A high heel clacks on a cobbled street to the sound of a tango beat. Buenos Aires, to me, is a city of sensual dancing, steak and shopping. A place where Barrios (neighbourhoods) are considered open-air museums and flea markets take over the streets. If you are embarking on an adventure in South America, these are the bits of Buenos Aires you mustn’t miss.
Often referred to as an open-air museum, La Boca is a colourful barrio full of artists and street art. The area surrounding La Boca has a shady reputation but the central streets of the barrio are a popular stop for tour groups in the city. And rightfully so. Every building is painted in a vibrant shade of blue or yellow, caricatures of national heroes peering over balconies. You can also buy a ticket to take a look at the Boca football stadium and say hello to a statue of Maradona in the entrance.
It may seem unusual to suggest you visit a place of rest on your city break but Recolleta is no ordinary cemetery. Like a miniature town, small marble buildings house the remains of the city’s late and great, including national heroine Eva Peron. Plagues, flowers and the crowds will indicate you have arrived at the right place to pay your respects. Also worth visiting is the Evita Museum. A grand home in Palermo has been converted into an exhibition of Eva’s life including movie and press clippings as well as some of her wardrobe.
Time to get to the meat of this article! No one does steak like the Argentinians and Buenos Aires is full of mouth-watering, good value places to find it. My personal favourite is La Cabrera who have now opened a second premises in Palermo due to popular demand (both on Cabrera Street). At this up-market joint it is all about the cut of the meat, so don’t bother asking for a side of chips or even consider uttering the words ‘well done’. In San Telmo you can get a cheap and tasty parrilla experience at El Desnivel and for an all-you-can-eat meat feast head to Siga La Vaca at Puerto Madero (which literally translates to ‘Follow the cow’!)
San Telmo is like an open-air theatre. Thought to be birthplace of tango, at the weekends the streets are decorated with accomplished performers who dance around the easels of street artists and alongside the tables of vintage curios sold at the flea market. The cobbled streets are a haven of antique shops leading to an atmospheric central square. Be sure to take some time to visit the San Telmo Food Market, for hidden in one corner is a vintage leather handbag seller whose stock and prices are among the best in town.
There is no shortage of professional tango shows in San Telmo who serve up sexy dancing alongside a 3-course meal and wine (Michelangelo do this very well.) But to test your own tango skills head to a traditional Milonga – tango dancing classes held in town halls. Ask your hotel for your nearest and if your Spanish is not quite up to scratch try to latch onto an English speaking partner early on in the class!
This last point is cheating as Uruguay is obviously not IN Buenos Aires but it is only 50 minutes away by fast ferry. If you fancy a daytrip to another country the journey is easy and accessible and Colonia del Sacramento, where you land the other side, is a very quaint seaside town. Just remember to take Uruguayan currency with you or you face high conversion rates from the taxi drivers on the other side.
Jayne is an award-winning travel blogger and social media specialist on a mission to blog 40 countries before turning 30. Find her on twitter (a lot) @jayneytravels and on facebook (often) at 40before30