10 things to do for free in Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital was once a bargain. Now prices have risen, but there are still ways to see the city, from graves to graffiti, without spending a peso

4 mins

1. Recoleta Cemetery

Visit the grand old graves of Recoleta cemetery, one of the greatest necropolises and home to the tomb of national heroine Eva ‘Evita’ Péron. The even bigger Chacarita Cemetery is also worth a visit (Gardel, the tango singer, rests here, as does Juan Péron).

2. Downtown nature reserve

Stroll the paths (or hire a bike) to explore Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, a vast, marshy nature reserve harbouring 200 bird species and the odd river turtle, right in the city centre: you can see the downtown skyscrapers poking over the swaying reeds. 

3. Cowboy culture

On Sundays the pampas comes to the city. Ride a taxi to Mataderos’s traditional market to take in gauchos on horseback, cattle traders hawking their herds, live folk bands, bric-a-brac stalls and lip-smacking barbecues. 

4. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

See BA’s finest art for free. This national gallery showcases paintings by Degas, Klee and Kandinsky, as well as many Latin American artists. Closed Mondays. www.mnba.org.ar

5. Graffiti gallery

Take a wander around the northern suburbs – especially the barrios of Palermo, Caballito and Colegiales – to see some of BA’s best street art. Start on Thames Street in Palermo Viejo, where you’ll see grand graffiti on the walls and buildings. Pop into graffiti art gallery Hollywood in Cambodia, above the Post Bar. It’s a good place to have a beer on the roof terrace and perhaps pick up a Banksy-esque graffiti stencil bargain. www.hollywoodincambodia.com.ar 

6. Woodland walks

Chill out in the 80-hectare oasis of Bosques de Palermo, the Palermo Woods. Don’t miss the Rosedal (Rose Garden) – on Sundays it’s full of people out walking dogs, pedalo-ing across the lake and rollerblading in show-off fashion. 

7. See tango in Belgrano

The northerly neighbourhood of Belgrano is one of the best places to see (and try out) the city’s trademark dance. Head for the bandstand in the hilly Barrancas de Belgrano park for the Sunday night ‘La Glorieta’ milonga (tango hall). There are free tango lessons from 7pm – then watch the experts perform for a fee.

8. Free guided tour

Join the enthusiastic locals of BA Free Tours: every day (except Sunday) its City Tour (11am) takes in the downtown sights, while the Aristocratic Tour (5pm) shows off BA’s glamorous residential side – both for nowt. www.bafreetour.com

9. Caminito stroll

It’s free and fun to wander El Caminito – the heart of working-class La Boca. It has the air of a fair: admire the bright-painted houses, watch street artists and tango twirlers, and people-watch from the cafés.

10. San Telmo Market

Browse antiques and old junk at San Telmo’s weekly feria. Every Sunday (10am-5pm) stallholders, tango dancers and musicians descend to add even more colour and atmosphere to the barrio’s old cobbled quarter. www.feriadesantelmo.com

And one to break the bank

Gorge yourself on breakfast in the sunlit L’Orangerie of the Alvear Palace Hotel. Here, you can eat as much patisserie, confectionery and other goodies as you like, for a set price – worth it for the fine setting, and  just five minutes’ walk from Recoleta Cemetery. www.alvearpalace.com

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