In recent years, Buenos Aires has become more and more popular among tourists (not necessarily from Latin America) and, as the economy stabilized, the city has become attractive among foreign investors, too.
The question is no longer "Will I visit Buenos Aires" but "When will I." And when is now: December to March are summertime in Argentina, making the city more attractive among tourists from Europe and North America. (What can be more enjoyable than walking in shorts in the middle of February while the New Yorkers are bundled up with heavy coats?)
What most attracted me to Buenos Aires -- besides having the summer to myself in mid-February -- is the strong street art scene graffitied on the walls of the city. As a photographer who closely watches street artists in New York, Buenos Aires certainly was for me the next obvious target.
Here are few things to do in your next trip to Buenos Aires:
- Take a guided tour to Palacio Barolo and climb to its top to observe the city from a bird-eye view. The building, which is built in neo-Romantic, neo-Gothic style, is an allegory to the "Divine Comedy" written by Dante in the early 14th century. The building is 22 stories high, and the top floor is a transparent tower that used to be a beacon. The tour guide talks about the history and the architecture of this marvelous tower.
- Many call Buenos Aires "The Paris of Latin America." Taking an afternoon stroll in San Martin and Place St. Nicolas across from Theater Colon brings to mind the feeling of exploring Parisian alleys from the 16th century.
- The ancient cemetery, La Recoleta, is one of the most-touristed destinations in Buenos Aires and one of the world's most famous cemetery as it is also the burial place of Evita Peron. Originally it was a courtyard of a monastery, converted into a cemetery in 1822. With the spread of yellow fever at the end of the 18th century, many of the wealthy people of Buenos Aires moved to Recoleta neighborhood, and gradually the cemetery became the final resting graveyard of the wealthy and powerful people of the city. The sculptured buildings and turrets of the family vaults hint at the richness of lives of the people buried here.
- The Palermo area, which is divided to Palermo SoHo, Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Viejo, is a residential area with heavy cottonwood trees along the streets and a colorful concentration of new cafes, little piazzas, trendy restaurants, galleries and boutiques of young designers. This is the hub of the young and beautiful, an artistic suburb where you can easily find some of the most well known graffiti walls and murals in Buenos Aires.
- La Boca area is one of Buenos Aires most-visited areas but also one with the highest level of crime. The area was once populated mostly by Italian immigrants but now it is the seat of the under-class. The main street in La Boca is called La Caminito and is characterized by a row of colorful buildings that once were Tango halls and brothels but are now turned into pizzerias, souvenir shops and touristic bars. Take a walk in La Caminito street, preferably during daylight.
- San Telmo Antique market on Sunday is a great opportunity to come across colorful characters, tango dancers, street vendors and street actors. San Telmo is considered the oldest quarter in Buenos Aires, filled with old churches, tile-decorated courtyards, pinnacles and domes. It is also called the tango district as there are quite a few tango halls in this area and milonga clubs. During the week this area is pretty quiet, so better plan your visit towards the weekend.
- Don't skip Puerto Madero area. This is the city's port area that used to be occupied with factories and warehouses; in recent years the industrial buildings have been replaced by luxury apartments that attract the young and affluent crowd. The area is considered now one of the trendiest and most exclusive areas of Buenos Aires. Walk across Puenta de la Mujer and don't miss the Faena Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck, that feels like it was taken from one of Almadovar's movies. Visit the neighborhood during the evening and dine in one of the bustling gourmet restaurants.
- Graffiti Mundo: Take a vibrant walking tour following graffiti artists in Buenos Aires's neighborhoods.
- Tagui Restaurant: Fine Argentinian cuisine in one of the city's best restaurants. Don't let the graffiti-covered facade fool you: Reservations are a must.
- Fundacion Proa: A series of galleries filled with natural light that taken together are one of the most interesting centers of contemporary South American art.
- Eve Peron Museum: Located in Palermo, this museum follows the life of the most powerful woman in Argentina, Evita Peron.
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