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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

By u026851
Trip Plan Tags: 
buenos aires in november 2010
Destinations: 
Argentina,
Buenos Aires,
Buenos Aires Province,
Central + South America,
San Antonio de Areco

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Mishka, Argentina

4673 El Salvador, Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4833 6566

Cult favorite Mishka sells self-styled "shoes for princesses." The fanciful, handsomely made designs focus on unusual heel shapes, striking textures, and innovative materials. Each season, designer Marcelo Canton uses a different theme or material inspiration—one recent season featured structured, ladylike bags and shoes made of tightly braided multicolored leather. The boots, flats, and heels on display at both shops tend to run narrow and trend toward wearable art. If you see a style you like, grab it: Mishka is currently available only in Buenos Aires and London.

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Mandarine, Argentina

4940 Honduras, Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4833 0094
Website: www.mandarineshoes.com.ar

Most of the colorful leather shoes, bags, and belts at Mandarine are made in the factory at their shop on Calle Honduras, and represent an excellent value for the quality of the workmanship—and a chance to own something handmade that no one else back home will have. Count on each of the stores to stock a supply of affordable, well-crafted versions of whatever's on-trend in women's fashion, whether it's gladiator sandals made of buttery leather or wedge ankle boots in wear-with-everything colors. If a style isn't available in your size or color at one branch, stop in at the sister shop around the corner.

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

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Grand Cru, Argentina

1886 Rodríguez Peña, Recoleta
Buenos Aires C1021ABN, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4816 3975
Website: www.grandcru.com.ar

Just down the street from the Alvear Palace Hotel, Grand Cru is the toniest wine merchant in the toniest barrio of Buenos Aires. The atmosphere here is low-key and welcoming, and the personalized service—the attendant on duty fits you with a wine the way a bespoke tailor sizes up your inseam—is impeccable. The selection features the best Cabs and Malbecs from Argentina (from a Noemía 2008 Malbec from Patagonia for $140 to a Doña Paula Estate Cabernet 2009 for $15) and expertly chosen imports from Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Open Mondays through Saturdays.

See + Do

Soccer

There's a slew of teams around Buenos Aires, one of the great soccer towns, but Club Atlético Boca Juniors, dating back to 1905, is the one that inspires the maddest devotion. After all, Boca launched Diego Maradona, the compact dynamo who won a couple of World Cups for Argentina before heading into a star-crossed retirement, complete with drug abuse and a near-overdose of empanadas. You can catch Boca Juniors—clad in iconic blue and yellow, a color combo seen all over B.A.—at the beloved stadium known as La Bombonera ("the bonbon box"; capacity 49,000). Be sure to duck into the adjoining, and highly amusing, Museo de la Pasión Boquense, devoted to all things Boca.

If the salty Boca Juniors represent B.A.'s proud working class, their archrivals, River Plate, whose fans are known as Los Millionarios, represent the other extreme. El Estadio Monumental, River's state-of-the-art home, lives up to its name: It's the largest soccer facility in Argentina (capacity 57,921); it's safe and provides an actual seat to each paying hincha (fan). Wherever you go in Buenos Aires—or in Argentina, for that matter—be prepared to answer the question of whom you support, River or Boca. (You can always answer "Independiente," the third team in the contentious pecking order of Argentine fútbol.)

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San Antonio de Areco, Argentina

San Antonio de Areco, Argentina

A popular weekend escape and a mere 70 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, the sleepy outpost of San Antonio de Areco is the place to get in touch with your inner gaucho. The town, which sprouted up in the 1720s along the main road to Peru, was once perched on the border between Spanish territory and uncharted native lands, and the frontier feeling survives. There are cobblestone streets, rustic one-story buildings, traditional parrillas (steakhouses), and even a museum devoted to gaucho history and culture (Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes). Best of all, San Antonio de Areco (easily reachable by bus from B.A.) is surrounded by endless grassy plains—those famed pampas that have fed untold generations of blue-ribbon Argentine cattle. To get the most out of this cow town, check in at one of the many estancias (ranches) scattered around the surrounding country. These outback retreats were once (or may still be) the gracious country homes of Argentina's cattle barons and landed aristocracy. They range in architectural style from adobe fortresses to French château to Tudor mansions, and they meld the manorlike gentility of the great English country houses (à la Brideshead Revisited) with the cowboy spirit of, say, Ponderosa.

