Lost Girls’ Guide to Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina, City Guides, Travel Guides - Country Guides — By on June 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

By Annie Shustrin

There are few cities in the world that can be diverse both in culture and history while at the same time maintaining a strong individual soul. One of those cities is Buenos Aires. Commonly called the “Paris of South America,” its European roots are evident in the architecture, wide city boulevards, and cuisine. At the same time, the laid back attitude of the city’s residents (porteños) is indicative of Argentina’s rugged outdoor and artistic culture. Buenos Aires is a must see destination in South America — being 2nd largest city on the continent it is an epicenter for art, entertainment, shopping, cuisine, and culture. Like most cities in the world, Buenos Aires offers endless possibilities, so you might want to plan out your visit ahead.

Getting Around

Getting around Buenos Aires is a breeze with the various transportation options (all of which are easy on the wallet). The Subte (the city’s subway system) connects most of main neighborhoods making it a great option for traveling long distances. The bus system is helpful for reaching neighborhoods where the Subte does not go. Unfortunately, buses can be pretty difficult to figure out, so obtaining an up-to-date bus guide is essential. City taxis are pleasingly inexpensive, but try to avoid rush hour as traffic can cause your fares to skyrocket.

Eating and Drinking

Medialunas Cafe Con Leche Buenoes AiresArgentinian cuisine is one of the main highlights of visiting Buenos Aires. First and foremost, Argentina is famous for its steak. Local steakhouses (parrilla in Spanish) are everywhere and should be your first culinary stop. In addition to the steak, Argentina is also known for empanadas: little pockets of either fried or baked dough stuffed with savory fillings of meats, vegetables, and cheeses. As many of Argentina’s original European immigrants were Italian, some Italian dishes, such as homemade fresh pasta and thick crust pizza, are staples in Argentina.  For something sweet, make sure to try the Argentinian treat Dulce de Leche or a plate of medialunas, small flaky croissant-like pastries.

And of course, there is the wine. Argentina is a major wine producing country most well-known for Mendoza’s premier grape Malbec.  A great bottle of a Malbec is extremely affordable in most stores and restaurants, so make sure you drink plenty of it along with your steak and empanadas!

Where To Go & What To See

Buenos Aires is a city of diverse neighborhoods. Experiencing the different personalities of each area is just as important as seeing the sights themselves.  The grandness of some and the historic humbleness of others is key to Buenos Aires’ dynamic identity. The neighborhoods listed here have some of the most popular and uniquely Buenos Aires places and are all worth your time.

• Centro

Centro Teatro Colon Buenos AiresThe central part of the city is home to many important icons besides being the main artery for business and government.  All of the Subte lines run through this area making it easy to get around.

Things to See:
Argentina’s presidential building, Casa Rosada (The Pink House), sits at the head of Plaza de Mayo. And while you shouldn’t cry for her, you can see the square and the balcony Eva Peron made famous. Not too far away is the Buenos Aires Obelisk. This 68-meter tall tower is located right in the middle of the city’s biggest boulevard, 9 de Julio. For a night of culture or classical music, there’s no better choice than the Teatro Colon. It was a recently renovated and the interior is elegant and beautiful designed.

Recommended:

Café Tortoni – For an afternoon medialuna and café con leche , the famous Café  Tortoni on Ave de Mayo is a perfect choice in central Buenos Aires.

Palacio de La Papa Frita – This Parrilla is known for its papas soufflé – hot, fluffy fried potatoes that seriously put French fries to shame.


• San Telmo

Plaza Dorrego San Telmo TravelshusSan Telmo is the most historic neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and for that reason it is one of the most popular with travelers. Colonial buildings and abundant street art give the neighborhood a welcoming and edgy vibe.  There are plenty of hostels and inexpensive hotels here, so it’s a great budget area to call home base.

Things to See:
Plaza Dorrego is San Telmo’s main square and makes a good spot to grab a drink and check out an outdoor tango performance in the nice weather. On Sundays, San Telmo hosts the antiques fair, which completely takes over the whole neighborhood with artists selling arts, crafts, and antiques. Veggie burritos and homemade jewelry are easily found here.

Recommended:

Todo Mundo Café – Take in a free tango show over dinner right across from Plaza Dorrego.

Mercado de San Telmo – This indoor market is great for local groceries, prepared food, and even more antiques.

