Neighborhoods with plenty of personality, classic attractions, and lots of transformations: in the Argentine capital, no two visits are ever alike
White walls on the colorful Caminito, choripán with vegetarian filling, and a bunch of bars you haven't heard about yet. There are new things in Buenos Aires, from La Boca to Palermo. The Obelisk is still there. La Bombonera and Casa Rosada, too. Little by little, however, new ideas are sprouting in the main neighborhoods and retranslating the Porteño lifestyle. Perhaps this explains why so many people come back: 32% of international tourists who visited in 2017 had been to the city before. Between classics and new arrivals, the sensation is that the city is new with each visit.
At Café La Biela, newspapers share space with tablets. And between orders of medialunas and desayunos, people also ask for the wifi password. The waiter furrows his brow, but he understands: these are new times for Recoleta. While the elegance of yesteryear still echoes down the tree-lined streets, interesting, free attractions convey another side of the neighborhood.
This is the case at El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore that will turn 100 in 2019. Installed inside an old theater, it maintains its original structure, with a café on the old stage and vinyl rarities in the box seats. Also free is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, home to the most extensive collection in Argentina, with works by Manet, Monet, and Goya. Nearby is the Floralis Generica, a metallic structure that stands nearly 66 feet [20 m] tall and offers one of the best twilights in Buenos Aires.
Café La Biela — Av. Pres. Manuel Quintana, 596
El Ateneo Grand Splendid — Av. Santa Fe, 1860
MNBA — Av. del Libertador, 1473
Floralis Generica — Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta, 2301
Palermo is night and day. It's hipster and upscale. It's big – the largest of Buenos Aires's 48 neighborhoods – and filled with nicknames too. There's Palermo Chico, home to MALBA – the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires –, and Palermo Botánico, nearby the botanical gardens. If you're looking for something new though, try Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, the liveliest and most diverse areas.
Calle Jorge Luis Borges, Plaza Julio Cortázar... one might think SoHo is Literary Palermo, but it's more like Trendy Palermo. There you'll find places like Chori, a hip restaurant that reinvents the choripán, a traditional Argentine sandwich made with sausage, with even a vegetarian version. The space belongs to the owners of La Carnicería, a new Porteño favorite, which rejuvenates the traditional parrilla.
In Hollywood, there are different new arrivals. For a little over a year, Uptown has been extending the nightlife on Calle Arévalo way beyond midnight. For Luis Miranda, the place is a laboratory: just 28 years old, he created over half the cocktails. One of the drink menu highlights is his version of the negroni, made with Colombian coffee. “In the past, it was hard to find the right ingredients and bartenders improvised. Now people have learned to drink this way.” Don't expect big signs: like a lot of bars these days, the space is lively, but not flashy. In neighboring Villa Crespo, Bar 878 functions with its doors closed, and, even when packed with people, you'll only notice the loud music seeping out onto the street.
Pulsating nights clash with full days in Palermo. The city's main outdoor attractions, like the Jardín Japonés, propose contemplation and equilibrium; meanwhile, the lovely and romantic Rosedal has over 14,000 flowers. For sports lovers, the place is Parque 3 de Febrero, which attracts joggers and cyclists: think of it as “Fitness Palermo” (not its real name, but it might as well be).
To recharge your energy, the tip is to go to Havanna, which also has a new proposal. A few blocks from the green areas, their location on Calle Cabello is synonymous with this: in addition to the alfajores, Havanna is also popular among people who are looking for a place to have lunch, with aperitifs like the haierados (fine bread with healthy filling options).
Lastly, at the border between Palermo and the neighborhood of Retiro, make sure to check out the restaurant Elena, located inside the Four Seasons Hotel. From the space, inspired by Buenos Aires houses, to the menu, specializing in aged beef and Argentine charcuterie, the award-winning establishment values regional identity. Chef Jean Gaffuri recommends the picada, a platter of cheese, salami, and ham, to eat like a local. And don't forget the ice cream: Argentina is, according to him, a country of ice cream lovers.
