Buenos Aires Top 5 Free Activities

Cementerio de Chacarita

Carlos Gardel's Tomb, Chacarita Cemetery

Carlos Gardel's Tomb, Chacarita Cemetery

Recoleta gets all the press but only one cemetery contains the last resting place of a bonafide Buenos Aires superstar, the one and only Carlos Gardel. Much larger and greener than Recoleta, Chacarita is an interesting, peaceful and, on the whole, a much less flamboyant place than it’s posh, upscale cousin. Gardel is the star of the show though – his tomb (shrine?) is covered with metal plaques from his fans, and if you’re lucky you’ll find a still-burning cigarette in the hands of his statue, left there by a considerate mourner.

Getting there: Subte Linea B, Federico Lacroze or by bus, lines 39 or 111

Theatrical Tours

If you’re Spanish is up to it, the city of Buenos Aires is running a series of monthly theatrical tours throughout 2011 which use actors to reconstruct major events of Porteño history in the places where they happened. Highlights include literary history of the Avenida de Mayo, the story of immigration in La Boca and a musical and dramatic retelling of the history of the Botanical Gardens in Palermo. Full details can be found on the Official Tourism Site (in Spanish).

La Costanera

A stroll along La Costanera, just 10 minutes walk from the noise and crowds of the Plaza de Mayo, gives the opportunity to get away from it all for a while. Situated between the regenerated dock area of Puerto Madero and the Ecological Reserve (reclaimed from the River Plate using the earth & rock excavated to build the docks), La Costanera is the perfect place to join the Porteños at rest.

Once all the strolling and people-watching gets too much, make a stop at one of the numerous parillas (barbecue stands) and sample the finest hand-held food in Argentina, the mighty Choripan (Sausage Sandwich). It may not look much, being served simply between two chunks of dry bread, but the secret is in the huge array of sauces & condiments laid out, which offer endless possibilities of customisation. The locals say that the greater the number of taxis parked by the stand, the better it is.

Strolling along La Costanera

Strolling along La Costanera

Getting there: Walk from Puerto Madero / Plaza de Mayo

Hipodromo

If it was good enough for Carlos Gardel, it’s good enough for you. A day at the Races in Palermo is the perfect way to take part in a great Argentine experience. Entrance is free and gives you access to the paddock so you can size up the horses before the race, and a seating spot right next to the finish line.

Having a flutter is of course all part of the fun and the giant board next to the finish line give the odds for the next race and it’s simply a case of picking your fancy and placing a bet at the stands scattered around. Hopefully you’ll come out on top, but if not you can console yourself with the beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture of the main stands and the watching the equally beautiful Argentinian horsey crowd.

Getting there: Subte Linea D, Palermo, walk down Avenida Bullrich or Bus 34

Feria de Mataderos

The gaucho is one of Argentina’s most enduring cultural symbols, and whilst you may not be able to spot them in the wild anymore, a trip to the Feria de Mataderos will give you the perfect opportunity to get an idea of their legacy, which is still alive and well.

In the barrio of Mataderos, about an hour’s bus ride from Palermo, the Feria runs every Sunday morning between April & November and offers stalls and stands filled with leather, mate accessories and country meats and cheese. The highlights are the dancing displays and the horsemanship demonstrations where young men show off their skills, performing impressive feats of agility on horseback.

Getting there: Bus 55 from Palermo

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