Buenos Aires, sometimes referred to as the “Paris of South America” is Argentina’s cultural capital. It is home to two airports: Ministro Pistarini or “Ezeiza” and John Newberry or “Aeroparque” both of which are well-connected to the city via public transit and taxi. A lay-over of more than five hours should allow you a glimpse into the Porteño lifestyle and all the beautiful architecture, history and culture Buenos Aires has to offer.
The EZE airport is rated as one of the best airports in South America due to its efficiency, cleanliness and free WIFI. It is currently undergoing renovations/expansion to become even better and more comfortable should you have to spend an extended period of time there. The expansion will see the size of the airport almost quadruple and the project is expected to be completed in 2021. Food is available 24 hours a day, security works around the clock and there are two VIP clubs to choose from. If you decide to venture outside the airport confines, rest assured that your belongings will be safe with the luggage-check service. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport Guide.
Aeroparque is the main airport for regional and domestic flights out of Buenos Aires. It is open 24 hours a day, though there are no incoming or outgoing flights from about midnight to six in the morning; making it a nice, quiet place to sleep should you miss a connection. Services and amenities: WIFI is readily available in all parts, as well as a pay-per-visit VIP club, and several dining options from the airport food court. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Buenos Aires Aeroparque Airport Guide.
Buenos Aires Bus Tour
With shorter lay-over times, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to see lots in a short amount of time. Buenos Aires Bus has two options to choose from: City Tour and City Tour Azul. The City Tour is longer, with 24 stops including Congreso Nacional, San Telmo market, Puerto Madero, the planetarium, Recoleta, and the famous Teatro Colón. The shorter “Tour Azul” has just five stops including China town, the River Plate Athletic Club,Tierra Santa, and Aeroparque airport itself making it a perfect option for those with domestic lay-overs. Both tours offer the option to hop-off and check out sites; going from 8:40am to 7:00pm during the Winter season and 9:00am to 5:20pm in the Summer. Cost: $260 ARG pesos for adults, $130 ARG pesos for children.
Time required: With each stop lasting a few minutes, the total circuit of the City Tour lasts three hours and 15 minutes. The Tour Azul lasts about one hour and is especially convenient for those with lay-overs at Aeroparque.
- EZE- In total with transportation downtown and back, at least five hours.
- Aeroparque – In total with transportation, at least four hours.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to Cathedral station and walk to Diagonal Norte and Florida Street (Stop 0). Catch a certified cab directly to Diagonal Norte and Florida Street (Stop 0) from EZE or Aeroparque.
Teatro Colón Tour
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, and considered one of the best Opera theatres in the world for its sound-quality, Teatro Colón should be on every tourist’s itinerary. There is a constant stream of talent coming though, ranging from lyrical to classical dance. You can get upclose and personal by taking one of their popular guided tours, which will go through the rehearsal rooms, costume, shoe, and scenery workshops before allowing you to imagine a ballet from one of the very sought-after box-seats.
- EZE – About three hours, including a tour and transportation.
- Aeroparque – About two hours, including a tour and transportation.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to Tribunales station and walk over to Cerrito 628. Catch a certified cab directly to Cerrito 628 across the way from Plaza Gral. Lavalle.
Casa Rosada Tour
Built towards the end of the 19th century, this executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina is considered one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires. Casa Rosada’s museum, declared a National Historic Monument of Argentina, houses all sorts of objects relating to past presidents. Free tours are given every half hour and are a great way to understand the house’s historical importance. Just outside is Plaza de Mayo, the place independence was first declared and wonderful for relaxing on a sunny day.
- EZE – With tour and transportation, approximately three hours.
- Aeroparque- With tour and transportation, approximately two hours.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to the Plaza de Mayo station and walk across the plaza to Casa Rosada. Catch a certified-cab directly to Balcare 50, directly across Plaza de Mayo.
This cultural landmark in the old part of Buenos Aires is a mix of bright colours and even brighter personalities. While you’re in the neighbourhood, you can check out a Boca Juniors fútbol match at the famous stadium. If sports aren’t your thing, there are a multitude of Tango locales to see a show or try out the dance yourself. Simply strolling through the bustling streets and soaking up the culture is a pleasure in La Boca; make sure to stop for a bite to eat, with various mouth-watering Parillas on menu.
Time required: This depends on what you would like to do in La Boca: see a tango show, sit down for a meal, or simply explore the area.
EZE – At least four hours to have enough time for a meal and exploring, with transportation to and from.
Aeroparque – At least three hours to have enough time for a meal and exploring, with transportation to and from.
How to get there: It’s advised to take a taxi directly to and from La Boca as the surrounding area can change quite rapidly. Catch a certified cab directly to the main street in La Boca, La Caminito.
The modern, waterfront neighbourhood of Puerto Madero is a must-see tourist site in Buenos Aires. Nightclubs, chic restaurants and glass skyscrapers line the streets nowadays thanks to a government-led renovation project in the 90s. Don’t miss the “Puente de la Mujer” or Woman’s Bridge, which to some, looks like a woman dancing tango. The landmark footbridge designed by a famous Spanish architect, is the perfect place to get a view of the river, especially beautiful at sunset.
Time required: It doesn’t take long to explore this area, if you just want to take a few pictures and gaze at the river. There are top-notch restaurants, however, that you might want to check out while there.
- EZE – About two and a half hours, with transportation there and back.
