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One Day in Buenos Aires

Imagine it is your last day ever in Buenos Aires, and you have just 24 hours to see and do all of the things you love in Buenos Aires for the very last time. Makes you think, no?

My Perfect Day in Buenos Aires

This thought inspired the following blog post, an itinerary for which I would definitely need all 24 hours of the day to pack everything in. I hope at least some of my fellow bloggers in Buenos Aires will read this and be able to weigh in with their own post about their perfect day in BA.

Please read on for mine…

Perfect Morning in Buenos Aires

  • Facade of Cafe TortoniMy perfect day in Buenos Aires would have to start with breakfast at Cafe Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo 829, City Center), which is the cafe in a city of cafes. It is also the oldest, having 1st opened in 1858, and one of the most beautiful, with lovely wooden panelling, bevelled mirrors, Argentine artwork, a stained-glass skylight and colorful tiffany lamps. What would I have for breakfast? My sweet tooth dictates chocolate con churros, an old Spanish favorite; a thick, sweet hot chocolate drink with long, thin, sugary donut sticks for dunking.
  • Exiting Cafe Tortoni, I would walk a few blocks down Avenida de Mayo (towards the Pink House), admiring the beautiful turn of the century art-nouveau facades and balconies along the way.
  • Upon reaching the sign for Peru station on the Buenos Aires subte (subway) A Line, I would descend the staircase to go almost 100 years back in time. Line A became the first subway / underground in not just Latin America, but the whole of the southern hemisphere, when the 1st train ran here in 1913. Peru station has been beautifully preserved to look like it did back then, with period hand-painted adverts on the colorfully tiled walls, and the original kiosks and ticket offices. What’s more, the whole line was built by my fellow Brits, so it runs on the left hand-side, making me feel at home!

Inside the wooden carriage on Subte Linea A

  • A hop on the subway train, and I’m off down to station Saenz Pena. Most of the trains are the original wooden carriages, with subdued lamp lighting on the inside which really makes you feel you have gone back in time. I usually travel in the first carriage, where a front window lets you watch as you snake your way through the underground tunnels; hold on tight for the bumpy, but fun, ride.
  • I get off at Saenz Pena to enter the amazing Palacio Barolo building. I take a quick tour of the interior (available for a reasonable price from Monday to Thursday between 2pm and 7pm, ask at their front desk), which takes you up to the very top of the tower of what was once the tallest building in Latin America when it was opened in 1923. This gives you some of the best views available of the whole city and out across the river, including an excellent bird’s-eye view of Congress and back down Av de Mayo to the Pink House. The Palacio Barolo building itself is one of the most interesting structures in Buenos Aires, both architecturally and symbolically speaking. Here is my slightly blurry photo of the daytime view to Congress from the Barolo tower:

View of Congress from the roof of the Palacio Barolo

  • Then it’s back down into old Line A of the underground and a ride up to the Castro Barros station in Almagro, although I always call that area Caballito (it’s basically on the border between the two, and Caballito is the better known barrio).

A Cake-o-holic’s Lunch in Buenos Aires

  • On a corner very close to the Castro Barros station is Cafe Las Violetas (Avenida Rivadavia 3899, Almagro). As previously confessed, I am a cake-o-holic. The picture in that link is of me stuffing myself with a huge plate full sandwiches and sweet, sweeeeeet cakes at Las Violetas. I can’t think of a better way for me to have lunch on my perfect day in Buenos Aires. Las Violetas also happens to be one of the other more beautiful cafes in the city, with even more stunning stained glass than Tortoni. But it’s their cakes that really do it for me! Here’s a photo of Las Violetas to keep you going:

Stained glass in Cafe Las Violetas

  • Now I waddle to catch a taxi on Rivadavia, and head over to Plaza Francia in Recoleta, to walk off, ooh, around 1% of the calories from lunch in its grassy sloping hills.

