Delve beneath the surface of Argentina’s most fascinating city while seeing the major attractions, and getting a good idea as to where everything is in the city in a thorough tour with convenient pick-up and drop-off at your hotel/Airbnb/cruise port.
Are you planning a visit to Buenos Aires and want to make the most out of your time in Recoleta? This guide is the ultimate traveler’s handbook to exploring one of Buenos Aires’ most iconic districts (like a local!).
Walking along its streets you will probably ask yourself: “Am I in Paris or Buenos Aires?” since this neighborhood, located in the northern area of the city, is considered the most elegant district in Buenos Aires.
But that was not always the case. The name “Recoleta” comes from the “Recoleto” friars, who settled here in the 18th century. Of course, at that time, the place was far away from the city center and was part of its outskirts.
Families began living in Recoleta only after the end of the 19th century, as they were trying to move away from the yellow fever epidemic which affected the southern districts. From then on, this was the chosen place to live by most wealthy families from high society.
French architecture was the style in vogue among these aristocrats. They did not only hire mostly French architects to design their wonderful residences, but also most of the materials used were imported from France and Italy and brought to Argentina by cargo-ships.
Nowadays most of these antique residences, that can be found all over the neighborhood, but mostly along Alvear Avenue, are not private homes any more: they host museums, embassies or international hotels. Lucky you! You can even visit the inside of some and experience how upper classes lived in Buenos Aires back in the time.
Recoleta neighbourhood, Buenos Aires, has a wide range of options to offer: parks, museums, the unique and unmissable cemetery, a hand-craft market and excellent hotels. Let’s start exploring!
Staying in Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Staying in Recoleta is a very good option when visiting Buenos Aires. As a location, it offers the best of both worlds: close enough to walk to many of Buenos Aires’ main attractions, yet far enough to be in a quiet area. And if you are into top-end accommodation, you will find many possibilities among 5-star hotels in this district.
Some of these hotels are located just a block away from the cemetery and other ones, along Alvear Avenue. Some of them were designed and built to be hotels and, in other cases, they had been originally built as residences for the elite families and with time, they became grand hotels.
All of them include excellent amenities for you to feel absolutely comfortable, and you will also be within walking distance of a whole range of cafés, restaurants, art galleries, and boutique stores.
Things to do in Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Delight your eyes with national and international masterpieces at the National Museum of Fine Arts
Location: Av. del Libertador 1473, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This is one of the most important museums you will find in Buenos Aires.
The whole collection includes more than 12000 pieces from different periods. It offers an amazing collection of works by local artists, such as Prilidiano Pueyrredón, Cándido López, Ernesto de la Cárcova, but it also hosts works by international renowned artists, such as Tintoretto, Francisco de Goya, Édoudard, Manet, Claude Monet, Van Gough, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and many others, along with some very interesting temporary exhibitions.
If you enjoy national and international art when visiting a city, please do not miss this museum!
Explore a former elite palace at the National Museum of Decorative Art
Location: Av. Del Libertador 1902, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
There is something really interesting here: the building. It was a private residence which belonged to the Errazuriz-Alvear family, one the wealthiest local families.
This museum represents a unique possibility to understand part of their lifestyle at the beginning of the 20th century.
It was designed by the French architect René Sergent. Years later, the Argentine state bought the building to be used as a museum.
Luxurious stairs will lead you to the main hall. The collection includes more than 4000 pieces, including paintings by El Greco, Manet, Alfred de Deux and Joaquín Sorolla, just to mention some of them. You will be astonished by the sculptures, miniatures and silversmithing.
As you visit the first floor, you will find the restored bedrooms and bathrooms, which will give you a good insight about this family and their way of life.
Our tip: do not miss having a coffee or lunch at the restaurant located at the entrance, it will be a memorable experience.
Visit the most beautiful bookshop in the world: "El Ateneo Grand Splendid"
Location: Av. Santa Fe 1860, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As much as we love to brag about how beautiful our city is, it is not only us who think this way: in 2008, The Guardian considered El Ateneo-Gran Splendid Bookshop as the second most important one in the world. And in 2019, National Geographic considered it as the most beautiful bookshop in the world.
The building was built to host a theatre in 1919. For years people could enjoy opera, concerts and different plays. Carlos Gardel, the most famous tango singer, began recording some of his songs here. Then, it was refurbished into be a cinema.
And finally, the building was renovated and converted into a bookshop in 2000, but you will find a lot of details and decorations from the old days. Today, the old stage hosts a nice café where you can relax and have a cup while reading a book.
It is a wonderful place to spend some time in no hurry. Not to be missed!
