Argentina | Buenos Aires
Savory steak at the local parillas, scrumptious empanadas, delectable Malbec red wine, sweet dulce de leche, the passionate dance of the Tango, boutique shopping, nightlife; these are just a few of the many pleasures of bustling Buenos Aires, Argentina. Having just returned from a trip there I can say this is definitely a destination to add to your bucket list!
South America is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go so the opportunity to visit Argentina was perfect for a first trip to dip my toe in the water so to speak. I adore the Latin American and Spanish cultures. I love the cuisine, the language, the people and their relaxed lifestyle. When I was in Argentina I noticed their days and nights don’t feel rushed with the days starting later as well as their night activities. It is the norm to eat diner quite late around 10 or 11pm. It isn’t a rushed meal but rather a relaxed social gathering. It reminded me of the Spanish culture from when I lived in southern Spain. Quite simply put; they work to live, not live to work. Personally I think they have it right.
I also found the people to be friendly and helpful even in a bigger city like Buenos Aires. People would stop and offer help if we looked lost and were always willing to talk with us even with us speaking very broken Spanish. They would smile a lot and seemed to appreciate we were at least trying to speak their language.
During our time in Argentina we were mainly in Buenos Aires however we did take a day trip via ferry to Colonia, Uruguay and spent a few days in Mendoza, the wine region. If you enjoy discovering new wines you should go to Mendoza specifically to the Maipu and Uco Valley areas. You just may come back with a bottle of Malbec or two or three to add to your wine collection. The wineries are nestled in the gorgeous countryside so not only is the wine delicious but the scenery is quite spectacular.
Since we spent most of our time in Buenos Aires I’ll share my top picks for things to see and do. The city itself is divided up into a number of different neighborhoods so I’ll take you on a little tour of those areas I recommend.
Palermo Soho This is the IT spot for the best shopping in the city! Boutiques owned by local designers line the streets and you can spend a lot of time here if you are an avid shopper. How great is it to go back home styling something new from a foreign designer? You’re almost guaranteed to be unique! I just may have snagged a handbag or two from a local designer myself! Trendy restaurants and boutique hotels are sprinkled throughout the shops, which makes Palermo Soho a prime spot to stay during a visit to Buenos Aires. I highly recommend the Mine Hotel, a fabulous boutique hotel with exceptional service.
Recoleta Known as one of the more elegant neighborhoods in the city, this is an area where tourists flock to mostly because it is quite pleasant to walk around and also is considered safer than some other parts of the city. Restaurants, shops, cafes and bars are in abundance. The Recoleta Cemetery is definitely worth a visit. It is considered one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Eva Peron’s tomb is in this cemetery along with former presidents, writers and artists. If you are in the Palermo Soho area you can walk to Recoleta, which is an ideal way to see Portenos (locals from BA) in their everyday life. With all the steak you’ll be eating a walk certainly doesn’t hurt.
MALBA Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires or Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. If you like art and Latin American artists in particular, definitely visit MALBA. My favorite piece in MALBA was one of the Frida Kahlo self-portraits. The museum is a quick cab ride or healthy walk from Recoleta so it’s ideal to do in the same day. It is a reasonably sized museum also so you won’t spend more than 1-2 hours there. A restaurant is also located in MALBA with an indoor/outdoor setting. However be prepared to spend a little more and expect the very relaxed, leisurely service quite common in Buenos Aires.
Caminito Street, La Boca Colorful Caminito Street in the neighborhood of La Boca is one of the tourist hotspots in the city. La Boca itself is quite a run-down neighborhood so Caminito Street is the only place you want to go in this area. Yes, it’s packed with tourists snapping photos of the vibrant, colorful exterior of the buildings but go and make the best of it while checking out some nice art on the streets. You only need to spend thirty minutes to an hour on Caminito then hop in a cab to San Telmo.
San Telmo This is the oldest barrio or neighborhood in the city and also considered one of the nicer areas. Antique shops, cafes, art galleries in gorgeous colonial buildings line the cobblestone streets. Old churches and museums are also found here. Plaza Dorrego, the main square, is the spot of a semi-permanent antique fair bustling with people. Walking around San Telmo is a nice way to spend a couple of hours and is a nice contrast to Recoleta and Palermo.
La Casa Rosada “The Pink House” or La Casa Rosada is located in the heart of Plaza de Mayo in the city center also known as the “Microcentro.” It is the official executive mansion of Argentina or Government House. The building is quite beautiful in its own right. One of the balconies at La Casa Rosada is where Eva Peron made her final farewell address to the people of Argentina before she passed away. Any fans of the “Evita” movie out there? The Argentinian government even gave permission for the famous balcony scene in the movie to actually be filmed at La Casa Rosada.
Tango, Tango, Tango If there is one thing you must see, or even TRY if you dare, while in Buenos Aires, it is Tango! There are a number of shows to choose from ranging from the tourist version to the more local, authentic venues. Fortunately we had the opportunity to experience both. The first was the Rojo Tango show at the trendy and luxurious Faena Hotel. This was a dinner and tango show in a quite intimate setting complete with the flashy dresses and professional dancers. Another evening we found our way to Salon Canning, one of the Milonga halls where locals go to enjoy a night of dancing Tango themselves. As a visitor you can sit back while enjoying a glass of Malbec while watching or you can choose to try one of the lessons they offer as well. Check out Trip Advisor for various reviews on a variety of Tango options around the city.
San Antonio de Areco A day-trip to San Antonio de Areco is an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while experiencing something quite unique. San Antonio de Areco is one of the traditional settlements in the Province of Buenos Aires. During your day tour you visit the village then go to a historical ranch where you can go horseback riding, enjoy a traditional parilla lunch and learn more about the Gaucho “cowboy” culture. It’s a perfect activity to do with a group. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Last but not least I can’t leave you without mentioning the incredible steak in Argentina! If you’ve ever spoken to someone who’s visited Argentina they most likely mentioned the parillas “grills” and the delicious meat. The cows are all grass-fed so the flavor and quality of the meat is exceptional. Even if you’re not a big meat-lover you MUST try a steak while you’re there to at least experience it. When in Rome!
A few of my favorite restaurants for a good Argentinian steak (and other dishes) in Buenos Aires:
La Cabrera (the waiter cut my steak with a spoon if that tells you anything!)
Have you been to Buenos Aires or somewhere in Argentina already? We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn about your favorites also!
Stay tuned for Buenos Aires part two where I will share my suggestions for accommodation in this lively city!
Disclosure: On occasion, contributors of The Trend Tribe receive products, compensation and/or services gratis or at discounted rates. This practice does not influence the contributor’s point of view or the outcome of the review. All descriptions are factual and accurately reflect the reviewers experience. The opinions are their own.