For your next trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, learn how to immerse yourself in local culture, savor tasty delicacies and go beyond the guidebook in this fascinating city.
1. For those wanting to have a Buenos Aires experience not typically found in guidebooks, Buenos Aires has a lot of street art. There are many places in non touristic areas, like Colegiales and Boedo, where you can find the work of our “local Banksy.”
If you are interested in a different experience, like Gaucho Culture, every Sunday there are places called Jineteadas. Gauchos gather here for folk and music and to ride on wild horses and eat local food. Of course there are many Estancias that offer a “gaucho day.” All of them are good, but if you want to know real gauchos in Buenos Aires you must go to a Jineteada. These meetings are every Sunday in different places, about 30 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires. They don’t have a pre established schedule, and to find it is not a easy work. I typically need to listen a local radio to find the next meeting. Ask your hotel if they can help you with this.
2. For those wanting to experience local Buenos Aires culture, tango is a must. Everybody coming to Buenos Aires, goes to a “Dinner Tango Show.” Of course there are many and all of them are really wonderful places with excellent food and terrific tango performances; however, if you are looking for real tango, the place where you can find it is in a “milonga.” Milongas are a kind of social tango club where the locals meet to dance. Here, the most important thing is how well can you dance. These are non touristic places, the atmosphere and the environment are just organized for and by locals. Of course if you go there, you wont need to dance — you can take a sit and have a drink. But if you know how to dance tango you will be well received!
3. For someone wanting to savor a traditional meal, realize that Buenos Aires is located on the Pampa, which is well known for its cattle and meat. If you try a steak, it will most likely be one of the best you’ve ever tried.
Empanadas. Photo courtesy of victomar.
4. When trying to comprehend Argentinian cuisine, understand that Argentina is a big country and is divided in different regions. Each has its own food traditions. In the North West the most popular dish is locro, a kind of stew with corn, beans, pork, beef and vegetables. Empanadas and asado are present everywhere. Asado is barbecue and a typical Argentine cut of cow meat from the ribs. It’s one of the most appreciated dish for Argentinians. Empanadas are also a typical fast food. It is a thick dough filled with chopped beef and onions and cooked in the oven.
Argentina had an important immigration at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, people from all over the world came to Argentina, many of them settling down in Buenos Aires. It is a cosmopolitan city. The Italians had a huge influence on our cuisine. If you like the Italian food, Buenos Aires is perfect. You won’t forget the pizza and pasta here.
5. For travelers wanting a culinary experience that goes beyond simply eating in a restaurant, there are many places where you can take cooking classes. Some of them are restaurants where, before having dinner, they show you how to cook steak and empanadas. If you want to really know how to cook Argentine dishes, there are excellent schools which offer private cook classes. Gato Dumas or Maussy Sebess are excellent schools.
6. Trying to assimilate into local culture? Know that the locals are called porteños (it means people who live close to the port) and are very friendly. Foreigners are always well received as long as they use common sense and act respectfully.
Art Museum in Tigre, right outside of Buenos Aires. Photo courtesy of Pablo Dodda.
7. Regarding accommodations, Buenos Aires has the best big hotels, like Park Hyatt and Hilton; however, there is a new trend in accommodations. People now seem to want smaller boutique hotels, where you can find the same comfort as with the big brands but in a more intimate environment. The boutique hotels in the neighborhoods of Palermo and Recoleta are the best ranked.
8. To sip a glass of wine paired with a beautiful view, head to Puerto Madero, the city’s newest neighborhood. There are many bars and restaurants where the landscape is wonderful. If you want to watch the sunset over the city from a high place, the bar at the top of Sheraton Hotel is great. But if you want to have a drink in a fashionable area surrounded by artists, designers and trendy people, the bars around Plaza Serrano in Palermo are recommended.
9. A must-have day trip experience from Buenos Aires is Tigre. It is a part of the Delta del Parana, one of the biggest Deltas in the world. Just 20 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires, Tigre shows a different side of the city. Tigre is b the water, and you can take a boat trip and enjoy a day surrounded by nature an wild vegetation.
Contributed by freelancer Andres M. who was born and raised about 30 minutes outside of Buenos Aires in Tigre, Argentina. Top photo credit: Photo courtesy of Gustavo Brazzalle