Take some shots of Buenos Aires most impresive monument: "Floralis Genérica"
Location: Av. Figueroa Alcorta. Naciones Unidas square, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Walking along Figuero Alcorta Avenue, you will find a huge flower-like structure made of stainless steel and aluminium in Naciones Unidas (United Nations) square. The monument was designed by the local architect Eduardo Catalano using parts of old planes .
According to the author, it is a representation of all the flowers and a new hope with every new opening, as the flower has a mechanism to open and close. There is a pool at the base, creating beautiful reflections.
It turned into one of the most visited monuments in the city. One you definetly need a picture next to as a memory of your visit!
Visit a church from the 1800s: "Nuestra Señora del Pilar"
Location: Junín 1898, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Located in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, this basilica is one of the oldest churches in the city. If you have a look at the façade, you will see the tower, the particular open belfry and you will find the year when it was built: 1732.
It is one of the few examples of Spanish architecture still found in the city. The church has just one central nave and altarpieces with delicate gilding details.
A mural on the left side of the atrium gives us a wonderful idea of what the city looked like in the 17th century.
By the church, Recoleta Cultural Center completes the wonderful walk. Created as a convent and then used as asylum, it was inaugurated as a cultural center. Interesting art exhibitions, a nice terrace overlooking the park and internal patios make it a great place to visit.
Dive into one of Buenos Aires' most creepy atractions: "The Recoleta Cemetery"
Location: Junín 1760, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Many people think: why visiting a cemetery? But after their visit they are completely grateful for the suggestion.
Recoleta cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Buenos Aires. Inaugurated in 1822, this place was part of the outskirts of the city. At one moment, it was quite abandoned, but in 1881 it was completely renovated, thus becoming one the most important cemeteries in the world. In fact, it is considered the third one in importance in the world : Per-Lachaise (Paris, France), Staglieno (Milan, Italy), and Recoleta (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
Walking along the streets means going back in time, visiting a kind of open-air museum, a summary of architecture styles. You will discover huge mausoleums, variety of materials, beautiful trees. Many important local leaders rest in this cemetery.
Without a doubt, the most visited vault is that belonging to the Duarte family: that is the final resting place for María Eva Duarte de Perón, better known as “Evita”.
Visiting Recoleta Cemetery, in Buenos Aires, Argentina is not to be missed!
Shop high quality souvenirs at Buenos Airest largest handicraft market
Location: Int. Alvear square, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It is located in Alvear square, even though many local people call it the wrong way: “Francia square”. It offers a beautiful landscape down a natural slope which in the olds days was the coast of de la Plata river.
If you enjoy visiting arts and craft fairs, Recoleta market, in Buenos Aires, will surprise you. During the weekend, you will find many artisans offering wonderful handicrafts (knitting, bijou, wooden photo frames, etc). Keep this in mind: it is the ideal place to buy souvenirs to take back home!
How to get to Recoleta in Buenos Aires (and how to move around)
If you are staying at any other neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, the best way to get to Recoleta is by taxi. Taxis are very affordable. Please, take into account that it is always better to take the ones reading “radio taxi” at the top of the roof. It will be very helpful having some pocket money in Argentine pesos. Even though some drivers accept American dollars, perhaps they will not be able to give you the change in the same currency. The price to pay is not negotiable: a meter located on the right side of the windscreen will show you the amount to pay, that will always be in local currency.
If you want to delve beneath the surface of Buenos Aires city while seeing Recoleta 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.
Best restaurants and cafés in Recoleta, Buenos Aires
There are many excellent options to taste our local or international dishes in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, restaurants that will make you enjoy your stay. Some of our favourite places are:
Location: Av. Manuel Quintana 596, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It is one of the traditional cafés of Cultural Interest in Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Having a coffee in Buenos Aires takes longer than in other big cities. It is a kind of ceremony, a stop, a break; you take some time off before going on with your activities.
The decoration includes photos of racing car champions and pieces of cars. Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges’ sculptures will welcome you at one of the tables. They were friends and used to frequent this café. Ideal place for a break.
La Pecora Nera
Location: Ayacucho 1785, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
A wonderful Italian style restaurant. Excellent food, nice decoration and kind staff will make you enjoy your lunch or dinner. A very quiet place very close to Recoleta Cemetery.
Location: Posadas 1515, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The restaurant is run by a family and it is a very traditional place to try “empanadas” (turnovers). You will find a wide variety of fillings. It is not easy to make a choice! You will also have options for other dishes from the north of our country.
Location: Av. Del Libertador 1098, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Another option for Italian cuisine. Homemade pasta is their speciality, but they also offer beef, fish, etc. Interesting dessert menu.
Travelers' top choice activities to explore Recoleta
See why Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America” as you stroll through the Recoleta, the most aristocratic neighborhood in the city with French touches.
Discover why Buenos Aires is considered the Paris of Southamerica.