Buenos Aires is a South American city with a distinctly European flair. It was rebuilt in the early 20th Century and remodelled after the wide boulevards and green spaces of Paris and Madrid. You will find tree-lined avenues, lively nightlife and excellent food and wine in Buenos Aires.
A trip to Buenos Aires is really all about the food and wine. Expect flavourful dishes, expertly cooked meat, and full flavour wine everywhere you eat. Skip the restaurants marketed at tourists and find a little neighbourhood parrilla, a homely restaurant where you can eat steak and drink wine with the locals. Order a steak but do not skimp on the sides. In Buenos Aires, a starter of chorizo or offal is usually eaten, then a steak served with salsa criolla or chimichurri. Steak doesn't automatically come with a side, so order potatoes guarniciones or papas a la provenzal. The local taste leans towards well-done steak, so if you prefer rare, order it bien jugoso or for medium, jugoso.
The nightlife is also huge in Buenos Aires; locals will usually take a nap in the early evening and venture out for dinner at 9 pm. From dinner, they will move onto bars for more wine or cocktails and out to a club around midnight. The early evening nap means that dancing the night away is a way of life. If clubbing is not your thing, never fear, there are plenty of underground milongas where you can tango with the locals. There are established milongas like Bar Los Laurels and pop up milongas like Maldita Milonga which only operates certain nights of the week. It is best to have a few tango lessons before going as, unlike salsa, the tango is not as easy to pick up on the trot. Many of the milongas offer classes for all levels in the early evening before they transform into a milonga. Who says you can’t learn a new skill on holiday!
During the day, the city is all about art and architecture. Explore the neighbourhoods by foot and take in the cultural melting pot that is Buenos Aires. From the old suburb of San Telmo with its cobbled streets to Recoleta where the old money stays in glamourous hotels and luxurious townhouses and every weekend there is a street fair. Palermo is also one of our favourite neighbourhoods with its trendy bars and cafes and ex-pat community. If you are looking for boutique shopping, Palermo is the place to start.
After exploring the art in the city around you, head to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes which houses European masters alongside Argentinian 19th & 20th century art. Be sure to check out the Picassos and Rembrandts, but do not leave without seeing the Antonio Berni room, and the pieces by Xul Solar, and Eduardo Sivori. After all, where else are you going to see such an extensive collection of Argentinian fine art. It is open until 8 pm every night and only closed on Mondays.
Buenos Aires is warm all year round but the best times to visit are in autumn between March to May, and spring, which is September to November. The temperatures will be a little milder and accommodation will be more cost-effective. Summer is a popular time to travel as you are likely to stumble upon a colourful event, but the weather is very hot and humid.
Spanish is the spoken language in Buenos Aires, but it might be a little different from the Spanish you are used to. It is heavily influenced by Italian and littered with local slang words. A lot of people will speak a little bit of English, especially in the tourist areas but it might be worth downloading a translation app on your phone just in case.
VOYA’S FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
The Palermo neighbourhood is the trendy part of Buenos Aires, filled with all the chic boutiques, quirky cafes and restaurants, and some amazing street art. Our favourite thing to do in Buenos Aires is just to wander through the streets of Palermo and stumble across some amazing finds.
The must-visit place to go, though, is Reserva Ecologica which is a huge 865-acre nature reserve right in the middle of the city. It was a dumpsite that was cleaned up and turned into an outdoor space. Put aside an hour or two to wander the paths, exploring the lagoons and gardens. If you prefer an organised tour, there are guided tours of Reserva Ecologica on weekends.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
L’Hôtel Palermo is one of our favourite good value hotels to stay at in Buenos Aires. The interior is minimalistic but homely, creating a lovely space to relax in after a busy day of exploring. The highlight of this hotel, though, is the outdoor spaces. There is a garden in the rear and a rooftop terrace, both perfect for relaxing with a cold drink in the early evening heat.
Be Jardin Escondido is a charming boutique hotel which is firmly grounded in its roots as the home of Francis Ford Coppola, an American film director. It has seven rooms located around a central courtyard and has retained a lot of original artwork and features of the house. This hotel is perfect for those looking for something a little traditional and a little luxurious.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
Empanadas are a must on a visit to Buenos Aires, they are the ultimate indulgence food and can be found everywhere. There are so many different fillings for you to try, ground beef with onions is the traditional one, but you can get blue cheese empanadas, corn empanadas, and spicy beef empanadas too.
Vegans and vegetarians don’t need to worry about missing out on the local parrilla experience. La Reverde is a fantastic vegan parrilla stocked with Malbecs, and vegan versions of chorizo, steak, and black pudding.