• Palermo

Palermo La Bomba Del Tiempo

Palermo is one of the largest neighborhoods in the city. As such, it is broken up into smaller subdivisions that help define the intricacies of its personality. The mostly residential area Palermo Viejo, once home to Che Guevara and Jorge Luis Borges, is now home to many small restaurants and cafes. Palermo Soho has an edgy and alternative attitude with its many bars and clubs all cent

ered on Plaza Serrano. Palermo Hollywood is home to several TV stations and art studios as well as nightclubs and restaurants.  All three sections are perfect for a traveler seeking the Buenos Aires nightlife. (Porteños are serious about their nightlife so get ready!)

Things to See:
Start in Plaza Serrano, the center of activity in Palermo Soho. All day long its cafes and bars are crowded with locals and tourists alike. Also, do some shopping at the local offbeat shopping collectives that feature independent artisans. For a quiet place to enjoy the South American favorite drink mate, head to the Botanical Gardens. But, you’d better like cats though, since the gardens are home to hundreds of strays. Another worthy landmark is the Floralis Generica. This enormous metal flower sculpture sits in United Nations Park, and depending on the time of day, the massive petals will open and close like a real flower.

Recommended:

Don Julio — This is one of the best parrillas in the neighborhood. Amazingly, a steak dinner for two with dessert and wine (and possibility an aperitif if you are in the mood) can cost as little as US$50. Palermo Viejo.

Niceto – This local staple of a nightclub is ranked as the #1 club in Palermo. Their weekly parties are popular and most DJs play a local flavor of music. Palermo Soho.

Konex /La Bomba del Tiempo – Though on the outskirts of Palermo near the area Abasto, Konex is host to the weekly music event “La Bomba del Tiempo.” A troupe of drummers entertains a crowded warehouse full of young Portenos every Monday night, rain or shine. This party is a unique part to the Buenos Aires nightlife and shouldn’t be missed by those seeking something more than just a club.

 
• Recoleta

Recoleta CemetaryThis neighborhood is one of the nicest in all of Buenos Aires. Its European architecture and expansive parks give the area an elegant and stately atmosphere. Some restaurants and most hotels here are high-end and are great options if you are looking for a splurge.

Things to See:
The Recoleta Cemetery is worth a visit to see the artistic stone mausoleums of Buenos Aires’ historic high society. Make sure to wander past Evita’s mausoleum, actually labeled Eva Duarte. On Sundays, Plaza Francia transforms into an all-day crafts fair. A maze of stalls winds around the park, food and drink vendors sell snacks, and locals enjoy mate and local music on the lawn.

Recommended:

El Estrebe – This unassuming parrilla is a laid back place to get a quiet and well prepared steak dinner. Try the baked onion side dishes as an alternative to the standard potato options.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop – If bookshops can be famous, this one would be the most famous in Buenos Aires. The building is an old theater, which gives the shelves of books and included café a ton more ambiance than a Barnes and Noble.

 

• Puerto Madero and Boca

Boca Colorful BuildingsBoth of these neighborhoods are more difficult to get to as there is no Subte access; however the effort will be well rewarded for those who venture out here.

Things to See:
Boca used to be the main port for the city, but many tourists now head here to see the well-known colorfully painted buildings and to enjoy a tango performance. Also in Boca is La Bombonera, home to the famous Boca Juniors Soccer Club. Attending a game at this stadium is an unforgettable experience as the fans are amongst the most passionate in the world. Be careful not to stray too far from the crowd though, as some areas are still a little rough.

The Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, a protected marshland on the opposite side of Rio del Plata in Puerto Madero, is home to many species or birds and plenty of walking and biking trails. Though it sits next to the high-rise apartment buildings that characterize Puerto Madero, it still feels like a million miles away from the heart of the city.

Recommended:
Puerto Madero food carts – There’s no better late night snack than Choripan – a grilled chorizo sausage on a freshly baked roll. The riverwalk is lined with many small parrilla carts, selling choripan amongst other meaty options all day long.

 

Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now. After years of deliberating and planning, Annie and her husband took a yearlong Round- the-World trip, which was also their honeymoon. She writes about her experiences on her blog, and she’s hoping to help any travel lovers who need advice on planning  both long term and short term trips. Currently, Annie is living in Brooklyn, New York, working in the digital media space.

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