Iguazu Falls | Our guide to visiting this incredible force of nature from the Argentinian side
Iguazu falls are an amazing sight and a must visit on any Brazilian itinerary, but have you thought of visiting them from Argentina.
Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina and its capital. Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, famous for its phenomenal nightlife, which ranges from traditional neighbourhood taverns to award-winning cocktail bars. We unfortunately didn’t sample any of the famous nightlife when we were there as we were only there for a few days but below we’ll tell you about all the sights we did manage to see and give you some hints and tips on what you can see if you’re visiting the city. Before we get into that we just wanted to mention that Buenos Aires has a fabulous public transport system. To use the metro you will need a SUBT card which you can get from kiosks around the metro stations which have the SUBT sign in their windows. This card is rechargeable at machines in the metro stations or at the ticket booths. You can use the same card for two people so no need to buy an individual card. You’re now ready to explore Buenos Aires.
We arrived in Buenos Aires from Salta, in the north of the country. We took a night bus from Salta which took us directly to Buenos Aires. The bus journey took approximately twenty hours and cost around £68.00 per person. The company we used was Vosa and they were pretty ok. We booked a Cama (sleeping seat) which allowed us a bit more comfort on the overnight journey and the time we chose was 4.30pm departure, scheduled to arrive in Buenos Aires at midday the following day. The bus was only about an hour late in arriving due to traffic in the city but the journey was great.
We decided to book an Air B n B in Buenos Aires as we were keen to visit the markets and do some cooking. Eating out all the time whilst travelling can be expensive and we were missing some home cooked meals. We stayed in the Villa Urquizo area of the city which was fairly close to metro and bus stops and had a good amount of restaurants and bars close by. It was a quieter area than the more popular Palermo district but with a fantastic public transport system, nowhere was out of reach and we could get around very easily. Buenos Aires has loads of fantastic accommodation options like most large cities do.
The Casa Rosada or Pink House is the official residence of the President of Argentina although the president actually lives in another area of Buenos Aires and this building is just offices. The palatial mansion is known officially as the Government house. It was from the balcony of this building that Eva Peron passionately spoke to the thousands of people packed into the Plaza de Mayo. At weekends you an take an hour long tour of the building but these tours have to be booked in advance and you need to have your ID with you when you visit. The best thing is that the tours are free of charge. Sadly we weren’t there on the weekend so couldn’t take the tour. There is also the museum Casa Rosada which is located just behind the palace. Make sure to check out if the president is there on the day you visit, you’ll see his helicopter on the lawn if he’s at the palace and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of him arriving or leaving.
If you’d visited Buenos Aires ten years ago, which Chris had, then this cemetery would have been free to walk in, wander round and take in all the beauty and architecture at your own pace and at your leisure. Its one of the most visited attractions in Buenos Aires or even Argentina and you can find the resting places of many famous people including Eva Peron and other Argentine presidents. It has over 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins and crypts. Today however there are much stricter rules regarding visiting the cemetery. Firstly you have to go through the main entrance and there is an entrance fee. The fee is $1400.00 ARS per person and must be paid by card as they don’t accept cash. Having taken advantage of the blue dollar rate and working solely in cash during our time in Argentina we didn’t have our cards with us the day we visited the cemetery and there was no acceptance of cash whatsoever. This was disappointing as we had limited time in Buenos Aires and had no way of visiting that day. So our tip is, make sure you carry your credit/debit cards with you if you want to visit the cemetery.
Teatro Colon is the main opera house in Buenos Aires and considered to be in the Top 10 of the worlds best opera houses according to National Geographic. The exterior of the building is spectacular and exactly what you’d expect a world famous opera house to look like. The interior is just magnificent holing a record number of people at 2500 max. Tickets for productions aren’t too expensive, depending on the production of course, and you can buy direct from the box office at the theatre. Sadly when we visited there were no seated tickets left for Tosca, which is an opera we’ve yet to see, only standing tickets so we passed. You can of course do a guided tour and these run throughout the day both in Spanish and English and cost approx £18.00 per person. The tours take in most areas of the theatre but can be altered if there is a production in rehearsal.
Plaza de Mayo is the cities oldest square and has been the site of many historical moments in Argentinian history from the second founding of the city in 1580, through the revolution of independence, to more recent political demonstrations. Around the square you’ll find some important buildings such as the Casa Rosada which we mentioned above.
Before we get to the buildings, in the centre of the plaza, or close to the centre you’ll find the Pyramid of Buenos Aires. The pyramid was built in 1811 to mark the first anniversary of Argentina’s May Revolution, after which the square is now named. The monument was reworked in 1856, but the original structure remains inside it. The figure at the top of the pyramid represents liberty. Surrounding the pyramid, you’ll notice several white kerchiefs or women’s shawls painted on the ground. These represent the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the group of mothers and grandmothers who gathered in the square from 1977 onwards to demand information from the military government about their missing children and grandchildren, all of whom ‘disappeared’ during the Dirty War between 1976 and 1983. In 2005, the ashes of the founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Azucena Villaflor (murdered by the military junta), were buried at the base of the May Pyramid.
You will also find the Metropolitan Cathedral where Pope Francis, as Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, used to perform mass before assuming office in the Vatican in 2013. In Bergoglio’s honour, the Cathedral now houses the Pope Francis Museum, which exhibits some of his personal and liturgical objects.
