La Boca Buenos Aires sounds familiar to everyone. For the colorful streets such as El Caminito, the history of tango, or just the football team Boca Juniors. It is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. I give you all the information: the history, what to see and do in La Boca, and if La Boca is safe for you.
The history of La Boca and El Caminito, Buenos Aires
In 1536, Pedro de Mendoza established Buenos Aires on the banks of Rio de la Plata. But we have to look up to the mid-19th century. At that time Buenos Aires was growing rapidly because of international trade and La Boca became more important. Immigrants coming from Spain and Italy gathered together in La Boca. However, most of them were poor when arriving in Buenos Aires.
The immigrants started to work in the La Boca harbor located at the Riachuelo River. The harbor was booming and warehouses were processing Argentinian beef for shipping around the world.
The workers collected paint leftovers, metal sidings, and more. Not aware at that time, but it gave a unique look and feels to La Boca and the famous little path El Caminito in Buenos Aires.
Afterward, for decades industrial waste was dumped in the river and La Boca was neglected. After a while, politicians took action and cleaned up the water around La Boca and made the neighborhood more attractive to live and visit.
The main attraction in La Boca is El Caminito or “Little Path”. It was named after a 1926 tango song by Juan De Dios Filiberto. The song inspired Benito Quinquela Martin to create El Caminito to La Boca’s landmark in 1955.
Safety in La Boca
The safety in La Boca depends on when and where you go. La Boca in Buenos Aires is not an area where you can wander around at night as your safety is not guaranteed. The touristic area around El Caminito is safe for tourists during day time. Stay around El Caminito and discover the restaurants, museums and gift shops of many artists. Do you have safety questions? The tourist police are visibly active in the streets.
My La Boca safety tips:
- Stay around El Caminito. It’s perfectly safe during the day.
- Watch your belongings.
- Don’t visit when it’s dark. Not that safe for tourists.
- I don’t advise you to walk from the city center to La Boca.
Things to do in La Boca Buenos Aires
Honestly, don’t expect too much from La Boca. The neighborhood around the touristic zone is grisly and unsafe after sunset. The tourist area is not bigger than 2 streets. However, it is beautiful during the daytime to take some pictures of the colorful houses and little stores.
El Caminito, Buenos Aires
Caminito or “Little Path” in English is one of the world’s most famous paths. It is typified by colorful houses made with industrial remains such as metal plates and wood. The bright colors are the result of thousands of paint leftovers.
“El Caminito” was originally a small river in La Boca that ended in the Riachuelo. After a while the river dried up, then it became an access road to the harbor. Years later it was abandoned and it went into decline. Local artist Benito Quinquela Martín went to work with local residents to transform El Caminito into what it is today. A colorful street where artists exhibit their works. An outdoor street museum. My number one in top things to do in La Boca Buenos Aires.
Explore the history at a Conventillo
Conventillos are the old houses located around El Caminito. When walking around in La Boca you will have the possibility to visit some galleries. These galleries give you access to the old houses of La Boca. Go up the stairs and enter the house. A throwback in time.
Fundación Proa Museum
Just around the corner, there is the Proa Museum. It has temporary exhibitions, shows, and an auditorium.
Puente Transbordador del Riachuelo
At the mouth of the Riachuelo river, you will find one of the twenty remaining transporter bridges in the world. The bridge dates from 1914 and was the link between Buenos Aires city and Maciel island for years. It uses a transporter module that went back and forth instead of a typical road. Puente Transbordador had to be so high to be able to receive the ships in the harbor nearby.
The bridge was in use until 1960 and went into decline together with La Boca. In 1990 people started to upgrade La Boca again and the idea was to demolish the bridge. The bridge was retained after protest from the neighborhood residents.
Today, the bridge is an important part of Buenos Aires history and a little bit hidden in the list of top things to do in La Boca.
Boca Juniors Stadium “La Bombonera”
The hotspot for football fans and the home of Diego Maradona in 1981 and from 1995 till 1998. La Boca was founded in 1905 and since 1913 the football clubs always played in the Argentinians First Division. The Boca Juniors do have an impressive history and this all happened in “La Bombonera”. Every home game La Boca receives 49.000 fans from all over the world. However, as a tourist is it difficult to get a ticket.
A top thing to do in La Boca and Buenos Aires: a visit to “La Bombonera”. At the stadium, there is the Boca Juniors museum that opens every day from 10h till 18h, except on days when there is a home game. More info here.
Secrets of La Boca Buenos Aires
Why does blue and yellow are the dominant colors in La Boca Buenos Aires? First of all, because of the Boca Juniors. The football club is immensely popular in Buenos Aires and the world.
In 1906 the Boca Juniors and Nottingham de Almagro played against each other. Because the two teams had familiar club colors, it was the idea: whoever wins the game, keep their club colors. The Boca Juniors lost the game. Afterward, the idea was that they would take the colors of the first ship that enters the La Boca harbor in Buenos Aires. And the first ship was from Sweden, blue and yellow!