TRAVEL GUIDE TO BUENOS AIRES by Lian W.
Lian is a Global Explorer, Music Lover, and Fellow Foodie. She loves travel, fashion, music and food. One of her favorite things to do is to wander around a new city, try the local food, and immerse herself in new cultures. Her travel diary will help you find the highlights of some of her favorite destinations.
Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, is a diverse and massive metropolis. It's also one of the most visited cities in South America. It takes as much pride in its steak as its fashion sense, and is also hyper aware of its recent political history. Buenos Aires often reminds travelers of European cities due to the abounding French architecture and Italian influences on the cuisine, a result of historically large waves of European immigration. This aspect of the city seems to attract travelers from all over the world, but it has so much more to offer as well.
Here a few things you need to know when visiting:
Argentinians eat dinner around 9pm or 10pm (21:00 or 22:00), and most restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 8pm (20:00). Nightlife gets going around 2am and lasts until dawn. This is definitely a late-night town.
You can use Uber here, but it is technically still illegal. If you call an Uber, be subtle when checking the license plate and sit in the front seat so it looks like a friend is picking you up, especially if you see police or other taxis around. Taxi drivers have been known to attack Uber drivers here, particularly at the airport, so opt for taking a taxi on your first ride in.
Taxis are easy to find all over the city. They are metered, but check for fake currency especially when getting change from the driver. Taxi drivers giving fake currency to tourists is a common problem here.
ATMs often run out of cash in this city (especially during holidays) and can have fairly low withdrawal limits. You may need to try several ATMs to withdraw cash. This can be problematic as many places only accept cash, or give you better pricing when paying with cash, so be sure to plan ahead.
Tap water is drinkable! Go ahead and fill up your reusable water bottle, worry-free!
A little bit of Spanish will go a long away. While plenty of people speak English, especially in the Palermo and Recoleta neighborhoods, many people do not and trying to speak just a little bit of Spanish is very much appreciated. Side note: Argentinians have their own specific Spanish dialect but will understand the standard Spanish spoken in other countries or learned in schools. It’s just a little more difficult for a non-native Spanish speaker to understand.
Where to stay
Street art in Palermo Soho
Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are the best neighborhoods for boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.
Palermo Soho is a more laid back scene with lots of great shopping.
Palermo Hollywood is more lively and where you’ll find the most exciting nightlife.
If you want to stay in larger chain or luxury hotels, try Recoleta. This neighborhood is also closer to tourist sites.
Airbnbs have also quickly become one of my preferred options when I travel as they tend to feel like a more authentic, local experience. You can find some beautiful apartments in the Palermo neighborhoods for $30-$50 USD per night.
Where to go
L to R: La Boca neighborhood, Architecture around Plaza de Mayo, San Telmo Market
Recoleta Cemetery — A unique cemetery with thousands of beautifully designed mausoleums. Many famous Argentinians are buried here, including Evita, but you’ll probably have to wander around a bit to find her tomb.
Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays — Take a stroll in this beautiful botanical garden and post up in the shade to relax or read a book.
MALBA — A modern art museum featuring well-known Latin American artists like Julio Le Parc and Frida Kahlo.
La Boca — A historical art center, known as the birthplace of tango. This neighborhood is very touristy but still cool to see for its street art and colorful architecture.
La Fundación Proa — An art gallery exhibiting work from significant contemporary artists. There is also a great cafe upstairs to grab a snack and take in views of the La Boca neighborhood.
San Telmo Antiques Fair — On Sundays only, you’ll find tons of vendors selling vintage and antique goods.
San Telmo Market — This market is bustling on the weekends with vintage shops and food vendors. If you're lucky, you'll catch couples dancing tango in the squares.
La Catedral — Speaking of tango, if you want to take group lessons or practice your dance moves, this is the place to go. The atmosphere is electric and even just people-watching is a treat. I'd recommend this over the tacky tango shows.
Plaza de Mayo — You can't skip this public square with a view of the presidential mansion (Casa Rosada) and the cathedral where Pope Francis was archbishop. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful architecture when you wander around this area.
Where to eat & drink
From L to R: Nuestra Parilla, El Perón Perón, Rebelión
Proper — This was my favorite meal in all of Buenos Aires! They have an open kitchen with a wood-fire oven and use only locally sourced ingredients. You can’t make a reservation, so be prepared to wait about 1 hour for a table — it’s worth it and you can order drinks while you wait.
Gran Dabbang — Latin American food with strong Indian and South East Asian influences. So many great small dishes for sharing here.
Don Julio — Great for traditional Argentinian steak. You will definitely find a long line here for dinner but they provide complimentary sparkling wine and empanadas while you wait to keep you from getting hangry. In my opinion, you can skip La Cabrera, one of the most well-known steak restaurants in Buenos Aires; it felt too touristy and the food wasn’t the best.
Sacro — A trendy and delicious vegan restaurant for when you’ve overdosed on meat.
Nuestra Parilla — One of the best places for 'choripan' — a simple sandwich of chorizo and chimichurri on a baguette. Find this place just outside San Telmo market, on Bolívar.
San Telmo Market — It's best on weekends for an inexpensive lunch and vintage shopping.
La Alacena — A casual cafe to enjoy a relaxing lunch.
1893 — For great, thin crust pizza accompanied by a bottle of wine. Try the pizza ‘a la parilla’ (grilled).
El Perón Perón — This one is more about the experience than the food. It's a kitschy restaurant with Peronist memorabilia on the walls and a shrine to former First Lady, Evita. A few times throughout the night, a patriotic Argentinian song will play and the entire restaurant will sing along.
Cucina Paradiso Palermo — A large Italian population means many tasty Italian spots. This place has an authentic Italian vibe.
Rebelión — Great for lighter, healthier brunch fare, and early evening cocktails before dinner.
Hierbabuena — A cozy restaurant popular for lunch with lots of vegetarian options.
Rapanui — Artisanal chocolate and ice cream with a lovely garden in the back.
Medialunas, similar to croissants but with a sweet glaze on top, are popular for breakfast. You can find them all over the city, but of all the bakeries I tried, a random tiny bakery named Deleites (on Charcas and Godoy Cruz in Palermo Soho) had my favorite.
Pain et Vin — It can seem a bit touristy, but this is a great place to try Argentinian wines and do an educational wine tasting with a fantastic sommelier.
Rey de Copas — A cozy Moroccan-themed cocktail bar to hang out after dinner.
Temple Craft Beer — In many Latin American countries there is a growing movement for craft beer and Argentina is no exception. This spot seems to be the most crowded with locals and tourists alike. It’s perfect to sit outside and sip your local pint.
Where to shop
From L to R: Galería Patio del Liceo, Palermo Soho shop
Panorama — A clothing store featuring top Argentinian local designers.
Galería Patio del Liceo — An art space hidden in an alley with artisan workshops, clothing boutiques and an outdoor cafe.
Anywhere around central Palermo Soho — Wander around Plaza Armenia and Plazoleta Julio Cortázar and you’ll be sure to find something to your liking. Some cute stores I liked were Jazmin Chebar and Benjamina.
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore all the different neighborhoods while you’re here — Buenos Aires is an incredible city with so much to discover. Be prepared for lots of red meat and lots of late nights. And go eat at Proper!
Happy wandering, ICBRKRs!
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