Destination: Argentina: Buenos Aires
DAY 1: Recoleta & City Overview
Explore the Belle Époque French architecture that gives the city its aristocratic atmosphere in the Recoleta. This neighborhood is home to the grand hotels, stylish shops as well as the elegant cemetery where the city’s most famous (including Eva “Evita” Perón) rest eternally in Baroque mausoleums. After a walk through its park-like grounds, return to Avenida Alvear, which is BA’s version of Madison Avenue.
Hire a guide and driver for the afternoon to take you to the more outlying neighborhoods, like La Boca, home of the famous painted houses, San Telmo and the Puerto Madero waterfront. Five o’clock tea is a tradition instituted by the British in the 19th century, and a good spot for it is the Piano Nobile Salon, in the Park Hyatt, for both the pastries and view of the garden.
Porteños don’t dine until late (after 10 pm), so take a swim and siesta back at your hotel before getting ready for an evening out. Have dinner at an authentic Argentinean steakhouse, like Cabaña Las Lilas, the city’s most traditional and high-end version, or try Pipí Cucú, an unmissable bistro that serves excellent pastas, fish and meats and the best mixed drinks in town.
For some culture, get tickets to a performance at the newly reopened Teatro Colon, a stunning opera house that hosts concerts, dance and opera.
DAY 2: Art & Gardens
Start your culture-filled morning at the Museum of Decorative Arts, located in a palace still furnished as it was when high society wined and dined here in the 1920s. On to MALBA, which opened in 2001, the sleek modern edifice offers a window into the city’s exciting, emerging art scene, as well as excellent permanent collection (Riviera, Kahlo, Botero etc.) Walk on to the large gardens and park complex that comprises the Japanese Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, and the Buenos Aires Zoo, a good spot for children.
Have lunch at Giudo’s, an authentic trattoria that brilliantly showcases Italian cuisine (a huge percentage of Porteños have Italian origins). Or for something lighter, try To, a recently opened sushi place that also prepares expert Japanese-French fusion cuisine.
In the afternoon, spend a few hours in Palermo Viejo, Palermo Soho & Palermo Hollywood, which is the trendy district for new galleries and avant garde designers and restaurateurs. A few boutiques not to miss include Bolivia for men’s clothes and jeans; Juliana Rustici for one-of-a-kind women’s fashion; Balthazar for llama and alpaca scarves in bright colors, and Humawaca for leather goods, but the area abounds with hip small boutiques, so discoveries are plentiful. The best bounty is found along El Salvador, Honduras and Gurruchaga streets.
Join a crowd of chic Porteños at dinner at Chez Nous, in the recently opened Algodon Mansion, for elegant French-Argentine cuisine. Or book a table at the bustling 647 Dinner Club, in San Telmo, or at hot spot Tegui in Palermo Viejo.
Day 3: Shopping & Polo
If you are in Buenos Aires on a Sunday, visit the Feria de Mataderos, a traditional gaucho fair with dancing, crafts and asado. Sunday is also the day of the bustling flea aand antiques market in San Telmo. On any day of the week, a visit to this neighborhood is worthwhile for its wonderful antiques stores. Stroll down the Defensa, from Humberto Primo to Avenida Independencia, and browse in the shops for silver, furniture and turn-of-the-century treasures imported from Europe in the city’s heyday. Don’t miss Aux Charpentiers, specialized in authentic gaucho bombachas in all colors and fabrics since 1888.
For lunch, break at San Telmo’s down-and-dirty El Desnivel, where the atmosphere is boisterous, lunch inexpensive and the meat dishes extraordinary. On Sunday, you can also have a fantastic brunch at the Park Hyatt or Four Seasons hotels.
In the afternoon, head to the Campo Argentino del Polo stadium, known as the Cathedral of Polo in the Palermo area. Polo matches are generally played in the late afternoon at 4:30 p.m. so it’s not too hot for the horses, players or spectators. It’s a fast, fun game to watch.
A BA visit would not be complete without seeing tango. You can book an official dinner-tango performance (one of the best, most-exclusive, can be found at the Faena Hotel + Universe) or visit a milonga, where the everyday tango is danced. La Confiteria Ideal, Canning and Porteño y Bailarin are great local milongas.
DAY 3 & 4: Possible Day Trip
One of our favorite specialists in Argentina tipped us off to the reopening of La Bamba de Areco, an authentic estancia near the artisan town of San Antonio de Areco. It’s a great one- or two-night getaway for travelers eager to get a taste of the pampas experience but don’t have time to add an additional trip to Patagonia or Cordoba.
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