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  • Overview

    Downtown Buenos Aires is as sophisticated as any European city, with its wide avenues, fine colonial architecture and rows of pavement cafés. The city was built by French, Italian and Spanish immigrants and the Porteños (locals) still regard themselves as more European than South American. Travellers walking through the leafy parks and boulevards could be forgiven for thinking they were in Madrid, Paris or Milan.

    Buenos Aires was founded on the shores of the Rio de la Plata in 1570 and was named after the patron saint of sailors for the good wind or The city remained a colonial backwater for 200 years while the Spanish concentrated their attentions on wealthier Peru. During this time Buenos Aires became a thriving centre for smuggling between South America and Europe. Dissatisfaction with Spanish economic and political dominance escalated to boiling point and culminated in the revolution of May 1810 and finally to independence in 1816. Its history since then has been dogged by military coups and political mismanagement; the consequences of which are growing disaffection with the government and widespread poverty, as is evident in the sprawling shantytowns on the city's outskirts.

    This turbulent history has not managed to stifle the indomitable spirit of the Porteños whose passion, charm and vibrancy have forged this great city, a place in which the fire of Evita's soul and the allure of the tango endure. A holiday in Buenos Aires is a journey of discovering the fire that pervades Argentine culture, in everything from food and conversation to music, art and dance.

    Cabildo

    Opposite the Casa Rosada on the Plaza de Mayo is the resplendent former Spanish town hall, the Cabildo, a fascinating old colonial building fronted by arches that once encircled the plaza, back during the May Revolution in 1810. While the building's construction originally began in 1610, it was almost immediately too small. Construction and changes were ongoing well into the 1800's, and the building was finally completed in 1894.

    The guards outside the building are members of the revered Regimiento de Patricios, which was formed in 1806, and the changing of the guard every hour is a popular attraction. They still wear the traditional uniforms they have donned for nearly 200 years.

    The interior houses a small museum, which displays some interesting architectural relics, religious icons and watercolour paintings by Enrique Pellegrini, and it is all furnished in colonial period pieces. The views from the Cabildo's windows are some of the best of the Plaza de Mayo. A crafts market is hosted on the back patio on Thursdays and Fridays, from 11am to 6pm.

    Address: Calle Bolivar 65
    Opening time: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm.
    El Cabildo El Cabildo HalloweenHJB
    Casa Rosada

    One of the world's most famous balconies juts out of Argentina's Presidential Palace, known as the Casa Rosada. The pink building has been the scene of many a political rally, particularly during the regime of the notorious and tragic Juan and Eva Peron.

    The building began as a fort in 1594, and was turned into a castle-like centre for colonial government in 1713. Additions and changes were made to the building until 1857, when it was demolished and the Casa Rosada we know today was built. The Italian style building, fronted with palm trees and fountains, was painted pink when it was converted from a Customs and Post Office building into the presidential palace. President Sarmiento decided to appease opposing political parties by merging red and white into a pink colour scheme for the palace.

    The building has since been declared a National Historic Monument of Argentina. Today the building houses a small basement museum displaying some presidential artefacts. Each evening, a small platoon of mounted grenadiers emerge from the guardhouse to lower the flag on the Plaza, adding a touch of pomp and ceremony to the pretty building.

    Address: Hipolito Yrigoyen 219, Plaza de Mayo
    Opening time: Museum: Monday to Friday 10am-6pm, Sundays 2pm-6pm. Guided tours are available.
    Casa Rosada Casa Rosada Andrzej Otrębski
    Cathedral Metropolitana

    Situated in the Plaza de Mayo, the Neoclassical Cathedral Metropolitana houses the tomb of General José de San Martin, the revered hero who liberated Argentina from the Spanish. The General was originally buried in Franche, but his body was exhumed in 1880, transported to Beunos Aires and buried again, this time in a mausoleum designed by a French sculptor. The mausoleum is guarded by three sculptures, each a life-size female figure representing Argentina, Chile and Peru.

