Food, football, architecture and tango all form a unique European-like experience in the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires.
1. Be part of the crowd at a football match
Packed stadiums and raving fans make for a memorable experience. We booked tickets for a River Plate vs. Racing Club classico (rivalry game) at River's El Monumental stadium. LandingPadBA did a great job of sorting out our tickets and bringing us to the game and right to our seats. We never felt unsafe during the experience in contrast to stories online about violent fans.
2. Prepare yourself for an Argentinian Steak
We were told more than once that asado (BBQ) is like a religion in Argentina and boy did we get our fill! For a guaranteed not to disappoint steak in Buenos Aires head to Don Julio. It is possible to walk in at lunch time but reservations are recommended for dinner. Steak portions in Argentina are huge, if you're going at lunch and you also have some wine, don't expect to have much energy for sight seeing after.
The Argentinians love grilling up steaks, pork, sausages and chicken from early in the afternoon until late in the evening. If you find yourself in wine country or at someone's home, bring a bottle of wine and enjoy the social event.
3. Explore the upscale Parisian-style Recoletta neighbourhood with afternoon tea and rooftop cocktails
Parisian architecture shines throughout the Recoletta neighbourhood. A pleasant way to enjoy the lifestyle is with afternoon tea at the Alvear Palace Hotel L'Orangerie restaurant. The specially blended [house blend] tea was our favourite.
Afterwards, consider heading up to the Alvear rooftop bar for some tasty cocktails, people watching and a great sunset view!
4. Eat at one of the Top 50 Latin American restaurants
Buenos Aires food culture isn't just ribeye and tenderloin. We discovered two notable restaurants from Latin America's Top 50 that are worth trying out: Aramburu and Mishguene.
Aramburu has a 16 course tasting menu and has been in Latin America's Top 50 list since 2013. It's not too much food! The dishes were well thought out, innovative and the wine parings spot on. Don't be confused when you arrive at the restaurant, there is no big sign and it hides behind a closed shop facade. Ring the doorbell for entry.
Mishguene, serving Argentine-Jewish cuisine is a nice change from the typical Argentinean meal experience. Shared plates large and small rule here. Don't be afraid to ask the server for suggestions. We constructed a nice meal by pairing a large main plate with small veggie dishes.
5. See a Tango Show at Rojo
Argentina is the land of tango. Tango shows, tango dance venues and even tango in the streets! If you're not up for diving into a lesson or dancing at a milonga, consider seeing the pros at the Rojo tango show located in the beautiful Faena Hotel. A nice dinner accompanies expertly trained performers dancing up a storm to live music. Make sure to ask for a table with a good view in advance when you make the reservation.
6. Take a tango dancing lesson and try out your new moves at an authentic milonga
On any given night there could be up to 20 milongas (tango dance venues) running in Buenos Aires. There is a strict etiquette at these dances so it's best to go with a dance group like Tango Classes with Lucia and Gerry. We started with a one hour lesson and then headed to a milonga. After some drinks we were taught how to dance in the fascinating milonga environment. Some liquid confidence sure eased us into it!
Consider checking out Comme Il Faut for an extravagant selection of Argentinean made tango shoes at great prices. You're sure to find something you like with their expert one-on-one service in their charming store.
7. Explore the San Telmo Sunday market
San Telmo is Buenos Aires' oldest neighbourhood and the capital of tango. The cobblestoned streets are filled with milongas, bars, antique shops and handmade crafts . Don't miss the Sunday Market where you'll see loads of vendor stalls and street performers.
We went back on a Monday and to our surprise the streets were dead and the umbrellas were even closed!
8. Chill on an outdoor patio for brunch in Palermo
Palermo is a great neighbourhood to walk around in and explore. Filled with restaurants, bars and little shops you'll find lot's to do here. Enjoy a healthy and organic veggie lunch at Artemisia or sit back with an excellent coffee at Salvaje Bakery.
9. Read, sip wine and enjoy the wonderful architecture of Falena bookstore & wine bar
The moment you walk into the bookstore your eyes are taken by the wonderfully restored interior. Falena is a bookstore with wine lounge that has a wonderful rooftop patio that is the perfect setting for an intimate discussion or a day alone with a new book.
10. Chill poolside in the zen garden of Home Hotel
Home Hotel was truly a home away from home for us. Their service is excellent and the garden and pool was the perfect place to relax.
11. Drink Mate
It's not just a drink, it's a lifestyle. Mate or Yerba Mate is a caffeine rich tea that you drink with a perforated metal straw out of an interesting cup made from a gourd. It's different than drinking tea or coffee because you typically drink it over a long period of time, filling up your cup with hot water from a thermos over and over. It's like the opposite of a shot of espresso.
While this bitter mixture was a too much to take in with our first cup, after a few days we really began liking the experience as the caffeine is not so jolting as coffee.