Buenos Aires, Argentina
Passionate and soulful, Buenos Aires is one of the most seductive cities in the New World. Often called the Paris of Latin America, the city offers a heady mix of stately Haussmann architecture (some of it in a state of glorious disrepair), cutting-edge style, longstanding traditions, and the dreams of a rising creative class. The cruise terminal is about half a mile from the city center, making it easy to discover the metropolis’s pleasures.
What We Love
Palermo Viejo: If the grand, rather posh Recoleta neighborhood is Argentina’s answer to New York's Fifth Avenue, then the artsy (but long-gentrified) Palermo Viejo areas are the equivalent of downtown Manhattan. Palermo Soho is a hub for local indie boutiques (and now, sadly, a Starbucks), while Palermo Hollywood, named for the concentration of media businesses there, still has some gritty corners. Many of the city’s best small restaurants and bars can be found here, too.
San Telmo: The best time to visit this old-school neighborhood is on Sundays, when a massive flea market takes over block after block after block. Expect artisanal goods mixed with high-quality antiques (Argentina’s frequent economic crashes mean there are some great and unexpected items for sale), and some street performers thrown in for good measure.
Best Known For
The Recoleta Cemetery: Even if you don’t join the crowd around Eva Perón’s tomb, there's so much to see here. Inaugurated in 1822, the 14-acre, aboveground cemetery became the final resting place for the city’s elites — 4,691 of them, to be exact. The vaults, many of them marble mausoleums, are an elaborate mix of art deco, art nouveau, baroque, and neo-Gothic styles.
Tango: Sure, there are the street performers in La Boca and big-deal dinner shows, and if you want a performance with flashy costumes, Rojo Tango at the Faena Hotel is a terrific show. But the best way to experience the dance is at a milonga, where locals of all ages and stripes show off their steps. Head to La Viruta and La Catedral to see the best displays; they also offer beginner lessons early in the evening.
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Who It's Best For
Unrepentant Carnivores: Grilled meat is as much a part of the culture as everyone says. You can’t spend more than a day here without having a juicy steak at a traditional parilla, many of which have remained unchanged for generations.
Art Lovers: The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) has perhaps the finest collection of modern Latin American art anywhere, and the spectacular private collection of Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat's Argentine and modern art is on display in a vast space in the trendy warehouse district of Puerto Madero.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Street Crime and Harassment: Carry your bag on the side of your body next to the buildings, not the street, as ride-by motorcycle thefts are a risk. Pickpockets work in teams to distract tourists into letting them lift their wallets. And if a neighborhood doesn’t feel safe, trust your instincts and leave. The area right around the port is not a good place to walk around.
It's Expensive: You’ll want to change money on the (technically illegal but widely discussed) “blue market.” Officially, no one can tell you how — no asking the cruise director at dinner — but discreet inquiries may pay off. Otherwise, many businesses take, or even prefer, U.S. dollars (high denominations) in good condition.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.