    The mausoleum also houses the remains of General Juan Gregorio de las Heras, General Tomas Guido, and the Unknown Soldier of the Independence. The cathedral has been periodically rebuilt and renovated since the foundation stone was laid in the 16th century. The current structure was finally completed in the mid-19th century. The interior has recently been renovated and the gilded columns, Venetian mosaic floors, and silver-plated altar are in pristine condition.

    Some interesting things to see in the cathedral are the two pulpits, made by the sculptor Juan Antonio Gaspar Hernandez, the director of Buenos Aires' first art school, a wide variety of colonial sculptures, a collection of very good colonial oil paintings, and the 1871 Walcker Organ containing more than 3,500 tubes, one of the finest examples of its kind.

    Address: San Martin and Rivadavia streets, Plaza de Mayo
    Cathedral Metropolitana Cathedral Metropolitana Richie Diesterheft
    La Recoleta Cemetery

    An unlikely tourist attraction, La Recoleta Cemetery is well worth visiting to see its magnificent display of monuments and the ostentatious tombs of Argentina's rich and famous. The cemetery is the second largest in the world, covering more than five hectares and filled with more than 4,700 vaults. Due to its size, the cemetery is divided into several big blocks with avenues between them, making navigation in the enormous space a little easier.

    Each vault has the family name carved over its entrance, while a collection of brass plaques next to the entrance displays the names of all the family members buried inside the vault. One of the more modest, but by far the most celebrated, is the grave of Eva Peron. Every day thousands of visitors come to leave flowers at the door of the Duarte family mausoleum where she is buried. Forty years on, Evita remains both the most revered and reviled figure in Argentina. Love her or loathe her, her spirit lives on in La Recoleta.

    In addition to Evita, another famous cemetery inhabitant is the supposed daughter of Earl Alexander Walewski, Isabel, who died in Buenos Aires when just a baby. The superstitious say that on some nights, you can hear the baby crying from her godmother's arms.

    Address: Calle Junín, Plaza Francesa
    Opening time: Open daily. Guided tours are available.
    La Recoleta Cemetery La Recoleta Cemetery RAYANDBEE
    Plaza Dorrego

    Plaza Dorrego lies in San Telmo, the bohemian artists' quarter of Buenos Aires and the birthplace of tango. The tiny square is surrounded by elegant houses, now mostly converted into antique shops and bars whose tables overflow onto the street. There are numerous museums nearby the Plaza Dorrego worth visiting, including the Museo Histórico Nacional and the Museo de Arte Moderno.

    On Sundays, the plaza is the setting for the ancient flea market, the Feria de San Pedro Telmo. Though you are unlikely to discover too many bargains, you may find an interesting souvenir or two. Once the stallholders pack up their wares at 5pm, the square becomes a stage for informal tango dancing. This is as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, and even the inexperienced may be tempted to try it out.

    Aside from the museums, flea markets and dancers, another of the square's main attractions is simply the people watching. Visitors to Buenos Aires will not regret an afternoon spent whiling away the hours at a sidewalk cafe, soaking in the atmosphere and admiring the passers-by until the dancers arrive for the evening's festivities.

    Informal tango in Plaza Dorrego Buenos
Aires Informal tango in Plaza Dorrego Buenos Aires Judith Duk
    Teatro Colon

    The Teatro Colón opened in 1908 and is one of the largest performing arts theatres in the southern hemisphere, second only to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. It was designed by Italian architect Francisco Tamburri and is an Italian Renaissance-style building with a seating capacity of 2,500 (although more people have been squeezed in at times). Richly decorated in scarlet and gold with frescoes lining the cupola, the theatre has hosted many international performers including Nijinsky, Pavlov, Pavarotti and Domingo, and is considered to be among the top five venues for acoustics in the world, an opinion voiced by Pavarotti amongst others.

