1 Day In The Buenos Aires Cruise Port: Tango Dancers on Stage

1 Day In The Buenos Aires Cruise Port: Highlights Of The City

This post is part of a series on what to do when you have one day in port on a Cruise. You can find more posts from this series on my page, How To Spend One Day In Port.

As the largest port in Argentina, Buenos Aires, often called the Paris of South America, serves as a pivotal hub for maritime travel in South America. The port welcomes more than 400,000 cruise passengers annually, and around 160 cruise ships call at it. The port’s strategic location makes it a starting and ending point for many South American and Antarctic cruises, attracting travelers from around the globe.

The primary cruising season in Buenos Aires runs from November to March, coinciding with the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months. We are here at the end of the season to hop on the Sapphire Princess for its repositioning cruise to the Northern Hemisphere, a 32-day semi-circumnavigational South America cruise.

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Arriving in Buenos Aires Before The Cruise

From the Airport to the Buenos Aires Cruise Port

Most cruisers will arrive in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, via an overseas flight to the Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE). Also known as  Ezeiza International Airport, this is the primary airport serving international flights from around the world and where we arrive just before midnight after a very long day of travel.

Experienced cruisers seldom arrive in port the day the ship sets sail. For this reason, most will be heading to a local hotel, not directly to the cruise port.

However, if you have a daring nature and arrive at the airport the same day as your cruise sails, the transfer information from the airport here is not much different. The Terminal de Cruceros Quinquela Martín (the cruise terminal) is just minutes from the center of Buenos Aires. For example, the Uber ride from our hotel to the cruise terminal was just 15 minutes.

Map of Down Town Buenos Aires Showing the Route From Anselmo Buenos Aires Curio Collection Hotel To Cruise Port

Depending on traffic, this airport is 30 – 45 from the city’s center. There are several options for getting from the airport to town.

  • You can take a taxi from the airport, which will run between $13 and $16 US.
  • Public transportation in the form of a bus runs from the Airport to Terminal Madero in Buenos Aires hourly from 9 am to 5 pm for just $3 US (not including luggage).
  • Lastly, private transportation is available. Because of our late arrival, we chose this. The cost for a private vehicle will vary, but we paid $25.00.

Our travel plans involve staying for a few hours at the Anselmo Buenos Aires Curio Collection, a Hilton property, before hopping on another flight to Iguazu Falls tomorrow.

The hotel is in a central location, adjacent to Plaza Dorego. It’s just blocks from the San Telmo Market, which we plan to visit when we return in a few days. Not only has the hotel graciously held the room for our very late arrival, but they will also store most of our “cruise luggage” until we return from Iguazu. The hotel is also about a 30-minute Uber ride to Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP), convenient for us as this is where the flights to and from Iguazu Falls are scheduled.

Checking Out The City Highlights On Our 1 Day In The Buenos Aires Cruise Port

We had an exciting time in Iguazu Falls and are now back in Buenos Aires. After a good night’s rest, we start the day by hopping on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus to get a feel for the City of Buenos Aires.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: A Quick Way To See The City

Two HoHo bus companies exist in Buenos Aires: Grayline (the red busses) and Buenos Aires Bus (the yellow busses). Both offer similar services and stops. You can buy tickets online or at most hotels. The cost per adult is around $25.00.

Map for the Gray Line Buenos Aires Hop-on Hop-off Bus

A 24-hour ticket is good for 24 hours from boarding the first bus. So, for example, if you get started at noon on Tuesday, the ticket is good until 11:59 am on Wednesday. The bus tour follows a given route, and narration is available in several languages. When time is short, this is an inexpensive way to see a city’s highlights.

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Again, being in a central location made hopping on the bus easy. A planned bus stop for both bus lines is Plaza Dorrego, just a two-block walk from our hotel.

From here, the bus heads south, initially past Estadio Alberto J Armando (the soccer stadium) and then north along the waterfront past Jorge Newbery Airport to Parque Norte. 

Here, the busses turn and head south again through the central city. There are stops for Chinatown and the Japanese Gardens, Plaza de Mayo Square, Casa Rosada, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Just before our stop in Barrio Norte, the bus passes by Floralis Generica … A beautiful steel flower sculpture by architect Eduardo Catalano… that sits above a reflecting pool and, when initially installed, would open at dawn and close at dusk as many flowers do.

1 Day In The Buenos Aires Cruise Port - Floralis Generica A Huge Sculpture of a Flower that opens in the morning and closes in the evening

But it’s time to hop off the bus now to visit Recoleta Cemetery.

