Palermo is easily my favorite barrio (neighborhood) in Buenos Aires. It’s an incredibly green part of the city – you realize how many parks there are here when you fly over, and land in the Jorge Newbery Airport (which is in Palermo, by the way).
The name of the area derives from the Franciscan abbey of Saint Benedict the Moor located in the area, and here named Saint Benedict of Palermo – the saint is in fact one of the patrons of Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
Palermo Buenos Aires bursts with life. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. There’s art galore at its museums and adding to that there’s an incredible array of murals decorating the building. But more than anything else, what you’ll appreciate about Palermo Buenos Aires is the friendly, relaxed atmosphere: you’ll immediately feel at home here.
Curious to find out more? Continue reading as I guide you trough the many sub-barrios of Palermo Buenos Aires and its many attractions.
The Neighborhoods Of Palermo Buenos Aires
Palermo is a (massive) neighborhood in the northern part of the Argentine capital. For the most part, it’s characterized by leafy parks, buzzing cafes, cycle paths, and a family-friendly atmosphere at weekends.
Rather than being just one place, however, there are different quarters that make up this large barrio (which is 17.5 square kilometers in the area; or around 7 miles squared). Let’s check out the many neighborhoods of Palermo Buenos Aires.
This is located in the southwestern portion of Palermo. It’s a chic part of town that’s awash with designer stores, high-end restaurants, and places to grab a drink. It’s like a hipster hangout for the well-heeled Argentines and tourists alike.
This area was dubbed Palermo “Hollywood” in the 1990s when a plethora of well-known TV, movie, and radio studios and production companies moved into the district, making it something of a center for the entertainment and broadcasting industry. It’s also become known for its nightlife, with stylish dining aplenty and sophisticated cocktail bars, as well as late-night entertainment venues including rooftop bars and clubs.
Translating to “Old Palermo”, this is the historic center of the barrio. At its heart is the Plaza Palermo Viejo; the streets around it are lined with Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings. Traditionally it’s been the home for literati and intellectuals over the years, including Ernesto Guevara (whom you may know as Che Guevara) and Jorge Luis Borges.
Situated in the northwest of Palermo is Palermo Nuevo, or “New Palermo”. It has a long list of sights to its name, including Buenos Aires Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Gardens, and Bosques de Palermo, aka the Parque Tres de Febrero — the largest green area in the city, designed by Carlos Thays and where you can spot statues of William Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca, Antonio Machado and Jorge Luis Borges.
This quarter of Palermo runs along the length of Santa Fe Avenue, and takes its name from the Mitre Railway Line — once called the Buenos Aires to Pacific Railway. It remains a transport hub and is a good place to hop on a bus, metro, or train to elsewhere fairly easily.
Just over a century ago, this part of Palermo was known for its tenement blocks. However, in the modern day, these old residential buildings have been replaced by shiny highrises as well as chain restaurants and bars.
Without a doubt, the chicest part of Palermo is where the wealthy live. It’s situated on the northeastern edge of the barrio and is mainly a residential area. Here you’ll find luxury homes for the rich and famous, plus a number of international residents due to the scattering of foreign embassies located here.
This is the downtown part of Palermo. Here you’ll find the barrio’s main shopping district as well as the leafy Las Heras Park. There is also a clutch of museums and other monuments to discover in Palermo Norte too.
Best Things To Do In Palermo Buenos Aires
Explore Villa Freud
Possibly one of the most interesting mini-neighborhoods within the larger neighborhood of Palermo, Villa Freud has an interesting claim to fame. Apparently it was given its name due to the high concentration of psychiatrists and psychotherapists who have offices in the area, particularly around Plaza Guemes.
There was actually something of a therapy boom in Argentina in the 1940s, sparked in 1938 by the arrival in the area of a Spanish psychoanalyst called Angel Garma — known as the founder of psychoanalysis in Argentina.
Otherwise known as Guadalupe, Villa Freud is also replete with bookshops and even Sigmund Freud-themed cafes. It’s an intriguing place to wander around and sit for a while soaking up the local life.
Hang out at Plaza Inmigrantes de Armenia and Plaza Serrano
Plaza Serrano lies at the center of Palermo Soho. It’s lined by cafes, bars, and restaurants, making it a great spot to hang out and grab a bite to eat and watch the world go by. There’s even an art fair that takes place here every weekend.
A five-minute walk away, Plaza Inmigrantes de Armenia is also known for its weekend crafts market, which is hosted in its larger and more leafy park grounds. The streets around both plazas provide an easygoing spot for people-watching and window-shopping, with many a bar or cafe where you can sit with a snack and a drink.
Go on a street art tour
Despite its relatively high-end credentials, Palermo is a colorful and creative quarter of Buenos Aires. Throughout the streets, you can discover a number of vibrant illustrations daubed on the side of buildings, some by internationally renowned street artists.