    The theatre suffered during Argentina's political and economic difficulties in the 1990s and early 2000s, with attendance falling and the building suffering from neglect. However, in 2005 the theatre was completely renovated and refurbished, and reopened in 2010. In addition to hosting various concerts and performances, the theatre is also home to the Superior Arts Institution of the Teatro Colón, and guided tours take visitors to the theatre's workshops, rehearsal rooms, auditorium and stage.

    Address: Cerrito 618
    Teatro Colon Teatro Colon Roger Schultz
    La Boca

    La Boca (The Mouth), situated in the south-east of Buenos Aires at the mouth of the Riachuelo river, is the most colourful neighbourhood or barrio in Buenos Aires, original home of both football legend Diego Maradona and the tango. An assortment of brightly-painted houses made of wood and metal line the streets, including the famed main street Caminito, in this poor but happy area full of artisans, painters, street performers, cantinas and open-air tango shows.

    The neighbourhood was originally settled by Italian immigrants from Genoa, most of whom came to work at the docks. Residents today are still mostly of European descent, from Italian, Spanish and French to German, Arab and Basque. Today it is frequented by crowds of tourists who come to soak up the lively atmosphere, watch tango dancers on the streets and squares, and sit in picturesque cafes sipping coffee and beer.

    La Boca residents are independent and fiery, as evidenced by their short-lived 1882 secession from Argentina that was immediately ended by the president. The area has been home to radical politicians over the years and saw many demonstrations during the unrest of 2001. Some places of particular interest in La Boca are La Ribera theatre, and La Bombonera, the home of the famous Boca Juniors football club.

    La Boca La Boca Judith Duk
    Floralis Generica

    Floralis Generica is a working metal sculpture located in the United Nations square in Recoleta. Floralis Generica is composed of stainless steel, weighing 18 tons and measuring 76 feet (23m) high. It was offered to the city by Argentine architect Eduardo Fernando Catalano, who described it as an 'environmental structure'.

    Its metallic petals open and close based on the incidence of solar rays and visitors to the site will find the giant metal sculpture 'in full bloom' in the heat of the day and closed at night. The sheer genius and technical artistry of the giant flower makes it a sight worth seeing in Buenos Aires. The sculpture sits above a reflecting pond, adding to its charm, and the area around it has been landscaped to resemble woodlands with several paths leading to the sculpture from different directions, providing contrasting perspectives.

    Address: United Nations Park, Recoleta
    Floralis Generica Floralis Generica Sebastian Dario
    Nueve de Julio Avenue

    At 416 feet (127m) wide, spanning the width of an entire city block, Avenida 9 de Julio is claimed to be the widest avenue in the world. Named for Argentina's Independence Day, which falls on 9th July, the avenue was originally planned in 1888, but actual construction only began in 1935 after many disputes with landowners. While the initial phase opened for public use in 1937, the avenue was only fully completed in the 1960s, with the southern connections only completed after 1980.

    The avenue runs from the Retiro district in the north to Constitucion station in the south, roughly one kilometre to the west of the Rio de la Plata waterfront, and consists of 18 lanes of traffic, nine on each side.

    In the middle of the street stands a 67-metre-tall obelisk marking the heart of Buenos Aires. The obelisk is a popular photo spot, and visitors can climb to the top where they can look out over the Avenida 9 de Julio through its four observation windows. Lines B, C, and D of the Buenos Aires Metro converge at a station located on the pedestrian underpass below the obelisk, and the underpass also serves as a retail concourse.

    It can take quite a while to cross the avenue on street level as opposed to using the underpass, since there are traffic lights at each intersection, which can slow a pedestrian's crossing.

    Address: Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires
    Nueve de Julio Avenue Obelisk Nueve de Julio Avenue Obelisk Victoria Rachitzky Hoch
    Buenos Aires Zoo

    Home to over 350 animal species and known for some of its exotic breeding, the Buenos Aires zoo is the perfect place for tourists, families, or a romantic date. With 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds, the zoo's goals include conservation, producing research and educating the public.

