Sunday is typically the best time to visit the atmospheric barrio of San Telmo, a neighborhood everyone has an opinion about. It is an area characterized by pretty, cobble-stoned streets, crumbling (and increasingly not so crumbling) colonial architecture and bohemian bars. Every Sunday on the Plaza Dorrego, an antiques market takes over and a party atmosphere prevails with street performers (including tango dancers), caf�s full to bursting as well as colorful market stalls all the way down Calle Defensa. During the week, Plaza Dorrego is quieter and makes a good place for a relaxed drink outside when the weather is nice.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Plaza Dorrego is a pleasant San Telmo square throughout the week.
Sarah's expert tip: If you find yourself at Plaza Dorrego during the day, also visit the nearby antique shops on Calle Defensa for a unique Buenos Aires souvenir.
One of the world's great cemeteries and one of the city's most memorable sights, Recoleta tops most tourists' Buenos Aires itineraries. A city in miniature, the cemetery, which opened to the public in 1822, is a dreamy vision of domes, pantheons and sculptures right in the heart of the city. The great and good of BA are laid to rest here – scientists, writers, presidents and the just plain rich. Most graves are well kept while others appear abandoned to time. The cemetery's most famous resident is Mar�a Eva Duarte de Per�n, or Evita, whose grave is surrounded by a crowd of camera-wielding tourists at all times.
A central square has existed on this site since the 16th century, but the current name, Plaza de Mayo, commemorates May 25, 1810, the day the Argentine Congress declared independence from Spain. Many of the dramas of Argentina's history (and there have been plenty) have played out on this stage, the political heart of the city. At one end stands the Casa Rosada, the pink-hued seat of the executive branch of government; at the other, the Cabildo, the government building until 1821; and on the northern flank, the imposing Cathedral. The Madres de Plaza de Mayo, mothers of those who "disappeared" during the military dictatorship of 1976 and 1983, still demonstrate here on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 pm.
The work of French landscape architect Carlos Thays, this Palermo park, which dates back to the late 19th century, is still a glorious oasis in the modern city. The gardens are dotted with sculptures, fountains and busts, and the green-minded will find plenty of interest among the thousands of plants and trees. Popular with locals searching for peace and quiet (or a place to read or sunbathe), Buenos Aires' Botanical Garden is also inhabited by a huge population of stray cats. Try popping in for a daytime stroll when you need a break from all the shopping and socializing in nearby Palermo Soho.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The Botanical Garden is a popular and pretty local slice of green in cool Palermo.
Sarah's expert tip: The Botanical Garden closes on the days that it rains, so if you suspect inclement weather, it's best to have a backup plan handy. Luckily, there's plenty to do in the area.
A private clay tennis club, the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, hosts the Argentina Open ATP tournament each year in its three stadiums, the largest of which holds over 5,000 spectators. The Buenos Aires tournament is now held in February each year with the men competing in the singles and doubles divisions. If you time your visit right, you could be watching Argentine tennis greats playing on their home turf, or else international favorites like Spaniards Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. You can buy tickets from the website www.ticketek.com.ar or at the club, which is located near the Palermo lakes.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The Argentina Open is one of the city's best sports events. If you enjoy tennis, it is not to be missed.
Sarah's expert tip: In the world of tennis, the Argentina Open ATP is a crowd pleaser. Only the Sydney and Los Angeles tournaments manage to draw more people.
A landmark in the Puerto Madero neighborhood, the Puente de la Mujer (meaning Women's Bridge in Spanish) is a white, asymmetrically-shaped footbridge designed by Spaniard Santiago Calatrava and said to resemble a couple dancing tango. Pedestrians use the bridge to cross from one area of Puerto Madero to another, or simply to enjoy the views from the bridge. Built in 2001, the bridge was not originally part of the Puerto Madero neighborhood's urban renewal project, to convert the old port zone into an area of expensive shops, restaurants and homes; however, the bridge quickly became the most recognizable symbol of modern Puerto Madero.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Puente de la Mujer is a perfect stretch for a stroll.
Sarah's expert tip: While the Women's Bridge makes a great pedestrian path, the bridge was designed to swing open in case there are ships that need to pass through.
In a noisy metropolis like Buenos Aires, the romantic and fairy-tale setting that is the Rose Garden with its boating lake (with pedal boats and row boats for hire) and pretty white trellises (usually occupied by courting couples) is a much-treasured gem. Stroll the manicured paths or sit on the benches to admire all the beautiful roses as well as statues and fountains. Nestled in a corner of the garden, you can find the Patio Andaluz with its painted tile from Sevilla. Part of Palermo's extensive Parque Tres de Febrero (also known as Bosques de Palermo), it was, like the Botanical Garden, the design of Frenchman Carlos Thays.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: An ocean of calm, the Rosedal is an extremely beautiful oasis in Buenos Aires.
Sarah's expert tip: The Rose Garden is open year round and it is lovely at any time of the year. Also, there are restrooms on site when nature calls.
This delightful, city-center park stretches from the grand, British-built Retiro station at the bottom of the hill up to shady, tree-lined walkways at the top, which is the northern end of the pedestrian shopping street, Calle Florida. The park is surrounded on all sides by historic, iconic buildings: the art deco skyscraper Edificio Kavanagh, once the tallest building in South America; the Bas�lica del Sant�simo Sacramento, an ornate church; the early 20th century Palacio San Mart�n, the palace once owned by the wealthy Anchorena family; and the Palacio Paz (now the C�rculo Militar), built as the residence of wealthy newspaper founder, Jos� C Paz. You can't miss the park's giant ombu tree, a native herb of the Pampas renowned for its tremendously wide trunk and canopy-like branches. Near Retiro station is the black marble monument to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Falklands War. With an irony not overlooked by the authorities, it stands opposite the Torre Monumental (more commonly known by its previous name, Torre de los Ingleses), which looks like Big Ben and was a gift from Anglo-Argentines to Argentina for the centennial celebrations.
One of the oldest polo tournaments in the world, this is the most prestigious event in the Argentine polo calendar. In line with the sport's demographic, the Argentinian Polo Open is also accompanied by some serious high-society socializing and a constant flow of champagne. However, you don't have to have been born in that crowd to have a good time. The dress code tends to be smart, sporty casual. Ice cream, water and soft drink vendors wander through the stands during the matches. Otherwise, there are a variety of stationary food vendors serving up empanadas, sandwiches and other Argentine fare.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The event is great for both polo newbies and long-time polo aficionados.
Sarah's expert tip: The ticket price depends on what type of seat you choose. Do wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen if you opt for a seat in the sun.
Looking for a bit of nature in the big city? Though there are many parks in Buenos Aires, the Reserva Ecol�gica is the city's favorite and most rugged green lung. At this 350 hectare park you can enjoy walking, running and cycling along the paths while taking in the trees and natural landscape. If you sit quietly, however, you can observe some of the birds that live in the park. The Reserva Ecol�gica is normally open from 8 am to 5 pm, but the park also hosts a monthly full moon guided walk on the Friday closest to the full moon. The four hour walk has to be booked in advance.