While it’s true that Buenos Aires is as much of a concrete jungle as New York City, like the Big Apple it also has various parks and opportunities to escape from the always-bustling downtown.
Buenos Aires is on the coast, but the closet thing to a beach within the city itself is an ecological reserve beyond Puerto Madero. However, the “beach” there has no sand, but rather is simply a long and narrow stretch of very rocky terrain. The rest of the reserve is more or less just an area of land left untamed and uncultivated, with a few paths for walking or biking and some grassy areas.
The Botanical Garden in Palermo is one step up from the ecological reserve, in that someone tends to the plants there. It’s a pretty place to walk around, although there aren’t any flowers or especially exotic plants, just normal green vegetation.
The Japanese Garden, also in Palermo, is worth the 14 peso (it might be 16, I can’t quite remember) charge to get in. It’s very upscale, with a pond filled with fish surrounded by various bridges, sculptures, pagodas, etc.
The most famous park in Buenos Aires is called Los Bosques, and is once again in Palermo. The porteño equivalent of Central Park, this place is huge. There’s a pond where you can rent paddle boats, and various walkways and paths that are filled with people biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, running, walking, and doing all sorts of other semi-odd athletic things (such as five-minute long head-stands). In the large open grassy spaces I’ve seen everything from people sipping mate tea to concerts and festivals. Street performers and musicians also add to the leisurely atmosphere, which is much appreciated by locals after a long week of work. The planetarium is also in Los Bosques, as well as a large horse racing track.
However, if you’re looking for even more nature, head to el tigre — a delta region north of Buenos Aires that is known for its rivers and waterways. I’ve heard it’s quite a popular weekend destination, though my friends and I made the mistake of going on a Monday (a holiday), and it seemed rather deserted (I’m sure the rain that day didn’t help either). The usual thing to do in el tigre is to get on a water colectivo (instead of a public bus, it’s a boat) and take it to one of the many restaurants and mini-resort type places that line the banks of all the rivers. We did take one of these water colectivos, but as we had no idea where or how to get off, we just took it all the way back to the original port. After, we went to the local market, which is actually very fancy and sold mainly Pottery Barn type furniture. It was fun to see the area, but I wish we could have gone when it was busier.