You can take in these eye-catching murals and Instagram-worthy graffiti by taking a street art tour through the district – it’s one of the best things to do in Palermo. There are a surprising amount of tours on offer, but one option is to explore the sights on your own by using Google Maps. Or you could join a tour with a knowledgeable local guide who will offer you an insight into the various pieces of art on the walls of this famous hipster-friendly neighborhood.
Graffiti and Street Art Tour of Palermo – starting in Plaza Serrano and going around the surrounding streets, this is the most popular street art tour of Palermo. I have done it myself and loved it.
The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano of Buenos Aires is located in a beautiful granite building and houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art by Latin America most prominent artists. Among the most important pieces of the exhibit you’ll find the works of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and of many other pieces that belonged to the private collection of Eduardo Costantini.
It’s easily one of the best museums in the city, and you should not miss the chance to go if you are into modern art.
Learn about Evita in the Evita Peron Museum
You certainly have heard of Evita Peron, and if you are spending time in Buenos Aires you will definitely want to visit Recoleta Cemetery where her tomb is located. The museum is entirely dedicated to the popular wife of President Juan Domingo Perón. It’s housed in a beautiful 1920s mansion where you’ll find all sorts of documents, photos and even dresses and accessories that belonged to her.
Check out the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo
This nice museum houses the collection of Chilean aristocrats Matías Errázuriz and Josefina de Alvear in what used to be their actual home. There are some very fine pieces you can admire here, including paintings by Manet, Rodin, El Greco. The building itself is not to be dismissed, and the period furniture is definitely worth a visit.
Argentina is famed for its steak, and a regular trip to any number of hundreds of steakhouses in the city is a modern-day tradition for most residents of Buenos Aires. While you’re there it would be a shame to miss out on this delectable dining experience.
But still, you should choose carefully. There are a fair few exceptional places to eat steak in Palermo.
One of my favorites is La Cabrera; with so many places to choose from, somehow La Cabrera comes out on top. Located in Palermo Soho, you’ll be able to spot this place a mile off because of the long line of hungry diners (usually) waiting outside. Make sure to make reservations in advance and if you forget, just show up early to put your name on the waiting list. The polite staff will let you know how long you can expect to wait.
Another good one is Lo de Jesus. It’s more affordable than other top steakhouses in the neighborhood, but it certainly doesn’t skimp on quality — or ambiance, as the atmosphere here is second to none. The wine list is also huge.
Last but definitely not least is the famous Don Julio. This venerable steakhouse will draw you in with wafts of sizzling steaks cooked up on its parrilla (grill), all wrapped up in comfortable, cozy interiors. Much raved about and rightly so; they frequently serve up the best steaks people have ever had, or so they say.
Along with steak, Argentina is also very well known for its wine — and is actually the world’s fifth-largest wine producer. Its wine is a reflection of the country’s patchwork of immigration that has shaped the nation over the centuries. It was the French who brought the malbec grape with them, a wine that has now become pretty much synonymous with Argentine wine.
If you’re spending time in the city, one of the best things to do in Palermo Buenos Aires to get acquainted with this local variety of grape is to head to La Malbequeria. This wine bar (which is actually attached to Lo de Jesus) is a neighborhood favorite and a vibrant destination for wine lovers from further afield. You can do wine tasting here, which is served up alongside breads, cheeses, and empanadas.
It’s definitely on the pricey side, but it’s worth it not only for the wine but the beautiful setting as well. There’s a choice of seating, with indoor and outdoor tables, as well as a courtyard and leafy garden.
Try Argentine craft beer
While steak and wine have long been famous parts of Argentine and Buenos Aires culture, beer isn’t quite as famous. However, in recent years craft beer has been making the same sort of waves in the Argentine capital as it has been across the world. There are now over 4,000 microbreweries in Argentina, and you can sample some of these regional brews at a number of cool drinking establishments in Palermo.
One of these is Nola, which serves up a selection of craft beers and ales alongside Cajun-inspired cuisine. There’s also Baum, a bar and restaurant in Palermo Soho known for its good collection of beers (and live music). Elsewhere 1516 Cerveceria features a huge patio that regularly gets packed with thirsty customers looking to try their wide choice of beers.
If you want to get to know the craft brewery scene in Palermo a little bit better, then you could opt to take this tour dedicated to craft beer.
Buenos Aires is a shopping haven, but Palermo is where it’s at for browsers, window shoppers, and those looking to shop ‘til they drop alike. Shopping is definitely one of the best things to do in Palermo Soho, which with its cobbled streets lined with trees is the ideal place to spend some time browsing. Here you’ll find a collection of boutique clothing shops, locally owned accessory stores, and designer outlets.
