Known as the Paris of South America, cosmopolitan Buenos Aires attracts couples in search of beauty, history, culture, fine architecture, great food, and fine wine, all at affordable prices. Love is in the air, along with the strains of tango music. Unlike in the United States, which can frown on a public display of serious affection, suddenly having the urge to kiss deeply and affectionately is welcome and normal in Buenos Aires.
A wealth of romantic things to see, do, and taste await you in Buenos Aires. Some are exclusive to this sophisticated city. From savoring the rich flavor of local Malbec wines to absorbing the old-world elegance of Recoleta to having the opportunity to visit a working estancia, a trip to Buenos Aires can yield a lifetime of unforgettable memories.
President Juan Perón and First Lady Eva Perón were the country's most charismatic couple in the 1940s and 1950s. They lived and ruled from Casa Rosada, the palatial presidential mansion and official residence. It was from the balcony that "Evita," champion of the poor, addressed the masses. So don't be surprised if the words to "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" spring to your lips. On Saturdays, free guided tours of the pink house are available in English, and you can reserve your spots.
Even if you don't believe in ghosts, a visit to Recoleta Cemetery may haunt you. A massive city of the dead, Recoleta is a fascinating place to meditate on how wealthy porteños paid tribute to their dead. The necropolis is distinguished by elaborate marble and granite mausoleums, religious sculptures, and paths to wander. It is the final resting place of Eva Perón; to find it, buy a map at the gate or join a tour.
Sundays there's a market on the grounds where you can buy silver jewelry, colorful hand-woven textiles, leather bags, yerba mate gourds, and other handmade, locally produced goods.
Beyond the cemetery, Recoleta is the neighborhood that earned Buenos Aires the sobriquet Paris of South America. It's home to grand French-designed mansions, parks, restaurants, museums, shops, chocolatiers, jewelers, and other delights a romantic couple might treasure.
Every once in a while a hotel gets everything right — guest rooms, service, cuisine, location. That's Algodon Mansion. In a former townhouse on a quiet block in Recoleta, this intimate hideaway is the ideal aerie from where to explore the city.
Spacious suites range from 600 to 1,300 square feet. Perhaps yours will feature a four-poster bed and luxurious bathtub. Up on the roof there's a small heated pool, a few lounge chairs, and a hot tub.
Couples who desire a city/country holiday should consider combining a stay with a trip to sister property Algodon Wine Estates in Mendoza at the base of the snowcapped Andes. It was named one of the world's top vineyard inns by Frommer's. Guests who want to go horseback riding or bike through wine country can do it to their hearts' content. Of course, you should love wine, or at least want to learn more about it, if you journey here.
The city also has a sensuality, a character all its own, and you can see it in the the sleek and sensual steps of tango dancers in milongas, at performance spaces, and in the streets of neighborhoods such as San Telmo. (If you find yourselves in the latter on a Sunday, check out La Feria de San Telmo, where you can browse art, antiques, and crafts for sale.)
Tango is about two bodies communicating, which is what love itself is all about. Although the dance takes time and practice to master, on vacation you can learn the basic steps and become better. There are several schools that teach tango around the city. Also, milongas offer lessons before the real tango dancers arrive.
Savor the Flavor of Buenos Aires
For more than 150 years, the iconic Cafe Tortoni has catered to Argentina's intellectuals, travelers, and locals who appreciate chocolate with churros, draft cider, sandwiches, sweets, and a unique atmosphere. Beloved author Jorge Luis Borges was among those who frequented the wood-paneled restaurant and meeting place.
Carnivores will want to sink their teeth into Argentinean beef. The best steak in the world is here, grass-fed, free range, and hormone free. It's unlikely you will go wrong with beef served any place. Well known Cabaña las Lilas is worth the money, and more affordable Campo Bravo offers excellent cuts as well.
National Geographic dubbed El Ateneo Grand Splendid the world's most beautiful bookstore and you likely will as well. It's a former theater, and the ornate decoration that framed early performances has been retained, along with thousands of volumes of fiction, non-fiction, and maps. Most are, naturally, in Spanish, but there is a small section of English titles.
The most romantic place to kiss in Buenos Aires is on the Puente de la Mujer, the Woman's Bridge, in Puerto Madero. Designed by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the rotating foot bridge evokes a bird in flight or perhaps a couple dancing the tango.
It is breathtaking when the sun sets in the evening behind the city skyline and the water of the port lights up in fiery reds and golds. Away from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero is the only neighborhood in a major world city where the streets are named for female suffragists.
What trip is complete without bringing home souvenirs? Among the bounty: jewelry, figurines and tchotchkes for the home made from rosy-pink rhodocrosite. You may also want to collect goods made from silver. And even if you don't develop a taste for yerba mate, the gourds that porteños use to hold the beverage are pretty.
With all that cattle in the surrounding areas, Buenos Aires is also an ideal place to have a custom garment made. Almost any leather shop can create something to your size and specifications. If you're in a store and you see an item you like, or want to combine ideas, ask.
Puro Diseño Argentino in the Design Mall specializes exclusively in Argentinean goods. It has custom-made home fashion and men and women's clothing in natural leathers and fabrics designed by young Argentines.
In the elegant Alvear Palace, the hotel's chef pâtissier prepares an exquisite daily afternoon tasting of cakes, mini pastries, fresh fruit tarts, warm scones, and other mouth-watering delicacies.
In addition to green, black, flavored and blended teas, an exclusive “Alvear Blend” is available. It evokes the essence of the hotel in aroma and flavors that include black tea leaves, almonds, citrus, and rose petals.
Both the service and décor are old-world formal, so for the best treatment come dressed to impress.
Argentina is the world's leading producer of Malbec wines. The grape grows in every wine region of the country and produces dark red, close to black, vintages. Soft, evocative of fruit, and robust, it is the ideal complement to grilled Argentine beef.
The cultural heart of Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón is considered to be one of the world's best opera houses thanks to its outstanding acoustics and elegant design.
Here porteños and travelers alike come to see and hear opera, ballet, and guest performers and orchestras. Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov are among the artists who have brought magic to its stage.
No visit to Argentina is complete without a visit to an estancia (ranch). Vast tracts of land where cattle are raised, estancias are the domain of the gaucho. Romantic figures, these expert horsemen have reached legendary status for their prowess and self-sufficiency.
While most estancias are strictly working ranches, some also cater to guests who either come for a day and a meal or an overnight vacation.
Despite Argentina's massive size, it's possible to visit a working estancia not far from Buenos Aires. El Estancia Ombú de Areco is about two hours away by car. Built in 1880 and still owned by the same hospitable family, it accommodates overnight guests and has dozens of horses to choose from if you'd like to gallop like gauchos along the trails of the vast pampas.