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Are you planning a visit to Buenos Aires and want to make the most out of your time in La Boca? This guide is the ultimate traveler’s handbook to exploring one of Buenos Aires’ most iconic districts (like a local!).
La Boca, Buenos Aires, was the first natural port in the city. In fact, it is the last neighborhood in “Ciudad de Buenos Aires” if you are heading to the south.
When walking down its streets you will feel that you are going back in time, as you will find very particular building materials, a unique cobbled street, tango dancers all over the place, buskers, and artists keeping alive the local soul of La Boca.
This neighborhood came to life during immigration times, around 1880’s up to 1940’s. Many Italian immigrants settled here and left a very important legacy as many of them began working at the port, built their humble houses, and kept their own culture alive, turning La Boca into a very exotic spot within Argentina’s capital city.
Besides its unique and colorful building style, there is one other particular thing about La Boca that is likely to catch your eye (something that you will not find in other parts of the city): most houses and shops have staircases to get to the entrance. The reason? Floods were very common here due to a local southeast wind called “sudestada”, so these structures were necessary to protect buildings and avoid damages.
Unlike most other districts, La Boca is a place waking up very late in the morning and finishing activities very early in the afternoon. So, it is recommended to visit this area around midday.
Where to stay in La Boca, Buenos Aires
Even though each time you do a quick search about Buenos Aires, Argentina, many pictures of La Boca will show up, this is definitely an area where we do not recommend you to stay, as after certain hours this is a no-go zone. For that reason, there are no hotels in La Boca.
You can decide for excellent options in San Telmo or Puerto Madero though if you want to stay close to La Boca district.
What to do in La Boca, Buenos Aires
Walk along Caminito street
“Caminito” means “little street”. Despite being just 150 meters long (165 yards), it is the most important street in La Boca district, in Buenos Aires.
Its name makes reference to a tango song. The lyrics were written for another path and then the tune was created to turn those lyrics into a song.
In the old days, this street was a detour for the railway. Many immigrants built houses around this place using corrugated zinc to cover roofs and walls. These houses are known as “conventillos” (little convents), as they had many rooms but each family used to rent one of them.
With time, the detour was not used anymore. It was abandoned for some years and later transformed into a lovely place with the influence of a local painter, Benito Quinquela Martín.
The tracks were removed and the street was paved with cobblestones, creating a very special atmosphere.
Today, it is considered an open-air museum with the colorful “conventillos”, with many works of art along the way (sculptures and murals) and artisans selling paintings portraying the old days as a port and the present-day historic place.
Do not miss the tango dancers that usually cheer up the street. You can even try a few dance steps!
Fundación PROA (PROA Foundation)
Located just in front of Riachuelo river in La Boca, Buenos Aires (Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza 1929) this foundation is a private art place promoting very important artistic movements from the 20th and 21st centuries. There are different disciplines, such as music, photography, sculptures, paintings. They also organize conferences and courses. It is a three-story building with a very particular and modern design.
You will find an interesting bookshop and a rooftop café and restaurant. Having a break there for lunch, for a coffee, or for a gourmet sandwich is an excellent option.
A must: enjoying the big balcony to sit there and relax and to take pictures of Riachuelo river, a historic bridge, and the local streets.
“Riachuelo” is a river used as a natural south border between Ciudad de Buenos Aires and Avellaneda, in Provincia de Buenos Aires. The word means “little river” and it flows into Río de la Plata (de La Plata river). The name of this district, La Boca, is related to the river: “boca” means “mouth”, making reference to the mouth of the river.
It was the city’s natural port for a long time and there were many tanneries and meat-curing plants along its banks.
It is located just in front of PROA and Benito Quinquela Martin museum. Although it is polluted, it is under the process of being cleaned up, so it is easy to see ducks, turtles, and fish.
A special jewel: a colossal iron structure. It is an old transporter bridge designed to carry pedestrian people, cars, and trams to the other side of the river. Built in 1914, it was declared National Historic Monument.