    Permanent exhibits include the Farm of the Zoo, where visitors can feed and pet ponies, goats, sheep and donkeys, the Aquarium where visitors can see examples of the infamous piranha as well as other local fish, the Reptile House and the Tropical Rainforest. Disposable cameras are on sale and professional photographers are on standby to capture all the memories. Animal food can be bought at the entrance and other stations located around the zoo to encourage visitors' interaction with the animals.

    The best time to visit the zoo is on a sunny weekday afternoon, when time can be spent lounging in front of the elephant house or the white tiger enclosure, for which the zoo is well-known, with only a few other people to contend for the best view. Parts of the zoo are built to resemble Byzantine ruins, Indian temple ruins and a castle, making for some interesting photo opportunities.

    Address: Ave Sarmiento and Ave Las Heras
    Opening time: Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 10am until 6pm. Open daily during school holidays.
    Buenos Aires Zoo Buenos Aires Zoo Beatrice Murch
    Galileo Galilei Planetarium

    The Galileo Galilei Planetarium is located inside the Bosques de Palermo, its massive dome making it almost impossible to miss. The planetarium was commissioned in 1962 and building was completed in 1966. In 1968, the planetarium was officially opened to the public. The building is made up of six floors, five staircases and a main room with a 60-foot (20m) diameter, filled with 360 seats.

    On any given day, this planetarium is abuzz with the chatter of children enjoying a spot of stargazing. This is a must for kids of all ages and anyone with a love of stars, space and planets. The planetarium regularly changes its shows and displays, including First Man in Space, A Blue Planet, Super Moons, Genesis: Birth of the Solar System, and many more. In addition to the main show in the planetarium, there is also a small museum containing a lunar rock (a gift from Richard Nixon), a collection of 100-million-year-old sea life fossils, and a metallic meteorite from Chaco Province.

    Address: Av. Sarmiento y Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
    Opening time: Open Tuesday to Friday 9:30am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am-7pm.
    Galileo Galilei Planetarium Galileo Galilei Planetarium Denise Mayumi
    Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens

    Lined with trees, flowers and other indigenous plants, the Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens are a great place to take the kids. The garden has been open since 1898 and was designed by Carlos Thays in a triangular shape. There are three different styles of gardening contained in the gardens - a symmetric Roman garden, a picturesque Oriental garden and a mixed French garden. With plenty of open space for kids to run around, its the ideal location to relax with a picnic or take a leisurely walk with the family. The central greenhouse is also great to explore for the more inquisitive children.

    In more recent years, the garden has become home to hundreds of abandoned domestic cats. It's estimated that approximately one cat is abandoned in the gardens per day during the summer, so instead of fighting a losing battle trying to remove the cats, a volunteer society was established to feed and care for the cats and put them up for adoption. Visitors to the gardens can rest assured the garden's cats are clean, tame and well-fed.

    Aside from cats, the garden is filled with thirty-three artistic works such as sculptures and monuments, and there is a Botanical Library that is open to the public.

    Address: Av. Las Heras at Plaza Italia
    Fountain in Botanical Gardens Fountain in Botanical Gardens Richie Diesterheft Follow

    For many children travelling in Buenos Aires, the chaos of the city can be quite intimidating, but parents need look just a little further to find child-friendly attractions tucked away in just about every (neighbourhood). Buenos Aires is a great city to explore on foot, but for the more active, it is also extremely bicycle-friendly. Rent a bike and pedal your way round the leafy suburbs and side streets. Stop off at the Nueve de Julio Avenue, the widest avenue in the world, and admire the 220-foot-tall (67metre) obelisk in the centre, marking the heart of Buenos Aires. Or for a slightly more cultural experience, take a stroll with the children past the Floralis Genérica in Recoleta, a working metal sculpture of a flower that opens and closes with the sun - the kids will be in awe!