There are also shopping malls to be found in the neighborhood. Alto Palermo, situated close to Palermo, is a trendy hangout complete with a food court and fashionable stores to sift through. Palermo Norte is another part of the neighborhood that’s famed for its shopping. And don’t forget about the Sunday markets!
Enjoy coffee in one of the nicest cafés
One of the best things to do in Palermo is to simply wander to a cafe, find yourself a seat and then watch the world go by. There are countless cafes and coffee houses dotted around the district, with several top-tier venues for a cup of coffee, a snack, and a gorgeous place to sit for a while.
Oui Oui is a wonderfully French-themed cafe that emulates the effortless cool of a Parisian coffeehouse. Take a seat, sip on deliciously dark coffee, and do not miss out on one of their melt-in-the-mouth croissants. Then there’s La Alacena — the perfect spot for a long brunch in the vibrant center of Palermo Soho. I
f you’re at the Museo de Artes Plasticas Eduardo Sivori, then round up your visit with a stop at the onsite Cafe Sivoli, its parkside location gives you lovely views out onto sculpted greenery.
Enjoy some nightlife
This is definitely one of the unmissable things to do in Palermo Buenos Aires! This fun-loving part of a fun-loving city is awash with places to dance the night away till late, hang out at rooftop restaurants, or sip a cocktail at a swish bar.
Local favorites in Palermo include Uptown. This basement club takes up space inside a disused New York Subway carriage, making for a delightfully dystopian but very fun place to let your hair down (DJs play here ‘til the early hours).
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Verne, which serves up craft cocktails in a sophisticated setting. Then there’s the landmark Niceto Club, a much-loved nightclub that sees locals and visitors alike packing the dancefloor throughout the week.
Practical Guide To Palermo Buenos Aires
Guided tours of Palermo Buenos Aires
You can definitely and easily explore Palermo on your own. However, to make the most of it – and especially appreciate its history, culture, way of life, you may want to hire a local guide to take you around and put everything in perspective. There are some tours you can also book online and which have great reviews. Here are some I recommend:
Full day bike tour of Buenos Aires – this tour doesn’t just to to Palermo. It will also take you to other important attractions in Buenos Aires such as San Telmo, the Microcentro and the Casa Rosada, Retiro and the Recoleta Cemetery. Lunch is included.
Graffiti and Street Art Tour of Palermo – this is a truly fun tour. A local guide will take you around the streets of Palermo explaining its history and social structures, all via the street art you’re going to admire. I have done it myself and loved it.
Where to sleep in Palermo Buenos Aires
As you may have hinted, I have been to Buenos Aires many times. Each time I have slept in a different area, but I soon determined that Palermo is definitely my favorite place to stay in Buenos Aires, and I now only stay there when I visit. The following are some good accommodation options in Palermo Buenos Aires:
Legado Mitico – if you have the budget to splurge, this is definitely the best hotel in the area. The common areas are absolutely plush!
1828 Smart Hotel Boutique – you don’t have to break the bank for a comfortable room in a boutique hotel in Buenos Aires, and this is a great place to stay indeed!
Malevo Murana Hostel – a great options for backpackers or travelers on a budget, you’ll have the choice of booking a bed in one of the plain but clean and comfortable dorms, or a private small but well equipped room.
How to get to Palermo from the airport
There are actually two airports in Buenos Aires.
One is Ministro Pistarini International Airport, known as Ezeiza and about 1 hour drive from the center of town, this is where your international flight will land. The other is Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, locally known as Aeroparque, located in Palermo and the main airport for domestic flights, though there also are some flights to international destinations in South America.
Below are the best options to get from both airports to your accommodation in Palermo Buenos Aires.
From Ezeiza Airport
To get from Ezeiza to Palermo, you can count on the efficient public transportation network of Buenos Aires, on the large amount of taxis that regularly ply the route, or on private transfers.
Various bus companies cover the route – Minibus Ezeiza, Manuel Tienda Leon and Aerobus Ezeiza. The prices and timetables vary but if you are not in a rush this is definitely the most budget friendly way of getting to Palermo.
Taxis are easy to find just outside the arrivals terminal. The price of the ride will vary depending on the distance covered, and on how much traffic you’ll encounter. For this reason, it may be best to actually book a private transfer to your hotel.
To book your private transfer from Ezeiza Airport, click here.
You should also read my post The Best Way To Get From Ezeiza To Buenos Aires.
Getting from Aeroparque to Palermo is actually super easy and depending on where you are staying and how much luggage you have with you, you may even decide to walk. Otherwise, you have the option of taking a taxi, take the Manuel Tienda Leon bus, or opt for a private transfer.
To book your private transfer from Aeroparque to your accommodation in Palermo Buenos Aires, click here.