48 Hours in Buenos Aires
9am: Wake up, and smell the coffee…
This Latin metropolis and vibrant cosmopolitan city is brimming with slick coffee houses and buzzing brunch bars, but where better to start your day than an old time café; both El Ateneo, a former theatre converted into a café and bookstore, and the literary coffee house Café Tortoni are wonderful places to experience ‘café con leche y medialunas’ (creamy coffee and croissants). Or head to Pani or Oui Oui, stalwarts of the hipster Palermo district, or Le Blé in Palermo Hollywood, which serves the best chocolate muffins in the city.
11am: Get ready to walk
BA really puts a spring in your step, with streets made for strolling. Begin at the city’s heart in the Plaza de Mayo, and as you glance east you’ll see the Argentinian president’s office, where Eva Perón made her iconic balcony appearances. Carry on to Plaza San Martín, a favourite spot of the city’s literary hero Jorge Luis Borges. Mention him to one of the locals during your stroll and you will make a Porteño friend for life!
1pm: Dine like a local
To experience authentic Porteño flavors, hunt for a ‘parilla’ (traditional Argentine steakhouse) and uncover a hole-in-the wall restaurant where locals hang out eating sizzling melt-in-the-mouth steaks and discussing everything from dog walks to politics. We recommend the hidden gems in the Las Cañitas section of Palermo for top-notch succulence…
3pm: Get lost in the Cementerio de la Recoleta
Join stray cats and dog walkers as you uncover a necropolis of narrow avenues and mournful trees – for centuries the resting place for the city’s elite and infamous, for the good, the bad, and the ugly; presidents, musicians and poets – and of course Evita herself- all lie here in a sprawling cemetery of over 6,400 above-ground mausoleums, built in a mish-mash of styles and spreading over four city blocks. Totally unique.
5pm: Tea Time
Don’t miss tea at L’Orangerie at the Alvear palace hotel. A hit with the city’s elite, and nestling in the chic heart of the city, it’s the place to be seen. For a more laid back affair, head to the traditional Caballito neighbourhood for Las Violetas coffee store, and try a famous ‘La Violetera’ tea – best shared with friends.
6pm: Be a pre-dinner culture vulture in the Teatro Colon
No visit to this cultural city is complete without a trip to the famous Teatro Colon, considered one of the best concert halls in the world. The spiritual home of Argentinian ballet and opera, it has hosted the cream of the crop of dancers and musicians over the last 105 years, and features an ornate auditorium that holds 3,500 people. Tours operate daily and allow you to fully appreciate the grandeur of the interior.
8pm: Experience the national obsession – it’s time to Tango!
Tango is Argentina’s obsession. Café Tortoni puts on fabulous nightly displays, as does the Esquina Carlos Gardel, named after the tango composer. Alternatively, head to Faena for the Rojo (red) tango show – the sexiest ticket in town. Dine late into the night as you watch this passionate display.
9am: Take a ride and clear the cobwebs
Cruise through the evocative heart of BA, La Boca district. Get your driver to show you the key sights (part of the neighbourhood is best discovered by car): La Bombonera, the cauldron-stadium home of Boca Juniors, and Caminito, the iconic street painted by artist Benito Martin in the Fifties, and are not to be missed. Then, if the weather is nice, ditch the car and hire a bike. Over 100km of cycle tracks have sprung up in the past two years, and some cafes are even offering discounts for those who turn up by bike; try one of our favourites, Fifi Almacen, serving healthy, regional and downright delicious ‘fast’ food, before continuing your ride through the cycle-friendly Puerto Madero neighbourhood to enter the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve.
11am: Stroll through the park
En route to an afternoon’s shopping in Palermo, walk down Avenue Santa Fe to Plaza Italia. Once there, turn right, and you’ll discover a maze of parks and rose gardens where you can join the locals with their dogs, papers and friends.
12pm: Time for window shopping
The Palermo district is dotted with hipster fashion outlets and buzzing boutiques; head to Honduras and Gurruchaga Streets or Armenia square for the coolest selection. For the slickest silver items, head to Aracano or Marcelo Toledo in upmarket Recoleta, where you’ll find souvenir shops dotted amongst the designer dens. Avenida Corrientes is great for bookshops, the best is Librería Hernández. Or, if you prefer, avoid the high street and try one of the pop-up ferias (markets) you may see advertised on trees and signposts.
2pm: Go Art Crazy
Start your art-filled afternoon at the famous San Telmo Flea market on Defensa street. Taking place on Sundays, the Feria de Antigüedades deserves the hype; not merely a market, it’s also a buzzing fair, with live music, tasty street food and plenty of local art. Continue to Puerto Madero – an absolute must for art junkies with its Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. This striking gallery was built in 2008 to showcase 20th Century Argentinian art, as well as pieces by Klimt, Dalí and Rodin. The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) in Palermo also shines a spotlight on Latin art in the 20th Century and is considered one of the best collections on the continent.
Palermo Soho buzzes at night, especially around Plaza Serrano. We recommend Olsen in the heart of Palermo’s Hollywood – a great spot to hang out with the hipsters and take advantage of the garden to cool off in in the steamy summer months. Don’t miss ‘The Mint’, a cocktail combining passion fruit pulp vodka and mint leaves. For a more refined experience head to Frank’s Bar, one of the best bars in the city, whose cocktail menu has won many awards. You’ll need a secret password on the door – we’ll be happy to oblige.
9pm Secret dining
Never short of dining options, BA can offer a gastronomic surprise every night. However, we must recommend Casa Coupage, one of the city’s best ‘puerta cerrada’ (closed door) restaurants in Palermo Hollywood – an easy stroll after your cocktails! Here they offer one of the most delicious tasting menus in town, pairing some of Argentina’s best wines with an assorted array of delicacies.
11pm Hit the dancehall
Everyone eats late in Buenos Aires, but, as any Argentine would tell you, the night is young! It’s now time for you to leave in style and dance the night away at a typical milonga or local tango club. At La Viruta you can take lessons, watch demonstrations, and try your skills on the open dance floor; but no leaving until café con leche y medialunas are served again at around 5:30. And you’re right back where you started.