No length of time ever seems like enough in a city as wonderful as Buenos Aires. This itinerary takes you through 5 days in the capital -- ideally a Wednesday to a Sunday. The route guides you through the best features of various neighborhoods -- from the MicroCentro and Palermo Viejo to Recoleta and San Telmo. You'll eat several great meals, go shopping, and take in some breathtakingly beautiful sites. I've scheduled in plenty of downtime, too, in case you want to tango all night long and take it easy the following day (Buenos Aires, like New York, is a city that doesn't sleep).
Day 1: Relaxing & Settling In
More than likely, you've arrived early in the morning after an all-night flight. Before you head out for the day, make reservations at Cabaña las Lilas for dinner tonight. Afterward, head to Calle Florida, checking out the shops at Galerías Pacífico, and have a snack at Il Gran Caffe. Wander down to Plaza de Mayo and take a look at historic sites such as the Cabildo, Buenos Aires's original city hall, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Casa Rosada, with Evita's famous balcony. Head back to the hotel for a much-needed nap before heading out to Cabaña las Lilas for dinner. Certainly you've admired the view of Puerto Madero from your table, so have a wander dockside.
Day 2: Historical Buenos Aires
I highly recommend exploring the historic center of Buenos Aires with a professional guide, such as Borello Travel & Tours (tel. 800/405-3072 or 212/686-4911), Say Hueque Tours (tel. 11/5199-2517), or private tour guides Marta Pasquali (tel. 11-15/4421-2486) or Monica Varela (tel. 11-15/4407-0268). As they lead you through the historic center of Buenos Aires, passing the Plaza de Mayo and the turn-of-the-20th-century marvel Avenida de Mayo to Congreso, they'll explain how architecture, history, and the lost glory of a powerful Argentina is reflected in the streets of Buenos Aires. Ride the A line subway's wooden trains down to station Avenida de Mayo. Have a coffee and medialunas at Café Tortoni, one of the city's most historic and scenic cafes, and try to catch the conversation of Buenos Aires locals discussing the latest issues. At 3:30pm, head back to Plaza de Mayo for the Madres of Plaza de Mayo, a weekly protest held by the mothers of the 30,000 young people who disappeared during the military regime between 1976 and 1982. Head back and take a nap at the hotel. In the evening, have dinner in the glorious gilded dining hall of Club Español.
Day 3: A Day in Recoleta
Sleep in and have a late breakfast at your hotel. Have your hotel make dinner reservations at La Bourgogne, a fine French restaurant in the Alvear Palace Hotel. Then head to Recoleta Cemetery, in the Recoleta neighborhood. Pay homage to the most famous tomb of all, Evita's. Make sure to wander around and see many of the other tombs, all glorious works of art. Around the corner from the cemetery, head to the Centro Cultural Recoleta and check out the newest art exhibit. If you've brought the kids along or you're feeling young at heart, don't forget to visit the children's section inside, with its interactive science exhibits. Afterward, head across Plaza Francia and take a coffee at La Biela, one of the most famous cafes in the city. After this much-needed break, it's time to do some shopping along Avenida Alvear, stopping in such stores as Polo Ralph Lauren, built into a grand mansion. If you've been shopping for hours, you're just in time for your reservation at La Bourgogne.
Day 4: Palermo
After breakfast, head to Plaza Italia and take a brief walk around, enjoying the contrast of the green trees against the white-marble buildings lining this part of Avenida Santa Fe. Head to the Zoological Gardens and check out all the animals, after buying special food for them at the entrance. Afterward, stroll down Avenida Libertador and wander among the parks, heading to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. It's a long walk, but beautiful all along the way. Head back to the hotel, freshen up, and head for dinner at Casa Cruz, in Palermo Viejo, one of the city's best places to be seen on a night out.
Day 5: San Telmo & Tango
Head to Plaza Dorrego for the Sunday San Telmo antiques fair, one of the most enjoyable highlights of Buenos Aires. In this open-air bazaar, you can buy small antiques and souvenirs to bring home, and watch live tango performances. (Keep an eye on your pockets while you watch.) Then, grab a late lunch at the atmospheric Bar El Federal. Head up Calle Defensa to take a look at more antiques in the numerous shops lining the street, such as Galería El Solar de French. Head back to the hotel and freshen up. You're having dinner tonight at El Viejo Almacén. Watching their show is a great way to end your 5-day stay in Buenos Aires.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.