Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital is often referred to as “the Paris of South America”—a nickname that you can’t truly appreciate unless you’ve visited. Fusing European elegance and Latin American flair, Buenos Aires is home to stunning colonial architecture, a lively café culture, plus an unrivaled passion for parrillas (steakhouses) and, of course, tango. At its coldest, the city rarely gets below 50 degrees, making it an idyllic year-round destination—which is why we named it one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2018.” Ready to book your trip? Here’s are the 10 things you should do on your next trip to Buenos Aires.
1. Visit Casa Rosada.
The pink-hued palace, which houses the offices of Argentina’s president, is perhaps best known for its historical significance: it’s where Evita stood, on the balcony, addressing throngs of supporters during her husband’s tenure as president. Guided tours are available on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
2. Dine at a “closed door” restaurant.
Few experiences in Buenos Aires rival that of the city’s “puertas cerradas” or closed-door restaurants. The concept began as a response to Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001, when a handful of chefs created small restaurants in their homes as an extra source of income. Though the financial crash is over, the trend has remained, affording out-of-towners the chance to dine in true local fashion. One of the best is La Cocina Discreta, which opened in 2007. Chef Ale Langer offers an ever-changing tasting menu in his living room several nights a week.
3. Stay at Faena, the city’s most dramatic, design-driven hotel.
When Argentine entrepreneur Alan Faena chose the Puerto Madero neighborhood as the site for his namesake hotel 14 years ago, it was virtually barren. Now, the area has become one of Buenos Aires’ buzziest spots, and Faena is smack in the center of it all. The hotel isn’t just a place to rest your head—it’s a theatrical experience that’ll tempt you to never leave the property.
4. Have a chopp at Bar El Federal, the oldest bar in Buenos Aires.
Located in the San Telmo neighborhood, Bar El Federal has been operating since 1864 and you can tell: vintage advertisements adorn the walls, the menus haven’t changed in decades, and the well-worn wood tables look like antiques. Do as the locals do and order a cold mug of Argentine cider (or “chopp de sidra.”)
5. Get tickets for the swankiest tango show in town.
In a place that’s synonymous with tango, competition for the “best” show is stiff, but if you’re looking for the most fabulous, you’ll find it at Rojo Tango. The Broadway-level of production lures Argentina’s top dancers, singers, and musicians, who come together for a performance that will stay with you long after you return home.
6. Buy tchotchkes at San Telmo Market.
The quirky indoor market has been operating since 1897, with a dizzying array of goods for sale, including locally-made dulce de leche, antique dealers, coffee shops, and handicrafts. You can peruse its stalls seven days a week, but the best day to go is on Sunday, when the surrounding cobblestone streets transform into a bustling bazaar fair filled with performers, tango dancers, and more.
7. Go to the city’s most iconic steakhouse.
Though several restaurants lay claim to the title of “best steakhouse in Buenos Aires,” there’s one that consistently tops every list: Don Julio. The family-run parrilla serves up tender grass-fed beef that’s cooked in a traditional “V” iron grill, with fantastic service and a standout wine list.
8. Shop, gallery hop, and embrace the café culture in Palermo.
If LA’s Santa Monica and New York’s Soho procreated, their love child would look something like Palermo in Buenos Aires. The hip tree-lined streets are chock full of swanky boutiques, art galleries, and bustling cafés. Come nightfall, the bar scene promises entertainment late into the evening.
9. Admire the architecture in Recoleta.
The neighborhood responsible for Buenos Aires’ “Paris of Latin America” nickname, Recoleta is a sophisticated enclave with a decidedly European sensibility. High-end boutiques, charming colonial architecture, and chic hotels line the quaint cobblestone streets. Stroll the area and stop for a coffee at La Biela, the city’s oldest café, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.
10. Wander the aisles of the world’s most beautiful bookstore.
Luring more than a million people a year, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is as spectacular as its name implies. It opened as a theater 1919 and was later converted into a cinema that featured Argentina’s first sound films. Today, the jaw-droppingly beautiful bookstore’s ceiling frescoes and balcony seating are still in tact—as is the stage, which now houses a small café for visitors.