Buenos Aires has to be one of my all-time favourite cities and although we can’t visit at the moment there is nothing to stop us planning for next year!
BA is known as the Paris of South America and it is easy to see why from its beautiful architecture and fantastic food. It is made up of several neighbourhoods or ‘barrios’, each with its own unique style. Highlights of some of these neighbourhoods are:
La Boca – home of Boca Juniors, most football fans will want to take a trip here. With its brightly painted houses and mesmerising street tango, it is well worth a visit. However, it is worth noting that it has a high crime rate and although tourist areas are safe, it is important to stick to them and it is advisable to stay alert at all times and avoid visiting after dark. There are guided tours available
Puerto Madero – situated on the riverbank this is probably the most modern part of BA, with its contemporary style buildings, modern skyscrapers and revamped warehouses converted into homes and offices. Stroll along the Puenta de la Mujer bridge, eat at one of the numerous restaurants and explore one of its two nautical museums
Palermo, comprising Palermo Soho & Palermo Hollywood – a trendy area well known for its café culture, cocktail bars and quirky shops, the area is very popular with expats and young Argentinians. This is where we stayed, and I had one of the best steaks ever here when I last visited! Also home to the Parque Tres de Febrero (see below)
Recoleta – Eva Peron is buried in Recoleta Cemetary and tourists are welcome to visit her tomb. After you have been to the cemetery, stop for coffee & cake or lunch at the historic La Biela café, or my personal favourite, Pani with its amazing selection of cakes. Also not to be missed in Recoleta, the Libreria El Grand Splendid used to be a theatre and is now one of the most amazing book shops in the world. For art lovers, make sure you spend some time at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
My top 5 things to do in BA
Tango at Esquina Carlos Gardel - Of course, no trip to Buenos Aires is complete without visiting a tango show, the official dance of Argentina. We went to the Carlos Gardel which is a beautiful venue from which to experience the national dance together with a live orchestra. The show lasts for two hours and standard show/dinner price includes a three-course meal and wine. It was such an amazing evening - I would definitely do it again. You will feel more comfortable in smart dress and it is not suitable for children.
San Telmo Market – This large street market is open every Sunday from around 10am to 4pm. It is really lively with street musicians every few meters and a huge variety of stalls that seemingly go on for miles. Unlike most markets, each stall offers something different and you are bound to find some unique gifts. Of course, there will be street tango to admire as you while away your time. Some of the cafés even have dancers you can pair with if you have the nerve! You must try out the street food in one of the many parrilla’s. San Telmo is one of the oldest barrios and is definitely on the up. It is generally a safe area, but it is best to be on your guard at night.
Café culture – There are numerous delicious cafés in Buenos Aires but there are two that are not to be missed. First, Café Tortoni, the oldest café in BA dating back to 1858, with its traditional décor, it is a real step back in time and very Parisian. Second, as above, try Pani. They have several sites in BA with the most mouth-watering display of cakes I have ever seen.
Palacio Barolo, Avenida de Mayo – A national historic monument, you can take a guided tour of this office building (must be pre-booked) which has an amazing viewing terrace and a Lighthouse Tower. The climb to the Tower is quite steep and narrow, so not suitable for those with reduced mobility. Well worth the trip if you can make it, though – the view is spectacular.
Parque Tres de Febrero - also known as Los Bosques del Palermo (Palermo Woods) this picturesque park is a beautiful place to get away from the city centre and unwind. You will find cyclists and rollerskaters in the park and can hire a pedalo on one of its two lakes. My favourite area was the Japanese Garden - really strange to see in the centre of Buenos Aires but very pretty. The Japanese Embassy donated the park to the city in the late 1960's.
Slightly further afield
About 45 minutes train journey from BA, a visit to Tigre is a must. This is a lovely tourist area situated on the Paraná Delta made up of a maze of islands. You can take a boat trip around the delta and view the spectacular nature the region has to offer as well as drool at some of the beautiful properties along the river banks. Tigres is also home of the largest amusement park in Argentina, Parque de la Costa. Try and go on a sunny day to get the best out of it
Surely no trip to Argentina is complete without a visit to a gaucho ranch and there are several day trips on offer. You can go horseback riding, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, watch the gaucho’s perform their amazing skills, watch folk dance & tango and drink wine. What more could you want?
Day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay – Again, try and go on a sunny day. The ferry takes around an hour from BA and costs about £35 return. We had a lovely lunch at El Torreón Restaurant where we sat and watched the world go by. If you can stay and watch the sunset, do!
If you would like more information on planning a trip to Argentina, call me on 07920 178957.