A Walk Back In Time In Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery, established in 1822, is one of Buenos Aires’ most significant landmarks. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., allowing ample time for exploration. You buy your ticket at the entrance. For international tourists, the cost is around $10. If you prefer to explore independently, maps are available at the entrance, highlighting the most notable tombs and landmarks.

A photo of Simon's Tour Guide Information

We did not plan for a guided tour of Recoleta, but as we studied the map at the entrance, a kind British fellow asked if we’d like to join his tour. This turned out to be a godsend. Once Simon had collected eight of us, we set off to see the highlights.

Simon took us on a journey through Recoleta. We passed by the mausoleum of Liliana Crociati, who died during her honeymoon. Liliana’s parents built a vault where they reproduced her bedroom and placed a sculpture of her wearing her wedding dress (which she was buried in) at the entrance, accompanied by her beloved dog.

We stopped at the tomb of Rufina Cambaceres, a beautiful tribute to a young 19-year-old girl, said to have died twice, and heard her sad story. And then paused at what may be the only mausoleum for a Jewish person in the cemetery.

However, Recoleta Cemetery is perhaps best known as the burial place of Eva Perón, the beloved former First Lady of Argentina. Eva, also known as Evita, is interred in the Duarte family tomb, which remains one of the most visited gravesites, continually adorned with flowers and notes from admirers worldwide.

The plaque honoring Eva (Evita) Person on the Duarte Family Tomb

We knew this was Evita’s burial site, but we did not know about the strange and long journey she took after her passing to eventually end up in her family’s (the Duarte’s) vault. Simon shared this bit of history, and I understood even more about Argentina.

I encourage you to take a guided tour to fully appreciate Recoleta Cemetery’s historical and cultural richness. Without Simon, we would not have heard the stories or gained in-depth insights into the lives of those interred.

What’s the cost of this tour? At the beginning of his tour, Simon will let you know that you get to choose what you pay. There is no upfront fee; just leave a generous tip at the end.

Comfortable walking shoes are recommended due to the uneven cobblestone streets. There is little shade, so carrying some water with you is a good idea. Respectful behavior is expected, as it is an active cemetery and a place of reverence.

You Must See A Tango Show On Your 1 Day In The Port Of Buenos Aires

Plaza Dorrego, just outside our hotel, hosts a craft fair/flea market on the weekends. During the market, tango music is played all day and night, and couples dance the Tango. This is just one of the many places in the city where this dance erupts spontaneously. Tango is integral to the vibrant Buenos Aires culture because it embodies the city’s history, identity, and social dynamics.

Argentina is the birthplace of Tango. Originating in the late 19th century in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Tango emerged from a melting pot of cultures, including African, Indigenous, Spanish, and Italian influences. The dance and its music allowed people from diverse backgrounds to express their emotions, struggles, and aspirations.

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We booked the dinner tango show at Aljibe Tango. You can find many of these performance venues around Buenos Aires. Keep in mind that these are performances for entertainment. If you want to learn to dance the Tango or learn about the origins of the dance, you will need to find a dance studio.

One of the great things about these venues is the convenient pick-up and drop-off at your hotel! No worries about drinking and then having to find your way home again.

Once you arrive at the theater, you are guided to a table. Aljibe’s dining room is enormous. I feel it can hold up to 300 guests. Somehow, we got lucky (we did book the VIP Tickets) and were seated right next to the stage.

Aljibe Tango Dining Room filling up with people before dinner and the show

Dinner service starts before the show. There is a limited menu, but the offerings highlight traditional cuisine. Empanadas, fresh salads, and soups for appetizers. Steak, because everyone in Argentina must have beef, chicken, and a pasta dish (for the vegetarian choice), are the main dishes offered.

Once everyone is settled and food is served, the performance begins. Live music starts the show with traditional, Tango-inspired pieces. Then, the dancers come on stage in pairs and begin the Tango performance.

It’s hard to explain in words the true passion of the performances. The show is full of color, movement, and excitement from singers to dancers to drummers. Aljibe’s dinner and performance are an unforgettable experience.

Day 2 In Port: A Half-Day Tour Featuring the Food Of Buenos Aires

We boarded the Sapphire Princess this morning. But the nice thing about this itinerary is that the ship is overnighting in port this cruise. To make the most of our time in Buenos Aires, we have scheduled a food tour through With Locals titled Tastings of Buenos Aires to understand Argentina’s foods.