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Sailing

Given the Río de la Plata's importance to Argentina's maritime trade, it's odd that Buenos Aires turns its back on the widest estuary in the world. (True, the Plata's shallow waters are chocolate brown, thanks to sediment scoured by its tributaries, and tricky tides add to the challenge of navigating its waters.) Aquatic activities concentrated in the Zona Norte are nonetheless increasingly popular, where enthusiasts strike out on sailboards, wakeboards, and surf skis. Motorboats and yachts can also be rented in the nearby town of Tigre for a cruise in the Paraná Delta, where 4,000 square miles of tiny bamboo-strewn islands are divided by hundreds of channels, canals, and tributaries. A handful of sailboat operators also rent fully crewed yachts from Puerto Madero in the city center.

Moored in Puerto Madero, Smile on Sea's 32-foot yachts are manned by experienced skippers and can be chartered for half-day sails on the Río de la Plata, providing a waterborne vista of the Buenos Aires skyline. On balmy days, consider leaving at dusk for an on-deck sundowner and night-time return to harbor. Longer outings include a full-day cruise to the Paraná Delta or an overnight crossing to Colonia del Sacramento, a former Portuguese colonial settlement on Uruguay's shoreline.

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Recoleta, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The tony enclave of Recoleta feels like the 16th arrondissement of Paris or Manhattan's Upper East Side. Its leafy streets are lined with ornate townhouses, Polo and Cartier outposts, the occasional embassy and, at its heart, the posh fortress of the Alvear Palace Hotel. Recoleta's most famous resident remains Evita Perón, who, oblivious to her daily cavalcade of visitors, rests in peace at the must-see Cementerio de la Recoleta, a 13-acre necropolis founded in 1822. Avenida del Libertador, a wide parkway, leads to B.A.'s own museum mile, featuring the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, a former Belle Époque palace.

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Polo, Argentina

Campo Argentino de Polo, Avenue del Libertador at Dorrego
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4777 6444
Website: www.aapolo.com

Argentina is of course one of polo's global hot spots, and the action really heats up in November (BA's springtime), with the storied, century-old Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo (Argentinean Open). The stately Campo de Polo is set like a jewel in the heart of Palermo's expansive parklands, with a seating capacity of 45,000. It's a pleasant way to while away an afternoon, even if you could care less about chukkas or mallets.

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See + Do

Puerto Madero, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It's still shocking to many porteños that Puerto Madero—once a run-down dock area—has now surpassed Recoleta as B.A.'s highest-rent district. It's a barrio that didn't even officially exist until 1994, when massive renewal transformed a jumble of derelict brick warehouses and deserted streets into the TriBeCa of South America. These days, the four diques (locks) that define the old port are home to Cabaña Las Lilas, the best steakhouse in Argentina; Santiago Calatrava's lyrelike suspension bridge, Puente de la Mujer; and Faena Hotel + Universe, the mind-bogglingly over-the-top hotel that design superstar Philippe Starck carved out of a 1902 industrial grain warehouse.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Plaza de Mayo, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The grassy Plaza de Mayo is B.A.'s village green. Originally laid out in 1580, the plaza was the site of the important uprising against Spanish rule that blew up on May 25, 1810 (thus the name). These days, the Plaza de Mayo plays host to countless tourists, a healthy pigeon population, and, every Thursday afternoon at 3:30 pm, Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the activist-mothers who have protested the desaparecidos ("disappeared") of Argentina's 1976–1983 Dirty War for 20 years. At the Plaza de Mayo's center, one finds the Pirámide de Mayo, an obelisk commemorating the May uprising, and the square is bordered by the impressive Banco de la Nación, the old colonial Cabildo (town hall) and the Casa Rosada.

