The neighbourhood of La Boca is one of the main attractions of Buenos Aires; if you are travelling or passing through the Argentine capital and wondering what to see in Buenos Aires in two days, t is difficult to miss this emblematic enclave in the south of the city. And, above all, El Caminito.
El Caminito is one of those places that fit perfectly into the cultural melting pot model of a city. In other words, it is a place where we can easily trace some of the elements that have made Buenos Aires what it is today: European immigration, football, Argentina’s constant evolution and of course, tango.
So get ready to enter the La Boca neighbourhood with us and discover all its charms. We will focus specifically on El Caminito, as it could not be otherwise. This way you will know what to expect and where to go when you go to visit it in person.
A little bit of history
The mouth of what? It’s the question we all asked ourselves the first time we heard the name of the La Boca neighbourhood. Well, the mouth of the Matanza-Riachuelo River, that is to say, its mouth in the La Plata River, marking the southern limit of the city of Buenos Aires.
The origins of the neighbourhood go back to the 19th century, when the marshy areas were chosen by the humblest European immigrants, especially those of Genoese origin, because of their proximity to the port areas of the city. This Genoese imprint would be fundamental for this neighbourhood.
At the end of the century, the port reached the neighbourhood, which underwent major port and railway infrastructure works, but maintained its status as a disadvantaged, almost marginal neighbourhood. The famous tenements, houses with corrugated metal walls and ceilings painted in bright colours (actually leftover paint from other places) became its hallmark.
The 1950s would be a key year for the La Boca neighbourhood. The local painter Benito Quinquela was the prominent figure in a movement to restore the neighbourhood, embodied in the museumisation of El Caminito. Since then, this little corner of Buenos Aires has become one of the essential stops for anyone who comes to the city.
What are you going to find in the neighbourhood of La Boca, Argentina?
The neighbourhood has many attractions, but undoubtedly the most famous of them is Caminito. It is a section of a curved railway branch built on a former stream by a British railway company in 1866, which would be closed in 1928 and that meandered between the tenements of the neighbourhood.
After its closure it was a sinuous and dangerous path and dumping ground that would be restored in the 1950s; Quinquela encouraged the inhabitants of the surrounding area to repaint their homes in vivid colours, managed to close it off from traffic and also installed numerous works of art, around twenty, which can still be seen along the Caminito.
In addition to being an open window to the city’s working and immigrant past, it is an emblematic place for tango in Argentina. Caminito, one of the most famous and ancient tangos, it is inspired by this corner of Buenos Aires (although the lyrics are older and speak of another place). With great skill, the alley was thus renamed in the fifties in a skillful marketing maneuver.
Although the Caminito de La Boca street museum is something like the tourist epicentre of the neighbourhood, there are other attractions that we cannot fail to mention. What would Buenos Aires be without La Bombonera? Without the Vuelta de Rocha? And without the Quinquela Martín museum? Or without La Ribera Theatre? And the Puente Transbordador?
OUR ADVICE: If you want to see a match of Boca, it is advisable to go to a tourist agency to get the very valuable tickets. In any case, go early, choose stalls (at least for the first time) and let yourself get carried away.
What you can do in the neighbourhood of La Boca
The truth is, you can do a lot of things. To begin with, walk up and down the Caminito street museum, enjoying the cheerful artistic atmosphere of the alley. But… What else?
- If you’ve been looking for tango in Argentina, you couldn’t be in a better place. You’ll find yourself, whether you like it or not, with couples from the 1920s performing authentic art on the cobblestones.
- Maybe you’ve searched the internet for something like ” neighbourhood of la boca in Argentina photos ” and you’ve been dazzled by the colour and composition of what you’ve seen… It”s normal. So empty the card and prepare the camera, because in live it is of course much better.
- Do you prefer museums? No problem. The Usina el Arte (an old and monumental electrical factory) has a varied and powerful agenda, as does the Fundación PROA of contemporary art. The Film Museum… well, this one has an obvious theme…
- If you’re a football fan and watching a game at Boca Stadium isn’t enough (something highly recommended), stop by the Boquense Passion Museum, and you’ll experience what is a more intrinsic feeling in Argentinian than dulce de leche and Mafalda together.
- To get to know the more idiosyncratic and less touristy La Boca, pass by the Volunteer Fire Station (a success in a very inflammable neighbourhood) and the Torre del Fantasma, a beautiful modernist building in Wenceslao Villafañe 361 with a sinister history behind it.
Clásica pared multicolor de La Boca. / La Boca’s classical multicoloured wall.
Argentina, tango, football, Boca; the essence of the country
We will leave you with this little stroll through the neighbourhood of La Boca, which surely won’t hurt you to get into this Buenos Aires enclave that even declared a brief independence back in 1882; but that’s another story…
Remember, we’d love to hear from you, whether it’s to add something, share your experience, or correct something we have talked about.
From Tubillete we can help you to shape your trip to find the best options for travelling, accommodation, transportation, activities etc. Simply contact us. If you would prefer us to take care of all the organisation of your trip so that everything goes perfectly, call us on 922 15 12 51 or send us and an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get to work.
Redactor. Especialista en Viajes.
Uno de esos que piensa que nunca se puede viajar demasiado, y que no hay que irse a la otra esquina del planeta para descubrir un nuevo mundo. Veinte años con la mochila a cuestas y sin ganas de posarla, todavía… En familia, con amigos o con las ganas de escribir como única compañía, y la afición a la historia como bastón.
Editor. Travel specialist
One of those who thinks that you can never travel too much, and that you do not have to go to the other corner of the planet to discover a new world. Twenty years with the backpack on his back and unwilling to pose, still … In family, with friends or with the desire to write as a sole company, and the love of history as a cane.