Megan and Mike Jerrard

Buenos Aires wasn’t a destination which was on our radar until a recent trip to Antarctica saw us pass through. Our cruise left from Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world, though with direct flights only an option from Buenos Aires we decided to spend an extended layover and look around.

We were intrigued by what lonely planet had dubbed “Paris of the South”, and sure enough, with its wide European-style boulevards, incredible food and raucous night life, we found ourselves on a 48 hour whirlwind of culture, architecture, passionate people, football, protests, and pop up tango shows in the street.

Caught somewhere in-between Latin America and Europe, Buenos Aires is a vibrant and dynamic city which will capture your imagination and ignite your passion for life.

Day 1

Spend the morning with a walk through Recoleta. This is one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, and there is a lot of European history on display. Neo-classical mansions stand side by side bustling street markets, and there is a historic cemetery which you should catch before the heat of the day.  

While a cemetery may not have been what you had in mind when I said that Buenos Aires would “ignite your passion for life”, Recoleta Cemetery is a truly fascinating place, with gothic mausoleums laid out in a grid like a miniature city for the deceased Argentine elite. The most famous burial site here is the tomb of Eva Peron (Evita), famous first lady of Argentina.

Next door to the cemetery there is a fantastic handicraft market which is open on Sundays, and the park comes to life with pop up art exhibitions, dance, and music. From here it’s a 15 minute walk to the United Nations Square where you can see Floralis Generica, a giant metal flower which is designed to bloom during the day and close up at night, as most real flowers do. This is an incredible metallic sculpture which stands at 20 meters high and the city’s first mobile structure.

Along the walk you’ll pass the gilded church of Nuestra Senora Del Pilar, and can continue onto the Museum of Fine Art, and the Museum of Latin American Art.

Grab lunch on the run as you walk towards Bosques de Palermo, and spend the afternoon in the “Central Park” of Buenos Aires. This is a great place to relax, people watch and picnic, among the green lawns, pine trees, lakes, sculptures, rose gardens, and running / bike paths which span over 198 acres within the Palermo Woods. The park is an attraction in itself, however also contains the Galileo Galilei Planetarium, the Eduardo Sivori Plastic Arts Museum, and is right next to the Plaza Italia, the Japanese Garden, the Zoo and the Botanic Gardens.

The Zoo in particular is an interesting experience – Buenos Aires recently announced plans to close the 140 year old zoo after it decided that keeping wild animals in captivity and on display was unethical. The zoo is in the process of releasing native animals throughout reserves in Argentina, so much of it is abandoned. However exotic animals like African species are more difficult to locate, so currently remain.

Head back to your hotel, clean up and have a nap before dinner. Take in dinner and a Tango show at Esquina Carlos Gardel. This is the best Tango show in Buenos Aires and features some of the most delicious Argentine cuisine with an exclusive selection of wines.

Day 2

To start your day, the most beautiful bookstore in the world is waiting for you. And that’s not just our opinion – The El Ateneo Grand Splendid has actually been named the most beautiful bookstore in the world. Built into a former theatre, the shop interior is astounding, and more glamorous than anything you would ever dream. Red velvet curtains hang over the stage at one end, and you can settle into one of the ornate stalls on the upper levels and pull books from the elaborately lit shelves (though the majority of texts are in Spanish).

If you’re up for further walking, it’s 40 minutes to Playa de Mayo (or you can catch a cab). This is the main square of central Buenos Aires, surrounded by many historic buildings attractions like the impressive Banco de la Nacion and the Metropolitan Cathedral (the main Catholic Church in Buenos Aires and where the current Pope Francis I would celebrate Mass).

Since a revolution in 1810 that led to independence, the plaza has become a hub of political life in Argentina, and if there is a protest going on (which seems like every other week in Buenos Aires), you’ll be sure to catch it here.

Also in the vicinity is Casada Rosa – the presidential palace which a pink façade. The balcony in the middle of the building is the place where Evita Peron would give her famous speeches.

Walk to Puerto Madero waterfront to grab some lunch. This is a flashy part of town, and lunch at Le Grill will give you the chance to indulge in what Argentina is most famous for – grilled meat. Try the steak tasting plate.

Walk around the waterfront in the afternoon, admiring the he ARA Presidente Sarmiento. This is a museum ship originally built as a training ship for the Argentine Navy. Now it's a permanent fixture on the harbour.

Spend the afternoon at the nearby nature reserve – Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. This stretches across the old marshlands on the other side of the river, and is incredible peaceful, offering great views of the imposing skyline through the trees. This is also a great chance to catch native wildlife and birds.

As you make your way back, grab dinner on the waterfront, and if you get the chance, walk through San Telmo (one of Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhoods), and the nearby neighborhood of Monserrat. The cartoon ride is a street circuit here which pays homage to the characters of the main story cartoons from Argentina, and there are random cartoon sculptures in the streets.

Arrival Tip

When you arrive at the airport, head straight to the blue and white “Taxi Ezeiza” taxi stand to pre purchase tickets. You will pay the fee, and an employee will escort you to a waiting taxi. Unfortunately taxi scams are quite common throughout Buenos Aires, especially at the airport, and this is a guaranteed way to make sure you’re not scammed.

 

Megan Jerrard is an Australian Journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe. At 29 she has lived a life full of more adventure than most people dream of – having skydived over the Swiss Alps, walked among the mighty Elephants of Africa, and summited the highest free-standing mountain in the world (Kilimanjaro).  Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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