Once dubbed the Paris of South America, due to the European landmarks built here during the golden era, Buenos Aires is still a precious gem today. The city is a 10 hour flight from Houston. That means you can hop an overnight United nonstop, sleep, and wake up in the morning before landing with just a 2 or 3 hour time difference (depending on daylight saving time).
Because of its location in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite Houston's, making September to April (Spring to Fall) the most attractive time to visit. If you were ever curious to dance the tango, sip a glass of malbec, or enjoy the local asado—Argentinean barbecue—now is the perfect time to do it, especially since the recent currency devaluation of the Argentinean peso means you'll get more bang for your buck.
Here are our favorite things to eat, see, and do, as told by our writer, an Argentinean.
See the landmarks
Casa Rosada, The Federal government office in Buenos Aires, is a must see not only because of its magnificent beauty, but also its history. Since the beginning of the republic, most Argentinean presidents have spoken directly to their citizens from its main balcony. That includes Juan Perón; his wife, Eva Perón famously also addressed the crowds from that spot. Remember the scene when Madonna sings "Don’t Cry For Me Argentina" in the movie Evita? It was filmed on the real balcony.
Plaza de Mayo faces the Casa Rosada and is where the war for Argentina's independence began in 1810, along with the Cabildo—now a national museum featuring interactive exhibits about the May Revolution.
Teatro Colón is the country's main opera house, considered one of the ten best in the world by National Geographic and renowned for its acoustics. Guided tours are 50 minutes long and run daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—tickets can be purchased here. You can also appreciate its architecture from the street, on Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the main and widest thoroughfares in the city, where one will also inevitably spot the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, a towering historic monument at the intersection of Avenida Corrientes, another avenue famous for its theaters and shows.
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Eat all the steak and empanadas
Puerto Madero, the original port of Buenos Aires, is now one of the city's most upscale districts with redbrick docks, refined restaurants, five star hotels, and nightlife. Favorite steakhouses are Cabaña Las Lilas, La Cabaña, and Red Resto & Lounge, all regarded for their local flavors and culinary creativity.
Empanadas are a must-try appetizer in their various flavors, including beef, ham and cheese, and onion and cheese.
Once you reach your steak and empanada quota, try Sottovoce for pasta and Osaka for sushi. Asia de Cuba has a fun bar for drinks, or check out the Faena Hotel for live entertainment at El Cabaret. Hotel Madero is a favorite place to stay: a modern boutique hotel with supreme service, unique views of the city, a rooftop pool, and a relaxing spa to recharge after a long day of exploring BA.
Explore the barrios
With distinguishing architectural flavors that have remained mostly intact since the origins of the city, two neighborhoods offer unexpected views to what is and was once life in Buenos Aires. The first is La Boca. Painted walls in bright colors abound in this barrio, the first stop for immigrants once upon a time. Along with being famous for giving origin to the very well-known tango Caminito, it's also the home of the Boca Juniors soccer team stadium. It's worth the visit for a game whether you're a fan or just want to be in the presence of "ultra-fanáticos" singing their hearts out for an entire 90 minutes.
The second is San Telmo, with cobblestoned streets, antiques, markets, and many places to eat that make it a must visit. Don’t forget to have a drink or coffee at Plaza Dorrego while watching professional tango dancers delight the crowds. If you'd rather see a tango show with dinner, El Viejo Almacen is a great choice as well as Senior Tango or Madero Tango.
A good place to take a walk is Recoleta, an affluent barrio that's home to both the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Centro Cultural Recoleta, which offer art exhibits, performances and festivals year round. Recoleta's public square, Plaza Francia, has an artisan fair every weekend, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., where you can find plenty of souvenirs to take home. Stroll through Avenida Alvear in between lavish estates and take a peek at the chic Hotel Alvear.
Next, hop in a taxi from Recoleta to Palermo Soho and ask the driver to take Avenida Figueroa Alcorta or Avenida del Libertador, so you can admire the many architectural marvels. These avenues and many more in Buenos Aires are full of jacaranda trees that blossom in the spring with beautiful blue-lilac flowers. If time allows, stop at the MALBA on Avenida Figueroa Alcorta for contemporary art exhibits with an al fresco restaurant and bar to cap the visit.
Palermo Soho, named after the New York neighborhood because of its similarities, boasts restaurants, cafes and independent boutiques. Art galleries and speakeasies make it a trendy spot for the stylish turista, and Plaza Serrano is a must see on the weekends.
Head to the great outdoors
Touring Buenos Aires can take about five days, but if you have extra time to continue visiting Argentina, we recommend Iguazu falls—one of the largest falls in the world— on the border with Brazil. The Perito Moreno Glacier in the south and the city of San Carlos de Bariloche south west of Buenos Aires are situated in Patagonia, a very attractive region in the country known for its countless outdoor activities on mountains, lakes and rivers.