Day 1: Immerse yourself in a joyous cultural melting pot
Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city where speakeasies are making a comeback. These underground bars, which emerged in New York in the 1920s during Prohibition, are enjoying a renaissance in trendy cities. Discover some of these secret venues with a Latin touch, often hidden away behind everyday shops and businesses.
There is no shortage of activities in this multicultural city. You may have heard about Palermo Chico, Palermo Viejo, Palermo Hollywood or Palermo Soho – rest assured, they are all referring to the same area, just divided into smaller neighbourhoods. The enormous Avenida del Libertador runs through more than 48 barrios (neighbourhoods). As you stroll down the square blocks, the eclectic architecture is sure to impress: admire low houses in bright colours, Baroque Italian villas, Haussmann style buildings, neoclassical townhouses and more.
Quench your thirst for culture at the Teatro Colón. The acoustics at this theatre, which was inaugurated in the early 1900s, are considered to be among the best in the world. Its breathtaking decor is simply marvellous with elements of both Italian Renaissance Revival and French Baroque. During the day, you can enjoy a guided tour of this architectural gem that mixes artistic disciplines and influences to start to get a feel for what makes this city so cosmopolitan. Afterwards, it is time to begin exploring the town's best speakeasies.
+54 11 43 78 71 00
Nicky Harrison's magical universe
Just a few metres from the Plaza Armenia is a restaurant known for its Peruvian and Japanese fusion cuisine: Nicky New York Sushi. Nibble on the octopus ceviche with prawns, tiger's milk and wasabi cream before switching to the sashimi and nigiri sushi – it will not disappoint.
This impeccable restaurant provides a front to the most discreet bar in all of Buenos Aires hidden away in a back room. You can feel the excitement as you push open the door to Nicky Harrison. To enter, you either need to show your member's card or have had dinner at the restaurant. Step into the magical universe, with a vintage decor and cosy ambiance that makes you feel like you have gone back in time. The band plays a mix of swing and old jazz classics that bring to mind the New York of old black and white films. At this secret hangout, each cocktail is a sophisticated experience for your taste buds. The talented mixologist Seba García recommends the Tokyo, a bold mix of hibiscus-infused gin, sake, rosemary syrup, lemon juice and Angostura bitters. Try a Branca Smash, another original creation to drink in moderation, made with Fernet Branca, pineapple, lime and mint. Although part of you may want to stay here for the rest of the evening in this timeless venue, you will not want to miss out on exploring another mysterious bar by the same owners.
Nicky New York Sushi
+54 011 4831 0519
A mysterious atmosphere presides at Presidente
Head to Presidente, a Buenos Aires bar that is very in vogue. Tucked inside a small, charming hotel, this elegant cocktail bar is also the work of the imaginative Seba García. The winning format? Tapas, a carefully designed space and bold drinks. The magical atmosphere of the bar and the winter garden will win you over immediately.
A secret passage will take you to the “library”, where the cocktail lab is. A bartender will quickly offer to put one of their best concoctions in your hand: the Julep Pampeano. This tasty combo mixes bourbon, fresh mint, grapefruit cordial and cedrón, or lemon beebrush, a plant native to the Pampas. To go along with it, order an Ika Ebi Tempura, an herbed calamari and shrimp fritter. After this perfect duo, make your way to another of Buenos Aires's most unique bars: Florería Atlántico.
Av. Pres. Manuel Quintana 188
+54 11 4024-6376
Day 2: A stroll through the aristocratic Recoleta
The next day, set off to explore another posh neighbourhood to the city's north: Recoleta. As you walk along its wide avenues lined with Haussmann style buildings, you will understand why Buenos Aires is nicknamed the Paris of South America. After a climb up the hilltop, you will find an emblematic cemetery where Eva Perón, an icon for the Argentinean people who achieved the women's right to vote, was laid to rest among the impressive statues and majestic burial vaults.
Stop to have a coffee in an exceptional place: El Ateneo Grand Splendid. This bookshop, set up in a former theatre on the Avenida Santa Fe, will astonish you with its huge balconies and velvet-covered seats. Settle in on the former stage, now a cafe/restaurant, and take in the magnificent decor.
Next, meander through the Plaza de Las Naciones Unidas to see the Floralis Genérica, a giant statue in the shape of a flower and a symbol of the city. Feel like doing a little trendy shopping? The Galería Bond Street is full of shops dedicated to alternative culture, tattoo parlours, goth stores and pop culture decorations to give you a few original gift ideas.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Avenida Santa Fe 1860
+54 (0)11 4813 6052
Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 2301
Galería Bond Street
Av. Santa Fe 1670
+54 11 4811-2799
Uptown imitates the New York City subway
As evening falls, it is time to go to Palermo Hollywood, a neighbourhood that is home to a number of film and television studios and radio stations.
Among the hippest hidden bars of Buenos Aires, Uptown stands out for its innovative design. Along Amenábar street, a real subway station entrance will take you down into the tunnels of an enormous underground bar. You will not believe your eyes as they take in the perfect imitation of the New York subway. The hallways are covered in typical white subway tiles like you would find in a Manhattan station. After going through the turnstile and pushing the button to open the doors to a subway car, you will find yourself in a space that falls somewhere between quiet bar and nightclub. Sophisticated libations are prepared behind the long bar. Sink into one of the comfy leather armchairs facing the dance floor and soak in the hip ambiance as you sip your After Dark, a signature cocktail of Bacardi Carta Blanca, pineapple, grilled coconut, lemon juice, ginger beer and dried lime.
A speakeasy behind a florist's shop at Florería Atlántico
A taxi will drop you in front of a florist's shop in the Retiro neighbourhood. You may think you have made a mistake, and while you certainly can buy flowers and wine here, this is not your final destination. The entrance to the venerated bar is an imposing walk-in cooler door at the back of the shop. A staircase will lead you to a Latin speakeasy. The decor and drink specialties tell the tale of immigrants arriving in Argentina with their national drinks, such as liqueurs brought by Creoles. Between the frescos of sea monsters and bookcases sagging under the weight of the books, you can try a cocktail invented by Renato Giovannoni, one of the city's best mixologists. Why not try the Ginebra con Tónica y Algo Más, a surprising drink made with the house gin infused with eucalyptus, spearmint, grapefruit and peppermint. End your evening in the underground atmosphere of this unique oasis.
+54 11 4313-6093
Day 3: a lush break in Buenos Aires
In the heart of the very elegant Palermo Chico, enjoy a bit of fresh air at the Tres de Febrero park. The city's local “Central Park” will leave you with a feeling of peace with its artificial ponds, jacaranda trees abloom with purple flowers, and the wonderfully romantic Rosedal rose garden. Stop and (literally) smell the roses – there are more than 20,000 of them lining the borders of the paths throughout this fascinating park – and relax for a moment under the huge pergola alongside the central lake. Tonight, a new adventure awaits.
Parque Tres de Febrero
Av. Infanta Isabel 410
+54 11 5152-1244
878 Bar: a speakeasy for those of the hipster persuasion
Wait until midnight to try one last secret site in the cosmopolitan district of Villa Crespo. At number 878 along a calm street, a heavy wood door opens to 878 Bar, a nightlife establishment that is a favourite among hipsters. Among the brick walls, soft lighting and a dance floor, you can find a quiet corner for more intimate conversation. Behind the bar, a cocktail expert, dressed in a waistcoat and tie, mixes up drinks that are almost too pretty to drink – always in moderation.
+54 11 4773-1098