Quirky and One-of-a-Kind Attractions in Buenos Aires

A gigantic solar-powered flower sculpture, a ghostly abandoned cafe, Evita in neon lights, a modernist bridge modeled on the form of a tango dancer: Buenos Aires’ offbeat landmarks are some of the city’s must-sees.

Defensa 755, C1065AAM CABA, Argentina
Touring this one-of-a-kind urban villa and archaeological site allows a unique insight into the city’s history. The beautifully restored urban mansion was once the residence of a wealthy Spanish family; they fled for higher ground when yellow fever struck San Telmo, and the abandoned building later served as tenement housing for countless immigrant families. When a new buyer purchased the property in 1985, he discovered layers of historical objects in the subterranean tunnels. Today, knowledgeable local guides take small groups through the grand villa and its underground maze, pointing out the old water cistern and display cases filled with antique children’s toys, old hairbrushes and beautifully painted dishes, reminders of an era gone by.
Av. Rivadavia 1827, C1033AAI CABA, Argentina
Standing in Plaza Congreso, you might find yourself staring up at the Moulin Rouge-like windmill adorning an Art Nouveau building on the corner. Approaching the door, you’ll see it’s covered in cobwebs - this architectural landmark, once a glamorous cafe where politicians had coffee and tea between meetings, has been abandoned for years. Confiteria El Molino (‘el molino’ means ‘windmill’) has been closed since 1996, though local activists keep pushing to fund its restoration. So far, it hasn’t happened, and the fairy tale-like building on the corner adds an eerie ghostly feel to the busy urban intersection.
Thompson 598, C1424ALD CABA, Argentina
Here’s an intriguing historical fact most porteños don’t even know: Buenos Aires used to be called ‘the city of trams.” In its heyday, Buenos Aires’ tramway was the most extensive in the world, the city streets laid with 533 miles of tracks. Streetcars were horsedrawn at the end of the 20th century, then electric from 1897 onward, serving as the main mode of public transportation between the various neighborhoods and little towns of Greater Buenos Aires. By 1920, four companies ran nearly 100 routes, transporting 600,000 passengers per year. There’s little reminder of this spectacular system these days, save for a preserved section of the tramway in Caballito. Go for a ride back in time on one of the old-fashioned European streetcars, free on weekends. The car pictured here was brought over from Belgium: a gift from Brussels to Buenos Aires.
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