Our fist stop on our South America itinerary was Buenos Aires. After taking a long direct flight from Newark, we landed in Argentina’s capital to explore the incredible culture … and eat a lot of steak.
My first thought after wandering around was that the city itself feels like a mix of a bunch of different European capitals, with a touch of New York. The large boulevard Sante Fe is a bit reminiscent of 34th street in midtown Manhattan but with shorter buildings; it’s crowded with cars, tourists, and trendy stores. French architecture has some influence here, with modern buildings mixed in, giving it a familiar city feel.
The neighborhoods to stay in would be Recoleta, the upper class area, or Palermo, which is a bit “hip” and has plenty of trendy bars and restaurants. Palermo is one of the largest neighborhoods with plenty of places to eat and drink, whereas Recoleta is a bit quieter but still walkable to many top attractions, especially the famous Recoleta Cemetery. Both neighborhoods are pretty safe, but as always just stay alert for pickpockets.
If you want to venture out you can check out the picturesque La Boca, which has the postcard views of BA that you’ve likely seen featuring colorful houses. This is an area you’ll want to be extra alert in, however, so be sure you have a good idea of where you are going.
Where to Stay
We stayed in Recoleta at Algodon Mansion. This Relais & Chateaux property is on the pricey side, but definitely makes up for it in the complimentary wine for guests which comes from their sister property in the wine lands. The included breakfast is fantastic and the service is 5 star – definitely the top pick if you’re looking for comfort and class.
Where to Eat & Drink
El sanjuanito – This was our first stop – for empanadas! A sit down restaurant with tourist-friendly service, it’s a great stop for lunch or a snack.
Los Galgos – a small diner-style café recommended by a local. Great for breakfast, lunch, or a quick coffee or cocktail.
Nuestro Secreto – This was one of the best meals I had in South America. In the Four Seasons hotel (so you know it’s a high quality joint) this steakhouse was featured in Conde Nast. During the daytime it’s great for lunch (and very picturesque in it’s greenhouse-style setting) but we went for dinner and had some of the best ribeye I’ve ever had and some plump homemade short rib ravioli. I’m drooling thinking about it …
Milion – This tapas bar is a great place for small bites and cocktails. When the weather is nice, it also has outdoor seating.
Floreria Atlantico – this speakeasy has a hidden entrance inside a flower shop, with the door to the underground bar looking like you’re walking into a commercial freezer. Once you get downstairs the cool vibe will make you feel like you’re in a classy cocktail bar in Brooklyn. Great for a cocktail but also has excellent dinner options. Make a reservation for a table, otherwise get there early for a seat at the bar.
Sites to See
Recoleta Cemetery – This is one of the biggest tourist attractions, this 19th century cemetery is the final resting place for many notable figures, including Eva Perón. There are all sorts of different grand mausoleums and it’s a cool (and free) stop.
Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays – I’m a big fan of botanical gardens, and this one is 100% free! It wasn’t particularly flowery when we were there (it felt like a big park) but was it was a nice break from the hustle bustle of the city – even though it’s right in the heart of it.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – This art museum is filled with works from famed Argentinian artists as well as internationally famous names like Monet and Degas. It’s free to enter, and a great stop especially when the weather isn’t perfect.
El atenio grand splendid – This massive bookstore is in a former theater, and is quite a splendid site. The stage houses a café so it’s a great stop for a coffee and a literary souvenir, or at very least a picture.
Tango Show – There are plenty of tango shows to choose from, and even styles (classic or modern or a mix). We took our hotel’s recommendation of doing a mix of classical/modern and headed to El Viejo Almacen. It was certainly touristy (and not cheap, considering we paid in USD) but it was worth it for a great show.
For more top sites to see, check out our geo travel guide below for a complete map of our favorite spots.