    For those days when the sun isn't shining, head to one of the many indoor playgrounds or museums dotted around the city, such as the Museo de Los Ninos, or even the Galileo Galilei Planetarium where children will have a great time stargazing and learning about the solar system.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Buenos Aires has a humid subtropical climate with average temperatures ranging from 84°F (29°C) highs in summer (December to February) to less than 50°F (10°C) lows in winter (July to August). The heaviest rain falls during summer, early autumn and late spring, though rain can be expected at any time of the year. Many locals leave Buenos Aires during the hot summer months (December, January and February) and head for the coastal resorts.

    Beef is king in the Buenos Aires food world; Argentina is famous for the juiciest and most tender steaks, served in its (steak houses). Foodies can also enjoy various Spanish and Italian pleasures, as well as sushi, fusion, and vegetarian cuisine.

    There are numerous (walk through) places in the city, selling (hot-dogs), (beef sausages), and (breaded, fried cutlets). You can buy a , the most traditional non-alcoholic beverage, in any Coto or Carrefour supermarket. Be sure to try the gourmet (ice cream) and (small pastries stuffed with combinations of cheese and meats), or the , an Argentinean cookie.

    Various small restaurants offer foreign meals, mostly Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Spanish and Italian. Expensive and luxurious restaurants can be enjoyed at Puerto Madero and Palermo. The main areas to go out are Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, home to trendy stores, restaurants and bars. Most locals head out to dinner around 9pm.

    Gran Cafe Tortoni

    A grand coffee house with a longstanding history, Café Tortoni is a must see on your Buenos Aires exploration. Unpretentious and with an old world charm, patrons can rest a while under the high ceiling of the dining hall, while sipping on a freshly brewed Argentinean coffee. Snacks with a hint of a Spanish flair are on offer throughout the day. Visit any day of the week and perhaps catch a glimpse of one of the many tango shows or jazz concerts that take place on the small stage.

    Address: Avenida de Mayo 825
    Cabana las Lilas

    Presidents, movie stars, and Porteños come here for the best meat in Buenos Aires. In fact, the restaurant has its own (ranch), which raises the cattle used for its famous grilled lomito and (beef cheeks). The wine cellar is well stocked with superb Argentine wines and the service is impeccable. If you have to wait long for a table, as you undoubtedly will, enjoy a glass of champagne in the cigar bar. Reservations are recommended. Open daily from 12pm to midnight.

    Address: Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 550
    Sucre

    For modern Argentinean cuisine, silky red wines and a comfortable contemporary atmosphere, try out the renowned Sucre restaurant. With both a lunch and dinner menu, this Argentinean favourite serves up mouth-watering meat dishes and light fusion tapas. Enjoy a pre-drink at the trendy bar and soak up the lively ambiance of this well-established Buenos Aires eatery.

    Address: Mariscal Jose de Sucre
    I Latina

    Buenos Aires is known for its 'closed door' (puertas cerradas) restaurants, where top-class chefs create mouth-watering meals in their own homes. One of the most popular is I Latina, serving five- to seven-course Latin fusion meals with wine pairings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The restaurant also serves brunch on Sundays. Reservations are required.

    Address: Murillo 725, Villa Crespo
    La Cabrera

    A well-known restaurant among tourists, La Cabrera is situated on a corner and makes a wonderful setting for outdoor dining, but the charming inside dining room with exposed brick walls and antique posters is just as pleasant. La Cabrera serves some of the best steak in Buenos Aires, with portions guaranteed to suit their prices. One of the restaurant's specialties is pamplona, a roll made of various meats and sauces. The pork ribs with a sauce of dried tomatoes and pesto is a definite must and all meals are served with a selection of olives, spreads, sauces, breads, and other appetisers. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner, Mondays and Tuesdays dinner only. Reservations are recommended.

