Honeymoon travel guide to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Honeymoons have evolved from simple beach vacations, and these days, couples can choose a trip as unique as they are. In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties. is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Argentina.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ministro Pistarini International Airport, also known as Ezeiza (EZE), is the main international airport in Buenos Aires. Many cities, including New York, offer direct overnight flights here (approximately 10 hours from New York). Taxis are the best mode of transportation in Buenos Aires (Radio Taxi is the most reliable). Traveling between the most popular tourist destinations within the city will cost less than $10, and a ride from the airport to most hotels should be about $50. Tourists are advised against using underground transportation, which even locals avoid.
You'll love it if...
You seek romance, fine dining and the excitement of a bustling city.
About Buenos Aires
The city of Buenos Aires seems tailor-made for romance, and perhaps that's why it was nicknamed the "Paris of South America." Buenos Aires is one of the hottest honeymoon destinations right now and for good reason. For a fraction of the cost of a European vacation, honeymooners can enjoy an urban oasis, complete with a rich history, all the perks of a warm climate, and for those visiting from the U.S., less jet lag. Buenos Aires marries sophistication with the Latin passion for which Argentina is so famous. Urbanites will thrive in this destination, which is filled with cultural gems, top-notch cuisine and a burgeoning nightlife. Night owls can dance 'til dawn in the city that invented tango, while adrenaline junkies can cheer on the city's world-famous Boca Juniors at a rowdy soccer match.
Where to stay
The elegant and Parisian-style Recoleta is without a doubt the most posh and upscale neighborhood in Buenos Aires, making it our top choice for honeymooners. If you are looking for old-world extravagance, the best hotel is The Alvear Palace. Located on Avenida Alvear, it is surrounded by glitzy malls and exclusive shops like Hermes and Louis Vuitton. In keeping with the neighborhood's Francophile theme, this majestic hotel draws on the style of Louis XV and XVI. Marble covers nearly every surface in its palatial lobby, rooms boast 500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets as well as fresh-cut flowers, and bathrooms feature Roman-deep Jacuzzis. Perhaps the most regal part of the hotel, however, is that each guestroom includes personal butler service.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a hotel that's a bit more laid-back, yet still boasts the same level of quality, look no further than Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. This property combines the charm of a Belle Epoque style mansion (where Madonna chooses to call home when she's in town) with the contemporary and modern decor of the hotel's main tower. But the exceptional service is really what makes this hotel a standout. Staffers are extremely friendly and go out of their way every chance they can to make guests happy. The recently renovated pool, located in the property's privately enclosed garden, is the perfect place to catch some rays and relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Another top contender for where you should stay is Faena Hotel + Universe. This whimsical property, designed by Philippe Starck, is where Lady Gaga stays when she's in town.
What to do in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has an endless array of activities no matter what you're looking for. Four or five days in Buenos Aires is the perfect amount of time to see everything. Days can be spent exploring open-air markets, discovering the country's best museums or simply relaxing over booze-fueled lunches. At night, after dinner at a parilla (an Argentinean steakhouse), visitors can take to the tango clubs where they can work all their calories off and party into the wee hours of the morning.
For night owls
- Couples that would like to relax over a perfectly crafted cocktail or a glass of Argentina's finest wine should grab a drink at Gran Bar Danzon, one of the city's hottest lounges. Its cocktails are creative and cannot be beat. The Four Seasons also recommends an exclusive wine tasting in its trendy Pony Line Bar for couples looking for a relaxing evening.
For culture seekers
- Couples looking to try their toes out at tango should visit a milonga (local tango club) and dance the night away. The Four Seasons and The Alvear Palace both recommend Salon Canning, an authentic and local favorite. If you're hoping to improve your skills before taking your moves to the dance floor, you can sign up for a lesson at the famous Alvear Palace. However, those who prefer to admire tango strictly as a spectator can enjoy a tango show, which feature some of the best dancers in the world. The Four Seasons recommends the shows at Rojo Tango Cafe de los Angelitos as well as at Gala Tango to its guests. Although most of the tango shows offer a dinner option, we recommend you save your money and dine elsewhere as meals at the clubs are usually expensive and mediocre at best.
