Best Neighborhoods for Tourists

What’s the best neighborhood in Buenos Aires? Well, the decision of where a person wants to live often comes down to a matter of taste, lifestyle and personal preference. That said, let’s take a look at my favorite neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, ranked in order from best to least-best.


Palermo is probably the best neighborhood for tourists to stay in while in Buenos Aires. It’s loaded with good bars and restaurants, it’s close to shopping, there are lots of boutique hotels and furnished apartments available, it’s pretty safe and most parts of Palermo are close to the subte (subway). Plus, for tango dancers, several good milongas are nearby.

Palermo is a huge zone which divides into several smaller zones including Palermo Chico, Palermo Viejo and Las Cañitas. Palermo Viejo can be further divided into Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho. In my experience, locals generally use the term “Palermo Viejo” while tourists talk about staying in “Palermo Hollywood” or “Palermo Soho”.

Although most tourists seem to gravitate to Palermo Soho, I prefer the part of Palermo north of Sante Fe. It’s a little quieter at night, slightly more upscale and perhaps a touch safer. If you can find a good furnished apartment close to the Alto Palermo mall, north of Sante Fe, that is ideal. The location is perfect. It’s close to everything including the subte.


Many repeat visitors to Buenos Aires feel that Recoleta is the best neighborhood for tourists. They may be right.

Recoleta is more upscale than Palermo Soho or Palermo Hollywood (but not Palermo Chico). The area has the feel and some of the charm of old Europe.

Recoleta is home to some of the city’s most expensive hotels, plus high-end shops and galleries.

Nonetheless I prefer Palermo over Recoleta for several reasons: 1) many of the furnished apartments in Recoleta are in older buildings and less modern than the newer Palermo lofts and studios, 2) most parts of Recoleta are a long walk from the subte, and 3) the area feels quite touristy, especially around Recoleta Village. Also, there are quite a few upscale “gentlemen’s clubs” around Recoleta Village which makes the area somewhat seedy at night.

Barrio Norte

I’ve spent a lot of time in Buenos Aires and I’m still not 100% clear on where Barrio Norte is located. It seems to mean different things to different people. As best as I can tell, Barrio Norte generally refers to parts of Palermo and Recoleta near Sante Fe Avenue. If that’s where it is, I like it.


Microcentro is what some people might call “downtown Buenos Aires” or “el centro”. There are quite a few good hotels in Microcentro and it’s a good choice for a business trip. Microcentro is very noisy and busy.

San Telmo

I have friends who refuse to stay anywhere else but in San Telmo. They feel they get the “authentic Buenos Aires experience” in San Telmo. It certainly has its charm. There are plenty of tango bars here, and prices for accommodations are generally lower than in other popular neighborhoods. San Telmo is not as upscale as Recoleta or Palermo. The dark streets can be a little dicey at night.

Puerto Madero

I really don’t know why anyone would want to stay in Puerto Madero. I think this neighborhood is the destination for tourists with “more dollars than sense.”

Puerto Madero is a recently redeveloped port area where you’ll find the most expensive luxury condos in Buenos Aires, a handful of high-end hotels, and a row of fancy (and probably over-priced) restaurants. I’ve seen Puerto Madero described as “isolated and artificial”. That sums it up.

One plus is that the Ecological Preserve is nearby. It’s a nice place for a quiet Sunday stroll. One of the best hotels in South America, Hotel Faena, is located in Puerto Madero. So is the outstanding Las Lilas steak restaurant.


Belgrano is a lovely residential neighborhood just west of Palermo. The problem with Belgrano is the location. It’s too far from the things most tourists like to do.

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