Port Review: Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Buenos Aires is a truly global, sprawling metropolis which goes way beyond its common moniker of “The Paris of South America”, bearing features and characteristics of many great cities of the world, including Vienna, Barcelona, Miami and Rome.


BA, as it's called, is a city with a colourful history, first colonised in 1536, and emancipated from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s in the new Republic of Argentina. Residents are known as Portenos, paying homage to the city they call home, and thanks to many devaluations of the local currency, for many visitors everything is highly affordable from hotel accommodation to shopping. As many cruise visitors quickly discover, there’s plenty to see and do - the usual problem is deciding what to hit, and what to miss, if you’re only in port for a single day. Just be on your guard as pickpockets and bag snatchers are always around, although the main tourist areas are deemed safe.

The Facts

Location: On Argentina’s east coast.

Language: Spanish, but English is also quite widely understood by people in hotels and shops, and by some taxi drivers and at certain restaurants. 

Currency: The Argentinian peso, but US dollars are widely accepted.

Docking/anchoring: Ships cruise up the Rio de la Plata and dock in the city at the Passenger Terminal, Benito Quinquela Martin, located just under a kilometre from the centre. Some ships may have to dock at outlying berths, and from there guests will have to use shuttle buses.

Transport: Taxis are readily available at the terminal and throughout the city, and they are metered. At the port, there are also adio taxis with pre-set prices to various parts of the city, and free shuttle buses to take you to different shopping areas. 

Don’t Miss

If you only do one thing in Buenos Aires, take time out to explore the city’s historic centre, Plaza de Mayo. It is home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, which dates back to the eighteenth-century, and other stunning buildings such as the May Pyramid, and the Casa Rosada, the striking pink edifice from which Eva Peron addressed crowds from a balcony.

The Buenos Aires Zoo is worth a look if you’re travelling with children, if only to view its famous white tigers. Next to the park is Tres de Febrero Park which is lovely for a long walk through Japanese gardens, and around lakes and streams.

La Boca is a neighbourhood settled by many of the city’s first Italian immigrants, and now a haven for artists, and their brightly painted metal houses. 

If your ship is in port overnight, one of the essential “must-dos” is going to a tango show. There are intimate bars in the San Telmo and La Boca areas, with tourist areas such as La Ventana offering much larger shows. 

The Museum of Fine Arts should also be at the top of your list. It features works from both Argentine and European artists including Rodin and Van Gogh.

The Recoleta Cemetery is in the neighbourhood of the same name, and the location where the ancestors of Buenos Aires aristocracy are buried spanning an area of four blocks. One of its key attractions is the crypt belonging to Eva Peron, along with some fascinating gothic and art nouveau monuments, each one with a unique story.

Best Photo Op

This photogenic and characterful city has many great photo ops, and your arrival to the port via the Rio de la Plata is one. Besides the colourful street life, the impressive Congreso building is a must-do if you are exploring solo or on a city tour. The Plaza Congreso is surrounded by stunning architecture, green spaces, fountains and statues, and it’s home to the city’s original skyscraper the Palacio Barolo.


Buenos Aires is a shopper’s haven, offering the best opportunities in Latin America. Not only is the range of goods excellent, they are also of the highest quality; malls are dotted all over the city, sometimes in lovely old buildings, with two of the most exclusive being Galerias Pacifico and Patio Bullrich, which are packed with local boutiques and fashions, as well as plenty of international labels. Calle Florida, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, is a top pick for high-street fashions and leather goods, while Palermo Viejo is packed with trendy fashions. 

Food And Drink

Many of the city’s residents can claim Italian heritage so culinary offerings go way beyond steaks and South American fare in general. There are plenty of alfresco cafes in which to enjoy a coffee, a beer, or something more substantial, with cuisines on offer including Spanish, Italian and Creole. Local dishes to try including chimichurri, sorrentinos, which are like a large ravioli, a choprian, which a grilled sandwich made with French bread and chorizo. And for those with a sweet tooth try a Bocadito Marroc, Argentina’s answer to a peanut butter cup.

Pick of the Excursions

If you’ve been to BA before and fancy something different, a day-long trip to a ranch is one option. You’ll get to see some of the Argentinian countryside, as well as immerse yourself in local culture at a “fiesta gaucha” at a traditional ranch, with entertainment including a folk and tango show, horseback riding, and BBQ lunch.

Another option, and a shorter day should you choose it, is a trip to the Tigre Delta, the river delta of the Rio de la Plata, which offers a different snapshot of Argentine life. It’s a tour which combines countryside driving with a ride on the water, viewing waterfront homes on stilts and local life.

Joanna Hall