Buenos Aires Travel Guide | Argentina
Buenos Aires The Alleged Paris of South America
we have prepared a detailed travel guide for you. We gathered together things you should know about the city before the trip to Buenos Aires.
The Argentine capital is saturated with an impassion energy. And yet, beneath Buenos Aires’ sanguine disposition in sultry dancehalls, behind stone façades, and on cobblestone streets in lies a city beleaguered by its history. Having felt the stinging brunt of military corruption and economic crisis, the scars of social injustice have yet to entirely fade. Despite the persistance of painful memories, it’s also clear that Buenos Aires’ beautiful Porteños are looking forward. They dance and party passionately, fervently debate, and hold public protests, all in the name of a brighter future.
Sitting square on the Rio de Plata, Buenos Aires is Argentina’s economic and cultural capital. On the road to recovery, the city has looked to shake dejection and restore its former radiance successfully bolstering tourism as a result. The alleged Paris of South America, there is no denying that the B.A. style and sensibility is strongly akin to that of European cities. It’s fashion savvy and strikingly attractive populace chain smoke and boldly gesticulate as they engage in discussion over succulent stake. Boutiques, restaurants, museums, and galleries cater to alternative tastes, as Buenos Aires ushers in a new era.
- Sleeping and accommodation
Buenos Aires is abounding with cheap, well equipped, and comfortable sleeping accommodations, whether you opt for the city center, Palermo, San Telmo, Recoleta, and Retiro. And, for those willing to dish out a pretty penny, you’ll encounter nothing short of pure extravagance, from cutting edge hotels to grand, colonial mansions, in authentic Argentine style. For the frugal traveler, dorms can run for as cheap as $10 to $20 a night, while BA hostels offer unbeatable monthly rates. Tango City, located in the rustic San Telmo, is one of the city’s most highly regarded hostels amongst backpackers.
Travelers looking for long term accommodations with a home away from home feel, will find that the many fully furnished apartments for rent fall within a more than fair price range. The quirky budget boutique hotel, Youkali Kultur, in the central district of Montserrat, is one of B.A’s less conventional lodging options. Sporting only five rooms, each individually and idiosyncratically designed, the groovy, offbeat ambiance is sure to have you scratching your head and passing on a recommendation to friends.
- Eating & Drinking in Buenos Aires
Calling all carnivores. Argentines are the ultimate meat eaters, serving up the most succulent steaks you’ve ever laid eyes on. Jaws drop and mouths water when visitors behold the famed Parrilla grills characteristic of the country where cuts of red meat and blood sausage omit seductive smells. Perhaps equally as thrilling is how affordable these prime cuts can be. A steak of epic proportions, served with bread, salad, and a bottle of the robust Melbac wine, will run you at about 10 American dollars. With prices like those, indulgence is easy, and yet for a truly exceptional dining experience, the unbeatable bistro, La Cabrera of Palermo Soho, is compulsory. The ramekins of glazed onions, mashed potatoes, and roasted garlic that accompany your Alpha and Omega of filets, is sure to leave you in a state of rapture.
Another Argentine specialty are the meat or cheese stuffed pastries called empanadas. Thanks to the temperate climate, herbivores are also covered, with a huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetable available throughout the year. To salsify that sweet tooth, look no farther than dulce de leche, the sweet sauce of caramel consistency that will have you instantly hooked. Yerbe mate is not only Argentina’s national drink, it’s also associated with a common social practice. The drink is prepared by steeping dried yerbe mate leaves in hot water and is traditionally drank from a gourd, through a metal straw. Passing the gourd around in the company of others is customary and a great way to make casual conversation. Be careful not to gain weight on your Buenos Aires travel.
- Sights in Buenos Aires
The Plaza de Mayo sits in the very heart of Buenos Aires: the perfect point to embark on your site seeing expedition. Situated around its central obelisk are some of the city’s most important buildings, including Casa Rosada the pink palace sporting the famous balcony where Evita Peron stood over droves of her adoring Argentines along with the Metropolitan Cathedral, and Cabildo. For centuries, the plaza served as a public forum for political activism, a function that has stood the test of time. Every Thursday, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo congregate in the square to commemorate Los Desaparecidos: friends and family who disappeared during the infamous dirty Wars of the 1970’s.
For something equally morbid but historically fascinating, visit the Cemetery of Recoleta, which sits on 13 aches and constitutes a seemingly endless, small scale city of tombs and mausoleums. Home not only to the distinguished deceased, a colony of feral cats have staked their claim, sunbathing and meandering within its stone hedges. Museo de Bellas Artes sits not too far from the cemetery and houses one of the most important art collections of South America. If you want to get some culture on your travel. You must visit. Works are of both international and Argentine origin, ranging from the Middle ages up the to 20th century.