An Argentine Afternoon

  • Plaza Francia leads into Recoleta cemetery, which just so happens to be my favorite place for a stroll in Buenos Aires. Now that might sound a little bit morbid, but it’s nothing like that at all. It has some amazing architecture, ranging from Egyptian Art Deco to over the top French sculptures, and (literally) contains some of the most interesting Argentine figures from the last few centuries, with many stories to be told. And it’s not all about Evita…personally, I prefer the many resident cats. You’ll see when you visit!

Art Deco Egyptian Style Tomb in Recoleta Cemetery. Plus a cat!

  • After I’m finished seeing dead people, there is nothing better to do than sit and have afternoon coffee in La Biela, possibly the most upmarket cafe in Buenos Aires, and a Recoleta landmark. It’s my perfect day, so it is sunny, and I’ll sit outside under the shade of the massive ancient gomero tree.
  • Then I walk a few blocks through upper-class Recoleta, until the corner of Santa Fe and Callao, where the Un Altra Volta ice cream parlor is found. I have my usual, a quarter kilo of dulce de leche and chocolate amargo gelato, in the quiet of their nice outdoor patio.
  • Next up, it’s the expat’s favorite mode of transport, the 152 bus along Marcelo T de Alvear, to Plaza Italia in Palermo. From here, its a pleasant walk through the green parks of Palermo, until El Rosedal / the Rose Gardens.
  • After admiring the blooms in the last light of the day, I patter around in a ‘pedal boat’ on the Rosedal’s lake, as the sun goes down…

Exceptional Evening of Eating & Drinking

  • After sunset at the lake, it’s a brisk walk back to Plaza Italia to take the subway to Plaza San Martin (first Line D, changing to Line C at 9 de Julio).
  • Here I would definitely partake in a pre-dinner gin and tonic, in the lovely, expensive, Art Deco style bar downstairs in the Marriott Plaza Hotel (Florida 1005, facing Plaza San Martin), and then almost certainly some kind of silly fruity trago (cocktail) at the small, colorful, arty Dada bar (San Martin 941, Retiro) a couple of blocks away.
  • Now we’re well lubricated, it’s a short stumble down the block to the El Establo parilla restaurant (corner of San Martin & Paraguay), one of my favorite places for a succulent Lomo steak, papas fritas, and an ensalada mixta (a simple classic; tomato, lettuce & onion, with oil and vinegar) even though the waiters will undoubtedly advise that this is too much for me – but, I’m English, so I will not let that phase me. Of course, it’s all washed down with a nice glass of Malbec red wine, and maybe finishing up with panqueques con dulce de leche (there’s my sweet tooth again), if I am not feeling too stuffed by then.

Night-time to morning: No time for sleep in BA!

  • After all that indulgence, some exercise is definitely in order. A nice stroll down the slope to Puerto Madero, seguing into a night-time walk along the lit-up docks, and past the beautiful Puente de la Mujer, is the perfect after dinner activity in Buenos Aires.

Puerto Madero Lit Up by Night

  • But don’t stop there! Continue along the docks to the Faena Hotel + Universe (Martha Salotti 445, Dique 2, Puerto Madero) and don’t be shy…walk in confidently, non-guests of the hotel are still extremely welcome here. There is no better place in Buenos Aires to have a couple of mega-expensive cocktails than in their breathtaking cocktail bar – the design is simply out of this world (or universe). And the staff treat you like royalty (there is even the odd gold throne to sit on!) – all of this actually makes the expensive drinks worthwhile! (for more about this, see my post on the top 5 expensive Hotels in Buenos Aires, and how to enjoy them on a budget)
  • It may be well into the middle of the night by now, but in Buenos Aires that means most people are probably still getting ready to go out! And so, I hail a taxi to take me all the way back to stylish Palermo Hollywood, to enter Niceto Club (Niceto vega 5510, Palermo Hollywood) – there’s no line to wait in, because I’m probably still a little early by BA standards (it’s difficult for a Brit to ever fully adjust to this!) – and it’s time to dance through to the morning, porteno style, among a crowd that are far trendier and better looking than I’ll ever be. Still, maybe something will rub off!
  • As the sun comes back up, it’s time to exit the club and go for breakfast! Coffee and medialunas in any small, neighborhood cafe will do at this point, before I finally fall into bed, with my apartment windows shuttered, to sleep through the rest of the daylight hours…

Your Perfect Day in Buenos Aires?

