Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and some might say, the capital of South America writ large, is a feast for the senses. The sprawling city, which in the early 20th century had collective wealth to rival many European nations, is both a memory of its past self and an entirely new metropolis in itself. Today the city is a symphony of contradictions, with enduring opulent belle epoque buildings and a somewhat fraying urban center in one of the most astounding financial crises of recent memory. 

Today’s Buenos Aires feels at once modern, ancient, and all together eternal. The city is rich in elegant museums and trendy shops, home of the best red meat and red wine on planet earth, and long lines at foreign currency exchanges where the peso to dollar rate fluctuates. Architectural grandeur, an abundance of stylish restaurants and cafes filled with both locals and foreign travelers along broad tree-lined avenues mix with a heady combination of dust, dirt, and riots of flowers. 

Like all deeply layered historic cities, the surface of Buenos Aires can merely be scratched in one visit, let alone a visit of just 48 hours. Yet here’s a way to dive into the heart of the city, even if just for a weekend. 

Where to Stay

Alvear Palace Hotel

regal classic suite at the alvear palace hotel
Courtesy, Diego Terze via Alvear Palace Hotel

Located in the lush, up-market neighborhood of Recoleta, not far from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Alvear Palace Hotel has the distinction of being one of Buenos Aires’ most luxurious. The century-old hotel was originally built as a response to the influx of European travelers to Buenos Aires, and today retains an air of old-world glamor. The 11-story building is festooned in Louis XV and Louis XVI styles which feel equally timeless as they do a throwback. Both for guests and non-guests, the Palace’s rooftop bar, with its sweeping views of the city, remains a highlight of a stay or visit.

Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

hyatt park buenos aires garden facade
Courtesy, Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Another palatial standout in Recoleta, the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires attracts an international set, although heavily American, often with a celebrity or two mixed in. The hotel feels both intimate and discreet despite its size (165 rooms). The manicured gardens, veranda restaurant, contemporary art collection, indoor swimming pool, and spa add to the hotel’s appeal.

Krista Boutique Hotel

Located in the bohemian and artsy neighborhood of Palermo, the Krista Boutique Hotel is an understated gem. Bright, airy, and contemporary, with an on-site café and small cocktail pool, the Krista manages to strike the perfect balance between having all of the comforts of a luxury hotel with none of the stuffiness. A principal draw, too, is the neighborhood itself, which necessitates leisurely strolling, window shopping, and people watching.



a healthy salad tomato salad with many ingredients
Courtesy, Canva

A sleek yet comforting spot for lunch or dinner, Bis is located in stylish Recoleta, on a lively, perpetually sun-dappled side street (next door you’ll find a tango studio and across the way, a small hotel). Bistro Bis is the happy combination of possessing the best of French and Argentinian cuisines and ambience, and has a menu of highly fresh and seasonal dishes (don’t miss the tomato salad) and a robust wine and cocktail list.

Café San Juan

freshly grilled meats in buenos aires argentina
Courtesy, Deby Rodriguez via Unsplash

With two locations in the San Telmo neighborhood — because it’s just that good, Café San Juan leans into Argentina’s Spanish influences. The décor is decidedly hipster chic and the cuisine heavy on the meats, although the octopus and vegetable-forward tapas are not to be missed.

Casa Cavia

Casa Cavia is the kind of restaurant you dream of stumbling upon: delicious, not too expensive, and made for people watching. Picture a large courtyard patio with tables artfully arranged around an ancient tree, and an interior book-filled, 18th-century mansion with private dining rooms. Fresh pastas, perfectly grilled fish, and Argentinian wines beg for you to dine here at least twice before leaving the city. 

Duhau Restaurante and Vinoteca

Courtesy, Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Located within the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, the Duhau Restaurante and Vinoteca attracts a crowd far beyond its hotel guests. Set within the hotel’s manicured garden and large terrace, the restaurant is filled with a stylish international set smoking languidly over Argentinian steaks (for which they are known) and bottles of Malbec.


Cementerio de La Recoleta

cementerio de la Recoleta in buenos aires argentina
Courtesy, Camila Ferrari via Unsplash

Visiting a cemetery while traveling might not be on the top of your list, but the decaying grandeur and seductive history of Cementerio de La Recoleta render this a necessary stopping point while in Buenos Aires. Once the final resting place of the city’s wealthiest families, the cemetery has since been overtaken by the elements, notably the stone-bleaching Argentinian sun and ever-growing vines. To wander the pathways is to immerse yourself in the Buenos Aires of a different era, when the city’s wealth proliferated. Of the most famous here is Eva Perone whose gravesite is always flocked by handfuls of visitors.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid

one of the greatest bookstores el ateneo grand splendid
Courtesy, Jeison Higuita via Unsplash

Grand, gilded, and overflowing with books, the sprawling El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. A former theater and cinema built in Buenos Aires’ early 20th-century boom days. The 1919 theater is wonderful in its own right, and today’s space (it was converted into a bookstore in 2000), where the books serve as the performers, is a necessary visit. You can browse over 120,000 titles here, as well as enjoy a coffee while pursuing your new purchases.

Museo Evita

exterior of the museo evita in buenos aires argentina
Courtesy, Canva

The cult of Eva Perone looms large in Buenos Aires and it’s nearly impossible to walk the city streets without encountering the famous former First Lady’s image. The beautifully preserved Eva Perone Museum is a good primer for those unfamiliar with her life and political and social significance, as well as for the most devoted of Evita fans. Housed in a turn-of-the-century building, originally designed as a private home and later used as an Eva Perone sponsored shelter for women and children, the museum brings Perone’s story to life through her clothing belongings, letters, and interactive displays. 

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

One of South America’s preeminent museums, the impressive Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is free to visit. In the tony Recoleta neighborhood, the museum is as popular with local school groups as it is with international visitors thanks to its wide-ranging collection of over 13,000 pieces. Highlights of the collection, which has been amassed in the last 120 years of the museum’s history, include works by masters including Goya, El Grego, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Chagall, and Rothko.

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (or MALBA as the locals call it) is the place to browse modern and contemporary works from across Latin America. You’ll recognize the work of heavy hitters like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as be exposed to the work of lesser-known contemporary artists across all mediums. Stop by Ninina, the on-site restaurant, for a coffee before or after your visit. 

Buenos Aires Ecoparque and Almirante González Fernández Park

Even the most zoo-hardened visitor will find delight at the Buenos Aires Ecoparque. Once a traditional zoo, the space has been transformed into a public ecological park with winding paths and benches for visitors to stroll alongside peacocks and nutria. Make time to wander through Almirante González Fernández Park across the street stopping in the park’s Jardín Japonés and the Paseo El Rosedal Garden.

Featured image courtesy of Pompi Gutnisky, Alvear Palace Hotel

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