- Arts & Culture in Buenos Aires
The raw, erotic tension passes between the dancing duos, as they bend and twist to pulsing notes of the accordion. When performed by the best, this intricate, home grown dance can seem utterly effortless. Trumping your standard two step, Tango is, as Argentine poet Luis Alposta put it, ‘an art of synthesis.’ It’s a manifestation of the rhythm and passion emblematic of the Argentine nation. Originating as an alehouse dance first popular amongst B.A.’s impoverished dock workers, the dance slowly took hold of the city at large. Now, Tango is one of Argentina’s most important cultural traits, drawing countless enthusiasts to B.A’s steamy dance halls, called Milongas. Some of the better known and for good reason include Bien Pulenta, La Confiteria Ideal, Salon Canning, and El Nino Bien. If your travel will be long. Take a few tango lessons.
Aside from the performing arts, Buenos Aires is also home to a number of distinguished cultural institutions. The Museum of Fine Arts features works by a slew of the nation’s own notable artists, which sit adjacent to the likes of Rodin, Van Gogh, and Picasso. For your fill of Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, visit Malba, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, where their work is in permanent instillation along with special exhibitions. If history is more your preferred pastime, Museo de la Ciudad will help to grant a more nuanced understanding of the city’s colorful history. The museum exhibits some of B.A’s interesting social artifacts, including furniture, toys, magazines, and photographs.
- Nightlife in Buenos Aires
Argentines are experienced nighthawks, capable of outlasting even the most resolved of visitors. Perhaps that’s because, rather than kick back 10 beers at 10 o’clock, they wrap up a leisurely dinner at 11pm and hit the clubs no earlier than midnight. Whatever the tricks of their party hard trade, it makes for a supreme nightlife. In Buenos Aires, it’s commonplace to emerge from one of the many dark, sultry nightclub to find dawn breaking over the city. From techno to tango, Buenos Aires has an appreciation for most all genres. Some of the city’s stellar nightclubs include Puerto Madero’s Opera Bay, the converted factory space of Museum, in San Telmo, along with Pacha, on Rio de Plate, and Disco Niceto.
For something to quench that dance induced thirst, B.A serves up a beverage as equally potent as an Argentine night on the town. Fernet, made from a mix of herbs and spices, is a bitter, aromatic liquor typically used as a digestive agent. Cosmopolitan Argentine’s, however, have been known to put a spin on the old classic, adding coca cola and making Fernet a wildly popular party beverage. Effectively settling the stomach after a massive beef filet while inducing the party ready buzz, Fernet cola compliments the B.A lifestyle perfectly.
- Shopping in Buenos Aires
For those fed up with the prohibitively expensive fashion savvy city’s of Paris, Rome, and New York, Buenos Aires will have you in a shopping frenzy when you figure how pesos stack up to your home currency. Careening from one side of town to the next, you’ll find that each neighborhood possesses its own strong suits, collectively constituting the city’s thriving retail scene. For prime antiquity from seltzer siphons to Peronista propaganda the Marcado de San Telmo is a trove of vintage treasures. Along Defensa, one will also find small boutiques and book stores amidst shops brimming with Argentine relics. An exceptionally upscale shopping experience can be found around Plaza Serrano, in the barrio of Palermo. Palermo Soho is the breeding grounds from cutting edge tends, with droves of young designers opening their unique boutiques along its streets. To bring something characteristically B.A back to the homestead, some classic souvenir ideas include mate gourds and straws, Evita memorabilia, or some delectable duche de leche if can muster the will to obstain during the long trip home.
- Sports & Wellness in Buenos Aires
Argentina is mad about soccer. La Bonbonera (sweet box) is the famed football stadium of Buenos Aires, where the city’s two premiership soccer clubs, the Boca Juniors and the River Plate, regularly butt heads, both on and off the field. To escape from the city’s pervasive smog, the shady trees and bountiful blossoms of the city’s Jardin Japonés will do the trick. Constructed in an Asian style with bridges, waterfalls and Japanese real Ornamental fish, B.A have put forth valiant efforts for authenticity.
- Events & Festivals in Buenos Aires
The most notable event of Buenos Airs is a tribute to the city’s most popular art form. The annual World Tango Festival, which takes place from end of February through the beginning of March, offers Tango’s kings and queens the chance to show their mastery of this highly complex dance. In the city’s most renowned Tango halls, everyone who is anyone in the world of Tango takes to the floor, flawlessly gliding to the intense and impassioned accompaniment of B.A’s best orchestras. Beyond the event’s countless concerts, the festivities include exhibitions, free Tango lessons, and a short film series that collectively convey the cultural importance of this seductive, homegrown dance form.
B.A.’s annual events have both the body and the mind covered. Every year, the doors of Palermo’s Sociedad Rural open to welcome local and international authors, top book distributors, publishing houses, painters, educators and illustrators, for Buenos Aires’ two week International Book Festival. The most important of its kind within the Spanish speaking world, this festival is a chance for avid readers and academia alike to relish in their love for literature.
