Buenos Aires

A travel guide to Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Paris of South America may be the continent's capital of chic, but since Argentina's 2002 economic collapse the government has kept the peso's value low to help the recovery. Practical upshot: Buenos Aires is an incredible bargain, with steak dinners and tango lessons costing $5 apiece, hotels $30.

What to see in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires packs all the style of a European capital. Even the cemetery in the elegant Recoleta is classy—all aristocrats in architectural fantasy tombs (Eva Perón's in the Duarte mausoleum).

Evita got her own museum in 2002 (www.evitaperon.org, $2), and even non-fans will want to stop by the pink façade of the municipal Casa Rosada on Plaza de Mayo to gaze at the balcony from which Evita addressed her adoring throngs (we dare you to stand there and not start inadvertantly singing in your mind "Don't cry for me, Argentina...").

Thursdays at 3:30pm, a group of women marches around the plaza's monument: they're the madres, mothers of people who disappeared during the "dirty war" of the 1970s (www.madres.org).

The world's best museum of Latin America art, nicknamed MALBA, showcases contemporary talents as well as giants like Kahlo, Rivera, and Lam (www.malba.org.ar, $1.75).

Be sure to join the parade of fashionable Porteños strolling the shopping streets of Calle Florida, Avienda Santa Fe, and Avienda Alvear.

What to experience in Buenos Aires

Show up at a salón de baile between 8 and 10:30pm—after which the milonga group dancing starts—and chances are you can score an hour-long tango lesson for about $5. Full Story

There are dozens of clubs, including Confiteria Ideal, La Viruta (Armenia 1366, tel. +54-11-4774-6357, www.lavirutatango.com) and Club Gricel (La Rioja 1180, tel. +54-11-4957-7157). Find others at www.welcomeargentina.com/tango/lugares_i.html.

For more serious tango courses, www.tangodata.gov.ar lists two dozen schools.

Hotels in Buenos Aires

B&Bs go for as little as $20 at www.argentinabandb.com.ar.

Hotels range from clean and comfy chain properties like the Ibis (Hipólito Yrigoyen 1592, +54-11-5300-5555, www.ibishotel.com, $35) to the funkily chic Lina's Tango Guesthouse, run by a dancer who organizes tango field trips for guests (Estados Unidos 780, +54-11-4361-6817, www.tangoguesthouse.com.ar, $30).

The depressed peso means even plush five-stars like the Meliá Recoleta Plaza Boutique Hotel in Recoleta go for relative peanuts (Posadas 1557, 11 53534000, www.solmelia.com, $195).

Where to dine in Buenos Aires

As culinary capital of Latin America, Buenos Aires enjoys a cosmopolitan dining scene, but Argentina beef is still king, whether it's churrasco (steak), parrillada (mixed grill of meat, offal, and sausages), or carbonada (ground beef stew). What's more, a steak dinner costs $5 to $10...with wine (Argentine red wines are some of the best in the New World).

Around 10pm—dinner starts late—head to Calle Báez in Palermo's Las Cañitas district for a smorgasbord of restaurants. Some picks: Campo Brava (Báez 292), a crowded and chaotic typical parilla steakhouse; Morelia (Báez 260), a pizzeria with a roof terrace; and Novecento (Báez 199), a swish bistro of international cuisine.

Plan: Airfare starts at $529 from Miami (www.momondo.com)—though $800 or so is more common. Five-night air-hotel packages start around $550 (800-811-6027, www.analietours.com) to $599 (800-243-7227, www.escapesltd.com).

Best time to visit: Mar-May, Sept-Oct.

Tourist info: www.bue.gov.ar and www.turismo.gov.ar.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in December 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.