8 Places to Visit in Buenos Aires

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By Vanessa Bell / Published by Dwell
A design lover's guide to the Argentine capital.

Architecturally speaking, Buenos Aires is an eclectic melting pot, as varied in style and provenance as the mix of Italian, Spanish, British, and Eastern European ancestry of its inhabitants. A relaxed approach to town planning has resulted in a juxtaposition of old and new, and multiple architectural movements represented on a single block. 

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The Biblioteca Nacional is housed in one of the most stunning examples of the Brutalist architecture movement, designed by revered Argentine architect Clorinda Testa in 1961. The entrance is free with identification, and the quiet reading room is the ideal place for getting work done. Agüero 2502.

Coveted areas such as Palermo and neighbouring districts have been gentrified extensively over the past 15 years. The City government projects are slowly channeling money into poorer neighborhoods, such as the much neglected port district of La Boca, with plans for a designated art quarter to take form over the coming years. Buenos Aires is becoming greener too, with an extensive bike lane system covering much of the city. In the center, the streets boast opulent Italian and French-style buildings, and a stroll along the wide, tree-lined Avenida de Mayo and Recoleta areas serve as a reminder of the country's extraordinary wealth at the start of the 20th century. Despite its growth as a popular tourist destination over the past decade, with polo, tango, steak and red wine being the obvious attractions, these elements only scratch the surface of what this city is really all about. The most effective way of getting a feel for the place is to pull up a chair at an old-fashioned neighborhood bar, order a cafe con leche and medialunas, and people watch.

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The concept store Casa Cavia, located in a converted 1927 town house, has been recently refurbished by Kallos Turin Architects to include an independent bookshop and bespoke florist, as well as a branch of Fuegia Perfume Lab. The restaurant is run by local chef Pablo Massey with food served inside or on the terrace. A free weekly film club projects cult classics outside. Cavia 2985.

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A key reason to visit the La Boca neighborhood, aside from the colourful Caminito street, the contemporary art gallery Fundación Proa regularly holds international exhibitions, including recent solo shows by Joseph Beuys and Ron Mueck. The terrace eatery is a fantastic spot for a relaxed lunch. Avenida Don Pedro de Mendoza 1929.

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Agustina Dubie has created a fashion label that is all about simplicity and locally sourced materials. She gained recognition abroad after representing Argentina at London Fashion Week. Her minimal boutique in the verdant Botanical Gardens area is a faithful reflection of her aesthetic. República de la India 3139.

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Located in the leafy Belgrano R neighbourhood, Reunion is a store that doubles as a design studio, creating mini fashion and food guides of local neighbourhoods and a stationery line called mono. It also hosts embroidering and drawing workshops. Seasonal pop-up sales showcase different local creatives and artists, selling photographic prints, jewelery, ceramics, stationery, clothing, and accessories. Conde 2127.

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Yeite is the first solo venture of Pame Villar, one of Argentina’s best pastry chefs. The salads and cold lunch options are served from the counter, using local seasonal ingredients, with hot tapas-style sharing options. The decor is rustic and simple, with green tiles, mirrored walls, wooden tables, paper place settings. Humboldt 298.

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Walk past the moveable screen in the restaurant into JT, the newest fashion label and store of one of Argentina’s most illustrious designers, Jessica Trosman. The space is a converted warehouse; the factory and offices are located on site. Humboldt 291.

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Originally built in 1908, Teatro Colon underwent an extensive and costly refurbishment over seven years that was finally completed in 2010. It hosts local and international classical music recitals and ballet productions. Cheap, standing-only tickets are often available for functions, and the guided tour of the theater gives you a rare glimpse into the hidden areas of the space that are normally out of bounds to the general public. Cerrito 628.