- Aeroparque – About an hour and a half, with transportation there and back.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can easily catch a train to Plaza de Mayo station. Puerto Madero can easily be reached walking from Casa Rosada as well. Catch a certified cab directly to Puerto Madero, or ask to be dropped off at Plaza de Mayo and walk over.
San Telmo Market
San Telmo is the oldest residential neighbourhood in Buenos Aires and is home to several museums, antique shops, and churches. The artisan market happens every Sunday from 10:00AM – 4:00PM (depending on weather and season) and is a sight to see all on its own; glance into typical Argentinian life and pass an afternoon at ease, picking up a unique souvenir along the way.
Time required: Depending on whether or not you go to San Telmo on a market day, you will need between an hour and three hours to explore the area and perhaps sit down for a coffee.
- EZE – Three to five hours, including transportation there and back.
- Aeroparque- Two to four hours, including transportation there and back.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to Cathedral and walk over to the main area of San Telmo. Catch a certified cab directly to Defensa street in the San Telmo neighbourhood.
The Recoleta neighbourhood is classy and elegant. Plaza Francia is surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants, and other touristic sites including the Del Pilar Church and the famous flower-shaped landmark, Floralis Genérica. The Recoleta cemetery is not to be missed while in the neighbourhood; it dates back to 1800 and houses the remains of some of the most important Argentinians in history. Many go to see the tomb of Eva Perón, who served as first lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She became a national symbol for championing women’s suffrage and speaking out about labour rights, leading up to her announcement of candidacy for vice-president in 1951. While at Recoleta cemetery, take your time to gaze upon the multitude of immense, opulent mausoleums adorned with extravagant monuments, giving you an idea of the country’s highsociety culture.
Time required: Just to visit the cemetery, you will need about an hour, but if you plan to also see the Centro Cultural or sit down for a coffee, you will need between two and three hours.
- EZE – Three to five hours, with transportation there and back.
- Aeroparque – Two to four hours, with transportation there and back.
How to get there: There are no metro stations very close to the cemetery, therefore a taxi is recommended especially if you are on a tight time-line. Catch a certified cab directly to either the Recoleta cemetery or the Centro Cultural Recoleta.
El Congreso is an important political place for Argentinians; many protests begin or end here. In the plaza you can soak in the culture while looking at the impressive monuments and sculptures. People-watching and seeing authentic Buenos Aires life passing by on the busy Avenida Corrientes is a delight on its own. If time allows, the Congress palace should be explored more thoroughly with a tour, it is an architectural highlight built in the early 1900s with an interesting history.
Time required: Depending if you plan to take a tour, or just wander around the surrounding area/ neighbourhood you will need between one and three hours.
- EZE – Two to four hours with transportation.
- Aeroparque – One and a half to three hours with transportation.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to Congreso station. Catch a certified cab directly to Plaza de los Congresos.
Palermo is always a popular neighbourhood to explore, from Palermo Soho named after Soho New York to Palermo Hollywood where the majority of film, television and radio studios are. Palermo is the best place for restaurants, clubs and shopping in Buenos Aires. Plaza Serrano and the Botanic Garden are not to be missed while there. The Plaza boasts a variety of restaurants and pubs along with local artisans showcasing their crafts if you arrive on the weekend. The Botanic Garden is a national monument and houses more than 5,000 different plant species.
Time required: Considering there is a lot to see in the Palermo neighbourhood(s), give yourself a good few hours.
- EZE – Three to four hours with transportation.
- Aeroparque – Two to three hours with transportation.
How to get there: Take the Line 394 bus from EZE or Aeroparque to a metro station, there you can catch a train to Plaza Italia, which is right beside the Botanical gardens. Catch a certified cab directly to either the Botanical Gardens or Plaza Serrano.
There are three options to get you from the airports to downtown:
Taxi – The most direct and perhaps best option; taxis are not overly expensive in Buenos Aires and will get you where you need to go in a safe, easy manner. Negotiate a price with the driver before getting into the taxi and watch the metre just in case. You shouldn’t have problems with the certified taxis at the airport, but for getting around Buenos Aires once you are downtown.
Public Transit – Bus line 394 serves both Aeroparque and EZE; it arrives to several metro stations and is a good option for those with a bit more time or who would like to explore the Buenos Aires transit system a bit. It is straight-forward purchasing train tickets in the stations to get around BA for a day.
Shuttle bus – The private airport shuttle bus has a few designated routes: Aeroparque to EZE, Aeroparque to Terminal Madero, EZE to Terminal Madero etc. but is mainly a way to get visitors from one travel hub to another instead of from the airport to downtown.
Before You Go: Layover Tips
Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.
- Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
- Reciprocity Fee – There are several countries which are required to pay a “reciprocity fee” before entering Argentina. This must be paid online and presented to immigration before officially “entering” the country, which may be an issue for those with an unexpected lay-over in Buenos Aires.
- When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
- What are security wait times like at the airport? Airport Security EZE is quite a busy international airport, lines at security and immigration can be quite long at times. Give yourself enough time to get back into Departures.
- Safety – Buenos Aires has a reputation for being a bit dangerous in certain parts, but if you exercise caution and visit the more well-known areas of the cities you should be fine. Money-belts can be useful for storing passports, cash, and credit cards. Exchange rate Argentina has two exchange rate: the official and the “Blue market.” Look into the official rate before you leave the airport in order to understand prices better when you set-off downtown for the day. If you want to exchange on the Blue Market, head to Florida street.
- What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights.