The Insiders’ Guide to the World’s Greatest Cities: Buenos Aires

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Empanadas and more at Lo de Jesús.

City Guide: Buenos Aires

Virtuoso travel advisors share their can’t-miss highlights in Buenos Aires.

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid.
Rojo Tango at the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires.

Argentina’s capital beautifully blends European and South American flair: Travelers find ornate art nouveau architecture in one neighborhood, and busy wine bars and steamy tango halls in the next. “The more I visit Buenos Aires, the more I fall in love,” says Courtney Regan, a San Francisco-based travel advisor. “It has the perfect blend of sophistication and grit, with stunning food, gorgeous people, and sensual art.”
 
WHEN TO GO: “November is my favorite time of year, when the jacarandas and agapanthus cover the city in blue and purple,” says Diego García Fernández, the owner of a Buenos Aires-based Virtuoso agency and on-site tour operator. “Warm weather replaces the winter breeze, and porteños emerge elegantly in their spring outfits.”
 
SPEND A DAY: “Recoleta is a great example of what’s old and new in Buenos Aires, clearly reflected in its architecture,” García Fernández says. “This neighborhood’s streets are filled with French cafés and fashionable boutiques – and it’s here that you’ll find Argentina’s best hotels. Head to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, an ornate theater-turned-bookstore and coffeehouse.”
 
DIG IN: “I love Lo de Jesús, a charming small restaurant in Palermo with a gorgeous wine selection, the best empanadas in town, and a friendly owner who’s always willing to sit and chat,” Regan says. “Afterward, head to Florería Atlántico, the not-so-secret bar hidden beneath a flower shop in Recoleta.”
 
TANGO TIME: “I prefer the city’s smaller, more intimate tango venues, such as Rojo Tango at the Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero,” García Fernández says. 
 
PRO TIP: “Order a Fernet and coke, a classic Argentine cocktail,” Regan says. “I’ll never forget the surprised look on my waiter’s face when I asked for one in San Telmo.”
 
BRING BUENOS AIRES HOME: “A set of typical asado [barbecue] knives will conjure mouthwatering memories,” García Fernández says. “They’re available in many of the city’s specialty souvenir shops.”
 
GO: Globus’ new 11-day adventure in Argentina and Chile sets aside plenty of time for Buenos Aires exploration and includes winery-fueled stays in Mendoza and Santiago and the Colchagua Valley in Chile.
 
More: The Insiders' Guide to the World’s Greatest Cities

Photos: Javier Pierini