Hidden Gems of Buenos Aires: Experience the City through Art, Fashion, Design, and Youth Culture
Buenos Aires, the land of good airs, and the energetic heartbeat of Argentina is a seemingly European cosmopolitan hub that has been transposed into the Latin American context. BA is known for its glittering tango shows, endless supply of beef and empanadas, and its controversial history of Peronist politics (Think: “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”). But the city also has a younger, hipper, off-the-beaten-path side. For those who have had their fill of the usual tourist spots, we’ve detailed some insider experiences related to art, design, and fashion. Here are our picks for the best hidden gems of Buenos Aires. Vamos.
Address: Godoy Cruz 2626, Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires 1414, Argentina
MALBA and El Museo de Bellas Artes are absolute staples if you are craving good art in Buenos Aires. But FoLa (Fototeca Latinoamericana) is a smaller, more intimate photography gallery in an abandoned warehouse with white walls and gorgeous photo displays. Its vibe will make you feel like you stumbled into one of the neighborhood’s coolest secrets — and you wouldn’t be wrong! Opened in 2015, FoLa originally served as a permanent extension of the annual Buenos Aires photo exhibition. The gallery primarily features Latin American photographers, and now houses 200 photographic works from 12 different countries. Check out Colección FoLA, the museum’s most extensive permanent collection or catch rotating exhibits in the museum’s three salons.
Centro Cultural Kirchner
Address: Sarmiento 151, Buenos Aires, Argentina
After you’ve done a couple leisurely laps around Plaza del Mayo (the political center of Buenos Aires), listened to the history of La Casa Rosada, and munched on Garrapiñada (a caramelized peanut snack sold on street corners) — take an 11-minute walk to the lesser-known Centro Cultural Kirchner. Named for ex-president Néstor Kirchner who first proposed the conversion of the building, this state-of-the-art Cultural Center inhabits what was formerly the Palacio de Correos or the Buenos Aires Post Office.
In this expansive space, the giant stone columns and impending wooden desks gesture to the history of the building. However, a few hundred meters into the building you will find yourself standing under a giant cubist structure that is decidedly futuristic. The cultural center is the largest of its kind in Latin America and the third largest in the entire world, boasting nine floors filled with concert halls, theatre auditoriums, performance arts spaces, galleries, and more. In the past, they have showcased performance pieces and installations by Patti Smith and Jean Paul Gaultier. The center also serves as the home to the Argentine National Orchestra which was homeless for 67 years after being founded by the infamous Juan Perón in 1948. With constantly rotating art exhibitions and musical performances of every shade, this Buenos Aires hidden gem is a can’t-miss stop during your time in the city.
Address: Palermo and Colegiales Neighborhoods
One of the best parts about walking around BA is the visual feast you’ll encounter at every turn. The city’s prolific street art scene full of world-class graffiti and murals. To get the best experience, book a Buenos Aires Urban Art Tour through Visit.org. You’ll be guided through some of Buenos Aires’ most colorful barrios including Colegiales, Villa Crespo, and Palermo (the neighborhood where literary giant Jorge Luis Borges grew up).
Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about the local graffiti culture, as well as the compelling histories of the neighborhoods. You’ll visit street art hotspots and see the only artist-run street art gallery in the city. Perhaps the best part of the tour: host revenue is invested in supporting local artists and their community thrive.
Buenos Aires Fashion Week in La Rural
Address: La Rural Avenida Sarmiento 2704, C1425FGP CABA, Argentina
BA is known as the Paris of Latin America for good reason. Porteños dress and they dress well. Although Buenos Aires’ fashion week isn’t an internationally anticipated, large-scale event like those that take place in Paris, New York, and Milan, it is decidedly more accessible. Anyone can get in to see the oftentimes innovative and gorgeous shows at La Rural (the city’s main exposition and event center) — as long as they’re willing to wait in line.
BAF truly democratizes the fashion week experience. But, three shows a day is the limit for those attending for free. Although, from personal experience, it is possible for clever visitors to cram in an extra show. BAF “week” is 3 days long, in March and in August. It features a fashion and beauty expo as the center of the event, and shows exclusively Argentinian designers. I would recommend attending BAF in August, which marks both the beginning of Argentine spring and the dawn of a new fashion cycle.
Secret Thrift Fairs
Address: Serrano 1496, C1414DFD CABA, Argentina
Elevate your style or your hondas with some high quality vintage shopping. Our pick is Justo y Necesario, a small vintage shop in the heart of Palermo Soho located just off of Plaza Serrano. There, you can absorb the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood’s market center on a weekend and then duck into this colorful and eclectic vintage paradise.
Justo y Necesario or ‘Just and Necessary’ (an apt name for its products!) was founded by two Spanish brothers who source their vintage clothing from all over the world, often travelling back and forth between Ibiza, Spain and Buenos Aires. Justo y Necesario is especially great for vintage sportswear!
There is also a once-a-month pop-up of different vintage vendors from across the city called Feria Vintage. It is tucked into an old repurposed building, the location of which you must receive through an Instagram DM inquiry (give Feria Vintage a follow for details and updates). Cool BA club kids are usually milling outside of the entrance. And as soon as you duck into the building, awesome 80s and 70s jams will transport you to another time and accompany you throughout your perusal of racks and racks of skirts, button-downs, wore-in denim, crop-tops, and everything in between.
Hidden Gems for Coffee and Snacks
Stop at Lattente coffee shop for one of the best flat whites in the city. Other spots to get your coffee fix include Lab Tostadores Cafe in Palermo Hollywood or Felix Felices & Co in Palermo Soho. Feeling peckish? Stop at cozy brunch spot Malvón in Villa Crespo for french toast with caramelized apples, almonds, whipped cream, and honey. Pair your visual feast with an edible feast and some BA sunshine…you’re destined for a perfect day.
These are our picks for Buenos Aires’ art, fashion, and youth culture hidden gems. Although there will always be merit in eating your weight in empanadas and being awestruck by the nimble feet of tango performers — stop by these off-the-beaten-path spots to re-invigorate your aesthetic sensibilities or learn more about the creative culture of Argentina’s capital city.