City guide: Buenos Aires

Argentina’s capital fuses Latin culture and European style.

Known as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires is reminiscent of European cities but maintains its Latin flair. About 3 million people, who call themselves porteños, call this capital city home. It’s in the pampas (fertile plains) on the shore of the Río de la Plata, one of the world’s widest rivers and a conduit to the Atlantic Ocean. That location has made the city an important port serving industries like food processing, metal working, manufacturing, oil refining and automotive assembly. But it’s not all work: Buenos Aires is famous for tango, art and great steakhouses.

Getting to and from the airport

Buenos Aires is served by three airports: Ministro Pistarini International Airport, a.k.a Ezeiza Airport (EZE); Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) mainly for domestic flights and flights to some neighboring countries; and El Palomar Airport (EPA) for low-cost domestic flights.

Ezeiza Airport is about 35 kilometers southwest of the city. But in traffic, it could take you up to two hours to get to the center of the city. Take a taxi for the fastest ride. Be sure not to accept verbal offers. Instead, call a cab from the kiosk inside the airport. A ride into the city costs approximately 1,226 pesos (US$30.92 using the exchange rate US$1 = AR39.65), and should take about 40 minutes if traffic is flowing. Another option: The Manuel Tienda Leon coach runs from both terminals every half hour, seven days a week. Expect a 50-minute ride into the city for 490 pesos.

Aeroparque Jorge Newberry is less than 10 kilometers from the city. A taxi ride will cost about 122 pesos and generally takes less than 30 minutes. If you’re traveling light, several public bus lines also stop at AEP.

Where to stay

  • Luxury: Melia Recoleta Plaza, Calle Posadas 1557; Ph: +54 11 5353 4000
  • Upper upscale: CasaSur Bellini Hotel LIF, Calle Cabello 3780; Ph: +54 11 4807 4848
  • Upscale: Hotel Madero, Rosario Vera Peñaloza 360; Ph: +54 11 5776 7777; NH Collection Buenos Aires Lancaster, Avienda Córdoba 405; Ph: +54 11 4131 6464 (NH has eight other locations in the city, as well)
  • Midscale: Howard Johnson Inn Palermo, Niceto Vega 5832; Ph: +54 11 5556 4444

Things to see and do

If you appreciate the arts and the bustle of a busy city, head to Calle Corrientes for a show. Sometimes called “the street that never sleeps,” this stretch is famous for theaters, eateries and bookshops that stay open late into the evening. Think of it as the Broadway of Buenos Aires.

You can see tango in many forms in Buenos Aires. For a chic and innovative show, go to Rojo Tango at the modern Faena Hotel. If you prefer a classic show, Gala Tango or Café Los Angelitos will suit your taste. For a truly immersive experience, find a milonga. You’ll learn not only about the dance itself, but also the culture, rules, politics and drama surrounding it. You’ll quickly discover that tango isn’t just a dance, it’s a lifestyle. An important note: Most milongas don’t get going until after midnight, so prepare accordingly.

Stay active on your trip by renting a bike or a boat bike at Bosques de Palermo, also called Tres de Febrero Park. It’s one of the city’s most popular open spaces. Alternatively, join a free yoga or aerobics class in the park. Want to get in your steps and then have a treat? Stroll along the Costanera Norte then reward yourself with a choripan—this chorizo sausage on a bun is a street-food must for locals and visitors!

For a slow-paced day, take a short walk through Puerto Madero, a revitalized portside neighborhood that connects to the financial district. Then head to one of the many restaurant terraces in the area. Le Grill (Alicia Moreau de Justo 876; Ph: +54 11 4331 0454) and Crystal Bar (Aimé Painé 1130; Ph: + 54 11 4114 0900) offer incredible views.

Try-everything types will enjoy the Buenos Aires food market’s fresh produce and food stalls.

Take a guided tour of the architectural and acoustic wonder that is Colon Theatre, and get tickets for a ballet or opera during your stay. After your tour, wander through Alvear Avenue to Recoleta Cemetery, to see the tomb of Eva “Evita” Perón.

Still not tired of tango? See more on the streets at La Boca before stopping for lunch at El Obrero Restaurant. Find it at Calle Agustin Caffarena 64; Ph: +54 11 4362 9912. If it’s Sunday, you can continue on to the traditional flea market in San Telmo for shopping.

Places to eat

Breakfast (desayuno porteño) is the most important meal of the day. Café Tortoni, on Avenida de Mayo 825 ; Ph: +54 11 4342 4328, serves it up traditionally, with a big cup of coffee and local croissants. Opened in 1858, this place captures the atmosphere of the city.

Pizzeria Guerrin, which can be found at Avenida Corrientes 1368 (Ph: +54 11 4371 8141) in the theater district, earns rave reviews for its thick crusts and great variety. Come hungry and with cash—no credit cards accepted. Expect to wait for a table; or eat like the locals and stand out front.

After enjoying a cool walk around Palermo, head to Don Julio for bife de chorizo and Argentinean wine. Find it at Guatemala 4691; Ph: +54 11 4831 9564for. It could be the best steak you ever eat.

Leave room for dessert. Alchemy on Calle Humboldt 1923 (Ph: +54 11 4774 3933) boasts a unique ice cream experience. Wild flavors like eggplant, beet and mojito are offered along with the classics.

For night owls, the options are endless. Check out one of many new breweries, stop at Vico wine bar (Calle Gurruchaga 1149; Ph: +54 11 6402 5610), enjoy draft drinks at Santos Vega (Niceto Vega 5924; Ph: +54 11 4774 7501), vermouth at La Fuerza (Avienda Dorrego 1409; Ph: +54 11 4772 4874), or cocktails at one of many theme bars in the city. Afterward, dance the night away at Tequila on Avenida Rafael Obligado 6211 (Ph: +54 11 4781 6555) in Costanera Norte.

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