Museo Benito Quinquela Martín (Benito Quinquela Martin Museum)
This museum was founded in 1938 and hosts a wonderful collection of Argentine art. In fact, it is a house museum, as the local painter Benito Quinquela Martin lived there. So, you will see some of his personal objects and many of his pictures.
He had a very important role for the community, as he always tried to help his neighbors. His paintings show port scenes, all the activities, and the hard way of life in La Boca district, Buenos Aires. You will find a very unique collection of figureheads in one of its halls.
The terrace offers a collection of sculptures and a wonderful view towards the river.
His most important legacy: Caminito street turned into an open-air museum. He worked there painting the walls along the street with characteristic colors.
There is something very unique when we think about Mr. Quinquela Martín: he didn’t paint with a brush but with a trowel!
Boca Juniors Football stadium - La Bombonera
Football, or soccer, is much more than a sport in Argentina: it is a passion. If we consider the whole metropolitan area, there are more than 30 stadiums! It is not common to find one just in front of houses, separated from them by narrow streets. This stadium is part of the local life in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it is one of the biggest in the city.
Surprised by the colours? That issue was not something easy to solve, so they decided to adopt the colours of the flag of the first foreign boat to sail into the port at La Boca and it was a Swedish ship. For that reason, you will see blue and yellow everywhere! It is dubbed “La Bombonera” (chocolate box) because of its steep shape, so people look like “chocolates in a box”.
There is a very interesting museum where you can know about the history of the club, championships and more. The store offers a wide variety of official items and remember: the famous player Diego Maradona was part of this team for some time. You will see him represented in different sculptures all over the place.
How to get to La Boca district in Buenos Aires
As we mentioned, La Boca is located in the southeast of Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Public transportation is not an option in this case. There are no subway lines getting to this part of the city, so you should take a taxi. Please, take into account that it is always better to take the ones reading “radio taxi” at the top of the roof. Having some pocket money handy will be very helpful in this case. Even though some drivers perhaps accept American dollars, they will not be able to give you the change in the same currency and may rip you off with the exchange rate.
If you want to delve beneath the surface of Buenos Aires city while seeing La Boca and other major attractions leaving the organization up to someone else check out our Small-Group Buenos Aires City Tour, a great tour to do if you want to get a good feeling of the city and discover places to keep exploring afterward.
Another possibility could be booking a private tour, which is more convenient if you want to have a fully customized experience based on your particular interests, have a closed tour exclusively for your travel group, and have all of the tour guide’s attention for yourself. If this is the case, we recommend you to take a look at both our Private Highlights of Buenos Aires Tour and our Private Customizable Walking Tour to see which option is best suited for your needs and budget.
What to eat in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Italian immigrants arrived in La Boca, settled, and began working very hard. Among the important and amazing things that we received from them, we have to mention gastronomy. What an amazing legacy!
So, in many places, you can taste excellent pasta, such as “tagliatelle al dente” or “ravioli al pesto”.
Pizza is delicious in Buenos Aires and also in La Boca district. You will find many different options of tasty toppings. Mozzarella and more mozzarella; yes, a lot!
Of course, you will find many “parrilladas” (steakhouses) and a “choripán” is very traditional. “Choripán” is the Argentine-style sausage sandwich. The name is formed by the combination of its two ingredients: “a chorizo” (grilled chorizo sausage) and “pan” (bread, a special type of bread is used for this sandwich). You will see a very special sauce to be used as a condiment for grilled meat: “chimichurri”. Even though the ingredients may be a little different, it is made with chopped parsley and onion, vinegar, red pepper, salt, black pepper and olive oil.
A unique dessert: “queso y dulce”, which is prepared with a slice of fresh cheese and a slice of sweet made out of sweet potato or quince. As simple as that, but delicious!
It is also common to have a coffee after lunch. You will find that it is not as strong as in other cities. It is usual to ask for a “cortado” (an espresso mixed with warm milk). Enjoy your meal!
Travelers' top choice activities to explore La Boca
Stroll along the most photographed street in Buenos Aires: Caminito.
Argentine soccer is much more than a sport: it is a religion. Join us to virtually visit the soccer fan mecca.
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