I’m very interested to hear about other people’s perfect days in Buenos Aires. Let us know, either on a blog of your own, or by posting your perfect day in the comments below. Thanks!

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Comments

28 Responses to “One Day in Buenos Aires”

  1. Alejandro on December 15th, 2006 7:32 pm

    Hey Alan
    Maybe you should drink a beer in the Irish pub Down Town Mathias in Belgrano “R”, Melian avenue, or know the history of the Hirsch mansion or the irish, english, german, and jewish highschoolls in belgrano too. 😀
    This neighbourhood is hidden from the tourist guides.
    Estaria bueno que lo des a conocer a traves de esta pagina.
    Saludos!

    [Reply]

  2. Alan Patrick on December 15th, 2006 7:46 pm

    Alejandro,

    You and the others are right, I really should be checking out Belgrano! I will get there soon, I hope, and learn some of its history too 🙂

    As for beer, I am amazed at the realization that I didn’t include any beer drinking in my perfect day!

    Although to be honest, beer isn’t really something I think of when it comes to BA! Belgium is my first and only real love in that area!

    Thanks again for your great comments, and hold on for some Belgrano posts…in a few months!

    Saludos,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  3. Karine on December 15th, 2006 7:53 pm

    Woaa that’s a really good one! Lots of things to do in a day. Let me think about it and I will sure do a posting about it too 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Alan Patrick on December 15th, 2006 8:02 pm

    Hey Karine!

    Thanks for that…I know it is a lot to do, but I think it would just about be possible in 24 full hours…maybe taking more taxis than public transport and walking, although that would be a shame.

    Looking forward to seeing your Perfect Day in Buenos Aires! 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Paula on December 15th, 2006 10:09 pm

    amazing web site!!definitely..
    saludos 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Laura on December 16th, 2006 11:00 am

    Alan, I will definately put together a post for the perfect day with kids, but I can’t promise if it will be done before the baby comes…since that’s only about a week away 🙂 It will most likely come to you after the New Year.

    Laura
    http//movingtoargentina.typepad.com

    [Reply]

  7. Diva on December 17th, 2006 6:31 am

    I`ll do it. Great idea.

    [Reply]

  8. Alan Patrick on December 17th, 2006 8:22 pm

    Laura,

    Thanks for saying you will do that in the new year, but more importantly, all the best for your impending new arrival! 🙂

    Diva,

    Likewise. (Except the part about the baby.)

    Alan

    [Reply]

  9. Chiara on December 18th, 2006 12:50 pm

    Lots of thinks to do in a day !!

    Great ideas !!
    Thanks !

    cya
    chiara

    [Reply]

  10. Dalila on December 18th, 2006 9:25 pm

    Alan, great blog, great work, great idea. I’ll think about it and write a post. Saludos.

    [Reply]

  11. Alan Patrick on December 21st, 2006 3:07 pm

    Hi Chiara,

    Thanks for the nice comment. You have some great pictures of Argentina on your website! Maybe you could write something about your perfect day in Buenos Aires on your site?

    Hello Dalila,

    Looking forward to your post on this – I’m sure it will include some very trendy stuff 🙂 And thanks again for the nice comments.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  12. Michael on December 24th, 2006 7:48 pm

    We will be in Buenos Aires in December to catch a cruise. We will have up to two weeks before with a blank slate. Any not to be missed suggestions?

    Thanks in advance.

    [Reply]

  13. Alan Patrick on December 27th, 2006 3:11 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I have sent you an email with my ‘not to be missed’ suggestions.

