With its excitingly diverse population; mix of Latin American and European influences; stately architecture; cultural strengths that stretch across literature, music, dance, theater, art, and sports; and friendly and open locals, Buenos Aires is one of the top study abroad destinations in Latin America.
So, why study abroad in Buenos Aires? Let’s dive in a bit deeper…
Study abroad in Buenos Aires because:
1. BUENOS AIRES HAS A LIVELY CALENDAR OF CULTURAL EVENTS.
Buenos Aires is an energetic city generally, but even more so at certain times of year. Porteños love a celebration, so you’ll find plenty to join in on when you study abroad here.
Track what’s on with this calendar, and plan ahead for some of the highlights. This includes Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Carnival, and Chinese New Year in February; Feria del Libro (book fair) and Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (independent film festival) in April; Arte BA (hundreds of art exhibitions and related events) and Feria Masticar (food fair) in May; Tango BA Festival y Mundial (tango festival) in August; Vinos y Bodegas (wine festival) in September; La Noche de los Museos (free entry and 3am close at over 100 museums, galleries, and cultural spaces with special events and buses between venues), the Festival Buenos Aires Danza Contemporànea (contemporary dance), Maratón de Buenos Aires (Marathon passing many famous landmarks), and Casa FOA (architecture, design, and landscape fair) in October; Día de la Tradición (celebrating gaucho culture), Gran Premio Nacional (horse race), Marcha del Orgullo Gay (Pride parade), Buenos Aires Jazz festival, and the Queer Tango Festival in November; and important Pato (like rugby on horseback) and Polo events in December.
2. BUENOS AIRES MAKES FOOD AN EXPERIENCE.
In Buenos Aires, food is a shared experience, meals are a time to build relationships and enjoy time with family and friends. No one is in a rush to move on to the next activity.
There are some must-try traditional favorite foods to taste when you study abroad in Buenos Aires. If you eat meat, steak is certainly one of them, and Conde Nast Traveler has a great list of the best steakhouses in the city.
Italian immigrants, who played a huge role in building the city, made their mark in the popularity of dishes like pizza and fresh pasta. Instead of the thin crusted Italian pizza, you’re more likely to find thick crusts, light sauce, and heaps of cheese. Locals may also add a slice of fainâ (chickpea pancake) on top. Milanesa is another popular dish—a thin piece of breaded and deep-fried beef or chicken topped with sauce, ham, and cheese.
Empanadas, choripan (bread and chorizo), and tamales are high on that list too. If you’re a cheese lover, try the decadent provoleta—a circle of provolone melted on the grill and sprinkled with crushed red pepper and oregano. For comfort food in the winter, try a stew like Locro (lima beans, white corn, chorizo, bacon, squash, and meat) or Carbonada (yellow corn, squash, sweet potatoes, dried peaches, and meat).
Ice cream and alfajores will satisfy your sweet tooth, and drinking the local mate with friends is a wonderful experience.
Vegetarian? No worries—there are still plenty of options for you! Hear from one of our past vegetarian Buenos Aires students for some tips on how to navigate Buenos Aires on a plant-based diet.
3. BUENOS AIRES IS THE PERFECT BASE TO LEARN AND PRACTICE SPANISH.
Spanish is one of the most useful second languages to study, ranking as the second largest native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese, and the official language in 21 countries. When you choose to study abroad with CAPA in Buenos Aires, you’ll have many opportunities to learn and practice the Spanish language. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner, or if you have some experience already.
Learning may start in the classroom and reach far beyond its walls. Take beginner’s level language courses or, if you're a Spanish language major or have a high level of competency, you can take classes taught in Spanish at Austral University’s Pilar campus.
Spanish language internship placements are available for students who have completed at least four semesters of Spanish language. This will help you connect with locals and understand the work culture of Buenos Aires while you practice the language, develop important professional skills for your future career, and build your resume. Other students may enjoy volunteering.
All CAPA students live in homestays with local families. This will introduce you to life in Buenos Aires through a truly authentic lens; you’ll be offered breakfasts and dinners daily, so you’ll eat like a Porteño; and you’ll be able to spend time getting to know your host family and speaking with them too.
