A guide to Buenos Aires

Argentina's pulsating capital offers brilliant shopping, some of the best nightlife around and famously good grills

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There's long been a European feel to Buenos Aires, and that's only set to grow once Norwegian's direct, low-cost flights from Gatwick begin this month. Travellers making the trip can delve into the tango, leather, Malbec and steak scenes, or simply trawl the many separate barrios in search of secret wonders.

What to see

Buenos Aires’ main sightseeing stops are the free-entry Centro Cultural Kirchner, a neoclassical beauty where tango classes take place beside art exhibits, and the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (MAMBA), one of Latin America's greatest galleries. But the best suggestion is to roam the best districts on foot: particularly large, hipster Palermo and French-influenced Recoleta, where national icons such as Eva Peron are buried in extravagent tombs in its beautiful cemetary.

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Where to shop

San Telmo, the oldest barrio, is famed for its antique trade. The choicest emporium is Gil Antiguedades, where magnificent apothecary bottles and ornate mate gourds are available. Leather-lovers, meanwhile, should ignore the touristy boutiques on Calle Murillo and instead visit a quality tailor such as Bettina Rizzi. Turn-around time for jackets is 24-36 hours. Alternatively, book a bespoke shopping tour with Shop Hop.

Where to eat

Argentina's best beef is famously soft as butter, but where to try it? Among the finest parrillas (steakhouses or barbecue houses) is San Telmo's cave-like La Brigada. The empanadas are similarly superb. If you wind up suffering from meat overkill, then nearby Hierbabuena – a deli, market, bakery and informal vegetarian restaurant in one – stands ready with lighter fodder.

Where to drink

The country's best Malbec and Mendoza wines can be sampled at M Salumería / Enoteca / Bar de Vini / Almacen, along with lesser-known Argentinian tipples. Palermo Soho and neighbouring Villa Crespo, where speakeasies, coctelerias and clubs vie for attention, are Buenos Aires' undisputed bar hubs. Try Ferona (Humboldt 1445) for a beguiling, house-party vibe.

Where to stay

Palermo Hollywood, the barrio's slightly more chilled sub-district, houses the very cool Home: a 20-room design hotel containing William Morris wallpaper and Saarinen tables. There's also an outdoor pool and cherry-tree garden, plus a spa – all in all, it's the perfect fallback for when you're feeling frazzled. If you'd prefer all-out luxe, try The Faena.

Images © Buenos Aires City Tourist Board

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