The Boca di Buenos Aires is one of the most famous districts of the city and owes its name to the fact that it rises on the mouth (la boca, in fact) through which the Rio Riachuelo enters the Rio della Plata.
As a good Genoese I cannot fail to be particularly linked to this area of the Argentine capital: here, in fact, in the nineteenth century a large community of immigrants from my Genoa was formed, all in search of fortune and a better life than the one lived in homeland.
Unfortunately, however, their hopes were reciprocated with burning disappointments: when they arrived after days by ship driven by the dream of a better life, they found themselves instead locked up in a ghetto, with small and cramped houses in which they lived crowded into several families.
In fact, think that despite the time that has passed, the inhabitants of the neighborhood continue to be called Xeneizes, the transposition in Castellano of the dialect word zeneize (Genoese).
Are you looking for a tour in ENGLISH and you can't find it?
This GUIDED TOUR IN ENGLISH could be for you to discover the hidden gems and learn a little more about the history of Boca!
- 1 - Visit La Boca in Buenos Aires safely
- 2 - What to see in Boca
- 3 - Where to eat in Boca
- 4 - Where to sleep in Boca
In this article I will suggest you what to see in La Boca in Buenos Aires, but first I want to give you some quick and easy recommendations for visiting the neighborhood safely.
Visit La Boca in Buenos Aires safely
Before telling you what to see at Boca, I have to tell you a second about safety: although La Boca is one of the neighborhoods to visit absolutely in Buenos Aires, I would advise you to always pay attention.
La Boca, in fact, is not one of the most neighborhoods secure of the capital, indeed.
Although in general the Caminito it is very safe and manned by the police, the areas around it can reveal pitfalls. Among the most famous facts are that of the American tourist, stabbed in the heart in the La Boca neighborhood and the robbery suffered by a Canadian tourist by a motorcyclist (source Corriere della Sera).
My suggestion is not to venture there at night or early in the morning and to prefer the central hours of the day.
Without a doubt the best thing is to go there with a local (as I did) or with a tour or a guide: It will allow you to ride more calmly and above all it will tell you in which areas you can ride calmly and in which to pay more attention.
If you decide to go there alone, do not stray too far from the tourist areas guarded by the local police and if you can keep your smartphone and camera in your bag at least until you reach the Caminito, the most touristic area.
What to see in Boca
Although it is a very famous neighborhood (and that I carry in my heart for its Genoese nature) do not expect much: the touristic part is little more than two streets, but if you pay attention, some small pearl you can find.
If you are looking for a tour to get around in serenity and get to know a little more about Boca Civitatis offers this brand new GUIDED TOUR IN ENGLISH (one of the very few if not the only one you can find). The price is really low and therefore I can only strategic advice (that if I have not done it - indeed if you book it then let me know how you found yourself)
1 - El Caminito
Let's start with the tips on what to see in La Boca. The first tip is the Caminito.
This pedestrian street surrounded by colorful houses was once a large railway crossing.
The cheerful and colorful neighborhood, in past centuries was inhabited by poor immigrants, forced to live crammed into small shared houses inhabited by several families with a small skimpy kitchen and shared bathrooms.
The characteristic color of the houses in Boca was due not only to nostalgia for their land (they recall Ligurian houses) but above all by the fact that the paint used was the one that came from the coloring of the boats - we Genoese never throw anything away!
Many of the buildings that can be admired today are no longer the original ones, but a more or less faithful reconstruction desired by the painter Benito Quinquela Martin. The project was a great success and today the street has been recognized as an open-air museum.
The typical house of the Caminito area is called Conventillo. These are the old houses where immigrants lived. Many of them now house souvenir and craft shops, some have been turned into restaurants, while others are still inhabited houses.
If you can, try to get one of the inhabitants to invite you to see the original interior architecture. If you do not succeed, however, do not despair because many of them have been transformed into shopping galleries and are public access: if you put a little imagination you will still be able to get an idea of how the old houses were inside them.
Despite the cheerfulness and liveliness of the area, I cannot hide from you that the Caminito is really today very touristic and invaded by small shops, tacky souvenir stalls, kitch statues of Maradona and the Pope, magnets, low-value paintings representing tango dancers.
However, this does not mean that it is worth going here to visit the neighborhood: La Boca maintains a charm of its own, which not even merchandising can take away from it.
2 - Candy box
La Bombonera it is one of the most famous stadiums of Argentina and the world. Here plays the Boca Juniors, , one of the most followed teams in the country and Maradona's team of origin.
The fans are nicknamed by all the Xeneizes, to underline once again the close link with the Ligurian city.
The stadium was inaugurated in 1940 and has an unusual horseshoe shape. It is said that watching a Boca match is an unforgettable experience.
This is a must for all football fans.
Football fans who are lucky enough to attend a match in this mythical temple of football will never forget the roar for every goal of the home team.
In fact, the walls of the Bombonera really tremble, but it's not a good thing: it seems that the structure, old and dilapidated, is no longer able to bear the weight. In fact, there is a project to build a new stadium.