We met our guide, Inez, at Plaza de Mayo. This trendy, large meeting place for tours in town is popular, so try to get a specific location for your meeting.

Yesterday, we traveled around Plaza de Mayo on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. Today, Inez explains in detail the buildings circling the square. Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace, is on the plaza’s east side. On the north is the Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires, a neoclassical Catholic cathedral. As we peak inside the Cathedral, Inez reminds us that Pope Francis is originally from Argentina.

Breakfast At London City, An Artist Retreat In Buenos Aires

Inez has structured the food stops to mimic a day of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, so we start our walking tour.

Oddly enough, the first stop is “London City,” a British-style tea and coffee shop. London City was a refuge for poets, artists, journalists, and politicians in its early days. To honor its past today, you will find a statue of the famed writer Julio Cortazar in a corner of the shop.

Here, we start the day with a cup of strong coffee, Argentina’s famous Alfajor pastry, a cookie and cake, and a croissant-style pastry called a medialuna. The medialuna is sweeter than a French croissant; ours has a lovely milk chocolate button on top.

Lunch At Café Paulin “Los Mejores Sandwiches De Buenos Aires”

We move on to “lunch” at Café Paulin, an incredible sandwich shop. Many folks order their sandwiches to go. It’s a great deal at just 4,900 pesos ($5.50) for a sandwich, fries, and drink, and there is a good line outside. But Inez has secured us a coveted seat inside…

The entrance to Cafe Paulin in Buenos Aires

Inside this busy café is just one oblong bar fitted with bar stools for the patrons. In the middle of the bar is the server station. The “sandwiches” are prepared in the back, and some will fly down the counter to the patrons.

To call this a sandwich shop does not do the food here justice. Yes, there are sandwiches, but these sandwiches are a huge hot lunch. Hubbs and I split one sandwich with chips, but it was still too much!

Dinner – Empanadas, Penguinos, And A Peak Inside Confiteria Ideal

It’s common for young people in Buenos Aires to gather for a late bite, which is usually pizza or empanadas. They enjoy their repast with what is called a Penguino.  What? They eat penguins? No, a Penguino is a 1-liter ceramic pitcher of the local house wine.

You can see why this is a popular social eating place, the prices are great. The most expensive pizza was only $17, and the empanadas were around $1.25 each. A Penquino ran just over $5.

Even though we have been walking this whole time, we are stuffed; we’ve tasted loads of food. Inez takes us to Confiteria Ideal, one of the most beautiful café pastry shops I’ve ever seen. Still, we feast with only our eyes as our tummies are far too full.

But even at Confiteria Ideal, there is Tango, inside and out! As our food-feasting tour has ended, we bid Inez “hasta la vista” and head back to the Sapphire Princess to set sail for our first stop in Montevideo! 

1 Day In The Buenos Aires Cruise Port Is An Exciting Experience

Throughout this article, I gave the cost we paid for entrance fees, bus tickets, and Uber/taxi rides. I use the US Dollar equivalent, but everything is charged in Argentine Pesos. Currently, the Argentine Peso is relatively weak. The “official” conversion rate to USD is around 890 pesos to the dollar.

However, In Buenos Aires, you will hear about the “green rate” and the “blue rate.” The “green rate” is the official rate; this is the rate you will get when you visit a cambio or bank exchange. The “blue rate” is the rate you will get from a money changer on the street. While not technically legal, the blue market is routine and easy to find, and you will get about 20 to 25% more pesos for your dollars.

Spending even 1 day in the Buenos Aires cruise port offers an unforgettable glimpse into the heart of Argentina and was the best way to start what was an epic month-long cruise for us.

The hop-on hop-off bus tour efficiently explores key highlights like Plaza de Mayo and Recoleta Cemetery, offering a surface-level view of Buenos Aires’ rich cultural heritage.

For those with more time, a food tour reveals Argentina’s culinary delights, from hearty sandwiches at Café Paulin to the sweet pastries of London City. These experiences, bustling markets, and historical landmarks offer a rich tapestry of Buenos Aires’ vibrant life.

From here, our cruise ship sails to Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, and the Falkland Islands around Cape Horn and spend time at the “end of the world,” as Ushuaia is often called, before heading north up the coast of South America. Even so, we will have barely scratched the surface of Argentina.

The Skyline of Buenos Aires At Night As Seen From The Balcony of Our Cruise Ship

Buenos Aires invites exploration, promising you’ll capture a piece of its soul even in just one day in port. Safe travels and hasta la vista! We hope you enjoy this port, and we look forward to seeing you in our next!

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