Experience Buenos Aires Like a Porteño: 5 Tips for Enjoying the City

Posted by on January 7th, 2015

The Obelisk in spring

So that we can offer the best possible experience to our clients, the team here at Vaya spends large periods of time researching and exploring the destinations we put together. Buenos Aires is one of my favorite places in all of South America and the place I currently call home. Sure, the economy has more highs and lows than a theme park, and the government is commonly embroiled in one corruption scandal after another, but you will find a level of creativity and energy in this city that is palpable, and a cosmopolitan stylishness that is unique to Latin America. Most of our clients spend 3 nights in the Capital Federal before heading on to other locations, and your first full day we often arrange a privately guided city tour, giving you an excellent overview of the many neighborhoods and cultural highlights. To help you plan some of your free time in the city, here are 5 experiences that will expose you to some of the best things Buenos Aires has to offer:

1. Go to a Milonga

    1. Buenos Aires is famous for being the birthplace of tango, and most travelers get a glimpse of the dance by visiting a Tango Show. There

Buenos Aires Tango Show

    1. are many shows on offer around town that feature very talented dancers. However, to experience the dance like a

porteño

    (native of Buenos Aires) it’s essential to witness a milonga, a dance venue where tango dancers go to dance social tango with one another. There are dozens of these held throughout the city and multiple on any given night, and some milongas are more friendly to spectators than others. Two of my favorites for non-dancers (and dancers alike) would be La Glorieta Milonga and La Maldita Milonga. La Glorieta happens in the neighborhood of Belgrano and is held outside in a beautiful gazebo in a park. If it’s not raining heavily, during any month you can watch dancers gather after about 8:00 p.m. on weekends. La Maldita Milonga, which happens in the neighborhood of San Telmo, features a live orchestra on Monday and Wednesday evenings and is a great place to listen to live tango music and watch dancers (it is best to have your hotel call ahead and reserve a table for this milonga).

2. Skip the San Telmo Market for the Plaza Francia Market on Saturday or Sunday

    1. The San Telmo Antiques Market on Sundays is a great experience, but a lesser-known market happens in Recoleta just outside the famous cemetery on the weekends. This is where the true artisans set up shop and you can find very high-quality crafts and in general more interesting items than at other markets. If you’re there in the warmer months, go later in the afternoon when most locals gather on the hills outside of the cemetery to drink

mate

    , enjoy the weather, and watch buskers perform for the crowd.

3. Visit in the spring when the Jacaranda trees explode with colorJacaranda trees in Plaza Italia

    There might be other reasons to plan the timing of your trip to Argentina, but the city is never more beautiful than from approximately late October to late November when suddenly all the modest-looking trees around town explode in a riot of purple. The Jacaranda indigenous to this part of South America is commonly called the Blue Jacaranda, and the spring blossoms have a beautiful bluish/lavender hue and line most of the streets and plazas of Buenos Aires.

4. Visit a Bar Notable

    1. Buenos Aires is known for its Belle Epoque French architecture, and it is a city where the past can really come alive. In 1998 the city established an official designation for cafes that are architectural and/or cultural treasures; these are known as Bar Notables. Some of the more famous ones are Café Tortoni and Las Violetas, but it’s worth looking at the list on

the government’s website

    1. (in Spanish only) to seek out those little gems that transport you back in time to the glory days of the city. My favorite is El Gato Negro, which first opened in 1927 and maintains its original decor. This was the first place I ever saw

café con cardamomo

    (coffee with cardamom) on a menu, and this unusual ingredient is indicative of the other draw of this café: the place is lined with rows and rows of spices from around the world, which can be purchased by weight.

5. For some of the best views in the city, book a tour at Palacio Barolo

    1. This architecturally unique building was constructed in 1923 and at that time was the tallest building in South America. The architect

View from the Palacio Barolo

    1. designed it after Dante’s Divine Comedy, and the floors reflect the levels of hell, purgatory and heaven described in the poem. This building is still used as office space during the day, so weekday tours begin at 4:00 p.m. and are led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic bilingual guides. The tour requires climbing 6 stories of narrow stairs to reach the apex of “heaven” or the lighthouse that used to guide boats in to the Buenos Aires harbor. From this height you have a stunning 360 view of the city, including a great perspective on the National Congress Building, and can appreciate the immensity of the

Capital Federal

    .

For more information about all that Buenos Aires has to offer and how to include it in your next trip, just give us a call or send us an email!

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