tour looks fantastic. I´m always worried that I´ll get dragged around to all the same old spots but it looks like your guide went out of her way to really show you some hidden gems. I´m a cemetery buff too so that looks particularly interesting!! And the colors in La Boca! Wow!!

  8. Your wonderful post on Buenos Aires just proves how amazing this city is and how much there is to see. Because I spent around five days there and in your post, I discovered things I didn’t get to see. On the other hand, I saw places you’re not mentioning. So like I said: It’s amazing how much there is to see. Therefore, I’m planning on visiting again as soon as I can – and I’ll bookmark your post for future reference 🙂

    • I am sure there is so much more to see in Buenos Aires than we did in a few days. And it was at the end of our trip so we were a bit exhausted. Definitely a spot we will re-visit.

  9. Yes, a one-day private tour with a car and driver/tour guide is a smart way. We did it for Nice-Monaco. I love the Gardens in the Palermo area (plus Floralis) but my favorite is La Boca with all the color and art. I would love to go to that La Ideal Cafe!

  10. Oh my goodness what a lot you packed in. It definitely sounds like a private tour was the best way to see so much and take some shortcuts like the Eva Peron memorial rather than the grave itself. Definitely adding this to my bucket list.

    • We visited Buenos Aires at the end of a long trip and knew we would not have the energy to travel around on our own. The guided tour sure got us a lot more than we would have seen on our own. And some gems we would never have found.

  11. Thank you for providing your own guided tour of this amazing place! I would love to wander the colourful streets of La Boca, have a coffee in that wonderful cafe and browse books in an old theatre. (An Antarctic cruise sounds pretty fantastic too!)

  12. I also did a private all-day walking tour and it was the best investment of our trip. Our guide was able to focus on historical buildings and styles of architecture which was my focus. Your post is great!

  13. Buenos Aires looks like a city full of history and culture. We can’t wait to explore this beautiful city one day and we will definitely have to try the local dulce de leche!

  14. Usually I’m not a big fan of guided tours, but in this case I think that a private tour is a great choice! You can learn so much from the locals!

  15. We did a similar tour in BA and I completely agree: a guided tour gave us an extra dimension to our visit, with lots of info and stories that weren’t in the guide books. Lovely photos!

  16. Buenos Aires is one of my all-time favourite cities. I am glad you got a chance to get back there, and to really explore places like the amazing Recoleta cemetery and eat Alfajores – they are the best!

  17. Your post really highlights the importance of finding a skilled and engaging guide, it looks like she was wonderful! I love doing a tour towards the beginning of my time in a place like you did here, it helps me understand so much more during the rest of the visit. I always love your photos too! I pinned this for later, so many fantastic tips of what to see in Buenos Aries!

  18. I had no idea there was so much to see in Buenos Aires — no wonder you hired a private guided tour to help you catch everything. Laura was great at getting you to places before the crowds came. I am impressed that the Floralis Generica sculpture was designed to open and shut, and the Lovers Bridge at the Rose Garden is so beautiful and delicate-looking. The Recoleta Cemetery you visited reminds me of cemeteries we saw in Milan and Paris. I love that the tombs look like mini houses! And Wow(!)those are gorgeous mosaic tiles in the Metropolitan Cathedral–my husband and I enjoy visiting a variety of churches for just that reason — to discover the art. And finally, you found a real gem in the colorful neighborhood of La Boca. So cheerful and vibrant! I’d say you had a nearly perfect tour of Buenos Aires.

  19. Your travel story about the private guided tour around Buenos Aires was inspiring and informative. I appreciate your detailed account of the itinerary. Your passion for travel and exploration is contagious. I liked how you combined the urban and the natural, the historic and the modern, the touristy and the offbeat. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!

  20. I scrolled through slowly to soak in the colours of Buenos Aires through your pictures. At first I thought the opening picture was real people and then looked closely. That silver work in the church is very like the silver work done in India as well. I would certainly like to be on that White Bridge with the love of my life! I would certainly have the ‘local Alfajores’. Strong coffee and sweet pastry, a perfect treat after that travel day. It’s good you took a guided tour to familiarise yourself with the city’s attractions.

    • It was indeed great that we got a guided tour to really see such a wide variety of sights in Buenos Aires. And we were sure glad we got to taste the dulce de leche treats along the way.

  21. Your tour around Buenos Aires sounds awesome!I was truly impressed by the the Floralis Generica statue – the flower that opened at sunrise and closed at sunset! I have not seen anything like this.The rainbow colored houses and the street art look interesting. Very talented painters to do such lovely art. I must plan a visit to South America sometime soon.

  22. That’s so smart to hire a private tour! That way you don’t have to wait for others and can spend more time doing what you want. I love that they had the statues of writers in the park. I would have loved to wander those. And I would have been disappointed about Evita’s tomb – long lines are a deterrent for me, too, though. I know you were tired, but it sounds like you had a great time there!

  23. Seems like you really had a great time with this guided tour around Buenos Aires. I loved the street art pics that you have taken. The cathedral too looks stunning. Interesting bit about the flower sculpture and how it opens and closes. The two gardens too look amazing. And 18000 roses in one is defintely something I would like to see .

    • It was amazing all the variety we found in things to see on a guide tour in Buenos Aires. We are sad we did not see the flower sculpture moving. But we sure loved all the colourful street art.

  24. This private city tour sure is well-packed to see the highlights of Buenos Aires. What a great decision that was. I am a fan of cafes and bookstores. The La Ideal looks very elegant and inviting. A visit to the Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid is definitely on my list if I ever get to visit Buenos Aires.

  25. Your tour of Buenos Aires reminds me of my tour of Alexandria, in Egypt. I did the same, provided a rough list with the places I wanted to see, and the guide made sure to include a lot of other hidden gems and local recommendations. The driver was also there, waiting at the exit of each touristic attraction. Buenos Aires looks beautiful, with so many interesting things to see. I find visiting the cemetery quite intriguing, but I would go there, especially to see the tomb of Evita Peron. It’s amazing how many different architectural types you get in one single city. I would love to explore the street art area, but also head to La Boca for the dulce de leche tasting.

  26. I like the concept of Floralis Generica. If I have a chance to visit Buenos Aires, I would like to visit it during the night, too, when the petals are closed and lit. I haven’t visited a cemetery like the Recoleta Cemetery before, so it will be on the list. But the most important is to go on a private tour like you did because you’ll get more depth information compared to going by yourself.

    • We were sorry we did not get to see the Floralis Generica move. But we were glad to to miss the Recoleta Cemetery on this trip. So many great stops on this guided tour in Buenos Aires.

  27. This was absolutely delightful. I loved all the colorfulness. I agree that a guided tour on a short stay in a big city is the Best way to go. And I never miss a chance to visit a new coffee shop/cafe. Sorry you didn’t get to experience La Biela but my husband would have loved all that sugar at La Ideal.

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