The hype about Buenos Aires is well deserved. The steak is out of this world, tango classes are everywhere, football matches are intense and the wine is delicious. But its magnetism extends beyond the cliché. Give Buenos Aires some time and you’ll come to understand the collision of old-fashioned sensibility and contemporary revolution that makes the city tick.
San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires' most attractive and historically rich barrios (neighbourhoods), with cobbled streets and colonial houses. The heart of the area is Plaza Dorrego, which hosts an antiques market on Sunday. Also worth a visit is Mercado San Telmo, the old fruit and vegetable market.
The Cementerio de la Recoleta, holds the remains of the city's elite: past presidents, influential politicians, military heroes and the rich and famous. Evita's grave is here, too (00 54 11 4803 1594; cnr Junín & Guido; recoleta cemetery.com; 7am-6pm, English tours 11am Tue & Thu; free).
Palermo Viejo, once home to Che Guevara, is full of 19thcentury buildings and cobbled streets. Restaurants cram the pavements and Plaza Serrano heaves with party-goers at the weekend. Congo is a favourite nightspot with the locals (00 54 11 4833 5857; Honduras 5329).
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes showcases works by Renoir, Monet and Gauguin alongside Argentine artists such as Eduardo Sívori and Xul Solar (00 54 11 5288 9900; mnba.org.ar; Av. del Libertador 1473; 12.30pm-8.30pm Tue-Fri, 9.30am-8.30pm Sat-Sun).
Tango has had a renaissance and classes are available everywhere. Head to the Barrancas de Belgrano park, where casual dance events take place on Sundays at 8pm. Otherwise Confitería Ideal is the mother of all historic tango halls (00 54 11 5265 8069; confiteria ideal.com; Suipacha 384; £2-£5).
Eat and drink
Buenos Aires has a serious café culture and porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) love their café cortado. Dating back to 1884, Las Violetas is a gorgeously restored café with stained-glass windows and high ceilings (00 54 11 4958 7387; lasvioletas.com; Av. Rivadavia 3899; mains £2-£10).
Parrilla 1880 is an authentic Argentine parrilla (meat grill) in San Telmo popular with locals. The half portion of juicy bife de chorizo is plenty for one (00 54 11 4307 2746; parrilla1880. com.ar; Defensa 1665; lunch and dinner Tue-Sun; mains £3-£8)
Astrid & Gastón serves the finest Peruvian cuisine in Buenos Aires. The setting is swish and the food well presented. Try the cream of shrimp soup or duck with dark beer sauce. Also sample the excellent Pisco Sour cocktails (00 54 11 4802 2991; astridygaston. com; Lafinur 3222; lunch & dinner Mon-Sat; mains £6-£11).
Martin Rabaudino oversees one of the best kitchens in the city at Oviedo, a great place with professional service. Choose from dishes such as quail with mushrooms or a glorious, unpretentious paella (00 54 11 4821 3741; Beruti 2602, Recoleta; lunch and dinner; mains £7-£12).
The latest Argentine trend is for 'closed-door' restaurants in private houses - puertas cerradas. Casa Coupage is hosted by two sommeliers in their house in Palermo. It's a superb way to taste Argentine wines expertly matched to local dishes (00 54 11 4833 6354; casacoupage.com.ar; dinner Wed-Thu; prix fixe £30-£40).
Art Factory is an art-themed hostel with more private rooms than dorms. Artists have painted wall murals in the rooms and hallways, and the 1850s mansion is a surreal backdrop. There's also a roof terrace and bar (00 54 11 4343 1463; artfactoryba.com.ar; Piedras 545; from £20).
Onze Boutique Hotel offers well-styled rooms in strong colours: tango red, royal purple and graphic black and white. Traditional mantas (hand-woven blankets) add a homely touch. Ask for a room with a balcony for views of the city (00 54 11 4821 2873; onzeboutiquehotel. com; Ecuador 1644; from £60).
At Casa Bolivar, 14 spacious studios and loft apartments have been lovingly renovated into individually styled spaces. Some have incredible original details such as carved doorways and painted ceilings. Period furnishings and chandeliers complete the turn-of-the-century effect. There is also a communal patio and gardens (00 54 11 4300 3619; casabolivar.com; Finochietto 524; from £60).
The 1930s Miravida Soho , in Palermo, has been modernised to accommodate six tastefully furnished rooms with French windows overlooking an internal courtyard. There's a wine cellar and a bar for wine tastings (00 54 11 4774 6433; miravidasoho.com; Darragueyra 2050; from £82).
Located in an imposing art deco building in San Telmo, Moreno captures the city's bohemian heritage. Large bow windows, hardwood floors and contemporary furnishings make for loft-style living. The sixth floor rooftop terrace has amazing views of the city (00 54 11 6091 2000; morenobuenosaires.com; Moreno 376; from £120).
Find your way
The city's black and yellow taxis are the best way to get around. Alternatively, ask your hotel to book a remise (private car). They are expensive but more reliable. The Subte (underground) system serves most of the city (subte. com.ar; 20p for one journey).
How to go
Iberia flies from London via Madrid (£340; iberia.com). Ezeiza airport is 21 miles south of the city. Manuel Tienda León runs a shuttle to town (£7; tiendaleon.com) and a city taxi costs £16. Look for 'Taxi Ezeiza' and avoid touts.
The article 'Mini Guide to Buenos Aires, Argentina' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.