The best way to learn a new language is immersion, and just being out in Buenos Aires, exploring, ordering meals, sitting in cafes, shopping, and taking in the many cultural attractions will give you many levels of exposure to the language. You’ll find yourself picking up new words and phrases daily and your confidence will grow exponentially by the end of your program.
4. BUENOS AIRES IS A CITY RICH IN DIVERSITY.
There’s a reason Buenos Aires locals are called porteños (which means “people from the port”); the city has a rich history of immigration and cultural diversity. It’s so important that the preamble to the constitution of Argentina contains the phrase “for all people who desire to inhabit Argentina”. It’s one of the most diverse cities in South America, the largest communities being from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Spain, and Italy, while the majority of porteños have European origins.
The city has one of the most vibrant Chinatowns in South America, a Little Korea neighborhood, lots of Japanese and Italian influence throughout the city, the largest Bolivian population outside of Bolivia, the largest Jewish population in Latin America, and a significant Armenian population.
Christianity is the most common religion here, but only about 20% practice their religion. The city is also home to Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Buddhists, and the biggest mosque in South America.
It’s an open city when it comes to sexual orientation too; Buenos Aires is known as the LGBT capital of Latin America and one of the world’s top LGBTQI+ destinations for travelers. It was the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, has South America’s biggest Pride parade, and passed a gender identity law which allows citizens to choose the gender with which they identify.
5. BUENOS AIRES HAS A FASCINATING HISTORY.
There’s a lot to learn with a deep dive into the history and politics of Buenos Aires and some excellent historic sites to visit if you’re interested in discovering more about its past.
We love the Museo del Bicentenario which is inside the historical military fort el Fuerte de Buenos or Zanjón de Granados, one of the most important urban archaeological sites in the city. The Memorial Museum (formerly ESMA) is a former torture center turned into a museum to promote and defend human rights where, among other things, you can learn about the story of Guerra Sucia (the "dirty war") when 30,000 citizens disappeared under military dictatorship in the '70s and ‘80s. Culture Trip outlines several other locations where you can learn about the dictatorship in Buenos Aires.
One of the most well-known characters associated with the history of Buenos Aires is Eva Peron (or EVITA), considered a national hero by some and the subject of the famous play that has been performed in theaters across the globe. Visit her place of work, home, and burial site which sits inside of the impressive Recoleta cemetery.
From the oldest square in Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo to Librería de Ávila, to the first bookstore in the city established in 1785, Frommers recommends many other local historic sites to visit.
6. BUENOS AIRES IS A DYNAMIC CITY WITH FRIENDLY, OPEN-MINDED LOCALS.
"It isn't the architecture you'll be drawn back to, the acres of the city set aside for woods and parks, or the fabulous meals of traditional grilled meats,” Smarter Travel wrote in their Buenos Aires travel guide. “What will entice you is the Latin sizzle, the soul of the porteños, and the genuine warmth and humor of the people you'll meet. It will be the automatic camaraderie you feel at a sidewalk cafe, the thrill you get from watching a couple performing a tango on a San Telmo street corner, the smile of a child wearing a Boca Juniors T-shirt. Whatever it is, we promise: You'll be hooked.”
The city is known for its endless nights, and there’s an action-packed calendar and diverse neighborhoods to explore, which means you’ll never run out of things to do. We love simply walking around and soaking up the atmosphere, stopping to watch impromptu dance performances in the streets, taking in the street food smells, popping into independent shops, and relaxing with a coffee at a sidewalk cafe on a lazy afternoon.
There’s high value placed on human relationships in Buenos Aires and the city is well-known and celebrated for its warm, friendly, welcoming, and open locals, who embrace the diversity among its residents.
It comes as no surprise that Buenos Aires regularly lands near the top of the list when it comes to best quality of life among Latin American cities.
7. BUENOS AIRES IS A CITY PASSIONATE ABOUT SPORTS.
In Argentina, Soccer (fútbol) is passion. It's the country's most popular sport and matches can get pretty emotional. When you study abroad in Buenos Aires, go see a Boca Juniors or River Plate game. The tickets aren’t very expensive and it's an experience not quickly forgotten! Also consider a visit to Estadio Monumental in Nunez, the national stadium where Argentina won the soccer World Cup in 1978.