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Plaza Dorrego, Argentina

, San Telmo
Buenos Aires 1065, Argentina

The heart of San Telmo, formerly the playground of B.A.'s 19th-century elite, is this Spanish-style plaza, the site of several busy open-air cafés and the ever-popular Sunday afternoon Feria de San Pedro Telmo. The bustling bazaar—a great venue for street-level tango, where dancers throw down plywood boards over the plaza's cobblestones—hosts nearly 300 stalls stacked high with all order of antique Argentine bric-a-brac, from dolls and tango memorabilia to leather goods and gaucho-inspired curios.

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Plaza San Martín, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Perched on a high bluff, the picturesque Plaza San Martín is one of B.A.'s most recognizable landmarks and a popular rendezvous point. Laid out by the indefatigable Carlos Thays, the park is planted with more than 300 trees, including a towering stand of tipas and what might be the city's most illustrious plant citizen: an absolutely Brobdingnagian gomero tree, complete with straining supports to keep the branches—some as thick as a car—aloft. Borges used to love to wander here, as do modern-day porteños, who thrill to the view of the Big Ben–like Torre de los Ingleses.

See + Do

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Argentina

1473 Libertador, Recoleta
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 5288 9900
Website: www.mnba.org.ar

The terra-cotta-colored Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a former pump house in the city's waterworks system, opened its doors in 1933 and remains Argentina's number-one fine arts museum. With 32 galleries and 11,000 individual works, the institution features an impressive collection of Argentinean art to go along with paintings, drawings, and sculptures from such international big names as Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Vincent van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 12:30 pm to 8:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9:30 am to 8:30 pm.

See + Do

Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, Argentina

1902 Libertador, Recoleta
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4806 8306
Website: www.mnad.org

Since 1937, this stunning neoclassical mansion, formerly the Palacio Errázuriz, has operated as a museum devoted to the decorative arts. (It was declared an official historic landmark in 1998.) Built in 1911 by French architect René Sergent for a Buenos Aires power couple (Josefina de Alvear and Matías Errázuriz Ortúzar), the house continues to wow visitors by providing a peek into just how good Argentina's filthy rich once had it. But there are also some 4,000 amazing objets to go along with the eye-popping architecture, including an arresting El Greco in the 54-by-64-foot Gran Hall. Check out the spiffy café, formerly the palace's gatehouse.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 2 to 7 pm.

See + Do

Palermo, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palermo is B.A.'s largest barrio, and, with its numerous sub-barrios and 350 acres of parkland, it feels like a city unto itself. There's the wonderful Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays with its frisky population of feral cats; the century-old Palermo polo grounds; and the palatial Hipódromo Argentino (4101 Libertador), a thoroughbred racecourse that makes Churchill Downs look like a shotgun shack. But the real action goes down in Palermo Viejo, the hipster hangout centered around Plazoleta Cortázar and subdivided into Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood, an area of tipa-lined streets, designer-soap emporiums, cocktail bars, and cutting-edge bistros like the Scandinavian-themed Ølsen. The outlying Las Cañitas is a throbbing nightlife zone popular with pub-crawling yuppies and out-past-curfew teens.

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Museo Evita, Argentina

2988 Lafinur, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4807 0306
Website: www.evitaperon.org/eva_peron_museum.htm

Great controversy still surrounds the life of Eva Duarte, who rose from humble beginnings to become a star actress and wife of the populist dictator Juan Perón. Argentines rarely celebrate her memory in public, but visitors can trace her life story at the Museo Evita, run by the same social-work foundation that Evita, as she is best known, herself established. The well-presented collection includes Eva's luxurious gowns displayed alongside photographs that depict her wearing them at state events, her first paycheck as a struggling actress, and official records from school, church, and state. An authentic curio is Eva's national ID card, numbered 00-000-001—the first issued to a woman in Argentina. Evita-label wine and copies of her autobiography, La Razón de mi Vida (My Mission in Life), are on sale in the souvenir shop.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.

