In mid-July I spent a weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Flights to South America allow for a good weekend getaway to any major city as most flights are red-eyes, allowing you to fly out on a Friday night, get there Saturday morning, and leave Sunday night in time to return to work on Monday morning.
Buenos Aires is beautiful, even in the rain and wind when I was there. It is a massive city that is rather spread out. I relied on the limited number of ubers out there (Taxi drivers still hate ubers there), and sometimes a taxi ride. NOTE: Ubers cannot pick up at the Buenos Aires airport, to get into the city either take a taxi or the various buses that take you into the city. There is a bus and subway system as well, but many sites are spread out and dont have direct public transport access. All the transport options are inexpensive. Most places accept cards but for taxis and some food places, it is advisable to have some pesos on you.
Argentinians are friendly, welcoming, and most speak great English and love it when you make an effort to speak Spanish, no matter how limited or rusty your’s may be. The country is culturally and historically rich, Streets are full of wonderful street art, a city known for its poetry and literature and film, as well as Tango.
There are lots of accommodation options in this city and in every major neighborhood. My recommendation is to stay in the Palermo district, full of charming boutique hotels with local touches, and the neighborhood is extremely safe and full of bars, restaurants, shops, coffee shops and parks. This is a great place to have a base, go out during the day to further places like downtown, then return here at night for evening activities.
Buenos Aires is over all a safe city, again just use good judgment and the normal travel street smarts. The area where you may want to be a little more alert mainly because of the higher rates of muggings is La Boca, however during the day the area is ok, go with a group if possible or if you feel unsafe just stay in the Caminito area where police patrol and tourists come in hoards.
- Arrival at Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport (there is another inner-city regional/domestic airport). About 40 minutes outside the city.
- Arrive at Be Jardin Escondido by Coppola boutique hotel. It was the house of Francis Ford Coppola when he and his family lived in Buenos Aires for 2 years while he filmed Tetro. It is a beautiful, charming, quaint and homey boutique hotel with extremely friendly and attentive staff.
- Walked 10 minutes from the hotel to Don Julio Parrilla, one of the most popular and famous steakhouses in town amongst both locals and tourists. Argentina is famous for their inexpensive steaks and wines. The ribeye I ordered was incredible and paired with delicious Argentine Malbec.
- I then ubered to Recoleta Cemetery, where lots of famous people are buried in beautiful mausoleums, including Eva Duarte-Peron (Evita).
- From there I walked to El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, rated among the World’s Most Beautiful bookstores. formerly a theater. Even if you dont buy a book, it is worth seeing as it really is quite a site.
- I then walked down Avenida 9 de Julio, the main downtown avenue. A walked by the Teatro Colon, which is one of the world’s top opera houses for its acoustics. You can tour the interior, and it is beautiful but either get tickets online or arrive early in the day otherwise the limited tickets get sold out fast. I did not end up getting tickets to do the tour. But its worth checking out or if you can attend a performance here.
- Continuing onwards I came by The Obelisk of Buenos Aires in the Plaza de la Republica (Republic Square) in the center of Avenida 9 de Julio. Built in 1936 to commemorate the 400th year since the founding of the city.
- I then walked to Cafe Tortoni, a historic Parisian cafe since 1858. Nowadays it sees lines outside the door full of tourists. The interior and atmosphere is what one comes for. The coffee and drinks were ok. But you can imagine the cafe bustling with intellectuals and Argentinian elites during the city’s golden age.
- I then walked down the road to Plaza de Mayo, where I first visited Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires, the seat of Pope Francis before he became pope, a beautiful Roman style cathedral.
- The main site in the plaza though is Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. Which is where Eva Peron famously made her speech that inspired the song “Dont Cry for Me Argentina” in the musical Evita. On weekends, most of the time, you can purchase tickets online to tour the palace, it is advisable to do so in advance, they open booking 15 days in advance. However, if the President needs to work on weekends or is in town, then no tours available,
- I returned to my hotel, which was a 20 minute car ride across town, took a rest in my room.
- I was still quite full from my large steak lunch, so I had some local snack foods for dinner. Empanadas (beef and lamb) from Pekin Bar de Pizzas in Palermo, they were delicious. I then had Choripan, charcoal grilled Argentine sausage sandwiched in a baguette with chimichurri sauce, simple yet delicious.
- Locals eat late for both lunch and dinner. Dinner usually doesnt start until 9PM for locals and night activities dont begin till much after that around 1am.
- I had wanted to have some wine and watch folks Tango at La Viruta, but the open tango time didnt start until 12AM and when I returned to my hotel to wait to return a few minutes later, I feel asleep. Oh well, next time when I am with friends.
- Had complimentary breakfast at the hotel, just like dinner and lunch, life gets started in the late morning.
- I took an uber out to La Boca, the old port/ working class neighborhood. Specifically Caminito street museum (pictured left in featured photo). This area fell into disarray and became a garbage dump in the 1950s a local artist decided to paint and create art to help revitalize it, and now its a tourist attraction. There is a famous Tango song named after it “Caminito.” It is really eclectic and fun place to visit, and yes it is very touristy.
- I then took a short taxi ride to Museum of Contemporary Art Buenos Aires (MACBA). For some reason on the day I was there it was free admissions to the 4 floors of the museum. It was a small but nice space with some nice contemporary art work, many from local artists.
- I then walked Defensa street for the Feria de San Telmo (San Telmo Antiques Flea Market). Every Sunday in San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, filled with eclectic selection of antiques and cool street performances. Absolutely worth the time to meander through the street.
- I then stopped by La Brigada for lunch, another well-known steakhouse frequented by famous chefs. Steak so tender they cut it with a spoon in front of you. Again another delicious and inexpensive steak meal.
- I then walked to Puerto Madero, the modern business/ commercial district, but it was actually a falling apart part of town that has in recent been renewed, said to be one of the most successful waterfront urban renewal projects in the world. Here I walked across the Puente de la Mujer (bridge of the lady), and paid the minimal admissions fee to step aboard the historic Argentine Navy ship Sarmiento Frigate.
- I then walked back to the Plaza de Mayo to see the sites around there in better light as Sunday saw slightly better and drier weather than Saturday.
- I finally ubered back to my hotel and just relaxed in the living room where I was offered some snacks before my uber ride to the airport to catch my 8pm departure back to Atlanta.
Buenos Aires is a colorful, poetic and artistic city with delicious and affordable food, specifically steaks and wine. Definitely worth a visit. Hopefully next time I visit this country I can venture to other parts such as wine country in Mendoza or head to Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil or take the short speedboat ferry across to Uruguay.