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A Buenos Aires travel guide – sizzling tango, giant steaks and European ancestry

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A Buenos Aires city break takes in passionate tango, Parisian-style architecture and king-sized barbecues. South America’s most stylish capital is as proud of its contemporary art scene and cutting-edge fashion boutiques as its Old World roots. It's all there as you step outside your Buenos Aires hotel.

Leisurely dining

Argentine beef is a legend, and rightly so. Carnivores satisfy their hunger with some of the best and largest cuts on wooden boards in restaurants like La Cabrera in bohemian Palermo Viejo. Upmarket Recoleta is the place to head for fine dining. Buenos Aires’ Italian immigrants brought with them thin crispy pizzas and homemade pasta. Sumptuous Italian-style gelato is piled high in ice-cream parlours like Freddo and upmarket Volta, dotted across the city. Dinner starts late in Buenos Aires – if you’re sitting down before 10pm you might be dining alone. For a stopgap, try a laidback bar or café like downtown writers’ haunt Café Tortoni.

Chic shopping

Recoleta’s exclusive Patio Bullrich shopping mall houses major international and Argentinian designers. Both male and female fashion lovers can find original clothes in Palermo Viejo’s maze of boutiques. Leather is a particularly good bargain in Argentina – specialists line the long Avenida Santa Fe. Crowds jostle through San Telmo Market in Plaza Dorrego on Sundays to buy colourful tango memorabilia and charming old trinkets. Turn off into the side streets to find dusty chandeliers and marble busts in the many antique shops.


Culture stops

Opera rings out of the imposing Teatro Colón whose stage is also graced by the National Ballet. See major Latin American art inside the bright, minimalist MALBA art gallery and catch contemporary exhibitions in La Boca’s sleek Fundación Proa. The Evita Museum charts the rise of Argentina’s beloved politician and the Carlos Gardel Museum its famed crooner. Slip into the elegant Confitería Ideal downtown as it fills up with evening tango dancers moving to the orchestra.

Secret spots

Explore the quieter side of city life with a trip from your Buenos Aires hotel to some of Palermo’s green spaces. The Rosedal rose garden is the place for a peaceful boat ride, or you could wander around the 19th-century Buenos Aires Botanical Garden. Both are free. Hidden away among the bustling streets of Recoleta is the 18th-century cobbled street of Pasaje Bollini – dinner in one of its restaurants is a real secretive treat.