48 Hours In: Buenos Aires

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As summer sun bathes Argentina's capital, the city takes on a carnival air – just in time for its annual Shakespeare festival

Travel Essentials

Why go now?

The Argentinian capital is at its best during the first months of the year, basking in high-summer temperatures that foster a merry, near-carnival atmosphere. This will play out from 9 to 17 February in the shape of the annual Festival Shakespeare Buenos Aires – a celebration of Britain's revered playwright (various venues; festivalshakespeare.com.ar).

Touch down

Only British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) flies direct from the UK, with a daily non-stop from Heathrow. Air Europa (0871 423 0717; aireuropa.com) flies from Gatwick via Madrid; American Airlines (0844 499 7300; americanairlines.co.uk) flies from Heathrow via Miami.

Ezeiza airport (00 54 11 54806111; aa2000.com.ar) is 14 miles south-west of the city. Manuel Tienda Leon (00 54 11 4314 3636; tiendaleon.com.ar) operates a bus transfer from the airport at least once every hour, fare 75 pesos (A$75/£9.60). It takes 45 minutes to the main drop-off point at 1299 Avenida Eduardo Madero (1). The firm also offers private cars for A$295 (£38), bookable online. Taxis take 40 minutes and cost about A$120 (£15).

Get your bearings

Buenos Aires spreads out on the south-west bank of the River Plate as it nears its estuary. It exists as a series of distinct districts: Monserrat and San Nicolas at its heart, the newly gentrified docklands of Puerto Madero to the east, historic San Telmo, and the traditionally working-class La Boca, directly south of the centre. North of San Nicolas, the gilded barrios of Retiro, Recoleta and Palermo swell with parks, style and quiet affluence.

Despite its size, Buenos Aires is easily explored on its excellent Subte underground system (metrovias.com.ar). There are six lines – flat fare A$2.50 (32p).

San Nicolas has a tourist office (2) at Calle Florida 100 (00 54 11 4313 0187; bue.gov.ar) – while Puerto Madero (3) has another at Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 200 (00 54 11 4315 4265). Both are open daily 9am-6pm.

Check in

Hotel Boca (4) is themed around the city's most eulogised football team, Boca Juniors – though, confusingly, it is found at Calle Tacuari 243 in Monserrat. Double rooms from US$133 (£101), with breakfast (0054 11 4590 8540; hotelbocajuniors.com).

The boutique Aspen Square Hotel (5) sits close to the bars of Palermo Soho at Calle Thames 2313 (00 54 11 4776 1711; aspensquare.com.ar). Doubles from US$115 (£72), room only.

And the Meliá Recoleta Plaza (6) is a five-star at Calle Posadas 1557 in Recoleta – doubles with breakfast from US$224 (£140) (00 54 11 5353 4000; melia-boutique -recoleta-plaza.com).

 

Day One

Take a hike

Begin at the core of the city, in the Plaza de Mayo (7). Note the Cabildo (8), in the south-west corner of the square at Calle Bolivar 65, the seat of Spanish colonial power. Whitewashed and elegant, it is a foil for the Casa Rosada (9), at the plaza's east end which houses the Argentinian president's office, from where Eva Perón made her quasi-religious balcony appearances.

Leave the plaza at its south-east corner, passing the fenced-off Parque Colón (10), with its Christopher Columbus statue. Turn south on Avenida Ingeniero Huergo – noting the Thirties bulk of the Edificio Libertador (11), the Ministry of Defence, on your right – then east on to Calle Azucena Villaflor and into Puerto Madero. The swing bridge, Puente de la Mujer (12), a 2001 vision in white, is visible along Calle Juana Manuela Gorriti.

Lunch on the run

Continue through the Puerto Madero docks. Try a steak sandwich – about A$30 (£3.75) – from the food trucks (13) at the end of Avenida Dr Tristán Achával Rodriguez.

Window shopping

Running north to south between Plaza San Martín (14) in Retiro and Avenida de Mayo in Monserrat, Calle Florida is the city's key retail drag. This pedestrianised strip includes Galerías Pacifico (15) at No 753 – a Beaux Arts arcade, dating to 1889, that hosts more than 150 stores (00 54 11 5555 5110; galerias pacifico.com.ar). The cross-street, Avenida Corrientes, is also known for its bookshops, such as Librería Hernández (16) at No 1436 (00 54 11 4372 7845; libreria hernandez.com).

