Incredible food, lively nightlife and thousands of free things to do are some of the reasons that make Buenos Aires one of our favorites cities in the entire world. Whether you are backpacking around South America or just want to keep the cost down, there are many interesting places to see without spending a dime and we want to help you find them.
Are you ready to start planning your next adventure in Argentina? Check these 12 free things to do in Buenos Aires and enjoy one of the most beautiful countries in Latin America.
1. Visit the Cemetery of Recoleta
A fun fact about Buenos Aires is that it is one of the few places on earth where a cemetery is actually one of the most popular places to visit for tourists. Located in Recoleta neighborhood right in Plaza Francia (France Park), the cemetery houses the tombs of Argentina’s high society and its main historical characters such as Eva Peron, Sarmiento, and Victoria Ocampo.
If you want to learn more about Recoleta and the cemetery but still keep an eye on your budget, for $1.7 USD, you can take a guided walking tour in English organized by the tourist board of Buenos Aires. For a little bit more, but still, a low-cost activity considering the cost of other major cities, you can take a walking tour inside of the Recoleta Cemetery for $10 USD
2. Check vintage goods and local food at San Telmo Market
San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and the home of Buenos Aires’ old town. From art museums to many street graffitis, the district is one of the main artistic hubs in the city.
On Sundays, the main square called Plaza Dorrego transforms into a street market where more than 10.000 visitors per weekend explore vintage shops, enjoy tango music and eat local specialties.
3. Soak some sun around Floralis Generica
Located in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, this sculpture is one of the most famous symbols of Buenos Aires and a great free thing to do outdoors if you happen to visit the city during warm months.
4. Shop till you drop at Plaza Serrano
This is one of the main fashion spots in the city where some of the best bars are located. Around Plaza Serrano and the nearby Plaza Armenia, you will find from independent, and cheap, fashion brands to the most exclusive local stores such as Jazmin Chebar. Besides shopping as much as you can, this place is excellent to have lunch during a Sunday or have a drink on a Friday night.
For a different night out, you should check out The Hole Bar, a themed bar that pretends to be Alcatraz prison.
5. Discover the Paris of Latin America at Plaza Francia
You won’t understand why Buenos Aires is called the Paris of Latin America until you visit Plaza Francia. Part of Recoleta neighborhood, this is the park where the famous Recoleta Cemetery mentioned before is located. On weekends, there is a handicraft market with local artisans and, if you prefer to shop from brands, you have the Recoleta Mall two blocks away.
A nice thing to do when in Buenos Aires is strolling the park and then have brunch at one of the many restaurants and bars overlooking it. If you ask us, the best place to have brunch around the Plaza Francia is La Panera Rosa.
6. Say hello to the president at Casa Rosada, aka the pink house
The Casa Rosada, or the pink house as the name translates in English, is the Argentinian version of the White House (with the exception that the president does not live here), and one of the most iconic buildings in Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, where the house is located, is the place of the major historical events of the country, and a meeting point for political protests.
7. Feel the revolution at the Cabildo of Buenos Aires
In front of Casa Rosada, the Cabildo of Buenos Aires is located. Dating back from 1580, the cabildo was the house of Spain’s colonial administration until the revolution took place in 1810, in what is called “Cabildo Abierto” or open colonial town.
If you want to visit the National Museum of Cabildo for free, on Tuesdays, there is no entrance fee. However, for the rest of the days, you can access it for less than $1 which is a bargain.
One of our favorite places to sit down, order some food and watch people passing by is the new Pertutti restaurant, located just in front of Plaza de Mayo overlooking the Cabildo. A lunch there shouldn’t cost you more than $10, while a traditional breakfast of medialunas, a local pastry similar, and coffee is around $3.5
8. Stroll around Puerto Madero
Puerto Madero district is an oasis in the middle of the city and one of the most popular free things to do in Buenos Aires. Situated by the river, this neighborhood is a mix of luxury and nature, and definitely a paradise for food lovers.
