The Bosque de Palermo is part of a series of green areas that run from the River plate stadium in Nuñez to as far as (one could argue) the Retiro train stations. If you are not familiar with BA, take our word for it, that is one BIG area. If you have the time, you should dedicate a few days to seeing the parks. But if you only have one day, you should go early and plan on finishing late.
Plaza Italia is as good a place as any to start exploring the parks. You can easily get there by the Subte line D (the green one) or by one of the countless buses that run up and down Avenue Santa Fe. But if you are staying anywhere in Palermo you might as well just walk.
The first area you will see is the Botanical Gardens. Entrance to them is free and they are home to hundreds of native and non native trees, as well as hundreds of stray cats. Don’t get too upset if you are a cat lover- fellow feline lovers from the neighborhood feed them daily.
Across avenue Las Heras from the Botanical Gardens the Zoo is found. It’s as good as any other zoo in the world. Open from 10AM to 6PM Tuesday to Sunday. Entrance costs 22 pesos, 34 with access to the reptile house, aquarium, rainforest house and a boat ride.
If you look across Avenue Sarmiento from the Zoo you will see the Rural exposition center. Originally the Rural was used to exhibit livestock and agricultural equipment to farmers from all over the country. These days agricultural shows are rare, but there are some excellent expositions held there, such as the annual Buenos Aires Book Fair.
Continue down Sarmiento away from Plaza Italia and you will come to Avenue Libertador. In the center of the round-about is the Monumento a los Españoles, a imposing bronze and marble statue donated by the Spanish to commemorate the centennial of the Revolución de Mayo.
Across Libertador is yet another park, In the far right corner of this park one finds the Japanese Garden, The biggest one outside of Japan. And if it weren’t for the noise from the street, you might just feel that you were at an Estate in Japan somewhere. In addition to all the usual things you would find in a Japanese Garden (Koi, Orchids , Bonsai trees, cute romantic brige crossing a pond etc.) there is also a library, a museum and an upscale café at the back of the property.
The Japanese Gardens are open every day from 10 to 6 in the evening. Entrance costs 8 pesos, children under 11 free. Free tours Saturday and Sunday at 11.
A bit further down Sarmiento one finds the Planetario de Buenos Aires. This planetarium is housed in a once futuristic looking building that now would be better described as si-fi retro. Its daily shows are great if you have ever wanted to understand the movement of the stars and planets. On Saturdays and Sundays starting at 4 in the afternoon one can observe the sun, and later after the sun goes down, planets and stars, through the eye of a telescope. The staff does a great job explaining astronomy, albeit in Spanish.
Note: The planetarium is currently closed for remodeling and is scheduled to open in October of 2011.
On the other side of Sarmiento is the Rosedal. This garden has 20,000 rose bushes from over 1000 varieties. from between the months of to . Since 2008 this has also been the place to pick up transvestite prostitutes at night. Some claim it is dangerous at night. We are not sure why transvestite prostitutes would be more dangerous than heterosexual prostitutes, but unless you are is the market for a fling with a transvestite, best to steer away from the Rosedal after dusk, especially if you are with children.
The rosedal sits on a man made lake where you can rent little paddle boats or just sit on the shores and get some sun. The roads that surround the lake are closed to vehicular traffic on weekends and many Porteños take advantage of this situation in order to bicycle, jog or roller blade. Vendors sell choripan, hotdogs, hamburgers and drinks.
If you are a cyclist or have an urge to do some exercise, BA has recently added a decent network of protected bike paths. And by protected we mean separated from the automobile traffic with barriers – not just by a line of paint. The city has always had bike lanes that run alongside some of the major thoroughfares in the capital. But motorists never respected those lanes and cyclists had to share them with cars, both moving and parked. These new bike lanes give the city hope in reducing traffic congestion.
One such path runs from Plaza Italia to the Retiro train stations, passing along side Libertador.
Behind the Rosedal, crossing Avenue F. Alcorta there are many tennis and esquetarian clubs as well as a velodromo and even a fencing club. Entrance to these clubs is usually private, but if you look presentable enough they will sometimes let you in to take a look around.
You can continue up Figuero Alcorta all the way to the River Plate football stadium if you like, but there is a lot of traffic and it might be noisy. A better suggestion would be to walk through the parks, but make sure you have a map since the roads tend to loop around and it is all to easy to get disorientated.
The Hipodromo de Palermo, on the corner of Libertador and Avenue Dorrego, has horse racing twice weekly, usually on Mondays and then Friday, Saturday or Sunday. But if the horses aren’t running there is still bars and upscale restaurants on the premises, and a massive casino in the lower levels. Schedule of races
If you golf, you may want to check out the Municipal Golf Course on Av. Ernesto Tornquist 6397(Par 72, closed Monday). Greens Fees are cheap, so you will have to make reservations ahead of time.
We have only touched the surface here of all the things there are to do in the strip of parks that runs from Belgrano to Retiro. We suggest you pick up a map from one of the tourist offices in the city and explore on your own. If you decide to do the whole length of the parks, you will need to take a taxi, bus or the subte back to where you are staying. Enjoy!