What to Do in Buenos Aires

Argentina has been in the scene lately. With a new pope and a new Queen in the Netherlands, the loss of the Falkland Islands and the devaluations of the Argentinian peso, I think it's time we revisit its capital.

Three P's come to mind when I think of Buenos Aires – parilladas, piropos, and Palermo. No trip here is complete without a traditional parillada. There's an art to grilling meat and each of the thousands of parillas in the city have embraced their own unique way at achieving meaty perfection. Palermo is the largest district in the city, lined with plenty of amazing restaurants, and also the barrio I called 'home' one summer. My favorite encountered piropo (this just refers to a flirtatious/amorous compliment) at this meat-laden capital, "Tu con tanta carne, y yo sin dientes." That's "You with a lot of meat, and me without teeth." My host-dad wasn't directing this at me, of course, but to the bountiful selection of delicious meat in the city.

It's not just a piece of meat that should draw you in though. Here, you embrace the charm of its diverse ethnic and cultural heritage, which is reflected in the barrios. Grab a gourd and sip on the national drink, Maté, while taking in the interesting Rioplatense Castellano accent of the locals.

Here are some things to do and see when you find yourself in the city.

Catch the Superclásico – River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

– Arch-rivals River, mostly supported by the wealthy, and Boca, mostly supported by the working class, marks one of football's greatest and most intense rivalries. Even if you're not a big fan of soccer, the passion of the fans, chanting of songs, and even the occasional, mild riots make it a must experience.

La Boca

– It's a picturesque, colorful neighborhood located at the mouth of the river Riachuelo. The houses here are brightly painted because it's said the European immigrants that settled here took left over paint left from the docks to decorate their homes.

Plaza de Mayo

– The political center of Buenos Aires houses the Casa Rosada, better known as the Presidential Palace. Here you can marvel at the balcony where the Peróns rallied the Argentine people.

– A group of mothers has gathered and marched through Plaza de Mayo every Thursday afternoon for the last 35 years. The disappearance of their children at the hands of the government is what first brought them together. During 1976-1983, the government kidnapped and tortured all political opponents of the regime and destroyed all records related to the incident. They march in front of the Casa Rosada in a non-violent demonstration to keep their children's memory alive.

El Ateneo

– Once a historic arts theater that housed tango legends such as Carlos Gardel, it eventually converted into a cinema. Though no longer a place to watch the arts, El Ateneo retains its elegant details and takes on the form of a bookstore. The perfect place to stop and read a book, drink a coffee and listen to live piano music, or just peoplewatch and marvel at its extravagant interior.

Milonga

– These are events or locations where the tango is danced. It usually begins with a lesson then the floor is open for the rest of the night. It offers more than an expensive dinner/tango show. It offers a hands-on tango immersion. There are milongas every day of the week all over the city. This site offers a list of various places.

Recoleta

– A posh neighborhood that helped give Buenos Aires the nickname "the Paris of the South." Here you can find luxurious hotels and fashionable boutiques. Get lost exploring the crypts of the Recoleta Cemetary, where famous Argentine presidents and revolutionaries reside.

You know you've found its most famous resident, Evita, when there's a crowd hovering over a rather plain, granite crypt.

San Telmo

– It's the oldest barrio where cobblestone streets and old architecture linger. The heart of tango that radiates a Bohemian vibe. Great restaurants, street performers and lots of tango-related activities can be found in the area.

Palermo

– A young and trendy barrio with many sub-barrios and no shortage of shopping and dining opportunities. There's not much in terms of sight-seeing as compared to other barrios but plenty of people-watching and hanging out can be done.

Puerto Madero

– A modern port with expensive buildings and a growing financial and commercial industry. It used to be an old shipyard but is now the most modern barrio of the city. Restaurants and clubs here are the most expensive in the city.

Shopping

– Palermo is lined with plenty of boutiques and international name brands. The newest and most fashionable appear here first.
– In Recoleta, a small outdoor market right outside the cemetery is open on weekends and holidays – the best place to find artesanal crafts. Lots of high-end stores line the streets too.
– San Telmo's Sunday flea market on Calle Defensa is known for antique shopping.
– Calle Florida is the most famous and most commercial. A lot of stores have a tourist focus but there it's also known to sell leather goods and have big stores like Zara, Ripley, and Falabella.
– Villa Crespo's Calle Murillo is the place to go for leather goods but the most well known is Murillo 666. Villa Crespo is also home to outlet stores where last season's goods can be found.