One of South America's booming capitals and major cities, Buenos Aires is a seductive and cultured city with an eclectic mix of people and places. Vicky Baker has the lowdown on the newest things to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
A few years ago, cycling the manic, traffic-packed streets of Buenos Aires seemed borderline insane. But now everyone’s at it. Over 100km of cycle tracks sprang up in two years, alongside a public bike scheme and interest-free public loans for bike-buying. Critical Mass events have swelled, funky artisan bike shops have opened, and some cafes are even offering discounts for those who turn up on two wheels (15% off at La Apasionada for breakfasts and meriendas, or afternoon tea). And best of all, there are cycle-in outdoor cinema events in Parque Tres de Febrero; stay tuned to festivales.gob.ar for details.
Although many porteños (Buenos Aires residents) still remain happy with a simple fernet-coca (herbal liquor with Coke – an acquired taste and oddly addictive), times are changing, and inventive cocktail menus are springing up all over town. Most of the current hotspots are in the Palermo neighbourhood, including Rey de Copas, with its French/Moroccan décor and new roof terrace; Frank’s with its speakeasy vibe; call ahead for the password, and the brand new Verne Cocktail Club, inspired by old gentlemen’s clubs. Some are even popping up where you least expect it, even hidden at the back of a flower-and-record shop (Floraría Atlántico).
While the rest of the world plays catch-up on Peruvian food and starts belatedly dishing out awards, Buenos Aires sits back smugly, knowing that it has this trend well and truly in the bag. Going out for ceviche here is like going out for a curry in London. The city has everything from the cheap, family-orientated joints in Abasto (home to many Peruvian immigrants) to its own branch of Astrid y Gaston (the original one in Lima was just voted best restaurant in Latin America). And it’s a scene that continues to move forward with new openings, such as Mullu, taking forward the city’s love of Peruvian-Japanese fusion food. See, that’s how far ahead of the game Buenos Aires is – they’re post-Peruvian already.
Soaring inflation and restrictions on imports have seen costs in the clothes and shoe market rocket. Those used to shopping in the EU or US will be shocked at the prices on the high street. The answer? Avoid the high street – that’s what many Argentines are doing. Try the pop-up ferias (markets) that are promoted on social networks (search for “feria Americana Buenos Aires”) or even on signs on trees. Alternatively, if you want to check out some local clothes designers, try buying straight from their studio. Some have decided keep their own costs down by not opening a shop and those savings are passed on to customers, although you sometimes need to book an appointment. Try Jungle Vi.ai.pi for bags, Bimba Vintage for second-hand finds, or Maison Abbey for female fashion.
As late as the 1990s, the now-buzzing Palermo area was a nightlife desert. Legend has it that the only bar everyone went to was a particularly seedy and hedonistic place. Oh, and it was staffed by dwarves, from bouncers to strippers. It turns out that was true and, not only that, now it’s back. Still going by the same name, Nave Jungla held a one-off party at Salón Irreal in August. Body paint, eccentric crowds, and some x-rated shows made the city’s infamous Club 69 drag parties look like an ambassadors’ afternoon tea. Will there be more? Apparently so. Will it move beyond a crowd of nostalgic 40-somethings and become more PC? That’s yet to be seen.
Explore more of Buenos Aires and Argentina with the Rough Guide to Argentina. Book hostels for your trip and don't forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.
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