Known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is a beautiful bustling and cosmopolitan city with gorgeous architecture, incredible restaurants and a cultural hub. There is so much to in the capital of Argentina that I’d definitely recommend getting a private tour. Our tour was organised by the concierge service at Western & Oriental, a team of travel experts and part of super luxury tour operator Inspiring Travel Company. Western & Oriental contacted local experts Rainbow Tours to give us a private tour of the city and learn about the history but they can also tailor the tours to suit visitors interests.
1. Go Hotel Hopping
Ok, I know this is one of my favourite hobbies anyway but many of the hotels in Buenos Aires are historical buildings.
Our own hotel Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is a former palace one of the few remaining palaces in Buenos Aires that represent the city’s traditional aristocracy. So much more than just a hotel, it houses a beautiful art gallery, luxury florist and artisan patisserie.
The Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires features an original Mansion house built by Félix de Álzaga Unzué, the heir to a South American ranching fortune, as a wedding gift for his young bride, Elena Peña Unzué. Through the years it deteriorated but was completely restored by the Four Seasons and turned into a luxury hotel. I highly recommend the restaurant Elena, named for the bride of La Mansión
One hotel that we didn’t have time to visit was the beautiful Alvear Palace which was originally built as a luxury hotel for European visitors arriving in Buenos Aires in the 1920s, opening in 1932, built as a homage to Belle Epoque grandeur.
2. Visit a Parilla
It’s no secret that Argentina is one of the best places in the world to eat steak, largely owing to the grass fed cattle. Any meat lover or dedicated foodie will have a visit to a parilla – an Argentine grill restaurant or steakhouse. My restaurant research led me to La Cabrera and Don Julio as the two best steakhouses in town and I ended up booking the latter thinking it may be less touristy. However I’ve been assured both are excellent choices.
The meat at Don Julio was utterly exquisite and portions are huge so you really only need one steak… you have been warned. This steak must of course be washed down with plenty of Malbec or other local Argentinian wines.
I found the blog Pick up The Fork super helpful when planning restaurants so check out her definitive guide to Parillas here.
3. Pay Your Respects to Evita at in the Recoleta Cemetery
Located close to our hotel in fashionable Recoleta is the historic cemetery in the city where you can walk among the grand graves, crypts and mausoleums of notable residents of the.
The cemetry is one of the most elaborate in the world with statues, pillars and giant tomb stones.
The most famous grave is that of Eva (Evita) Perón, the much loved first lady who was totally idolised by the public. Sadly she died very young contracting uterine cancer at only 33. The grave isn’t as big and impressive as many other in the cemetery as her family was quite poor but it is certainly the most visited in the place. Our guide also told us the very interesting story about how her embalmed body was actually transported around the world for twenty years before reaching the final resting place.
4. Check out the Oldest Tree in Buenos Aires
Just outside the cemetery you can find El Gran Gomero, one of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen! There are debates to the origins of this beast but it’s likely to date back to 1791. Even if you’re not big into trees, this a hugely impress one boasting a 50 metre crown of roots and branches.
5. Go to A Tango Show
Did you know that the tango was invented in Buenos Aires and is today very much part of the city’s identity. There are of course lots of places to go to a tango show in Buenos Aires but our concierge recommended Rogo Tango at Hotel Faena as the best and most luxurious in the city. It was a seriously excellent choice and I couldn’t recommend it enough!! Though it’s on the pricey side, the theatre is private and intimate and we got limitless top ups of our sparkling wine. The hotel arranges for a private car to pick you up for a show’s ten o’clock start though you do have a little wriggle room as it did start a little later.
6. Visit the La Casa Rosada
La Casa Rosada or ‘the pink house’ is the mansion and office of the President of Argentina, a true emblem of the city and is located in the city centre.
It was from these balconies that President Juan and Eva ‘Evita’ Perón addressed the public during the late 1940s and early 1950 in a manner politicians had never done before. For the 1996 film Evita, based on the life of the famous and much-loved first lady, permission was granted for the film’s star Madonna to address the crowds from the balcony and sing the musical’s most famous song, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Oh course the tune to this famous song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical swirled around in my head the whole time we were there!
The city centre is also a great place to take in some of the beautiful architecture in Buenos Aires which varies throughout the districts. It was great being with our guide from Rainbow Tours who pointed out all the extra details that we might have missed.
7. Vist Maradonna’s Stadium
Speaking of Argentine legends, Diego Maradona is widely regarded as one of the best football players of all time after leading Argentina to world cup victory in 1986. Fellow football fans can make a pilgrimage to La Bombonera Stadium in La Boca home to Boca Juniors, the most loved football team in the country. They are also the club that helped make Maradona famous, as he played for five seasons scoring 116 goals in 166 games.
The stadium is a distinctive yellow and blue representing the team, colours sported throughout La Boca neighbour.
8. Explore La Boca
Stadium aside, I really loved exploring La Boca, the most colourful neighbourhood that we visited in Buenos Aires. Caminito is a row of colour buildings and though it is rather touristy, it’s still incredibly atmospheric with a Bohemian feel to it.
There’s a street art everywhere as well as effigies to Maradona and Evita.
9. Stroll along Puerto Madero
One of the newest of the capital’s 48 Barrios (neighbourhoods), Puerto Madero is a waterside dock area that has undergone a total regeneration. You can walk along the water stopping at chic bars and restaurants and also check out Fragata Sarmiento, a nautical museum housed in a boat.
10. Indulge in Fine Dining
As well as fill-you-up local steak houses Buenos Aires is also a hub for stylish restaurants and fine dining. Restaurants such as Tegui, Proper, Crizia and the aforementioned Don Julio have been ranked among the best in Latin America. I had made reservations at ILatina, a highly regarded ‘closed door’ restaurant in the city but I had to cancel this due to timing issues. Instead we visited Chila, an incredible gastronomic restaurant located in Puerto Madera and a restaurant rank No.26 in Latin America.
Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the multi-course menu.
Aside from the hotels, restaurants and the tango show everything else in the list appeared on our tour in Buenos Aires. We only had a short time in the city but I felt like we were really able to take in the highlights as we as heard detailed information from our knowledgable guide.
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Our tour was kindly organised for us by Inspiring Travel Company.