I am a simple girl.
I am a girl who was lucky enough to be raised in a house with a garden and biking on the weekends (biking everywhere, really) was my jam.
And then I moved to the city.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the city in terms of cultural offerings, public transport all night, not taking two hours to get anywhere, etc. However, I do miss having breakfast, looking out at the grass and knowing that living on the ground floor doesn’t mean that I have to keep the lights on all day like you have to do in an apartment building.
Have I filled my apartment with plants? Yes. Is there any flat surface left for more plants? No. Am I planning on buying shelves for that specific purpose? Maybe. But, when plants just don’t give me that green immersion experience I need, nothing beats biking towards a beautiful park.
So here it is: a map of Buenos Aires’ best parks for you to relax during these sweet summer days. Plus, we’ve got things to do in these parks and places where you can buy yourself a delicious picnic and enjoy it responsibly with 2 meters of space between your fellow humans and mask on, except when eating, of course.
Alright, let’s get the obvious one out of the way.
Parque Centenario is beautifully enormous and serves as a necessary oasis in the concrete filled Villa Crespo and Caballito. In addition, it serves as home for the Museum of Natural Science (now closed, but do go visit it once it opens back up), several puestos of used books (especially on the weekends, but again, not all have opened back up), and a gorgeous amphitheater where there used to be free performances by artists and dancers. Can’t wait for them to pick this up at some point!
Plus, the fact that there’s a lake in the middle of the park just makes everything instantly better.
Parque los Andes / Chacarita Cemetery, / Parque Elcano
You’ve probably heard of Parque los Andes, which is right in front of the Chacarita Cemetery. What you may not have heard about, though, is that the parks administration has recently repurposed a sector of the Chacarita Cemetery to serve as park, and have done a beautiful job of it. If you go down Federico Lacroze, instead of turning left, turn right and follow the border of the cemetery for a block or two and you’ll find the entrance to a stunning park with some of the cemetery’s antique statues (but not the mausoleums! Don’t worry) as well as things like ping pong tables (bring your own table tennis rackets and balls).
In addition, if you feel like it, I highly recommend walking around the Chacarita cemetery for a charmingly eerie experience without the crowds found at Cementerio de la Recoleta.
Note: The cemetery closes at 5 and the park closes at 6! So plan accordingly.
Note 2: Seeing as how you’ll be in one of the city’s most burgeoning food neighborhoods, I’d recommend you skip the local almacén and buy some food to go somewhere like Sifón or Almacén Comunal. Or any of the other amazing places you can find a short distance away!
Plaza Parques Nacionales Argentinos & Paseo de las Americas
What is this lil’ plaza doing here, considering it is just a few blocks away from Buenos Aires’ most impressive park — Los Bosques de Palermo?
Well, I’m not sure if you’ve gone out at all these past few months, but if you have and chose to go to the bosques, you may have noticed it was as packed as a park can be.
Last time I went, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and while I started walking away from the crowds I stumbled across Plaza Parques Nacionales. It’s a small square of green surrounded by bars, so it’s not like it’s empty, but clearly the population density is way lower. In addition, all these bars have taken advantage of the situation and have dishes to go, and in the case of Cerveza Patagonia, they have a beer fridge where you can grab a cold one to go instead of sitting at the bar (and paying bar prices).
Walk a few more blocks and you’ll come across this plaza’s big sibling, the Paseo de Las Americas, for a bit of a bigger expanse of green. Nice, huh?
Parque Saavedra & Parque Sarmiento
The beauty of choosing Parque Saavedra (the neighborhood) and Villa Urquiza as your destination is that there are just way less people, which is prime.
Don’t get me wrong, you won’t find anywhere that’s completely empty (except for waiting outside my neighborhood panaderia to open up on a Monday morning, maybe), but when you step into Parque Saavedra (the park) and Parque Sarmiento, you’ll realize that the chaos that is los bosques is a thing of the past. Just because of that, these parks get my vote.
By the way — if you decide to go to Parque Saavedra and you love you some ice cream, do not miss out on Occo, right there facing the park. Glorious ice-cream to be eaten in the cool shade of a lovely tree.
Exploring Zona Norte: Paraná, Alvear y Roque Saenz Peña
As a native sanisidrense (yes, yes, bully away), spending the weekend looking at the Río de la Plata was (and still is, as often as I can manage it) my jam. There’s something about water that just makes everything instantly gorgeous, and of course I am not the only one who has noticed this, which is why all of Buenos Aires coast tends to be really packed. However, these are my recommendations if you feel like exploring a bit of Zona Norte — stay away from Vicente Lopez (since it’s closer to the capital, it’s impossibly packed) and stay away from Tigre too (even more packed). Instead, choose:
- Roque Saenz Peña: The farthest of the three, but also the emptiest one. You’ve got a few bars, some nice green spaces (not too big and not too shady but good enough), and you’ll find that it’s mostly chill locals that go there. You can have a delish beer at Barisidro or turn right and chill at the Bosque Alegre.
- Alvear: The most popular of the three, you’ve got a small park next to the train tracks. Walk left and you’ll find two cute green parks that are usually pretty busy but not so busy that you can’t find a spot to sit in. You’ll eventually find a bar (about two blocks away), but keep in mind that this is definitely a bring your own picnic (or prepare to sit in a bar) situation.
- Paraná: My absolute favorite of the three, Paraná offers the most gorgeous view of Buenos Aires to be found in the city. Come down Paraná and go right then choose a nice spot close to the water. Retiro and Puerto Madero will rise to your right, with their massive skyscrapers reflecting the sun. Bonus points if you go when the sun is setting — not only will there be less people, but you’ll get to see the city light up.
Just in case you decide to drive there, please take a native sanisidrense’s recommendation and stay away from Av. Libertador. Only take the side streets or choose Avenida Santa Fe — you’ll thank me later.
Bonus: Reserva Ecológica Ciudad Universitaria & Parque de Agronomía
One of the cities most gorgeous views can be found in our winsome Ciudad Universitaria, right behind the FADU building. The Reserva Ecológica not only is a beautiful thing in terms of conservation and research, but offers a stunning view of our lovely “City of Good Air”. It’s free to enter but definitely remember to bring your picnic or you’ll be at the mercy of Ciudad Universitaria’s snack shops, which as you can guess, open and close according to university schedule and not much else.
My other choice, Parque de Agronomía boasts a beautiful green space in the middle of Agronomía (right next to La Paternal) that not only serves as a great respite from the city’s grayness, but also offers true wonders for plant fanatics (such as yours truly) with their amazing (and cheap!) vivero.
Sadly, these two parks are closed now due to COVID, but you should definitely keep them in mind once they open back up!