See + Do

Malba, Argentina

3415 Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4808 6500
Website: www.malba.org.ar

This sleek modernist slab on the edge of Palermo Chico—the choice address of B.A.'s television personalities and diplomats—was designed by a triumvirate of young Argentinean architects and opened to deserved fanfare in September 2001. It houses the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires/Colección Costantini, better known as MALBA, a museum and performance space devoted to Latin American art from the exalted likes of Fernando Botero, Miguel Covarrubias, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera. Homegrown faves are also represented here, including Clorindo Testa, the artist-turned-architect who created B.A.'s provocative Biblioteca Nacional (National Library).

Open Mondays noon to 8 pm, Wednesdays noon to 9 pm, Thursdays to Sundays noon to 8 pm.

La Martina Polo Ranch

ALT HERE

See + Do

La Boca, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The salty old harbor of La Boca—with its working-class swagger, old-school cantinas, and copious graffiti—is thought to be the barrio where 19th-century Genovese immigrants first danced the tango. Modern-day practitioners can be seen strutting their stuff along the rainbow-hued alleyway known as Caminito, La Boca's open-air museum, art gallery, and souvenir market (see above). It's a total tourist trap, but an irresistible one that even the locals profess a grudging affection for. La Boca is also the stomping ground of Boca Juniors, the beloved soccer powerhouse whose stadium, La Bombonera (805 Brandsen), makes up the center—spiritual as well as geographic—of the neighborhood.

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Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays, Argentina

3951 Santa Fe, Palermo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4831 4527
Website: www.jardinbotanico.gov.ar

This welcoming green haven, built by the prolific French-Argentine landscape architect Carlos Thays in 1898, is an ideal place for a Sunday-afternoon ramble. With its meandering lanes, Romulus and Remus statue, assorted fountains, and greenhouse brought back from the 1900 Paris Exhibition, the Botanical Garden mixes charming Beaux Arts–built elements with 8,000 varieties of global flora (and a robust smattering of feral cats), ranging from the flowering angiospermae (magnolias, et al) to orchids to the park's conversation piece, an ultrarare Chinese Tree of Gold. The garden's recently restored brick mansion, in which Thays's family once lived, now houses an art gallery. Bilingual experts lead guided visits (Fridays 10:30 am, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm) and, once a month, an atmospheric night tour (last Friday of each month, 9 pm).

See + Do

Jardín Japonés, Argentina

Avenida Casares at Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4804 4922
Website: www.jardinjapones.org.ar

Buenos Aires is one of the greenest of world metropolises, with avenidas, calles, and plazas generously planted with grand, locustlike tipas (the branches look like antlers), lavender-blossomed jacarandas, elephantine ombúes, and majestic London planes. The Parque Tres de Febrero, designed by Carlos Thays and nicknamed the "Palermo Woods," is a sylvan retreat whose most inviting corner is the Jardín Japonés, a whimsical preserve of Japanese flora, from black pines to ginkgos, set amid pagodas, ornamental bridges, and lakes brimming with well-fed golden koi. Be sure to take some green tea in the traditional teahouse overlooking the Zen garden.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

See + Do

Horse Racing, Argentina

Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo, 4101 Libertador, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1426, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4778 2800
Website: www.palermo.com.ar

Argentina has always been mad about thoroughbreds, and this palatial racetrack is an embodiment of that enduring ardor: Growing out of the original 1876 grandstand, the Hipódromo's opulent shell was designed by French architect Louis Faure-Dujarric and completed in 1908. The place can accommodate an impressive 100,000 fans of what the Argentines—in British fashion, since the sport was introduced here by Britons—call "turf." The top racing event is the annual Gran Premio Nacional each November.

