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Enjoy a glass of rich Malbec and some of the world's best steak
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July 20, 2022 | View OnlineSign Up

Its colonial splendor may have dwindled with time, but Buenos Aires is very much alive.


Sprawling inland from the banks of the Rio de la Plata, this storied city has honed its reputation as the cultural capital of Latin America with aplomb. Steamy tango halls beat the city’s pulsing heart through the early hours of the morning, while more than three hundred theatres support its world-renowned arts scene.


While the city boasts an array of tourist draws, the true magnetism of Buenos Aires lies in the Porteño experience. Pull up a streetside seat, grab a Fernet-Branca, stay out late, and watch the city come alive.


And do we need to mention steak and Malbec?


Welcome to Buenos Aires.

| FUN FACTS

It’s home to the widest avenue in the world

You may know that Buenos Aires sits on the banks of the widest river in the world, but you might not know that the city itself is home to the widest road.


Avenida 9 de Julio runs right through the middle of downtown Buenos Aires and measures 140 meters across. They’ve squeezed twenty-two lanes of traffic onto the asphalt, making for quite the sight at rush hour.

| KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

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Double the fun, half the price

Buenos Aires isn’t the cheapest city, especially not when compared to the rest of South America, but there is a way to leverage the country’s odd currency problems to your advantage.


At the time of writing, you’ll get around 129 Argentine pesos for every US dollar. But little known to many travelers, Argentina also has a secondary conversion, nicknamed the Blue Dollar rate. It’s currently running at 260 pesos for every dollar, effectively cutting your costs by more than half. But there’s a catch; you need to bring cash into the country — preferably in $100 bills.


The country’s fluctuating economic issues mean they rely on more stable foreign currency for savings and other financial reasons. You can’t get the blue dollar rate outside Argentina, only in specialized money exchange offices in the city. If you’re comfortable traveling with cash, it might be worth a good-sized withdrawal for some serious savings.

Reset your body clock

If you want to enjoy Buenos Aires to the fullest, you’re going to have to adapt your sleep and eating patterns a little. Portenos (the city’s residents) generally eat very late. Some restaurants won’t even open until 7 PM and will be deathly quiet until nine.

Try and book a reservation for 10 PM, however, and you might be out of luck. If you find yourself stumbling out of a bar at midnight, there’s a good chance your favorite restaurant is still open.


If you want a quiet meal, by all means, grab that seven o’clock table, but for the lively atmosphere, you should be seeking, push your bedtime back and embrace the nightlife. See where the crowds take you.

Identification, please

If you forgo our advice on bringing cash or just prefer to use card, you’ll be fine in Buenos Aires. Cash is most definitely king, and prices often reflect that, but the vast majority of establishments can process credit.


What you may not be used to is having to show identification when you pay. Many card terminals require an identification number to be inputted before approving the purchase. If you don’t have your passport or driver’s license with you, they might not be able to ring you up properly. 


Always carry some form of identification with you for these instances.

| TOGETHER WITH

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| THINGS TO DO

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Tango the night away

Tango and Buenos Aires are as good as synonymous. The passionate ballroom dance style is famous across the world but calls itself home in the steamy halls of the Argentine capital. You’re likely to happen across a street display on your trip, but make sure you seek out a real show or club before you leave.


One of the best introductions to Tango is a dinner show in one of the city’s stunning theaters. Your ticket usually gets you a three-course meal (with wine, of course) and a professional tango show. 


Once you’re a little more in tune with the art, grab a lesson at La Catedral, the famous tango club. Learn the basics, then hang out a while to watch the regulars stream in around midnight to let loose. Its atmosphere is worth the trip alone, even if you don’t feel like dancing.


If a group class feels intimidating, check out private lessons online or use Airbnb experiences to take the hassle out.

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Visit Recoleta Cemetery

A trip to the cemetery might not be your idea of a good time. But Recoleta Cemetery is unlike any other.