- Tours & Day Trips
For the ideal retreat for the B.A hustle and bustle, the town of Tigre lies in the north of Greater Buenos Aires, some mere 29 km from La Capital Federal. Catch the subway at Retiro station, and in less than one hour you arrive at the mouth of the winding rivers that characterize the area. With small, ramshackle houses, restaurants and hotels sitting on the water banks, as Tigre’s rivers serve to transport tourists to their intended destination. For a real change of scenery and a new stamp in your passport, consider a daytrip by Ferry bus or Buquebus to the Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay’s province of Colonia. Right across the Rio de Plata sits this quaint, historic town, where its colorful houses and cobblestone streets were build to resemble those of Portugal. To juxtapose the town’s tranquility, explore the city and ride along the coast in one of the easy to rent go carts.
Neighborhoods in Buenos Aires
- La Boca
Sitting at the mouth of the Riachuelo River, not too far south of the city center, La Boca is a mergence of B.A blue collar and the height of its urban tourism. The barrio’s most popular place is the pedestrian walkway, El Caminito, characterized by the carnival esque color scheme of its tin building facades, the impassioned street tango dancers, and authentic Italian taverns. In the 19th century, the resident populace, mostly Italian immigrants, doused their homes in vibrant shades of pink, blue and yellow, using leftover paint from the port barges. The bright colors of Caminito, however, conceal La Boca’s less sanguine reality. It remains one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, and warrants caution when walking away from the main sites of La Bombonera, home of the Boca Juniors, La Ribera theater, and El Caminito.
Recoleta is where old money resides. The elite who occupied San Telmo prior to the Yellow fever epidemic subsequently moved to Recoleta, where they lay their roots and made their decadence known. Host to some of the city’s most upscale restaurants, opulent architecture, boutiques, and cafes, Recoleta represents the height of B.A refinery. The weeky La Faria de Recoleta is a top tier Artisan market, showcasing exquisite handcrafts from etched silver boxes to delicate ornamental jewelery. To enhance your purchasing pleasure is a myriad of street performers, including the animated men on stilts and three piece tango bands, who sit on the market’s fringes. The famed Recoleta cemetery, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes are also situated within this distinguished barrio, constituting some of the major tourist draws.
- El Centro
El Centro represents the center of Buenos Aires hence the name and possesses some of the city’s most popular, post card worthy sites. Avenida 9 de Julio, named in honor of Argentina’s Independence Day, runs through the heart of the district and constitutes one of the world’s widest streets. Crazed drivers weave through one another on this impressive 12 lane thoroughfare, circumventing the large, imposing Obelisk that sits in the center of Plaza de la Republica. Engraved with Argentine historical facts and a point of convergence for political activism, the Obelisk is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. El Centro also possesses a number of important political and historical buildings situated in the Plaza de Mayo and Plaza de Congresso. After you’ve taken a turn through these historical hot spots, rest your weary limbs at Café Tortini, the legendary hub for artists and intellects that is among the oldest and most esteemed cafes in all of Buenos Aires.
- San Telmo
Now artist and student stomping ground, San Telmo has seen both the best and worst of times. Once home to Argentine aristocracy, the devastating Yellow Fever outbreak of 1871 stripped the area of its glitz and glam. As panic ensued, the rich fed to higher ground, leaving a rapidly crumbling San Telmo to those less fortunate. Since tourism and a truly bohemian crowd moved in, however, the area has seen iteself resurrected. Endeared by their dilapidated state and the profusion of stencil art, people now faun over the low rise, colonial mansions. Wrought ion lanterns hang over the narrow cobblestone streets, and quaint antique shops, traditional Parrillas, cafes, and tango dance halls fill the area. During the weekly Faria de San Telmo in Plaza Dorrego, the streets liven with the sounds of sultry accordion as small stands display their cherished antiquities.
- Puerto Madero
Offering yet another sophisticated stretch of eateries, clubs and hotels, Puerto Madero is the recently renovated commercial and residential district that runs along the Rio de Plata. The gradual decay of this port, once considered an engineering landmark, was largely forsaken until the 1990’s, when contractors conceived to completely revamp the area. Its waterfront integrity has since been restored, and in the place of its ramshackle warehouses and brick silos now stand luxury high rises and exclusive nightclubs. Albeit its relative inaccessibility with few seaport bound buses and no subway line its popularity hasn’t tapered amongst wealthy artists and expats.
Palermo is amongst the most popular and dynamic of B.A’s barrios. Spanning across 17 square kilometers, it’s also the city’s biggest district, reason being that, rather than just one neighborhood, Palermo is the sum of its smaller parts. Alto Palermo constitutes the barrio’s commercial center, boasting the shopping hot spot, Alto Palermo Shopping Centre, on Avenida Sante Fe. Palermo Hollywood is situated a bit to the west and is best known for its abundance of restaurants, cafes and bars. Its name was granted in the 1990’s when the area served as home to many of the city’s TV and radio producers. Palermo Viejo, or Old Palermo, is filled with impressive Spanish style architecture built at the turn of the 19th century. The fashion savvy area situated around Plaza Serrano is known as Palermo Soho. Striving for the bohemian feel, this fraction of the district is comprised primary of low rise buildings, sporting boutiques, bars and an alternative crowd.
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