    Address: Cabrera 5099, Palermo
    The Sushi Club

    The Sushi Club is part of a very popular chain, but of all the locations throughout Buenos Aires, this is by far the nicest outlet. The Sushi Club lives up to its name, serving sushi and other Japanese cuisine in a club-like interior with orange, black, and metallic décor, creating a trendy dining environment. The selection of sushi rolls is extensive with many taking themes from various countries and creatively using ingredients to match. Other highlights on the menu include plenty of fish and beef seasoned the Japanese way. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

    Address: Ortega Y Gasset 1812, Palermo
    Una Cancion Coreana

    After ample empanadas and asado, travellers looking for something a little different might want to try some authentic Korean fare at Una Cancion Coreana. This family-run restaurant is situated in the Flores barrio of Buenos Aires, sometimes called Pequena Corea (Little Korea), and offers Korean specialties like kimchi, bulgogi and the infamous soju. Simple, neat and spacious, this friendly neighbourhood restaurant is well worth the taxi ride it takes to venture out of the city centre.

    Address: Av. Carabobo 1549
    Ministro Pistarini International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about 18 miles (30km) to the southwest of Buenos Aires.
    Time: GMT -3
    Transfer Between Terminals: Terminals A and B are linked by a covered walkway. Terminal C is a ten-minute walk from the other terminals.
    Getting to the city: Manuel Tienda Leon runs a shuttle-bus to Madero Terminal in the city centre, where smaller shuttle buses connect passengers to final destinations. Rides to the city centre take about 40 minutes to an hour. Public buses are cheaper but can take up to two hours to the city centre. Metered taxis are available outside the terminal building. Reservations can be made from official booths just outside the customs area; unofficial taxis should be avoided. Private cars, also called remis, are a reliable option with fixed pre-set prices. They are available for hire on the lower level of both terminals or by phone.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies have desks in Terminal A.
    Airport Taxis: Metered taxis are available outside the terminal buildings of Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport. Taxis have reservation booths inside the airport and visitors should confirm the price before making the reservation. Avoid touts and unlicensed taxis.
    Fascilities: There are several shops, pharmacies, restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as duty-free shopping. Bureaux de change and ATMs are available as well as a 24-hour bank. There is a left-luggage facility and a tourist information desk in Terminal A. Other facilities include medical service, a VIP lounge and internet access. Facilities for the disabled are good.
    Parking Long and short-term parking is available in both a multi-level covered parking garage (adjacent to Terminal A) and an open-air lot.

    Useful Contacts:

    Tango Festival

    The sultry tango, a combination of African drum beats and stylised steps from Europe and Cuba, was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires. The name is believed to derive from one of the languages of the Congo, and over the years, the dance style has become an indelible part of Argentinian culture. The tango is celebrated in fine style throughout the city for two weeks during the annual Tango Festival. Visitors and locals, experts and beginners, all swirl and twirl in legendary Corrientes Avenue and the numerous milonga portena dance salons.

    More than 400,000 people attend the festival, and it is billed as the world's largest tango extravaganza. The entire city comes alive with the sounds of traditional tango music for the duration of the festival, where visitors can enjoy demonstrations and free lessons as well as plenty of music performed in concerts by soloists and orchestras. In addition to the dancing, the festival offers a wide variety of craft and food stalls spread throughout the streets of Buenos Aires.

    The festival is immediately followed by the World Tango Championships, so those visitors who haven't had enough dancing can stay on to watch the experts battle it out for the top spot in the Dance World Cup. The Tango Festival is an ideal time to explore Buenos Aires and see the city at its best.

    Venue: Various
    Tango Festival Tango Festival Virginia Innocenti
    arteBA

    The highly successful contemporary art fair arteBA is held every year at La Rural exhibition centre in Buenos Aires. National and international art galleries come together to offer contemporary art works to roving collectors and visitors. There is also an agenda of talks and open debates throughout the five days. Depending on the year, more than 81 galleries from across the world take part in the fair, exhibiting the works of more than 800 contemporary artists. The space is divided into several sections, each run by a different sponsor and organised by a different curator according to changing themes.