The labyrinth of a site, initially built in the 1700s, is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. Doubling as a who’s who of Argentinian history, Recoleta is filled with the extravagant mausoleums of wealthy socialites, artists, poets, and other notable figures, including Evita Peron, the famous first lady of Argentina.


Four and a half thousand vaults line its deathly avenues, demonstrating an impressive range of architectural styles and proving that the battle for social ascension among the wealthy didn’t stop in death.


Most of the tombs are kept in good condition, while others have fallen into eerie disrepair. Vault doors may be wide open, revealing dozens of coffins collapsing in on one another deep in the darkness.

Score tickets to a Boca Juniors Game

In Buenos Aires, it’s most definitely football, not soccer. If South America is regarded by many as the spiritual home of the game, then Argentina and Brazil are frontrunners to be the Vatican.


Buenos Aires is home to 24 professional teams, with Boca Juniors and River Plate the best known. The two form one of the most world-renowned rivalries in the sport, and the game itself is only matched by the fans. Catching a game at Boca’s Bombonera stadium is often called one of the most intense sporting experiences on the planet.


Tickets are notoriously hard to come by, as only members are allowed to buy tickets (there’s an eight-year waitlist to become a member), but there are ways to do it. Members with tickets often post on Airbnb experiences, willing to take visitors to the game. It’s a great way to do it, as you can avoid any of the more aggressive fans, learn about the teams, and take it all in with a local. Just be wary of scams. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Even if you’re not a sports fan, you should go. There’s nothing like it in American sports. Plus, it’s the country that produced Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi — basically gods in Argentina.

| WHERE TO STAY

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Parisian style in South America

Hotels are spectacular in Buenos Aires. Many of the European-inspired buildings so popular at the turn of the 20th century have been converted into boutique accommodations, placing you at the heart of the action yet gifted with a reprieve.


Many of the more traditional buildings were once homes for the social elite, adding a little piece of personality to an already beautiful setting. Prices are higher than in the rest of South America, but a comparable luxury room here will still be considerably less than in the US.

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Our Top Pick: Palacio Duhau

Buenos Aires, Argentina
$$$$ | See inside

An iconic city, an iconic avenue, an iconic building, and an iconic hotel.


A stay at the Palacio Duhau is a journey back to the glitz of thirties Argentina. The outstanding service holds its own against an impossibility idyllic setting, where guests can wander through the manicured gardens before stepping out into the vibrant Parisian-esque streets of Recoleta.


Prices are reasonable for this level of luxury, with rooms starting around $550. The stunning silver-plattered breakfast is worth it alone.

Book Your Stay

Other Top Picks

| WHERE TO EAT

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Carnivorous tendencies

Food is one of the main attractions in Buenos Aires. Evening walks are spent dodging streetside seating from the endless array of restaurants that fill the city. From traditional Argentinian cantinas to high-end international cuisine, Portenos love eating out.


Of course, steak is the star of the show. Parrillas (steakhouses) dominate the culinary landscape, and for good reason. Argentinian beef is some of the best on the planet, and they treat it as such. Pair a good bife de chorizo with a glass of local Malbec, and you’re in for a wonderful Buenos Aires evening.


Don’t skimp on the pasta and pizza, though. Millions of Italians moved to Buenos Aires in the 19th and 20th centuries, so they take their ancestral home’s food seriously. Argentinian pizza is something to behold. Seriously, you’ve never seen so much cheese on a pie before.

Our Top Pick: Don Julio

Buenos Aires, Argentina
$$$ Menu

Most eateries named on the World’s Best Restaurants list will set you back a few hundred dollars for the privilege of eating there. Don Julio, ranked number 13th, offers some of the world's greatest steaks with a bottle of wine for less than fifty bucks.


Renowned for its hospitality, a night at Don Julio’s will be one to remember. It’s a favorite with locals and tourists alike and, best of all, doesn’t have a months-long waiting list. They serve pretty much any cut of meat you can imagine but ask your waiter for help choosing the best of their selection.

Reserve a table

The Best of the Rest

| WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN EDINBURGH

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