East Argentina Travel and Tourism Information
Buenos Aires and the Pampas
The Pampas are a vast fertile plain where the famous gaucho (Pampa cowboy) lives until these days. The Pampas consist of the Humid Pampas along the coastline and the Dry Pampas in the west and south. Today this region contains one of the main cities of Argentina and the capital Buenos Aires as well as the most famous Argentinean beaches of its neighboring area.
The capital is a fantastic place to stay as it combines the European way of thinking with South America energetic life-style. It offers impressive museums and many architectural sites, long boulevards and gorgeous plazas. Take time to get to know the vibrant culture and its nightlife. Go dancing in a traditional tango dance salon, visit the mystic streets of “San Telmo” and try a typical thick Argentine steak. You will love it!
Buenos Aires has much in common with Europe’s finest capitals. In addition to the many architectural similarities and careful attention to aesthetic urban details, there is a distinctively European flavor to be found in the many cafes, plazas, parks, and shops. Even so, Buenos Aires also maintains a strong Latin American flavor that may be seen in the brightly colored city buses with their ornate mirrors, ubiquitous tango, and youthful exuberance. There is also a “new world” vibrancy that lends a distinct and exciting pique to the city’s atmosphere.
Centrally located Plaza de Mayo is an excellent starting point for discovering Buenos Aires. After you have viewed the Casa Rosada (the presidential residence and museum), the Palazzo de Gobierno de la Ciudad, and the National Cathedral along the Plaza de Mayo, proceed along historic Avenida Defensa through the San Telmo neighborhood. Along the way, you will pass several of the city’s landmarks, including the Basilica San Francisco and San Roque Chapel, the Museo de la Ciudad, the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Rosario and Convento de Santo Domingo, Casa de Esteban de Luca, Plaza Dorrego, and finally Parque Lezama, where you can see the Russian Orthodox Church and visit the Museo Histórico Nacional. Also in Parque Lezama is one of the city’s finest cultural centers, the “Centro Cultural Torquato Tosso”. Like the many other cultural centers that are scattered throughout the city, this center offers tango classes, exhibitions, musical performances for all tastes, and other cultural presentations.
As you make your way through San Telmo, there literally scores of cafes, galleries, exhibitions, antique shops, theaters and other curiosities, so be sure to take your time as you explore. The heart of this historic and Bohemian neighborhood is centered on Plaza Dorrego, a charming square filled with artists, cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries. Nearby is the beautiful Nuestra Señora de Bethlehem church, the Casa de Castagnino, and the Museu Penitenciario. The best day to see San Telmo is Sunday, when Defensa is closed to automobiles between Avenidas Chile and Brasil, and the street is crowded with visitors, street artists, musical groups and special exhibitions.
After spending the day visiting the sites along Avenida Defensa, a stroll along the waterfront in Puerto Madero is a perfect late afternoon and early evening option. The area was renovated in the early 1990s, and has several dozen sophisticated dining options that cater to all tastes and preferences. Visitors in search of a fine restaurant may also wish to return to San Telmo in the evening. In addition to being one of the oldest and most Bohemian neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, San Telmo is also the epicenter of tango. There are several restaurants which offer dining and tango (known as “cena-show”), and the “Legendaria Buenos Aires” at Mexico 524 is but one of several recommended venues.
In addition, visitors may observe tango groups and their dancers among the many street artists that congregate along Defensa and in Plaza Dorrega during the Sunday street fairs. For a refreshing and authentic “street” tango, try to catch the “El Orquesta Tipica Afronte” (www.elafronte.com.ar), which performs regularly throughout Buenos Aires.
There are several other interesting architectural sites located near Plaza de Mayo along Avenida Ing. Huergo and Eduardo Madero: the old customs house (Antigua Aduana Martin), the central post office (Palazzo del Correio), Argentina’s national bank (the Banco Nacional), and the monument to Christopher Colombus in Parque Colon. Shoppers should not miss the pedestrian mall along nearby Avenida Florida.
Another pleasant walk begins by heading west from Plaza de Mayo and continuing along Avenida de Mayo. As you cross Avenida 9 de Julio (the largest avenue in South America), you will see Plaza de la República, with its enormous obelisk.
At this point, you may continue along Av. de Mayo until you arrive at the Plaza de los Congresos, or follow Avenida 9 de Julio to the obelisk and then continue to Tribunales. From here, it is a short cab ride to the Recoleta district, Buenos Aires’ most aristocratic sector. The principal attraction of this neighborhood is the “Cemeterio de la Recoleta”, a monumental testament to the current and historic splendor of the Buenos Aires’ elite. Beyond the north wall of the cemetery, the Basilica Nuesta Señora del Pilar is a lovely church worth visiting before seeing the cemetery. The Claustros de Pilar, which are part of the Pilar church complex, have several fascinating religious and historical artifacts, including the relics of two Catholic saints. Across the park from the Cemetery, there are several cafes that offer delicious lunchtime and dinner menu specials. Nearby is Plaza Intendente Alvear, a gallery that includes plenty of restaurants and the famous “Buenos Aires Design”, and an upscale shopping center.
Fashion-conscious visitors should visit the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, which is home to the “SoHo” and “Hollywood” districts. The former received its local nickname because of the numerous clothing and designer stores that have opened, while the latter owes its sobriquet to the many restaurants and clubs. In addition, the vast “Bosques de Palermo” offer respite from the busy urban pace and a glimpse at the lives of everyday residents of Buenos Aires. The MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano Buenos Aires) is a fabulous private art collection of 20th century Latin American artists housed in an impressive modern building along Av. Figueroa Alcorta near the Palermo Bosques. Also, be sure to visit Plaza San Martin and Plaza Fuerzas Áreas Argeninas in Retiro, with its ornate English clock.
The working class La Boca neighborhood is another highlight of Buenos Aires. Beyond the touristy “Caminito”, there are many interesting murals and the home stadium of the country’s most popular football club, the Estadio Boca Juniors, where Diego Maradona, one of Argentina’s most prominent national icons and World Cup heroes, played early in his career.
Second important city in Argentina, Cordoba passed a long historical reality with Buenos Aires based on economical, cultural and political reasons. Today Cordoba offers a fine collection of colonial architecture and a impressive wealth of museums, market places and churches. The museum “Museo Histórico Provincial Marqués de Sobremonte” is one of the most significant historical museums in Argentina.
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata is the most famous seaside resort of high quality in Argentina. Long stretched beaches, subtropical weather and dunes make it easy for all visitors to enjoy this nostalgic city with its chilly quiet water. Any sport facilities linked with water, land or air you can find in Mar del Plata ranching from biking, diving, jet skiing to paragliding. There are many nightlife attractions like pubs, casinos, discos or theatres. Excellent seafood and fish is served in the restaurants. There are also some interesting sights close to the city like the ranch “Ojo de Agua” or “Chapadmalal”.
A large portion of this text was written by Traveler – Writer Craig Milroy.