At the other end from the Casa Rosada is the Cabildo which is a public building that was used as seat of the town council during the colonial era and the government house of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. Today the building is used as a museum and is well worth a look. The musuem is free to enter and you can hire a guide if you want more information about the exhibits.
This was possibly one of my favorite places in Buenos Aires. An old market hall that sells everything from toys to antiques to spices and has little boutique type restaurants selling local food. The market is open every day for lunch but some stalls only open at the weekend. The market is a covered market with an iron structure made in England and shipped over to Argentina. One stall to look out for is The Coffee Town stall which offers a wide range of coffees from different regions of the world and is tended by expert baristas who can recommend a blend for every taste. For true coffee lovers this is a unique experience. We had lunch in the sausage restaurant which offered sausages in buns with different toppings and sauces relative to different areas of the world. They were really tasty.
This is, beyond doubt, one of the worlds most beautiful bookstores. If you know different then please let me know but this place is outstandingly beautiful. This is mainly due to the fact that the bookstore is built into an old theatre which still has its internal features fully on display. The theatre was built in 1919 and was home to opera, ballet and even the first talkie movies to be shown in Argentina. The venue was converted into a bookstore in the year 2000, beautifully preserving the original decoration, including the dome, which was painted with frescoes by Italian Nazareno Orlandi. The store stocks around 120,000 books and there is a cafe bar on what was the stage area of the theatre, where you can drink a coffee while reading. Its a stunning place and one that I could have spent hours in.
It is said that Plaza Serrano is the most famous square in Buenos Aires and this is mainly due to the fact that it is, and has been throughout the decades, the hub of arts, crafts, the restaurant and bar scene and it has an incredibly bohemian vibe. There are unique individual boutique clothes shops and the bars and restaurants not only serve drinks and snacks but open their doors to the local and very talented artists and clothes designers to show off their work. There’s something for everyone in this Plaza and it has to be on your to-visit list if spending some time in Buenos Aires.
Puerto Madero is the newly refushbished and regenerated docklands area of Buenos Aires. The docks area is graced with tall gleaming skyscrapers and fashionably refurbished red brick buildings. Many national and International businesses have their headquarters here and the steakhouses and coffee bars that flank the water is a refuge for both businesspeople, locals and tourist alike.
There is also an extensive ecological park adjacent to the area which takes you immediately away from the hustle and bustle of this busy city and provides an area of tranquility and calm as well as being a haven for wildlife and birds. There are walks through the reserve and its a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Some other attractions are the historical museum ships that remain docked in the port, the ARA Uruguay and the ARA Presidente Sarmiento, as well as some more traditional museums: el Museo del Humor, La Colección Fortabat (the art collection of the wealthiest woman in Argentina), and the Pabellón de las Bellas Artes.
Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum and was a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening. The sculpture is designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning however when we visited the mechanical bit was broken so it stayed open. The sculpture is located in the centre of a park with different paths that get closer and further away from the sculpture providing different perspectives of the flower, and placed above a reflecting pool.
About an hour away from the busy city of Buenos Aires is the little town of Tigre. Sat next to what is considered to be the 5th largest delta in the world and the only one that flows into fresh water rather than the sea. The coastal part of Tigre is made up of stilt houses, artisan craft shops, markets, restaurants and old mansion houses. You can spend a fair amount of time exploring the stilt jettys but to get the real experience you need to get out into the delta itself. You can hire a private boat or catamaran to leisurely make your way round all the canals and waterways or you can go on one of two available ferry trips from the jetty. One of the ferries is a small single level craft whereas the other is a larger ferry with upper and lower decks and is equipped with a bar. Both take 1 – 2 hours to navigate the canals so its up to you which one you want to chose on the day. The ferry costs around £4.00 per person.
Also at Tigre there are museums and even a large theme park but both of these were closed on the day we visited as it was out of season. To get to Tigre we used the Mitre Train which you can get from the main Retiro station in Buenos Aires. There are several branches on the Mitre Line so make sure you take the one with Tigre as its end destination. You can buy your tickets at the station just before you board the train. The journey takes approx 40 mins and each station on route has some cute and quirky little restaurants and cafes so you may want to stop a few times on your journey there and back.
Argentina is known all over the world for its amazing steak so eating a fantastic steak has to be on your list when visiting Buenos Aires. We followed the recommendation of one of our twitter followers who suggested this restaurant La Carneceria and boy it didn’t disappoint. It is recommended that you make a reservation here as its a popular place but we hadnt made a reservation and joined a queue outside of people who had just turned up, like us, in the hope of a table. Luckily it was only about a 45 min wait and we were shown to our table. The food was incredible and the steak was extremely good. Whether its La Carneceria or another I hope you get to try the Argentinian steak as its delicious.
We loved Buenos Aires and although it was Chris’s second time in the city much had changed in the ten years in between. The food is amazing as is the public transport system, mentioned above. There is something in this city for everyone whether your an avid sighseer or just want to relax and chill and see some nature.
We have always tended to use Booking.com having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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Iguazu falls are an amazing sight and a must visit on any Brazilian itinerary, but have you thought of visiting them from Argentina.
Salta, Argentina is a lovely town in the North West of the country. If you’re travelling into Argentina from Bolivia or Chile then Salta is one of the first large towns you’ll come to.