Complete Guide to Arts and Culture in Buenos Aires: With underground galleries, unexpected theatres, thriving cultural centers, and fascinating street art, Buenos Aires has one of the most vibrant arts and culture scenes in the world. There are so many things to do, it can be overwhelming. To help you design an itinerary, we’ve selected the best places to get the most out of your stay in Argentina’s capital city.
The Best Theatres in Buenos Aires
This is a city that respects theatre. In the early 19th century, the theater exploded on Avenida Corrientes when it became accessible to the public. Many entertainers grow up dreaming of being able to perform on the Avenue, the Broadway version of Buenos Aires. From stand-up comedy to underground shows, visitors can find all kinds of live shows here—but the most common type is the Teatro de Revista, revues that mix comedy, music, and dance.
- Teatro Colón: This is the grandest, most beautiful, and most famous theater ever built in the city. A national treasure, it is a tourist attraction for anyone into the arts. Its 2,500-seat auditorium is said to have the fourth-best acoustics in the world. Tickets to the show can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, consider signing up for one of the building’s frequent guided tours instead. For shows and prices, check out their website.
- Teatro Nacional Cervantes: A renowned opera house and comedy hub, this National Stage is one of the most historic theaters in Buenos Aires. It was built with the help of Spain, and despite being devastated by a terrible fire in 1961, it still manages to go strong as one of the most important performance halls in the country. One of the halls seats 860 and the stage has a revolving circular platform.
- Teatro General San Martín: It’s not that pretty or sophisticated, but the Teatro General San Martín is an affordable theater for “common people”—in fact, it was built by none other than the socialist leader Juan Perón. It is currently one of the most important cultural centers of Latin America. The 13-storey complex houses a cinema as well as several exhibition halls and workshop spaces. Of its three main performance stages, the largest holds 1,000 people.
Where to Go for Tango
Tango is an extremely important part of Argentine culture. You can find milongas (tango clubs) all over the city, and even sign up for tango lessons at places like La Viruta and La Catedral Club.
If you just want to watch, check out the open-air Milonga at the Glorieta de Barrancas de Belgrano, where dancing takes place in the gazebo on Saturday and Sunday nights. In La Boca, you can see street performances in Caminito, but be aware that these shows are very touristy. There are also street shows in Plaza Dorrego (San Telmo), and Florida Street (Microcentro).
To see an indoor show, check out El Viejo Almacén, Tango Porteño, and Madero Tango. Rojo Tango is one of the sexiest and most luxurious accommodations at the Faena Hotel, perfect for a romantic date.
Where to Experience a Peña (Folklore Show)
Folklore (folklore) is a big part of the regional identity and was their way before the tango arrived in Argentina. It is really popular in the countryside and smaller corners of Buenos Aires. From Cordoba there is Cuerteto, Corrientes to Chame, and Santiago del Estero to Chaquera. While most folkloric styles make heavy use of guitar, violin, and drums, some incorporate indigenous Andean instruments such as the quena (wooden flute) and charango (small banjo).
While tango can be intimidating for newcomers, listeners of folktales often join in with joy—often drunkenly of red wine—with clapping or singing. Pa’l Que Guste was the first bar in the city to devote itself to Criollo culture and has street credit among serious lovers of folklore music. Folklore dance classes are offered on Mondays between 6:30 pm. And at 8 p.m. La Casa de Los Chillado Biaus is an intimate Palermo venue run by two brothers who often play before night rolls. Behind closed, unmarked doors on the street is a rowdy vibe full of locals who really appreciate music. Crowd participation is actively encouraged here, even if you don’t know any of the songs.
Buenos Aires is one of the most respected cities in the world to see street art. Tour companies such as Graffitimundo and BA Street Art have been set up to take tourists on a complete adventure trip from Collegiales to Palermo or La Boca to San Telmo. You can even plan your own street art tour with the Google Street Art Project.
To bring home some prints from renowned street artists (and help support them while you do), Union Gallery has been tirelessly championing the street art scene for more than a decade. If buying original works by some of the city’s most famous urban artists isn’t enough, you can take one of their stencil workshops and create your own artwork to take home.
Thelonious Club is an intimate setting for some of the best jazz in the city. Open every day, it always has an interesting lineup of classic and contemporary Argentine concerts, with the occasional international act. In the past, Luna Park hosted important boxing matches but is now one of the main venues for large music festivals. La Bomba del Tiempo is the prized hippie hangout every Monday from 7 p.m. to massive percussion circles. until 10 pm; You must be over 18 years of age to go.
Buenos Aires is a city that takes its fashion seriously. At smaller theaters, experimental performances, or rock and pop concerts, casual attire is fine, so feel free to go as flamboyant or edgy in your outfit as you want. At more traditional shows or events, good shoes go a long way – flip flops are looked down upon, even in the hottest of summers.