    Have a great time in Buenos Aires! 🙂

    Alan

    [Reply]

  14. SaltShaker » Blog Archive » Crawling Around on December 29th, 2006 10:56 am

    […] Not surprisingly, every magazine and newspaper out there seems to be doing their end of the year roundups. I was reminded of our appetizer crawls by Frank Bruni’s piece this week in the NY Times Dining section, where he looked back at a year’s worth of reviews and came up with a “Restaurant Crawl” where he’d have one dish at each of his fave restaurants over the year. It also gave me a direction to tackle Alan’s proposal for “A Perfect Day in Buenos Aires” meme over at his Buenos Aires Travel Guide. So, looking back at all the wonderful (and not so…) food I’ve had on this adventure so far, how would I approach an Appetizer Crawl here? I’ll (conveniently) leave out the neighborhood restriction, when it comes to favorites, we’re just going to have to travel. […]

  15. Cherie on January 10th, 2007 4:12 pm

    Hey Alan, you didn’t invite me to post, but what the heck, I went and did it anyway! (I hope it wasn’t because you didn’t like my article on Linea A: Taking the A Train.)

    Yes, I would do, and have done with gusto, all that you write about in my perfect day—as a tourist. But I live here, and I don’t mind being labeled “expat,” although I can see it might be taken negatively. But calling a chorizo a chorizo, an expat is what I am after not living in my native country for 5 years–three years in Buenos Aires.

    Love your site! Keep up the interesting good work!

    [Reply]

  16. Alan Patrick on January 10th, 2007 4:34 pm

    Hi Cherie,

    Thanks for the nice words about my blog…always welcome!

    Sorry I didn’t invite you to post directly on this…I just tagged one Tango related blog because I was going for one blog per each perfect day theme I could think of 🙂 Nothing against your blog, which I read and enjoy on a regular basis.

    And hey, I did kind of tag you, because I invited any BA blogger to post at the end 😉

    I did read your article on the A Line before and really liked it…great piece of writing on one of my favorite things in BA.

    Thanks for posting your perfect day in BA…I see it now…good stuff. Even though I class myself as an expat living here, and definitely not a tourist, I still like to do ‘tourist’ things here. Although, to be honest, there is no such thing as a ‘tourist’ thing for me. Just interesting things and uninteresting things. And if they are interesting, I will do them, whether tourists also do or not…I was the same in England too…:)

    From one expat* blogger to another…

    Alan

    *I am fine being called an expat, in fact I usually describe myself as that on the internet, probably even on this website too. I think you are referring to when I said to Miss Cupcake that I didn’t like being labeled as part of the ‘expat scene’, because I am not really in any way (I don’t go to expat events, or whatever), and I dislike being labeled in general 🙂

    [Reply]

  17. palermo shopping and swank eats on January 14th, 2007 3:47 pm

    fabulous! the must see list for cool, hip spots must have a palermo stop, don´t you think?

    stylish yet casual and probably the best restaurant: bar uriarte on calle uriarte (for dinner or drinks especially afuera (on back outside patio), barre 6 afternoon cafe hang, and the shopping!! (nothing is complete without the shopping guide). this is courtesy of liza from london: rapsodia, maria cher, jasmin chebar, mishka, ricky sarkany and sybil lane (shoes)…all around the intersection of armenia and honduras.

    buen dia!

    [Reply]

  18. Alan Patrick on January 14th, 2007 9:38 pm

    Hello ´palermo shopping and swank eats´, if that really is your name, eh???

    Now then…how the hell did you get through my spam filter? I guess it´s because you didn´t post a website link.

