Buenos Aires is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city that blends modern necessities with historical charm. It can be difficult for newcomers to sort through the endless selection of attractions, restaurants and neighborhoods, especially if they are short on time. This two-day, weekend itinerary highlights some favorites so first-timers can make the most of their visit.
Tango dancers at Esquina Carlos Gardel in Buenos Aires — Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan
Check in to the sophisticated Caesar Park Hotel, located in the quiet, residential neighborhood of La Recoleta. Those arriving early can dine in one of the hotel restaurant venues like Agraz, which serves Argentinian cuisine for lunch or dinner.
Stroll through the neighborhood of La Recoleta and soak in the stunning Paris-inspired architecture, cafes, parks and shops. Or explore the weekend artisan market in Plaza Francia.
Within walking distance of the hotel is La Recoleta Cemetery, and while it seems like an odd choice for a tourist attraction, it is truly unique and memorable. It is a mini city for the dead, particularly the wealthy aristocrats of Argentina, including Eva Perón (Evita). Designer mausoleums are works of art that must be maintained by family members of the deceased (or else they are relocated and the tombs are sold).
Tombs at La Recoleta Cemetery — Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan
A bit further from the cemetery (about a mile from Caesar Park Hotel) is Floralis Genérica, a gleaming metal statue that is illuminated during the sunset.
For evening entertainment, Buenos Aires’ milongas showcase the city’s legendary dance: tango. These dance halls vary, but Esquina Carlos Gardel has some of the finest dancers who perform in a classical, two-story theater.
A three-course meal is served before the show, and patrons are dressed to the nines. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience and an excellent way to begin a trip to Buenos Aires.
Travelers can take in breakfast at Café Tortoni - the oldest coffeehouse in the city - where waiters don tuxedos as they serve coffee, hot chocolate and pastries. Be sure to sneak a peek behind the red-velvet curtains at the small tango theater, or the antique hairdressing shop.
Stroll through Plaza de Mayo, the political center of Argentina, where Eva Perón famously addressed crowds from the balcony of the Casa Rosada. This place is a must-see on any first-time itinerary.
On weekends, shoppers can easily lose track of time at the nearby San Telmo Mercado, an expansive market filled with street performers, as well as vendors selling souvenirs, crafts, clothing and antiques.
Next, a visit to legendary La Boca is in order. This historic, working-class neighborhood near the water is a tourist magnet thanks to its colorful buildings and La Bombonera, one of the most famous futbal ("soccer") stadiums in Argentina.
The colorful buildings in La Boca — Photo courtesy of Marissa Strniste
La Boca isn’t known for its restaurants or nightlife, but trendy Palermo Soho has a seemingly endless number of options, as well as many cafés serving the signature tea Yerba Mate for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Argentina is famous for its steak with chimichurri sauce (made of herbs, spices and oil). While foodies may debate the best steakhouse in the city, two options that stand out in Palermo Soho are Calden del Soho and Parrilla La Cabrera.
Although they are no secret, both offer attentive service and excellent cuisine, paired with a glass (or two) of Malbec wine. For after-dinner drinks, Palermo Soho’s bars serve pisco sours at happy hour prices late into the night.
If you'd rather take a more formal tour during your Buenos Aires trip, then try Borello Travel & Tours. The expert guides at this travel company can customize programs to fit time schedules and interests, provide transportation and even arrange luxurious accommodations.