Be aware that guided tours are organized regularly inside.
Also here you can buy original Boca jerseys, sweatshirts and tracksuits: you will find many others in the stalls and shops around the stadium, but they are not original and are often of low quality.
3 - Museum of the Boquense Passion
Inside the La Boca stadium a Museum. Inside you will find a rich hall of fame, some statues and a huge mural dedicated to Maradona.
If you are a football lover you may want to consider visiting the stadium and its museum together.
4 - Museum of Waxes
Il Wax Museum of the La Boca district is one of those museums that often goes unnoticed in the eyes of many tourists and if you don't know it's there, it might escape you.
Inside one of the characteristic Caminito houses there is a collection of wax statues that tell the story of Argentina. In fact, it is not a museum where you will find wax statues of famous people, but reconstructed scenographies of the past life in Argentina, of traditions, uses and customs.
The Museum was created thanks to an idea of Professor Domingo de Tellechea, who was in charge of looking after the body of Evita Peròn.
The museum is small, but well done and very cheap. You can visit it in less than an hour, personally given the expense I really feel like recommending it.
5 - Museum of Fine Arts
Il Fine Arts Museum of La Boca it is located inside the house where the local artist Benito Quinquela Martín lived and worked.
Inside there are works and paintings that belonged to him, but also works by other contemporary Argentine artists.
The museum is located right near the bus stop which leads from Buenos Aires to La Boca, in a very suggestive position. The building, in fact, literally overlooks the sea and the view from the terrace is particularly beautiful.
6 - Proa Foundation
At the beginning of the Caminito, in a XNUMXth century building, the cultural center Fundacion Proa.
The center was founded in 1996 and since then it has hosted an exhibition of contemporary art.
The view from the top of the terrace is very beautiful: you can see the entire barrio.
7 - Usina de Arte Cultural Center
This other cultural center is located inside a restored old power plant.
Inside are hosted exhibitions, but also organized dance shows or theatrical performances.
It is not difficult that in the Art Factory Cultural Center you may have the opportunity to attend tango shows.
8 - Theater of La Ribera
If you are interested in tango, however, the place for you is the Theater of La Ribera, a little hidden gem that everyone really likes.
This was donated to the city by the artist Benito Quinquela Martín.
Some of his works are exhibited in the hall of the theater: even if you will not attend any show you could enter the entrance just to look around.
La Ribera theater has always been devoted to music, but since 2009 when the tango was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was decided to focus on local, traditional and popular music.
Where to eat in Boca
You will have no problem finding where to eat in Boca: the Caminito is littered with small restaurants (very touristy and quite expensive for the quality / price ratio) and some of them will try to lure you with tango shows danced right outside the door.
This is certainly not the best place to see the tango, but it certainly is very quaint and sitting for a sandwich and a beer watching the dancers is a pleasant interlude and a way to spend a quiet hour.
That said, some restaurants are really good and if you are looking for three restaurants (maybe for a nice dinner - but go by taxi! - at Boca you should check these out:
Native Encuentro (Calle Magallanes 854 Caminito): although super touristy, the meat and food are of good quality and the price is not very high. One of the best options in my opinion. The tango show is also nice. In short, if you are looking for a place to stop for lunch take a look.
The worker (Agustin R. Caffarena 64) is an institution in Buenos Aires. It is one of those neighborhood parillas that are also very popular with locals and where you will find a mix between tourists looking for an authentic experience and locals. As with most parillas, the food is simple but good and super-cheap. El Obrero is always very busy, therefore go early if you don't want to wait in line.
Patagonia On (Rocha 803): An exclusive restaurant owned by the most famous Argentine chef Francis Mallman and quite expensive, but if you ask me if it's worth it the answer is SI.
Where to sleep in Boca
La Boca in Buenos Aires is certainly not the best neighborhood to sleep in in Buenos Aires. At night and early in the morning it is quite dangerous and certainly not comparable to comfort Puerto Madero or Microcenter.
La Boca doesn't even have any particular nightclubs that make it worth staying here.
Accommodation in Boca is not a hotel, but it is much easier to find cheap hostels or apartments.
That said, if you really want to be daring and find a cheap place to sleep, below are 3 that are worth a look.
Wonderful Studio in La Boca: although not very cheap, it offers a very clean and bright apartment not far from the Bombonera and the Caminito. The reception is open 24/24 and there is Wi-FI. One of the best choices in Boca.
A little further from the Caminito (but always at an easily walkable distance) is located Parque Lezama Apartment offering a balcony and city views, a bedroom, a flat-screen satellite TV and a kitchen.
Among the truly economical choices,Hostel Junior It offers a restaurant, private parking, a bar and a terrace. Being a kind of hostel all the rooms have a shared kitchen and bathroom. The property provides a 24-hour front desk, an ATM and a currency exchange service. Particularly suitable for young backpackers.
GUIDED TOUR in ENGLISH
To get to know Boca better I recommend a GUIDED TOUR IN ENGLISH at an exceptional price. It is really worthwhile to learn more about the history of this particular little neighborhood.