    I´m not going to delete you though, just for the pure comedy value. 🙂

    [Reply]

  19. ilikemonkeys on January 29th, 2007 3:13 pm

    i have never been to buenos aires but it sounds cool

    [Reply]

  20. Alan Patrick on January 29th, 2007 3:16 pm

    thanks ever so much ‘ilikemonkeys’ for the deeply insightful comment 🙂

    [Reply]

  21. buenos aires dude on January 29th, 2007 3:24 pm

    buenos aires is the coolest place we are doing a project in
    history

    [Reply]

  22. skye loobersmith on January 29th, 2007 4:14 pm

    the city of buenos aires in argentina seems really cool. we’re doing a project of our perfect day there in social studies just like the one on this website. the project is a little confusing though because i need a list of restaurants and other places. :]

    [Reply]

  23. kelly mano on January 29th, 2007 4:16 pm

    the city seems to be really pretty i wish i could go. the sky looks breath talking i wish i could see it now..

    [Reply]

  24. MAC on February 2nd, 2007 7:41 pm

    I am leaving for BA this sunday for a 2 wk Spanish Immersion Course and fun. Your blog came very handy, thanks and keep-up the good work. MAC.

    [Reply]

  25. Argentina's Travel Guide on October 5th, 2007 11:37 am

    Top Five Unproductive Ways to Pass Your Time in Buenos Aires…

    Six months ago, a typical day in my life reflected that of your average young urban professional living in San Francisco: wake up at 8 am, shower, catch the bus to work, endure an 8+ hour day at the office, hit the gym, make dinner with roommates, catc…

  26. Trish on March 19th, 2008 11:49 pm

    Living in Cordoba, and needed to get out of the country for the day…Yes, I am an expat. So, I stayed in Buenos AIres and took the ferry over to Colonia. I took many of your suggestions for restaurants, and they were fantastic!!! I felt like a local!

    Colonia was a disappointment. VERY expensive for average food. i was actually thinking of staying in Colonia before I scheduled the trip, and I am so glad I picked Buenos Aires instead.

    Great job on your suggestions. Thanks for all of your hard work!

    [Reply]

  27. Ray Minnick on May 21st, 2008 6:27 pm

    I’ve just returned to the states after living in BsAs for 3 months. I fell madly in love with the city, and am desperately seeking a way to return there permanently. Some places I sorely miss……….

    1.Classica y Moderna on Callao near Cordoba. It’s an intimate atmosphere with good food and excellent entertainment.

    2. La Catedral in Almagro on the corner of Sarmiento y Medrano. It’s an old, bohemian bar/tango hall/ art center. When my american friends came down to visit, I would take them there to take a tango class and enjoy local music. The atmosphere there is amazing, and much of the staff there speaks english. It’s also very cheap….about 20 pesos per person.

    3. For those who like to drink…..definitely check out the Buenos Aires pub crawl. It runs every Thursday-Saturday night, alternating between the Palermo SoHo and San Telmo neighborhoods. It is a blast! It’s 50 pesos to sign up, and the rest of the drinks are dirt cheap. I believe the web site is http://www.pubcrawlBA.com.

    4. Another cool spot to grab a drink is Mundo Bizzaro, on the corner of Serrano and Cordoba. The interior is cool, the music is amazing, and the bartenders are a lot more attentive than the usual porteno barmen.

    5. While it is extremely geared toward tourists, the feria on sundays in San Telmo is a must-see. I would go every sunday to enjoy the countless street performers.

    5. Taking the Tren De La Costa to Tigre is always a great experience. While I enjoyed Tigre, I particularly enjoyed getting off at San Isidro. It is a gorgeous, quiet town with a beautiful plaza right next to the train station. For a romantic evening dinner, go to Calixta, which is located right next to the plaza. It is a mexican style courtyard restaurant that also serves as an art gallery. It is amazing!

    No matter what you do, you’ll fall in love with BsAs!

    [Reply]

  28. Vanesa on May 29th, 2008 1:56 pm

    Hola Alan,

    I am finally back in BA after living in 5 countries for the last decade. Yes, it is my city and I love it! Thanks for sharing your life with us. Happy to hear you are happy here!
    I have a 3 years old daughter so I will write a post My perfect day… with children. Suerte y sigue compartiendo tu experiencia con todos! It is a pleasure!
    Vane

    [Reply]

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