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Introduction to Buenos Aires Tour with Plaza de Mayo and San Telmo

Get acquainted with the history of downtown Buenos Aires
From US$290 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Puerto Madero
  • Plaza de Mayo
  • The Pink House
  • San Telmo Neighborhood
Photos & Highlights
  • Dig deep into the history of downtown Buenos Aires and San Telmo
  • Led by a local historian
Select a date
Tour Description
Buenos Aires is one of South America's great melting pots due to an unprecedented influx of European immigrants at the end of the 19th century. During this 3-hour Buenos Aires History Tour we'll look at how Italians, Spaniards, Jews, Germans, and Russians shaped this city over the last 150 years. We'll discuss the reasons for this mass immigration, the expectations of the newcomers, the reality that awaited them, and the international elements that still persist within Argentine identity today.

Buenos Aires History Tour - The Land of Promise

We'll begin our tour where most new overseas immigrants found themselves: at the port of Puerto Madero. Now a luxury housing district, the port features a contrast of the newest, tallest architecture of today alongside the historic immigration buildings of a century ago. The monumental Customs House (Aduanas) nearby will provide an opportunity to discuss the agro-exportation policies that led to Argentina’s economic success at that time.

We'll follow this trail of success uphill to the most prominent square of the city, Plaza de Mayo, to discover the political, financial, and religious accomplishments of this multicultural nation. The executive mansion and the President’s Office (Casa Rosada), the former city hall (Cabildo), the National Bank of Argentina, and the Metropolitan Cathedral encircle Plaza de Mayo and represent the executive powers, financial policies, and religious underpinnings of Argentina. 

New World Struggles and Creativity

We will turn our focus to the general populace during the second part of the tour as we head toward San Telmo, the city's oldest neighborhood. We will learn about how the abandoned aristocratic district became inhabited by less wealthy, late 19th-century immigrants. Once run-down and overpopulated, Calle Defensa is now lined with intriguingly dilapidated yet beautiful architecture, now re-purposed as charming cafes and antique shops. We will wander the cobblestone streets to experience the new identity of the area as a bohemian recant. We may pass a former conventillo, or tenement house, to discuss how these low-income quarters provoked unique political views among the newcomers to Buenos Aires. As we reach Parque Lezama, we will discuss the dynamic which facilitated socialist and anarchist ideas among the dwellers here. 

In parallel to this rich political history, we may take the opportunity to discuss dominant artistic and leisure activities that took place in the poorer immigrant communities. These ‘new Argentines’ are responsible for unique cultural expressions such as lunfardo—a local dialect, as well as tango dance and music (which we explore further on our Buenos Aires Tango Tour).

Take Aways

Throughout this tour we will demonstrate the city’s diversity not only in politics, but through art and culture as well. Anyone with a love for history and a bohemian side will enjoy this tour and the story it has to tell. This tour is an excellent pair to our Buenos Aires Architecture Tour, which focuses on the architectural golden age taking place at the same time.


Is this tour very walking intensive?
This is a moderate walk, and, depending on the expert, more geography can be covered. We can tailor the experience if you have mobility issues to reduce walking distance.

Does this tour cover tango history?
This tour might mention tango in relation to the conventillos; however, if you're interested in an in-depth tour on tango culture and history, we recommend taking our Buenos Aires Tango Tour la Boca and Beyond.
Where You'll Start
125 Reviews (4.94)

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Our families had a wonderful introduction to Buenos Aires! Perfect start to our trip and Patricia was a fantastic guide to the city. She helped us understand the history and culture in a way that was perfect for our families. Highly recommended!
The BEST overview and worth every penny.
Natalia was a wonderful guide .Excellent knowledge of the history and architecture and very warm friendly person. We were 1/2 hour late and Natalia extended the time.