If you stroll around the area you can spot one of the most iconic landmarks that Buenos Aires has to offer, the Puente de la Mujer, or Bridge of the Woman, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
In the waterfront, you will find many places to eat, most of them on the high end. However, all offer lunch specials if you want to have a splurge without breaking the bank. Also for a night out in Buenos Aires, Crystal Bar, located in Alvear Icon Hotel, is the tallest rooftop of the city and offers unique views of Puerto Madero and the Bridge of the Woman (expect to pay +$10 for a drink).
9. Get in touch with nature at the ecological reserve of Buenos Aires
With more than 800 acres, the ecological reserve of Buenos Aires is the first protected natural area of Buenos Aires. It is located in Costanera Sur, which is a couple blocks away from Puerto Madero, and is a perfect plan if you are visiting the city in autumn or spring. Because it is so close to the river, in winter it is too cold to visit.
If you love bird sightings, this is THE place that you should visit while in Buenos Aires in order to explore local wildlife. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water because once you enter you won’t find any shops inside!
TIP: Because in summer it is not unusual to spot some cases of dengue in the city, special in places that have more contact with nature, you should not forget to use a bug repellent while strolling around the reserve.
10. Merge with locals at Olivos Port
If you are staying in Buenos Aires during the weekend and want to experience how wealthy families enjoy their rest days, you should head to the Puerto de Olivos, located in the north part of Buenos Aires province, outside of Buenos Aires city.
From Friday to Sunday the port of Olivos hosts the Gastronomades Food Truck fair, an open-air space where you can sit by the river, try delicious meals and enjoy live entertainment. It is a lovely, and free, thing to do in Buenos Aires and you can get there by Cabify (expect to pay around $5 USD from Palermo or $10 from the Obelisco), public transport (the Olivos train stop is a couple of blocks away from the port) or by renting a car (this is a great choice if you want to keep exploring this part of the town once you finish your lunch)
11. Explore the local fair at El Tigre
Every weekend thousands of tourists and locals come to El Tigre to explore the Puerto de Frutos, or fruit port, a fair with furniture, home decoration, and local flavors. Strolling around the port and having lunch at one of the many parrillas (local barbeque restaurants) is an excellent free activity in Buenos Aires.
12. Feel like a European immigrant in Caminito
This portside area of the city was the home of many immigrants that came to the country during the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, Caminito (or little street, as the name suggests in English) is a street museum full of colorful houses where Europeans used to live when arriving to the country.
13. Tour La Boca in bicycle for $2.5 USD
While this isn’t exactly a free activity, for $2.5 USD it is worth to mention that the government of the City of Buenos Aires organizes an excellent (been there, done that and loved it) tour around La Boca, one of the most colourful neighbourhoods. Book your tour and start the adventure because this is definitely a cheap activity in Buenos Aires that you should not miss!
14. Visit the second most important library of the world, Ateneo Grand Splendid
Located in what used to be one of the most important theaters in Buenos Aires back in 1919, Ateneo Grand Splendid is now a magnificent library where you can not only do bookshopping but also have a coffee sitting under the magnificent dome painted by Italian Nazareno Orlandi since the library preserves the original decoration.
Conclusion: What are the best free things to do in Buenos Aires?
- Recoleta Cemetery
- Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve
- Olivos Port
- San Telmo Market
- Floralis Generica
- Plaza Serrano
- Plaza Francia
- Casa Rosada
- Cabildo of Buenos Aires
- Puerto Madero
- El Tigre
- La Boca
- Ateneo Grand Splendid
Bonus track: map of free things to do in Buenos Aires and where to eat
If after reading this you are excited to land in Buenos Aires, we have created a map with all the free and cheap activities in Buenos Aires mentioned before so you can take a look at how close are to each other and start planning your trips. Because we don’t want you to feel hungry, we have also included some restaurant and bar recommendations