For leisurely lovebirds
- After a long night of tango, grab a cup of strong coffee for which South America is famous because there is plenty of sightseeing to be done. Grab a cup at a charming local favorite, Havanna. Be sure to sample one of their famous alfajores (traditional confection of Argentina)!
- We checked in with an Alvear Palace concierge, Esperanza Coarasa, to get her insights as to the best of Buenos AIres. She highly recommends a guided tour through Teatro Colon. Teatro Colon is an opera house renowned for its design as well as its spectacular acoustics. The likes of Leonard Bernstein and Luciano Pavarotti have graced its fine stage.
- Ms. Coarasa also suggests that art enthusiasts visit the Museo de Bellas Artes, one of South America's most prestigious museums, as well as the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), which is home to several works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
- For history buffs, Ms. Coarasa recommends a visit to the museum dedicated to Evita Peron, the deceased wife of Argentine president Juan Peron during the 1940s and 1950s.
- Finally, a visit to the colorful, yet uber-touristy La Boca can't be missed. Consisting of a strip of quaint shops, cafes and colorful buildings, La Boca provides a quintessential backdrop for the perfect Buenos Aires photo opp. Tourists should stick to the main strip and are advised to leave by 6 p.m. for safety reasons.
For the traveling consumer
- Shop 'til you drop at trendy stores and boutiques in Palermo Soho and grab a romantic lunch afterwards at Cafe Cluny. Ms. Coarasa also recommends the shopping at Patio BullRich Mall as well as at Galerias Pacifico.
- Finally, a universal favorite among shopping fanatics is the San Telmo Antique Market, which is held every Sunday along Defensa and Balcarce streets. Here, antique dealers and street performers flood the cobbled roads and sell everything from priceless antiques to silly souvenirs.
For day trippers
- We highly recommend a visit to an estancia (a large estate or ranch) where you can ride horses, meet real Argentinean gauchos (cowboys) and have a homemade feast. The Four Seasons recommends that guests sign up for a tour with Camino Pampa, which is led by its extremely professional and knowledgeable owner and guide, Guillermo. Madonna sent her children on this tour, so you know it can't be half bad!
For small excursions
- If you're looking to expand your horizons for a few extra days while in Buenos Aires, head west to check out wine country in Mendoza, or north to Iguazu Falls, which is one of the "new" seven wonders of nature. You can also check out the city of Carmelo in Uruguay. Be sure to check out Finca Narbona, a truly magical place! Any one of these is a fantastic option and only a short ferry or plane ride away from Buenos Aires.
Where to eat and drink
To successfully assimilate into the city's culture and live like a true Porteño (a local resident of Buenos Aires), you should know that the dinner scene doesn't start until nearly 10 p.m. Plan to start late and stay for a while. Service in Buenos Aires is leisurely because Argentineans relish the dining experience and find it relaxing.
- Every self-respecting visitor's first priority should be to sample some of Argentina's famous grass-fed beef. Carnivores will delight at La Cabrera and El Mirasol, two of the city's best steakhouses. Enjoy the plethora of complementary sides and sauces at La Cabrera and be sure to try the beef empanadas at El Mirasol.
- Couples looking for an unforgettable romantic meal must experience the exquisite French cuisine at La Bourgogne at the Alvear Palace.
- For Italian food that rivals Italy's, visit Piegari or Sottovoce, both in Recoleta.
- For trendy sushi, head over to Osaka, which is in Puerto Madero.
- For an unbeatable ambiance, visit Elena at the Four Seasons where dramatic double-height, sky-lit ceilings and a spiral staircase seamlessly blend South American and European decor.
When to go
Honeymooners looking to visit Buenos Aires should remember that the seasons are opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, so happily, the best time of year to visit is during the northern hemisphere's worst weather. Buenos Aires' ideal weather is from March-May and September-November.
What to watch out for
Keep your valuables at home and try to be inconspicuous. Carrying a large camera around your neck and gabbing away on a smartphone may draw attention from an unsavory crowd. Also, carry small bills whenever possible as vendors and taxi drivers will often attempt to change large bills with counterfeit money. Finally, book activities directly, not through your hotel, as hotels often charge a hefty commission.