With an elegant European culture and some of South America’s most sophisticated cultural experiences, Buenos Aires has an unmistakable charisma like nowhere else. The city conjures up images of legendary fútbol matches, red-dressed latinas dancing the tango to perfection, and gauchos playing polo on the golden plains. Due to the city’s extraordinary architecture and distinct cultural character, Buenos Aires has gained prominence throughout the international community as one of the best cities to visit in South America.
The local porteños, a common term for Buenos Aires folks, are a prideful bunch, every bit as proud of their European roots as they are their identity as “Americans.” As much as they have in common with their Italian and Spanish ancestors, the porteño culture is exceedingly unique in its own way. In Buenos Aires, “como te llamas” is pronounced “como te shamas,” eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. is common, and fernet with coke is a nearly unanimous cocktail of choice.
Like the city as a whole, Buenos Aires has a very cosmopolitan culinary scene and undoubtedly bears the mark of Argentina’s Italian heritage with classic dishes such as empanadas. The so-called “Paris of South America” is a gastronomic haven with elite chefs preparing exquisite cuisine in closed-door restaurants around every corner. Some of these top-notch eateries are even accessed in strange ways, such as through a phone booth or the refrigerator door of a flower shop.
Tango and the Arts
The art scene in Buenos Aires is even more impressive than its culinary landscape. Ranging from world-class art museums to local milongas and tango shows, Buenos Aires is overflowing with artistic expression. Those who are intrigued by modern art will not be disappointed, as the city has some of the best graffiti and street art displays in the world.
Buenos Aires is also a sports mecca, boasting an elite rugby team with several of the top polo players in the world living in or around the city. Of course, no sport will ever compare to fútbol, and Buenos Aires is certainly the center stage for the country’s most prominent performers.
Buenos Aires Practical Information:For all practical purposes, Buenos Aires is the best access point to Patagonia with regular flights to Bariloche, Ushuaia, and El Calafate. Since Torres del Paine is even closer to El Calafate than it is to Punta Arenas, we recommend travelers visiting Torres del Paine to catch a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (although Santiago is a viable option as well).
For travelers en route to Patagonia, we recommend spending two nights in Buenos Aires upon arrival and one night at the end of the trip. We also advise to carefully arrange the logistics so that you can explore different areas of the city and get a unique experience before and after your trip to Patagonia. Perhaps you could stay the first two nights in the bohemian Palermo Soho district, and end the trip at one of the beautiful hotels in the Retiro district or even the pampas on the outskirts of town.
It is important to note that Buenos Aires has two separate airports. The Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) is located 20 miles south of town and handles the vast majority of international flights. The more centrally located Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) is located on the Tigre Delta in town and is Argentina’s domestic hub with flights to Patagonia and other nearby cities.
Since Buenos Aires is the entry point for most travelers headed to Patagonia, this is where you must present a valid passport and the document verifying that you have paid the reciprocity fee (required for citizens from Australia, Canada, and the United States).