La Boca is one of the many barrios in the capital city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. La Boca means “the mouth” in English. This barrio gets its name from being situated right in the mouth of the Riachuelo Basin. You would think that this would be a beautiful sight, but the basin is actually pretty polluted and gives off a foul stench as you walk past it. However, the vibrant colors and high energy of La Boca will quickly take your mind off of the smell once you get there. You can definitely see that the Italian settlers from Genoa left their mark as the barrio continues to exude a European feel.
All of the colorful culture of La Boca makes it very unique from the rest of Buenos Aires. It is a great place to go if you want to escape the cool-toned feel of the city and here are three fun things to make sure that you do while visiting:
1. Walk Down “El Caminito”
El Caminito (or “little walkway” in English) is something that you can’t miss in La Boca. This is where you will find all of the color in the culture, so to speak. The walkway is basically an open-air street museum. Benito Quinquela Martín, an Argentine artist, painted the run-down buildings with vibrant colors and crafted statues to create a wonderful work of art in the 1960s. He also constructed a makeshift stage for the performers to show off their skills. El Caminito has a lot of character packed into a very small space. Even the cobblestone ground built to prevent flooding adds a little style, though it is a little rough to walk on.
In earlier times, La Boca was home to a lot of emerging immigrant artists, which allowed them to be in their own space away from the big city and politics. Artists still occupy this space so you will see a lot of pop-up stands with people selling their artwork and hand-made items. You will also find little shops filled with a variety of trinkets and souvenirs.
2. Catch an Open-Air Tango Show
In La Boca you will find restaurants where you can enjoy your meal alfresco while watching a live Tango Show. Some restaurants will have live singers and others will have tango dancers that dance to a recorded song. If you haven’t experienced the dance that originated in Argentina what better way to do it than to witness a live show in Argentina!
Do note that the restaurants and trinket shops are said to be overpriced, but La Boca has become a very touristy spot so it shouldn’t be surprising.
Not-So-Fun Fact: I left my phone in a restaurant in La Boca. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant so I googled pictures and finally found one that looked familiar. I called them on my house mom’s phone and got my phone back… after freaking out for hours, of course. Has that ever happened to any of you?
3. Experience a Soccer Match at La Bombonera
La Bombonera means “chocolate box” in English. It is a well-known stadium in South America where you can experience the famous Boca Juniors in action. This stadium can house about 49,000 fans, so you can imagine the atmosphere in La Boca on the day of a match – especially when against hometown rivals, River Plate.
Although both teams originated in the barrio of La Boca, River Plate (1901) migrated to the northern district of Núñez and the Boca Juniors (1905) remained in their birthplace. The two teams first met head-to-head on August 24, 1913, which became the start of a match that many have deemed bucket-list worthy.
The matches between the La Boca Juniors and River Plate get so heated that they have their own name, the Superclásico. Some have even said that the Superclásico is one of the biggest rivalries in the world of fùtbol, filled with an atmosphere of chanting, dancing, and never-ending fireworks.
Just as La Boca is known for its rich history and culture, it is also known for its danger after dark. So be cognizant of your surroundings, as you always should, and try to visit in the daytime hours.
Which of the three fun things to do in La Boca mentioned above attracts you the most?
Have you ever been to La Boca? If so, please share your experience in the comments.