    The fair has been hosted in Buenos Aires for 22 years, and has become one of the most important events in the world for promoting Argentine and Latin American artists. More than 120,000 visitors flock to La Rural over the five days, and to make the fair more accessible to all, a free forum is offered in the La Rural auditorium. May is a good time of year to visit Buenos Aires, and the art fair is a good reason to visit the city, filled as it is with vibrant artists and art enthusiasts.

    Venue: La Rural
    Website: www.arteba.org
    arteBA arteBA Estrella Herrera
    Vinos y Bodegas Wine Exhibition

    Representatives from more than 100 of the country's wineries (bodegas) gather together under one roof for the Vinos y Bodegas Wine Exhibition and, where the public can sip and swill to their hearts' content. Vino Express, organised by the Argentinean Association of Sommeliers, is a circuit of different stands where visitors can find out about specific wine regions, soils and terrains, grape cultivation and tasting techniques. Cooking demonstrations provide a timely and very welcome pause for digestion. There is a wine bar for those who feel the need to relax with a full glass of wine, and a wine store for those keen to acquire some of the wines that have been tasted.

    Held at La Rural exhibition centre, further attractions at the exhibition include wine pairing events, lectures on the trends in wine making, sommelier demonstrations and courses, guided tours of wineries, and more. The exhibition draws over 50,000 guests annually, and the month of September is a wonderful time to visit Buenos Aires - the streets are lined with jacaranda trees in full bloom, football season is in full swing, and the city is full of life and activity. The exhibition is a particularly good idea for visitors who won't be able to make it to Argentina's wine-growing regions but would like to sample the wines.

    Venue: La Rural
    Argentine Wine Argentine Wine Jesús Dehesa
    Buenos Aires Book Fair

    The Buenos Aires Book Fair, established in 1975, is an eagerly awaited annual event in the Argentine capital, rated as one of the top five book fairs in the world and aimed at both publishers and the general public. The fair encompasses 1,500 stalls from more than 50 countries, drawing as many as 1,200,000 visitors over the course of three weeks.

    The fair is hosted at the La Rural exhibition complex and features a variety of special lectures each year, all given by leading professors and lecturers. In the past, the lectures have covered the history of jazz, workshops on scriptwriting, and the history of Argentine art. Some famous writers who have attended and spoken at the fair in the past include Paul Aster, Italo Calvino, Wilbur Smith, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Roger Chartier.

    The fair also features book sales, workshops, and activities for children and adolescents, educational activities like discussion forums and roundtables, presentations and signings, and book readings to delight bookworms of all ages.

    Venue: La Rural
    Buenos Aires Book Fair Buenos Aires Book Fair Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina

    Famed for its huge selection of trendy clubs, fashionable music bars and attractive restaurants, it's no wonder the city of Buenos Aires never sleeps. From the dimly lit tango bars and mainstream hard house dance clubs to the Teatro Colón and smaller independent theatres, there is something for just about everyone in this buzzing city.

    In typical Latin fashion, dinner is eaten late, usually between 10pm and 11pm, so clubs only really get going at around 2am. Puerto Madero, near the Casa Rosada, is popular with tourists and expats and is considered safe during the day and at night. Recoleta, Palermo, and San Telmo are the trendiest neighbourhoods for dance clubs and all the hippest locals can be found sipping on long drinks in the surrounding bars. It is not uncommon to find residents walking home at sunrise after a big night out on the town.

    Culture vultures will simply adore the arts and culture scene here, and plenty of Broadway-style hits can be found in both English and Spanish at most of the 30-odd professional and underground theatres in the San Telmo and Abasto neighbourhoods.

    Other than the run-of the-mill watering holes, there are also many bars in Buenos Aires offering live acoustic music or displays of flamenco dancing, readings, tango and folkloric dance, providing a bit of entertainment to accompany your evening drinks. The gay scene in Buenos Aires is thriving and rivals only that of Rio de Janeiro's in South America, with San Telmo being the main strip catering to this market.