Jardín Japonés — Av. Casares, 2966
El Rosedal — Av. Infanta Isabel
Parque 3 de Febrero — Av. Infanta Isabel, 410
Havanna – Calle Cabello, 3663
Colonial dinnerware, old photographs, and giant fur coats: while the streets of San Telmo hint at the neighborhood's age, the market, held every Sunday in the vicinity of Plaza Dorrego, gives form and color to its past. The profusion of souvenirs has attracted a large inflow of foreigners to these parts. Vendor Alberto Rodrigues, a legitimate Argentine gaucho, affirms: 'San Telmo is a window to the world.'
It's also a place for family outings. Parents, grandparents, and children can be seen in the aisles of Mercado de San Telmo or watching tango dancers in the city square. The little ones, incidentally, will love getting to meet Mafalda, the inquisitive comic strip character created by Quino, located a few streets down, at the corner of Defensa and Chile.
The neighborhood's modern side consists in its museums, known as MAMBA and MACBA. The former, which opened in 1986, specializes in modern art, with a number of 20th-century figures, and has announced a renovation for July 2018 that will bring new halls, a café, and a library. Meanwhile, MACBA, founded in 2012, features contemporary art and exhibits everything from installations to happenings, including contemporary dance performances.
In the neighborhood next to Constitución, the restaurant Aramburu has a modern tasting menu. In business for almost 11 years, they started out with seven dishes, and now they offer 18 courses, which are exclusive creations idealized by chef Gonzalo Aramburu.
Feria de San Telmo — Calle Defensa, 120-200
Mercado de San Telmo — Calle Defensa, 961
Aramburu – Calle Salta, 1050
The region is a symbol of exclusivity, with a skyline filled with skyscrapers and streets named in honor of illustrious women. Walking along the river's edge, checking out boat museums and the extraordinary vision of night falling on the Rio de la Plata framed by Puente de la Mujer are a few of the essential experiences there.
The renovations attracted restaurants like La Cabaña. Originally located in Recoleta, it changed addresses in 2010. There, the parrilla tradition is celebrated with meat cuts that can weigh as much as 2.2 pounds [1 kg], like the ojo de bife.
La Cabaña — Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo, 380
At Plaza del Congreso, Buenos Aires's ground zero, the grass is greener. A few blocks from there, Plaza de Mayo looks brighter. Buenos Aires's Microcentro is different. To get a better view of the colors, the tip is to go up the stairs of Palacio Barolo. Built almost 100 years ago, the building features extraordinary, masonic architecture, inspired by Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy.
Even more sumptuous is Teatro Colón. Inaugurated in 1857 and transferred to his current location in 1908, the auditorium with capacity for almost 3,000 has hosted everyone from Strauss to Stravinsky. Revitalized in 2010, the theater maintains the same proposal as ever. These days, however, its spectacles are broadcast via streaming. When it comes to culinary arts, Tomo 1 presents new dishes that respect tradition. Run by chef Federico Fialayre, the house has a menu of reworked family recipes. In the same category, Café Tortoni is an indispensable classic.
More symbols of a Buenos Aires sought by many pop up on Calle Florida, home to Galerías Pacífico and Piazzola Tango, where people from around the world try their first dance steps in the city.
Palacio Barolo — Av. de Mayo, 1370
Tomo 1 — Av. Carlos Pellegrini, 521
Café Tortoni — Av. de Mayo, 825
If you've never been to Buenos Aires, don't worry: a visit to La Bombonera, the stadium that's home to Boca Juniors, remains a must. Just like taking pictures on El Caminito. In the heart of La Boca, the colorful streets appear immune to the city's changes. But in a matter of steps, white facades emerge on the scene thanks to Fundación Proa, an arts center installed there 21 years ago, bringing a contemporary touch with it. In April, the institution opened Proa21, a sort of laboratory for young artists, promising to introduce even more fresh air to the area.
Fundación Proa — Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza, 1929
Proa21 — Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza, 2051
LATAM has flights to Buenos Aires from Santiago, São Paulo, Lima, and 16 other cities.
Buy a complete package with accommodations and tours in the destination with LATAM Travel.