24 hours in Buenos Aires

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Europe has certainly left her mark on Buenos Aires, a city founded by immigrants two centuries ago.


Deteriorating Anglo-Franco railway stations and belle-époque-mansions-turned-5-star-hotels jostle for attention with downtown skyscrapers – although the capital’s quirkiest landmark is an Ancient Egyptian-style obelisk. Many of Buenos Aires’ 48 barrios, or neighbourhoods, have their own distinctive personality: San Telmo’s cobbled streets fuse tango dancers, artisans, and antique sellers, while ever-expanding Palermo and its sub-areas house an endless stream of boho cafés, hip boutiques, and late-night watering-holes. Recoleta and its vast mausoleum-stuffed cemetery, however, is a lesson in how the other half live, in both the eternal and present senses. Set next to the River Plate – also the name of a top football club, a porteño (a resident from the puerto or port) passion – the ideal way to get a feel for the true Buenos Aires is to stroll it. Stop off for a coffee before browsing an art gallery or admiring the blooms in a park – that’s the porteño way.

Porteñosare late risers and need coffee to jolt them into action. Breakfast in style with a cortado (espresso with a dash of milk) and an oven-fresh medialuna from Farinelli in Palermo, while watching residents rush to work.

Palermo Soho’s cobbled streets set the backdrop to dozens of cutting-edge boutiques and quirky stores selling one-off pieces and leather accessories.
If you play the sport of kings, stock up on polo kit at La Martina.

Lovingly created by Franco-Argentine landscaper Carlos Thays, the Botanical Garden has more than 5,500 species. It even has a Kew-esque art nouveau winter house as well as sculptures on permanent display.

It’s steak or steak in Argentina – and Don Julio is one of the finest purveyors. Watch a thick ojo de bife (rib eye) or cuadril (rump steak) sizzle on the grill before attentive staff rush it to your table. Best served with a local Malbec.

Don’t miss Latin America’s foremost contemporary art show, which takes place May 24–27. ArteBA showcases the continent’s finest works at La Rural – galleries participating include Elsi del Río, Ruth Benzacar, and Mite.

Step back in time for an opulent high tea served on silverware from another era. Original belle-époque features complement the tranquil setting in the Piano Nobile Salon at Palacio Duhau.

Head to outdoor museum Plaza de Mayo for a look at Pope Francis’ last place of work at the Metropolitan Cathedral as well as the rose-toned Government House, from whose balcony Eva Perón addressed her followers.

Far more fun than simply watching tango, put your best foot forward with a class at Confitería La Ideal. This turn-of-the-century dance hall and café is a polite reminder of Buenos Aires’ faded glory.

Chef Hernán Gipponi only sources Argentine ingredients for his nine-course tasting menu at gourmand hotel the Fierro. Think lamb sweetbreads with piccalilli vegetables and honey, or prawns in strawberry and tomato gazpacho.

Hot new bar Florería Atlántico’s façade is deceptive: a florist and wine store. But venture down to the basement for hip drinks served in recycled jam jars, a nod to how the immigrant population made merry a century ago.


Buenos Aires, Argentina
Distance: 13,319 km
Flight Time: 18 hours, 50 minutes
Frequency: Daily via São Paulo

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