See + Do

El Centro, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires and its suburbs form one of the world's largest metropolitan regions and its throbbing heart—all commercial bustle and sensory overload—is the Centro. The area hinges on the Plaza de Mayo, home of the Casa Rosada, and it includes the teeming pedestrian mall of Calle Florida, the theater row along Avenida Corrientes (the Broadway of B.A.), the nearly 500-foot-wide Avenida 9 de Julio, the soaring (if somewhat pointless) Obelisco, and the magnificent Teatro Colón, one of the world's great opera houses. For a respite, duck into Café Tortoni on the rambla-like Avenida de Mayo for a quick cortado (espresso cut with milk).

See + Do

Casa Rosada, Argentina

219 Hipólito Yrigoyen, Centro
Buenos Aires 1064, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4344 3804
Website: www.museo.gov.ar

The Casa Rosada (Pink House)—taking up the entire east end of Plaza de Mayo—is Argentina's presidential palace, from whose storied balcony Juan and Evita Perón (and later a lip-synching Madonna) wooed the masses. Resembling a colossal wedding cake covered in strawberry icing, the Casa Rosada originally got its rosy glow from the curious Argentinean practice of adding ox blood to whitewash. A small museum displaying relics from Argentina's presidential past seems perennially 'closed for repairs', but at weekends uniformed grenadier guards conduct guided tours of the palace's echoing chambers and palm-shaded, colonial-style interior patios—show up at 50 Balcarce to get your name on the list.

Open Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 10 am to 6 pm.

$200-$299
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Hotel

CasaSur Art Hotel, Argentina

1823 Avenida Callao, Recoleta
Buenos Aires C1024AAE, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4515 0085
Website: casasurhotel.com

$300-$399
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Hotel

Moreno Hotel Buenos Aires , Argentina

376 Moreno, San Telmo
Buenos Aires 1091, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 6091 2000
Email: reservas@morenobuenosaires.com
Website: morenobuenosaires.com

$300-$399
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Hotel

Hotel Jard Nn Escondido, Argentina

4746 Gorriti, Palermo Soho
Buenos Aires C1414BJL, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4834 6166
Website: www.coppolajardinescondido.com

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Faena Hotel + Universe, Argentina

445 Martha Salotti, Puerto Madero
Buenos Aires C1107CMC, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4010 9000
Email: reservations@faenaexperience.com
Website: www.faenahotelanduniverse.com

"It's not just a hotel," the people who run this monstrous property in chic Puerto Madero Este (a.k.a. the Tribeca of B.A.) will tell you, "it's a universe." They may have a point. The buzz has died down a bit since it opened in 2004, but the 110-room Faena Hotel + Universe—the brainchild of Argentinean fashion guru Alan Faena and design superstar Philippe Starck—intends to be an all-purpose 21st-century Baroque fun house. The former granary, a hulking brick structure from 1902, contains two formal restaurants, including the Alice in Wonderland–inspired El Bistro; a produce market; hopping nightclub; luxe spa with hammam; wine cellar for tasting parties; and jasmine-hedged outdoor pool. Usefully, the hotel assigns you an "experience manager" who can hook you up with tango lessons, polo matches, or just a compass to help you get around.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Alvear Palace Hotel, Argentina

1891 Avenida Alvear, Recoleta
Buenos Aires C1129AAA, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4808 2100
Email: info@alvearpalace.com
Website: www.alvearpalace.com

At the Alvear Palace—widely considered the top hotel in South America—it's still possible to feel as rich, as they used to say, as an Argentine. The colossal neoclassical chateau, which dominates a gilded swath of Recoleta studded with Cartier, Polo, and Zegna outposts, has been the focus of Buenos Aires high society ever since its polished brass doors opened in 1932. These days, the 197-room grande dame remains in exceptional form, from the attentive bilingual butlers to the opulent suites full of Louis XV-style furniture. Guests should be sure to have a tipple in the magnificent Lobby Bar, where the local upper crust and visiting sultans gather for cocktails, gossip, and political intrigue. The Alvear's top-notch French restaurant, La Bourgogne, is the country's only Relais Gourmands establishment.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.