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Coming to a new city can be really overwhelming for the first time. You need to figure out where to live, and how to get around, often before you have even seen the city with your own eyes. I put together this Buenos Aires neighborhood guide to help you get a bit more acquainted with the area, and hopefully make your transition a bit easier. Also, make sure to check out these TIPS for moving to Buenos Aires. In this guide we’ll discuss the Balvanera neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
SUMMARY OF BALVANERA
Balvanera neighborhood of Buenos Aires is located between Almagro and San Telmo, just near Congreso. There are several small markets around. This is the neighborhood of furniture. Along Avenida Belgrano you can find shops for mattresses, kitchen tables, sofas, lamps, etc. If you’re furnishing your home, this is the spot.
VIBE OF BALVANERA
I’ll be honest here. Balvanera is not one of the great neighborhoods of the city. It feels a little depressing. There are not really any cute cafes, nothing of the charm of Palermo or Colegiales. Unless you are living around here, or buying furniture, I can’t imagine any other reason to come.
TRANSPORTATION IN BALVANERA
There are actually several subte stops in Balvanera. While the area itself is a bit depressing, its centrally located and easy to get to, and the proof is in the transportation. On line H (yellow, goes north to south), you’ve got the stops Venezuela, Once, Pueyrredon, Corrientes, and Cordoba. Lina A (light blue) gives you Pasco, Alberti, and Loria. With line B (red), there is Callao, Pasteur-Amia, Pueyrredon, and Carlos Gardel. Line D (green) gives you Facultad de Medicina. There are also several bus stops all around this area. You’ve also got the Estacion Once stop on the Sarmiento train line.
SHOPPING IN BALVANERA
As mentioned above, Balvanera is for furniture shopping. The shops range from the more economic end, to extremely high end (very ‘cheto’). Some shops look like they were made to furnish Madonna’s Manhattan apartment. Others look like they’re meant to furnish a university student’s first apartment. We actually went to several shops while looking for a sofa and dining chairs when we moved apartments, so we got to know many. We ended up purchasing a great sofa from Cirik Muebles, for both the quality and style, but also because they were a great help, and really cool to us. Some of the higher end shops gave us a “Pretty Woman” vibe. Big mistake. Huge!
Around Plaza Miserere (the Once subte stop/Estacion Once Sarmiento line), there is a massive market with shops both inside and outside. There are people selling things on the sidewalks. Prices are lower and you can find good deals. However, if you go, go with caution. People are packed on the sidealks from curb to building, and it is known to be a bit more sketchy. Thieves abound. Don’t take out your phone or wear any flashy jewelry. Put your backpack to the front.
PARKS IN BALVANERA
Plaza Primero de Mayo is a small plaza where children play on the playground, and adults do exercise classes in the evening. There is a carousel, and statues and murals created in 1925 in honor of the worker’s struggle.
Plaza Velasco Ibarra is another very small corner park with a playground for children and evening adult exercise classes. It’s very much a family park. There are beautiful murals, and fixed tables and chairs.
EAT & DRINK IN BALVANERA
Since Balvanera is a very local neighborhood, and lacks the glitz of Palermo or the Bohemia of San Telmo, what you’ll find here are very simple, family owned restaurants. But that also means much more affordable prices.
I actually lived in this area for one month, so I was able to try out a few different places. My favorite was called Parrilla El Litoral. Here you can get a delicious steak, guarnicion (a side), and a glass of wine for $6-$7. Another fantastic local spot was Chicho’s. They have affordable lunch and dinner promos, and the people who work here are incredibly kind.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN BALVANERA
There isn’t much to do in the Balvanera neighborhood of Buenos Aires besides furniture shopping, shopping at Plaza Miserere/Once, and eating at local restaurants.
Tour the Congreso Building
You can do free tours of the Congress building every weekday. The English tours are at 12pm and 5pm. No need to make a reservation. Go to the office (on the left side of the building) about 15 minutes early to register. Don’t forget to bring an ID.
Madres de la Plaza de Mayo
In Plaza Congreso, you’ll find a center dedicated to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Here you can learn about Argentina’s history with the military dictatorship through the eyes of the mothers who lost their children. However, there is not a ton of written information unfortunately. There are a ton of photographs and newspaper prints. The mothers still march around the plaza every Thursday at 3:30pm. It’s worth taking a look some time.
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