The Palermo district is festooned with modish fashion outlets such as men's clothing store Bolivia (17) at Calle Gurruchaga 1581 (00 54 11 4832 6284; boliviapara todos.com.ar).

Take a ride

Though richly evocative, Boca has a reputation for street crime. Hail a (yellow and black) Radio Taxi to see the key sights: Caminito (18), the iconic street painted by artist Benito Martin in the Fifties, and La Bombonera (19), the cauldron-stadium home of Boca Juniors (Calle Brandsen 805; 00 54 11 5777 1212; bocajuniors.com.ar).

Alternatively, Buenos Tours (00 54 11 3221 1048; buenos tours.com) has a three-hour tour of Boca and San Telmo with local guides (pick-ups from your hotel; daily 9.30am, 2.30pm; US$55/£34).

An aperitif

Palermo Soho buzzes at night, especially Plaza Serrano. Mundo Bizarro (20) at No 1222 (00 54 11 4773 1967; mundobizarro bar.com), is noted for cocktails (A$30, £3.75).

Dining with the locals

BA is famous for its parrillas – grills selling fine Argentinian beef. Desnivel (21) is a budget option at Calle Defensa 855 in San Telmo (00 54 11 4300 9081), with steaks from A$25 (£3). La Lorenza (22) is one of a cluster of splendid parrillas in Recoleta (Calle Junin 1721; 00 54 11 4803 9791; la-lorenza.com.ar) – steaks from A$50 (£6).

Vegetarians may prefer Puerto Madero, where Bice (23) is a chic Italian at Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 192 (00 54 11 4315 6216; bicebuenosaires.com.ar). Pasta dishes from A$120 (£15).

 

Day Two

Sunday morning: go to church

Pitched on the corner of Plaza de Mayo (7) at Calle San Martín 27, Catedral Metropolitana (24) (00 54 11 4331 2845; catedral buenosaires.org.ar) is an oddly secular structure, lost behind a Neoclassical façade (open 7.30am-6.30pm, weekends 9am-7pm; Sunday services at 10am, 11.30am, 1pm and 6pm). Rather prettier, the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar (25) (00 54 11 4806 2209; basilica delpilar.org.ar) is a Jesuit landmark, dating to 1732, at Calle Junín 1904 in Recoleta. You can visit on Sunday morning only if you attend one of the services, at 8.30am, 10am or 11am. Otherwise, it opens 2.30-6.15pm (10.30am-6.15pm on other days).

A walk in the park

Near the Basilica (25), the Cementerio de la Recoleta (26) at Calle Junín 1760 (cemente riorecoleta.com.ar), is a lovely spot for a morning stroll. A necropolis of narrow avenues and mournful trees – open daily 7am-5.45pm (free) – it contains the tombs of the national elite. Evita's family vault, well signposted, is marked, simply, "Familia Duarte".

Out to brunch

Head to Café Tortoni (27), a city legend at Avenida de Mayo 825 (00 54 11 4342 4328; cafetortoni.com.ar). This coffee salon, with its stained-glass interior, still recalls its 1858 origins.

Cultural afternoon

Puerto Madero has the hot spot of the Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat (28) at Calle Olga Cossettini 141 (00 54 11 4310 6600; coleccionfortabat.org.ar; A$35/£4.50). Open daily noon-9pm except Monday, this striking gallery was built in 2008 to showcase 20th-century Argentinian art, as well as pieces by Klimt, Dalí and Rodin. The Museo de Arte Latinamericano (29) at Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415 in Palermo (00 54 11 4808 6500; malba.org.ar; A$32/£4) also shines a spotlight on Latin art in the 20th century.

It is worth visiting the Teatro Colón (30) at Rua Cerrito 628 in San Nicolas too. The spiritual home of Argentinian ballet and opera boasts an ornate auditorium that holds 3,500 people.

Icing on the cake

Tango is Argentina's obsession. Café Tortoni (27) puts on nightly displays; (usually at 8.30pm and 10.30pm on Sun) from A$70 (£9). The Esquina Carlos Gardel (31) – named after the tango composer – also stages shows, nightly at 10.30pm, at Calle Carlos Gardel 3200, in the Abasto district. Tango-only tickets from US$96 (£59); with dinner from US$140 (£86) (00 54 11 4867 6363; esquina carlosgardel.com.ar).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little