The Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods), also known as Parque Tres de Febrero, is the city’s largest park, and home to many of the the area's best distractions. Sprawling over more than 198 acres, the Woods contain manmade lakes, sculptures, gardens, basketball and street hockey courts, exercise equipment, and running and biking paths. During the day, you can rent rollerblades, bikes, and paddleboats.
Some of the other attractions in the Woods include El Rosedal, a rose garden with more than a thousand different species of rosebushes, the Galileo Galilei Planetarium, and the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sivori. Later at night, part of the park becomes the city’s Red Light District.
The Buenos Aires Zoo occupies an 45-acre site just across Avenida del Libertador from Bosques de Palermo. Founded in 1888 by Mayor Antonio Crespo, the zoo is now home to 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds, for a total of over 2,500 different animals.
The rough-and-tumble Caminito neighborhood of Buenos Aires is where you’ll find the brightly-colored slums where much of the city’s working poor live. Resist the urge to take pictures of the candy-colored houses (it’s tacky and rude), and just walk through the neighborhood where the tango was born and experience to real soul of the city. Enjoy a traditional meal at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, share drinks with friends and tango the night away. For anyone too shy to get up and dance, there are many tourist-trap restaurants offering free tango demonstrations with their meals.
In the Cementerio de la Recoleta, you’ll find some of the most ostentatious memorials in the world. The monumental crypts are decorated with such intricate stone and metal sculpture, that it’s clear the bereaved wanted to send the deceased off in style. Most visitors come for Evita Perón’s grave, but wander about the cemetery (or take a guided English-language tour) to find the most ostentatious graves – including those of presidents, artists, and athletes.
Named for the celebrated Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, the Centro Cultural Borges is a grand hub of the arts. Even with its large collection of the great visual artists, there are exhibits dedicated to up-and-comers, as well as performance spaces for dance and theatre, and a cinema for independent films. Perhaps unusually, the Centro is located on top of the upscale Galerías Pacífico shopping mall.
For a more traditional art gallery experience, check out the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, home to 32 galleries of modern and classic art, including works by the major European Impressionists and the most important Argentine artists.
The 223-foot-tall Obelisk of Buenos Aires has stood since 1936 as a symbol of the city and its people, despite not having any particular historical significance. Some suggest that the giant phallic symbol represents the city’s overwhelming machismo and sexual energy. When it gets covered with an enormous condom on World AIDS Day, the analogy is unavoidable.
Since 2002, the Floralis Generica has stood in the center of the reflecting pool in the Plaza Naciones Unidas (United Nations Plaza), representing all the flowers of the world. The flower’s giant, shiny, metal petals open and close at sunrise and sunset just like those of a real flower. The beautiful plaza in which it sits offers many charming viewpoints of the flower and many tranquil places to rest and relax.
A resort on the Atlantic coast, four to five hours drive southeast of the capital, Mar del Plata is a city of nearly 750,000 year-round residents. The population swells to millions in summertime, from November to March (the reverse of North America), peaking in December and January. Much of Buenos Aires’s cultural scene moves here for the season, with summer stock theatre and other entertainment, along with DJs who travel the beach scene circuit.
Not as chic as Uruguay’s Punta del Este where Argentina’s jet set head, these are largely middle- and working-class Argentines on vacation at second homes owned by their families for generations. You’ll often find street entertainers and buskers thrilling crowds on La Rambla, the long waterfront promenade. Further from the center, the beaches are backed by rocky bluffs.
Marcos Duszczak lives with his partner, Rodolfo Moro, in Mar del Plata. Together, they produced the documentary Familias por Igual, (Families Alike), about queer families in Argentina. Duszczak says, “The gay life in Mar del Plata is very rich. It has two gay beaches, one near downtown, called Playa Chica, and the other one, Playa Escondida, outside the city.” The latter serves as the city’s nude beach. For vacationers wanting to meet locals he adds, “Day or night, one of the best ways to meet people is to walk along the shore. The city is really gay-friendly, and you'll always see gay people in the various pubs, bars and restaurants on Alem Street, or in clubs such as Sobremonte on Avenida Constitución." For those who prefer a strictly gay place, there are three clubs: Extasis Disco, the oldest in the city with weekend dancing, men/women mix and sexy go-go dancers; Pin Up Club, DJ-driven techno/trance music summer-season weekend dance club; and Clip Club, with great DJs, impressive sound and lights, VIP and dark rooms, plus shows/performances.
Excerpted from article Mar del Plata, Argentina is rich in gay life,
by Michael Luongo, August 2015, Daily Xtra Travel
At the heart of Buenos Aires is the Plaza de Mayo. Named in memory of the city’s May, 1810 declaration of independence from Spain (the rest of Argentina would follow after six years of war). The plaza is now Buenos Aires’ centre of civic life. It is surrounded by some of the city’s great sights, including the grand Catedral Metropolitana, the Museo de Cabildo (town hall), and the Casa Rosada (Pink House), the presidential residence.
Make sure to take a tour of the stunning architecture and decor of the Casa Rosada and the famous balconies from which Juan and Evita Perón (until her death from cancer in 1952) gave their addresses to the people. Argentine Navy jets bombed crowds gathered here for one such speech in June 1955, killing 364 people, in an attempt to overthrow Perón by coup d'etat. The revolt succeeded in September, forcing the president into exile. In June 1973 he returned to Argentina, won the September presidential elections with his second wife Isabel as Vice President, but then died from heart attacks the following July. His body lay in state at the Palace of the National Congress, and a million people turned out in the rain for the funeral procession.
Protests and demonstrations are a regular occurrence in the plaza. Some of the most famous were carried out by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who held silent weekly protests, and demanded answers about their children who were “disappeared” during the "Dirty War" by military rulers of the 1970s. Free elections took place in 1983. Some former high-ranking military and security officers have since been convicted and sentenced, and over 100 "stolen babies" of the disappeared have been found, but the marches in the plaza have continued each Thursday concerning other social issues, carrying on the political work of their children.
The grand Teatro Colón is the second-largest performance house in the southern hemisphere (after the Sydney Opera House), and considered one of the greatest opera houses in the world.
This spell-binding example of Buenos Aires’ splendid old-world-inspired architecture, complete with deep red carpeting, heavy curtains, grand halls, and intricate design work gives the theatre a well-deserved sense of grandeur. Seeing a performance here is a must.