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The beauty of Buenos Aires is evident the moment you set foot on its streets. The city's most impressive historical sites surround Plaza de Mayo, although you will certainly experience Argentine history in other neighborhoods, such as La Boca and San Telmo. Be sure not to miss a waterside walk in Puerto Madero and the adjacent Ecological Reserve or an afternoon among the plazas and cafes of Recoleta or Palermo. Sidewalk cafes offer respite for weary feet, and there's good public transportation to carry you from neighborhood to neighborhood.

One thing to remember when exploring Buenos Aires's attractions is their historical legacy. Under the Spanish Empire, Buenos Aires was an unimportant backwater, with other Argentine cities, such as Córdoba, regarded as more significant and culturally sophisticated. With the 1880 movement of the capital to Buenos Aires, however, the city sought to overcome its inferiority complex with grand architectural plans, and indeed, for almost the entire first half of the 20th century, this was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Within the descriptions of these buildings, I include, wherever possible, the history behind their impressive beauty. They are not mere baubles; they are the physical remnants of a lost opportunity for glory on the world stage.

The Changing of the Guard

Watching the changing of the guard at various historical sites throughout Buenos Aires is part of the fun of visiting. Many tourists take particular delight in photographing these men in early-19th-century military clothing parading through Plaza de Mayo. But did you know there is more than one kind of guard? Granaderos guard national monuments such as the San Martín Mausoleum and the Casa Rosada. Patricios guard city-owned buildings, such as the Municipal Palace and the Cabildo. Both dress in costumes dating from the Napoleonic era. The Patricios represent the oldest branch of the military and were formed before the country's independence, in response to British attacks on Buenos Aires. The Granaderos were formed after independence. You can also tell the difference between the guards by the pants they wear: white for Patricios, and blue for Granaderos. The Islas Malvinas-Falkland Islands War Memorial in Plaza San Martín is guarded by the three branches of the military, the navy, air force, and the army. Each branch rotates, holding the honor for a 2-week cycle.

Especially for kids

Argentines pamper their children in every way possible, and you'll see this in the multitude of kid-friendly activities in Buenos Aires. A handful of restaurants, such as Garbis, have indoor playgrounds, and several museums have been created just for kids. If you're traveling with children, don't miss the following attractions:

  • Museo de Los Niños
  • Museo Participativo de Ciencias
  • Zoological Gardens
  • The Water Palace & The Museo del Patrimonio
  • Museo de las Armas de la Nación

In addition, kids will delight in the numerous outdoor playgrounds scattered across the city. One of them, where you'll often see parents and their kids even after midnight, is in Plaza San Martín. There are swing sets and a merry-go-round in Plaza Congreso, across from the headquarters of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. You'll also find playgrounds in the Botanical Gardens.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.