Buenos Aires Travel: Passion and Style on a Plate | Short and City Breaks | Travel

9 de Julio Avenue Commemorates Argentine Independence Day, July 9, 1816 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Stretching into the distance, the thousands of buildings that form the city’s skyline merge into a mass of grays and browns.

On a warm evening, I’m trying to appreciate the grandeur and scale of Argentina’s vibrant capital from the luxury of the five-star Palladio Hotel.

The panorama alone can tell you that the lifestyle is as vibrant as the copious amounts of Malbec I decant to help me capture the mood.

Now, locals – nicknamed Porteños after the city’s port role – want to share their vibrant and stylish home with new friends from abroad.

The welcome slogan is “Somos Porteños” (We are from Buenos Aires). With low-cost carrier Norwegian launching new direct flights from Gatwick, and the low cost of living following last summer’s devaluation of the Argentine peso, now is the time for Brits to explore the city, known for its love of politics, football, Tango, wine, and mattress-sized steaks.

Built at the mouth of the Platte River, Buenos Aires is a vast grid of wide avenues lined with magnificent 17th-century buildings and majestic jacaranda trees with purple flowers.

It is a city of balconies, squares, domes and fountains, its streets adorned with statues and monuments of heroes and heroines.

Huge images of Eva “Evita” Perón appear on high-rise brickwork, and life-size dummies of football gods Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi stand outside cafés.

High on the sightseeing list should be Casa Rosada, the pink-painted neoclassical mansion that houses the presidential office.

Casa Rosada is home to the Office of the President

Eva Perón’s iconic speech makes Casa Rosada a historic landmark (Image credit: Getty Images)

Set in the imposing Plaza de Mayo, it is here that the glamorous Eva became Argentina’s spiritual leader after marrying President Juan Peron in the 1940s.

Shortly before her death from cancer, the former singer, aged 33, delivered a landmark speech from a balcony to the adoring crowd below.

It was on the same balcony that Madonna, who played Eva in the 1996 film, sang “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” to some 4,000 extras posing as her supporters.

The former first lady is buried in Recoleta Cemetery, along with her father, Duarte.

Along with other massive ornate mausoleums, Duarte’s tomb is covered in flowers and rosaries and heightened attention to grave robbers, making this awe-inspiring city of the dead one of Buenos Aires’ top tourist attractions one.

Other architectural treasures include the Obelisk, a white stone needle rising more than 230 feet from Republic Square.

Alongside the obelisk is the Palacio Barolo, a 22-story office tower that blends Gothic, Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles and was once the tallest building in South America.

Passionate about fine architecture, Portenos couldn’t resist turning a humble bookstore into an architectural wonder.

Barolo Palace in Buenos Aires

Palacio Barolo combines Gothic, Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture (Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Housed in a former theater with a frescoed ceiling, the El Ateneo Grand Splendid was named the most beautiful bookstore in the world by National Geographic this year.

You can also explore the city’s artistic roots at the Museum of Modern Art or the Recoleta Cultural Center, or catch a band at the trendy open-air Ciudad Cultural Konex.

In a city that is arguably home to the most passionate of dances, tango is everywhere, from glittery costumed couples entwining on street corners and cafés, to performances in traditional milonga bars. For those who want to experience Tangoed for themselves, classes are available.

For a different celebration of the arts, head to La Bombanera, home of soccer giants Boca Juniors, to the hot pot and visit the stadium.

Its favorite son, Maradona, became infamous among British fans for his ‘Hand of God’ goal which helped us knock out the 1986 World Cup.

But Boca fans adore him for the fact that he started and ended his illustrious career at Boca and still holds a favorite seat in the stands.

His image is everywhere, both inside and outside the stadium, and in some of the brightly colored murals that La Boca is famous for.

Argentines are carnivores and they take their beef seriously – as a vegan/piscetarian traveler the prospect of eating out is interesting to say the least.

We start in the trendy Palermo district, where there are two great traditional grills: La Cabrera and La Carniceria, serving everything from big steaks to sweet treats. Pointing to dead bodies hanging behind open grills, one of my local dining companions joked, “You’ve come to the wrong place, my friend.”

Young couple dancing tango in Caminito

Tango dancers perform on the streets of Buenos Aires (Image credit: Getty Images)

But to my relief, he was wrong. Even dedicated steakhouses or parrillas offer fish or vegetable options, including my favorite provoleta—a delicious slab of spiced and grilled cheese.

It’s all very affordable too. La Boca’s Gran Paraiso offers provoleta classica, oregano and pepper for just £3.50, tomato salad for £2.46 and a bottle of local beer Quilmes for £1.94.

Portenos says there are more pizzerias in Buenos Aires than steakhouses, and if the Pizza Guerin I tasted set the bar, it was as high as the Obelisco itself.

Argentinian television’s top celebrity chef Narda Lepes is taking things a step further with her restaurant Narda Comedor, a new restaurant focused on healthy plant-based food.

The intrepid 48-year-old still serves meat, but wants diners to eat less of it, and he’s come up with a delicious alternative, bibimbap, a spicy Korean rice dish with ginger and chilli-flavored “tofu dregs.”

Despite the high quality, the prices are low in her bright, airy premises. Anything on the tapas menu will set you back around £6.50 and a bottle of Patagonia beer £2.

At Mishiguine (meaning “crazy” in Yiddish), chef Tomas Kalika serves Kosher cuisine in a dark, atmospheric setting with varnished wooden walls filled with bookcases, wine racks and old photographs. We enjoyed a nice selection of delicious small plates including beetroot soup, roasted cauliflower and stuffed eggplant.

Colorful Apartments in Caminito

Colorful Apartments in Caminito (Image: Daily Mirror)

If you’re energized after dinner and go clubbing, Buenos Aires has many bars, lounges, tango venues and discos that stay open until dawn.

The Four Seasons’ Pony Line Lounge serves cocktails (from £5), while the Sky Trade bar offers panoramic night views from 20 floors up.

If you fancy tasting some of Argentina’s fine red and white wines, you can even sign up for a tasting class run by British expatriate Sorrel Moseley-Williams.

The largest city in the country, Buenos Aires is too large to get around on foot, but luckily the metro, brightly colored buses and taxis are cheap and reliable.

The hotel is also reasonably priced for the quality offered. Our base, Palladio, has a spa and heated pool, but it’s the little touches — like the marble bathrooms and the strawberries and honey in the breakfast buffet — that set us apart.

Best of all, many of the 113 rooms have private balconies from which you can look out over the city, but keep your voice down if you want to have your own Evita moment!

reach there

Norwegian Air’s direct flights from Gatwick to Buenos Aires begin at
£545 returns (

Rooms at the Palladio Buenos Aires – MGallery from £120 per night, room only. See

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