Updated February 27th, 2020.
As backpackers, we all know that a walking tour is the perfect way to get acquainted with a city. During a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Backpacker Ambassador Laura Davies joined a best-selling walking tour to see what all the fuss was about…
The day began at the Tangol headquarters in beautiful San Telmo at 9am sharp, where the group assembled ready for the tour. Armed with water, sun hats and suncream, we headed off into the sunshine to explore Buenos Aires.
This is a walking tour with a difference, and one thing that really appealed was an introduction to the city’s many forms of public transport. As backpackers on a budget, getting to grips with a city’s public transport is the key to exploring without splashing the cash on Ubers!
Our guide, Carlos was the perfect person to teach us about the city of Buenos Aires. Passionate, political and full of interesting tit bits of info that we took away with us… the first stop was Plaza San Martin, where Carlos told us about the history of the square (one of the oldest in BA), its statues and its role as the location of a historic battle in 1807.
From there, the group hopped on the metro (travel is all included in this tour, and Carlos showed us how he used a SUBE card* to pay our fare) to the Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires. One of the most iconic sites in Buenos Aires, we stopped for photos and Carlos told us to look up… there perched on top of the building was the strangest site. Can you spot it?
The tour continued, hopping on and off buses and the metro, zipping from one side of Buenos Aires to the other and taking in all the main sites, like the famous Plaza de Mayo.
From there we hopped on a public bus to the famous neighbourhood of La Boca. Known for its bright colour, the houses, street art and markets here didn’t disappoint!
Carlos pointed out the best place for an empanada lunch, and left us to wander around and explore the many markets selling freshly squeeze orange juice, handmade souvenirs, football kits from the local Boca Juniors team, snacks, antiques and more.
It’s the perfect place to sit back with a Quilmes beer or a glass of Malbec, and watch local dancers dancing the Tango!
Carlos delved deeper into the history of the tango, and how tango, football and other immigrant influences have come together to create a city of many faces… this is the beauty of a walking tour, you don’t just get to see the sites and browse the markets, you get under the skin of the place! We loved the neighbourhood of La Boca, so much vibrancy and life.
From La Boca it was onto the public bus, past the modern district of Puerto Madero (the business centre with skyscrapers aplenty) and on to Recoleta, most famous for the Cementerio de Recoleta, where Eva Peron was laid to rest.
At over 14 acres, the cemetery is an incredible peaceful place to stroll, view the Art Deco and Neo-Gothic mausoleums and visit Eva Peron’s resting place.
After a tour of the cemetery (which is an optional extra – you may choose to just wander around at your own pace!) we said a fond farewell to our wonderful guide, Carlos. And with our new public transport knowledge, we found our own way back to our hostel…
If you really want to get to know a city, don’t just wander around it, guidebook in hand. Get your head up, use your eyes and your ears and get to know the city with a local guide! You won’t regret it.
*In Argentina you’ll need a SUBE card (a bit like an Oyster card) to use the buses or metro system, and once you’ve bought it you can top it up at shops around the country, just look out for the SUBE logo.
This walking tour was with Tangol, and costs from $26 per person, including public transport. The tour lasts 5.5 hours, and takes you on a complete tour of Buenos Aires, with an English speaking Argentine guide who really knows his / her stuff! There’s a 30 minute break for lunch at your own expense. Take sun cream, comfy shoes, plenty of water and your camera!