How to Spend 36 Hours in Buenos Aires, Argentina

buenos aires argentina
Tim Snell/Getty Images

Argentina has so many incredible destinations like Salta and Mendoza for wine, Bariloche for skiing, Mar del Plata for beach time, and Ushuaia for bottom-of-the-Earth adventures. In a country filled with endless opportunities for travel and exploration, the starting point for all these experiences lies in Buenos Aires, a city that deserves a lot more of your attention.

For those who don’t have unlimited vacation time, and must make due with the time they do have (such as a short layover), the next time you find yourself in Buenos Aires and only have hours to spend, here’s a 36-hour, must-see-and-do guide to help inspire your travels. Most international flights arrive at the international airport in the morning, so after landing, head to your hotel, sneak in a nap, and prepare for what follows.

12 pm: Tour the City with a Private Guide

The only way to truly see a city in a short amount of time is with a licensed guide who will also help with hiring a private driver for the time spent with them (don’t worry, due to the economic status of Argentina, the U.S. dollar is very strong there and hiring a private driver and guide will not be expensive). Take advantage of having a guide so you can be sure to see the most important sights within your limited time frame. Head to La Boca, home of the La Boca soccer stadium, one of the most loved (by half of the city) soccer teams in Argentina. The neighborhood is colorful and cheerful during the day and worth visiting. Then consider heading to Cementerio de la Recoleta to see some of the most over-the-top and ornate mausoleums in the world. The famous Eva Peron (more about her to follow) is buried there, although her burial site is not nearly as impressive as the line that forms around it.

Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

Another must-see is Plaza de Mayo, an iconic 19th-century central square. While there, snap some pics of the famous Casa Rosada, the famed presidential palace. Depending on your time constraints, consider visiting Florida Street, an architecturally beautiful destination that is now a major shopping street, Palacio Barolo, a distinctive landmark tower block with a unique look, and Teatro Colon, known as one of the best theaters for acoustics, which hosts operas, ballets, and classical music concerts. Buenos Aires is made up of very distinct neighborhoods, each with its own uniqueness and charm. That’s why having a car on this city tour will be beneficial, since your guide will be able to point the different areas out as you drive through them. One of the city’s top guides, as vetted through various tourism organizations is Noonie Harrison, who speaks perfect English and can be contacted here: noonieharrison@hotmail.com.

7 pm: Dinner and an Intimate Tango Show

tango
Faena

Faena Hotel is a top contender for the best hotel in the city. It’s artistic, it’s sexy, and it’s luxurious. It’s also home to some of the city’s best restaurants, including El Mercado, which blends the energy of Buenos Aires’ legendary cantinas with the charm of Europe’s open-air markets. El Mercado features the best of Argentinian cuisine. Start off with empanadas and then treat yourself to the best steak of your life. Enjoy your meal with some Argentinian wine such as a Malbec or a lesser-known white wine like Torrontes, which can only be found in Argentina. Afterward, head down the hallway of the hotel to the very intimate Rojo Tango theater. You can also choose to dine in the theater before the show, although since it is a very small space, dining at El Mercado and then walking over before the show starts is preferable. The show itself has been consistently named as one of the best tango shows in the city. It’s dark, the dancing is incredibly sensual and at times, there is limited clothing on stage. The musicians and performers are so close to you that you feel as if you are part of the show, making for a one-of-a-kind experience.

11 pm: Drinks at a Flower Shop

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One of the city’s best-kept secrets is Floreria Atlantico, an unassuming flower shop with a secret door that leads downstairs to an always packed speakeasy. Here you can eat dinner or just enjoy the drinks menu. The specialty of the house is gin and tonic, with a full list of different gins and different tonics, in addition to special house blends that use different herbs for each creation. If you need a late night snack, consider the deep-fried frogs’ legs. Although the dish may not sound too appealing, they are in fact rather delicious. The space is rather small, so unless you find a seat at the bar or manage to get a table, be ready to continue the night after a couple of rounds.

12 am: Last Call at an Equestrian Themed Bar

36 hours in buenos aires argentina four seasons
Four Seasons

Before the night is over, head over to the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires and visit Pony Line, a bar located adjacent to the lobby. The cocktail menu here is inventive, to say the least, and the bartenders are extremely friendly and always willing to offer up their suggestions. Their signature drink is an Aged Negroni (gin, Rosso, Cynar 70 red bitters, cocoa nibs, and oak) but their list has something for everyone.

9 am: Go Biking in a Nature Reserve

36 hours in buenos aires argentina path the ecological reserve getty images
Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

After a long night of indulging, it’s time to work off those calories and get to see a part of the city that isn’t as well known. First, you will need a bike rental. You can choose to do a group tour but you can also go off on your own. Point your bike in the direction of Puerto Madero (a very hip, industrial neighborhood where Faena Hotel is located) and make your way to Reserva Ecologica. The 865 acres of low land on the Rio de la Plata riverbank is on the east side of the Puerto Madero neighborhood and is home to a number of trails leading to the river which are perfect for bird watching, strolling, and strolling. Once you are inside the park, it’s hard to imagine that the impressive city of Buenos Aires is just on the other side of the lush green that surrounds you. Take the bike and get lost in the park, or just bike down to the river and find a bench where you can people and animal watch.

1 pm: Lunch and Chocolates in a Palace

The Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is made up of two components: an ultra-luxurious modern structure in the front and a glamorous palace (Palacio Duhau) in the back, with a stunning courtyard between the two and an underground hallway/art gallery that also connects the two structures. The garden alone is worth your time, as is the art gallery down below. Grab lunch at Gioia Restaurante and Terraces and ask to be seated on the terrace, which overlooks the garden. The restaurant offers a seasonal contemporary Italian menu. Afterward, head next door to Oak Bar to experience its elegant yet comfortable ambiance, which includes oak paneling that was brought over from a French castle in Normandy that dates back centuries. And before you depart, head downstairs to the art gallery walk and make your way to Duhau Patisserie, an exclusive retail space of the hotel that sells macrons, Belgian chocolates, original tailored cakes, and petit gateaux, all created by the in-house pastry chef.

3 pm: Visit The Evita Peron Museum

Evita Peron Museum
Evita Peron Museum Frederic REGLAIN/Getty Images

No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without a visit to the Eva Peron Museum. The controversial former first lady of Argentina has always been widely recognized throughout the world but was somewhat resurrected when a movie musical (featuring Madonna as Eva) was released in the ‘90s. Whether you love her or hate her (you will find folks on both sides in Buenos Aires), her story is fascinating and the museum presents all the aspects of her life, leaving visitors to come to their own conclusions about the actress who later become one of the leading political figures of her era. The museum is housed in a former mansion that she designated as a shelter for impoverished women and children.

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