Romantic Buenos Aires

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Romantic Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is, as a tongue-in-cheek bumper sticker might say, made for lovers. From the tango floor to the candlelit table, from fine wine to late-morning brunches, here are some of the city’s most romantic experiences.
By Bridget Gleeson, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Jose Fuste Raga/age fotostock
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    Picturesque Parks and Gardens
    When the city gets too hectic, retreat to one of Buenos Aires’ loveliest parks and gardens for a walk, a picnic, or a siesta under the trees. The sprawling Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods) offers a lovely rose garden and a picturesque lake with paddleboats, while in the south of the city, the Reserva Ecológica has bike paths along the Rio de la Plata. The Jardín Japonés (Japanese garden) is a small and wonderfully romantic spot in Palermo for admiring bonsai and sipping tea; come at night to dine on sushi while looking out at the illuminated gardens.
    Photo by Jose Fuste Raga/age fotostock
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    Intimate Tea for Two
    Buenos Aires runs on espresso in the morning and yerba mate in the afternoon. But most visitors won't get the chance to acquire a taste for this bitter herb since it is not typically served in cafes—it's a local custom you're only likely to try if you have an Argentine friend willing to introduce you to it. As an alternative, enjoy tea for two. L'Orangerie at Recoleta’s stately Alvear Palace Hotel offers a lavish afternoon tea service complete with white linen, Kir royales, and a tempting spread of cakes, scones, and tea sandwiches; it’s like stepping back in time to the city’s elegant past. You’ll also see beautifully presented tea and cake around town in the late afternoon, when locals usually enjoy their merienda (snack.)
    Photo by age fotostock
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    The Sultry Art of Tango
    Buenos Aires is, of course, the world capital of tango, and there is no finer place for learning how to dance cheek to cheek. Opportunities to learn the legendary dance abound throughout the city. At traditional tango venues, like downtown’s Confiteria Ideal, you can sign up for a class and then stay afterward to practice at the milonga (tango club.) Private teachers advertise around the city; they also come to milongas to offer their services to aspiring dancers who need some help on the dance floor. Learning the sultry dance isn’t easy—but it’s hard to imagine a more romantic activity for a couple visiting the city.
    Photo by Andrea Lehmkuhl/age fotostock
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    Romantic Pools and Spas
    Walking around Buenos Aires all day can be downright exhausting. You are supposed to be on vacation, so treat yourself to some rest and relaxation at one of the city’s best hotel pools and spas. Check out small boutique outfits like Palermo Hollywood’s Home Hotel & Spa, as well as larger, more lavish offerings like the Ahín Spa at the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires in Recoleta. Both offer massages and treatments for couples, as well as specialized treatments designed to help you recover from the long flight south. Afterward, relax with a cold drink by the pool and toast your arrival in Argentina.
    Photo by Jen Murphy
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    Cozy Up for a Candlelit Dinner
    In Buenos Aires, dinner happens late. Most restaurants don’t even open until 8:00 p.m., and many locals don’t think of making a reservation before 10:00 p.m. It means that restaurants are packed well into the night, often with couples sharing a bottle of Malbec and several courses by the glow of candlelight. The list of options for a romantic dinner is almost endless. Generally speaking, you’ll find contemporary ambiance in Palermo eateries like Casa Cruz, old-world glamour in Recoleta’s landmark restaurants, and rustic charm in the parrillas (steakhouses) of San Telmo, such as the famous La Brigada.
    Photo by Bridget Gleeson
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    Big City Escapes
    If you feel like escaping from the big city, there are plenty of relaxing day trips and weekend getaways within easy striking distance of Buenos Aires. Whether you’re looking for a romantic adventure on the water or an old-world experience on horseback, the surrounding region has much to offer. The lazy Tigre River delta is just a short train journey away, and the charmingly sleepy colonial settlement of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay is an easy boat ride across Rio de La Plata. (Immigration is at the port.) Finally, you could take a trip to an estancia (ranch) and the rural town of San Antonio de Areco, located in gaucho country in the province of Buenos Aires.
    Photo by Stefano Paterna/age fotostock
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    Dance the Night Away
    It’s not for everyone, but if you’re young—or young at heart—and don’t mind that the dance floor doesn’t really get going until around 2 in the morning, then you’re in the right city. Buenos Aires’ nightclub scene is rightfully famous. There are a string of superclubs like Pacha lining the shore of the Rio de la Plata in the north of the city, and smaller, more alternative clubs like Niceto Club and Crobar in the Palermo neighborhood. Go out for a late dinner, and then out for drinks, before even attempting to enter the nightclub; otherwise you’ll certainly show up too early and have to wait for the crowds to arrive.
    Photo by Christian Kapteyn/age fotostock
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    Linger over a Late Brunch
    Particularly if you’ve been out late the night before, there’s nothing like a leisurely late-morning brunch in Buenos Aires. While not traditionally Argentine, many restaurants and hotels have caught on to the custom and offer special brunch menus on weekend mornings, complete with omelets and Bloody Mary variations. Favorite venues in Palermo include Olsen, Home Hotel, and Ninina Bakery. Note that in Buenos Aires, brunch often starts late and runs all afternoon, lasting almost until evening—it’s a perfectly decadent way to make the lazy transition into the next round of dinner, drinks, and nighttime entertainment.
    Photo by Charlie Richards/age fotostock
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    Drink Up, the Night Is Young
    Not long ago, Buenos Aires residents stuck to the basics: beer, wine, and fernet, an Italian digestif extremely popular at parties and bars throughout the city. But the local palate is changing. A cocktail movement is in the works, with bartenders perfecting classic cocktails and crafting creative libations from fresh fruits and botanicals. Look for drinks made with vermouth, a nod to the city’s Spanish and Italian immigrant past, at Buenos Aires’ best cocktail bars, such as 878 in Villa Crespo and Doppelganger in San Telmo. If you want the real Argentine experience, and you can stomach it, do as the locals do and ask for a fernet and cola.
    Photo by Bridget Gleeson
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    Wine Tasting from the Nation's Varied Terroirs
    To be clear, wine isn’t produced anywhere near the city of Buenos Aires. The country’s wine capital is in Mendoza, near the Chilean border, with additional wine-producing regions in the northern provinces and far south in Patagonia. No matter—the capital city offers the best opportunity to sample wines from the nation’s varied terroirs. Taste excellent varietals by the glass at wine-focused bars like Recoleta’s Gran Bar Danzón, or stop into one of the wine boutiques throughout the city for a degustación (tasting.) After a glass or two of fruity Malbec, the city starts feeling even more romantic.
    Photo by Bridget Gleeson