    Buenos Aires offers a wealth of authentic local treasures, from fine leather goods found in Murillo Street to alfajores (traditional cake/cookies, often containing ). Shops are generally open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.

    Florida Street and Lavalle Street are for pedestrians only. In the there are many shops that sell tango shoes, and the Palermo Viejo in Palermo has various shops that will appeal to young, artsy people. There are also numerous fairs and markets to be explored, including Recoleta Fair (located in the Francia Park) and the San Telmo market.

    Feria Recoleta, in Plaza Francia, boasts an assortment of artisan goods. Take in the Plaza Serrano in Palermo Viejo and the Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. Defensa Street entices visitors as it comes alive with performers and vendors. Funky candles, street address plates and markers are available from Último Taller.

    Shopping malls are a regular attraction and convenient shopping locations for many (people from the port). The most famous stores in Buenos Aires can be found in these vast malls, along with restaurants, cafés, arcades and movie theatres. Shopping malls are open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm.

    Popular Buenos Aires souvenirs include tango music, mate cups, leather goods and Argentine wine.

    The street structure, organised in a grid pattern, makes it easy to get around in Buenos Aires, and the best way to explore the city and take in its character is on foot. However, the city is serviced by an efficient, widespread and cheap public transport system that consists of buses and an excellent underground rail service (the Subte). Although it services most of the city centre, the Subte is not very extensive beyond the central core. The Subte is cost effective since it is charged per journey and not dependent on the distance travelled. Pre-paid Subte cards or passes can be purchased from the ticket booths ( ) at each station. It gets very hot and crowded in summer especially during peak hours, and closes between 11pm and 5am.

    The bus network is huge and covers the city, and although very useful for getting around, the overwhelming number of routes make it confusing for tourists. Bus fares are paid in coins into an automatic ticket vending machine when boarding the bus. Many services run all night but with less frequency. There are also urban train services that can be useful for reaching the outlying suburbs.

    SUBE cards can be purchased at countless kiosks, shops and post offices throughout the city, which unify the bus and Subte services and reduce the cost of bus journeys. It is the most convenient means of payment.

    Taxis are everywhere and are relatively inexpensive. Although generally safe, visitors should be aware that there are fake taxis that pick up tourists and rob them. It is safer to phone for a radio taxi or remis, a fixed-price radio cab booked in advance that acts like a chauffeur-driven car and can be cheaper than taxis over longer distances. They are often more useful than renting a car for excursions from the city and even for a day's tour of the suburbs.

    Buenos Aires (meaning 'fair winds' in Spanish) has several enthralling attractions. Most sightseeing is best done by day, for aesthetic and precautionary purposes, and walking is the best (but by no means only) mode of transport in this intriguing city.

    Visit the Cementerio de la Recoleta, home to the tomb of Eva Perón, the actress married to Argentina's President Juan Perón and subject of the musical Evita, or wander under the magnificent facades of the downtown area, favourable for its marvellous old European buildings. Enthusiastic sightseers can take a paddleboat from the promenade in Palermo and stroll through the beautiful flower garden.

    An absolute must for culture vultures is a trip to the Palermo Viejo district, with its charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars and boutiques, or an afternoon exploring the Caminito pedestrian street's arts and crafts in La Boca. Enjoy watching tango dancers in the cobblestone streets and take a tour of the La Bombonera Stadium. Experience El Puerto de Buenos Aires during the day or, for a taste of history, visit the National Immigration Museum.

    Visitors wanting to catch a show can do so at the Recoleta Cultural Center. Built in 1732, it was originally a convent connected to the Basílica del Pilar. Today it is a cultural centre hosting concerts, live performances and screenings. The historical building also houses sculptures, paintings and photographs in different exhibitions, providing a fantastic sightseeing experience for any visitor to this exciting city.

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