Golf is very popular with more than 200 courses across Argentina. Horse racing is also big, and fans look forward to the Gran Premio Nacional each November. Argentina has more international polo tournament wins under their belt than any other country, including many years taking first in the World Polo Championship. Locals enjoy rugby, tennis, and basketball too.
For something a bit different, familiarize yourself with Argentina’s official national sport, Pato, which has a long national history. It was first played by gauchos. In the early days (stretching back to 1610), players used a live duck inside a basket instead of a ball, and it was a sport that often turned violent. It was banned in the 1880s and re-introduced with new rules inspired by modern polo in the 1930s. The game involves two teams of four men on horseback who try to throw a leather ball with six handles into one of two baskets at either end of a large field.
8. BUENOS AIRES IS THE LITERARY AND ARTS CAPITAL OF SOUTH AMERICA.
Buenos Aires is often referred to as the cultural capital of Latin America, with an impressive number of bookshops (more than 700, which is one of the highest numbers per capita of any city in the world) and theaters (more than 100). It was also recognized as a Creative City of Design by UNESCO in 2005.
The Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop (recently featured by National Geographic) lives up to its name and, with its setting inside a converted theater, is probably one of the most beautiful bookshops you’ll ever visit. There’s a limited selection of English books, but there are children’s books in Spanish that will help beginners learn, a huge selection for more advanced Spanish readers, and worth a visit regardless if you buy a book or not. Eterna Cadencia is also a charming and intriguing space and Libros del Pasaje has a great selection of English literature.
For live performances, watch for discounted tickets to a big show along Av Corrientes or head to a smaller alternative venue dotted across the city. The most famous theater, which is also the grandest and most elegant, is Teatro Colon, built in 1908 and ranked third best opera house in get world by National Geographic, with fourth best acoustics in the world. Culture Trip lists the best theaters in Buenos Aires, and you can bookmark The Bubble for all sorts of event listings. Circo moderno (contemporary circus) is also popular.
Art lovers are spoiled for choice with the range of visual arts galleries, from the most popular and well-established to more alternative exhibition spaces. You’ll also notice that there’s a thriving street art scene, as well as many sculptures and other forms of public art. This includes the famous Floris Generica, a giant aluminum and steel flower sculpture sitting above a reflecting pool in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas.
9. BUENOS AIRES IS FAMOUS FOR ITS MUSIC AND DANCE.
Continuing with the theme of culture, the music and dance scene in Buenos Aires is worth a separate mention. For many people, one of the first words that comes to mind when someone says, “Buenos Aires” is “tango”, a form of dance that has a long history in the city, with roots that stem back to the 18th century when it was mostly enjoyed by European immigrants, former slaves, and working and lower classes of people. Tango lessons are often one of CAPA’s featured My Global City activities. Ballet is also a popular type of dance here.
Before you travel tune your ears to the different types of music you’re likely to hear: traditional folk (including chacarera, chamamé and zamba), rock, pop, jazz, blues, Latin, and electronica. Lonely Planet has a breakdown of each of these including recommendations of local musicians and bands within each genre, so you can pop them into Spotify and start listening before you study abroad. Of course, make sure you head out to catch some live music while you’re there.
On weekends, you’ll spot buskers performing everything from music to dance to painting in the streets.
10. BUENOS AIRES HAS A CONVENIENT GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION.
If you’re interested in exploring more of Argentina, or wider Latin America, Buenos Aires is a fantastic base.
Take some time to experience life in Argentina’s countryside. Head out to las pampas (the plains) where life in the small towns near the Andes Mountains is slower paced and the gaucho culture thrives. CAPA students in the past have enjoyed visiting an estancia (a ranch) to ride horses and experience a traditional asado (BBQ).
Other exciting day trips include visiting the Tigre and Paraná Delta, San Fernando, Montevideo which is the capital of Uruguay, Colonia del Scaramento (one of Uruguay’s oldest towns and an UNESCO Heritage Site), the Temaikèn Eco Park, and the tiny town Carols Keen (off the beaten track but which backpackers call one of Argentina’s best kept secrets).
You might also plan to hop on a plane for a short trip on a weekend or during break week to experience nearby countries; Chile, other areas of Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil are excellent choices.
Why study abroad in Buenos Aires, you ask? Why not, we answer!