The Recoleta neighborhood is the hub of the city’s aristocracy, where old-money families live in pricey apartments along avenues with soaring French architecture. Men in ascots and tweed jackets sip espresso at shaded sidewalk cafés, and women with heavy fur coats walk tiny dogs.
Begin your stroll at the (1) Recoleta Cemetery (Junín 1790) and lose yourself among the gorgeous family mausoleums. Look for former first lady and Argentine icon Eva Perón’s final resting place—admirers always leave flowers and other tributes—but be sure to wander the other corridors.
Next to the cemetery at Junin 1892 is the (2) Nuestra Señora del Pilar Basílica, which was built in 1732 by Jesuit architect Andrés Blanqui. Many of the original altarpieces, structures, and art are impeccably maintained. Next door is the (3) Recoleta Cultural Center (1930 Junín), featuring several interesting local and international art exhibits in its 27 exposition rooms. Beyond that, browse in (4) Buenos Aires Design mall at 2501 Avenida Pueyrredón, one of the city’s fancier malls—known to locals as “shoppings”—where stores sell high-end leather furniture, appliances, and art.
During the week, the nearby (5) Plaza Francia is a quiet park were kids play on swing sets, but on weekends the plaza fills with dozens of artists peddling paintings, mate gourds, hand-knit clothing, and other products of varying quality. Snuggling couples and picnicking families recline on the grass and watch rock bands and puppet shows. Across Avenida del Libertador, you can visit the (6) Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (1473 Libertador) for free. Just beyond the museum is the monument to (7) General Carlos María de Alvear.
Head back toward Avenida Quintana toward the Recoleta neighborhood. Just beyond the gnarled branches of an old gum tree, stop at the notable cafeteria (8) La Biela (corner of Avenidas Quintana and Roberto M. Ortiz) for a strong (and overpriced) coffee and top-notch people watching. The café is the historic anchor on this strip of restaurants and bars along Avenida Roberto M. Ortiz that serve moderate quality food, but have great patios for dining outdoors on a sunny day. At the end of Ortiz sits the city’s best movie complex, Village Recoleta.
Amble down the Quintana into a neighborhood of treed sidewalks, French balconies, grand marble facades, and pricey brand-name stores. The (9) Un’ Altra Volta ice cream shop at Quintana and Ayacucho serves decadent Buenos Aires–style ice cream. Turn left on Ayacucho and walk to Avenida Alvear, a street lined with beautiful apartment buildings and hotels. Among the gems: (10) Alvear Palace Hotel (corner of Alvear and Ayacucho), in a 1928 building, the (11) Ceasar Park Hotel (1232 Posadas), and the (12) Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires (1661 Avenida Alvear)—all elegant spots to enjoy brunch, an English tea, or a glass of tinto, red wine. A quick detour down Ayacucho to the gorgeous Posadas street will bring you to (13) El Sanjuanino (1515 Posadas) where you can sample piping-hot empanadas and other traditional Argentine dishes or the (14) Confiteria La Rambla (corner of Ayacucho and Posadas), where harried waiters serve amazing lomito sandwiches. End at the (15) Palais de Glace (1725 Posadas), a former ice skating field turned museum and exhibit hall.
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