Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Where Passion Meets Heritage - Discover the Heartbeat of Argentina!

Dynamic, beautiful, lively, and packed with cultural attractions, Buenos Aires never fails to get under your skin. It is a potent combination of European grandeur and Latin passion – a city that stimulates the senses and appeals to hedonists and culture-seekers alike. It’s a rough-hewn mix of Paris’ architecture, Rome’s traffic, and Madrid’s joie de vivre, all spiked with Latin-American flavor and an unparalleled passion for nightlife. Buenos Aires simply cannot be easily understood or pigeonholed and is all the better for it.

For centuries, native Americans ranged throughout what became Argentina. On the pampas lived the hunter-gatherer Querandi – of all of Argentina, the northwest was the most developed. Several indigenous groups, notably the Diaguita, practiced irrigated agriculture in the valleys of the eastern Andean foothills. Inhabitants were influenced by the great Inca empire, which expanded south from Peru in the early 1480s. It seemed as if the native Americans would control this remarkable land forever.

The Spanish Conquest and Its Impact

However, in the 16th century came the first Spanish conquistadors. Buenos Aires was initially settled in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza. However, food shortages and attacks by indigenous groups forced the colonists to abandon their settlement in 1537. Meanwhile, other members of his group sailed upriver to find Asuncion, now Paraguay’s capital.

Then, in 1580, a second expedition returned, successfully establishing a permanent settlement in Buenos Aires. But for complex reasons, the Spanish Crown was less than enamored with their new colony. Spain imposed harsh restrictions on trade for nearly 200 years, ensuring that Buenos Aires remained a provincial backwater. Yet the port was ideal for trade, so frustrated merchants turned to smuggling, providing wealth passed through the city despite the Crown’s objections.

By the 18th century, Buenos Aires was transforming into a prosperous city. Relaxing its restrictions, Spain made Buenos Aires the capital of the new viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver), including Paraguay and Uruguay, in 1776. During this period, the Spanish slave trade brought a significant African population to Buenos Aires to labor in agriculture, livestock, and domestic work.

The Struggle and Triumph of Independence

In the early 19th century, Spanish rule over its colonies was weakening. Buenos Aires declared its independence on May 25th, 1980. Independence movements throughout South America soon united to expel Spain from the continent by the 1820s. But despite achieving independence, there was much internal discord within Argentina’s regions over the country’s future. For almost 20 years, bloody conflicts between the two factions left Argentina nearly exhausted.

In the first half of the 19th century, Argentina saw much political turmoil. Juan Manuel de Rosas came to power in 1829. Championing the Federalist cause, he helped centralize political power in the capital. His reign lasted until 1852, when a rival, Justo Jose de Urquiza, forced him from power. His inaugural task was to draw up a constitution, which was formalized by a convention in Santa Fe in 1853.

The second half of the 19th century would see stability and prosperity return to Buenos Aires. After Domingo Faustino Sarmiento became president, Buenos Aires’ economy boomed, and immigrants poured in from Europe. The new residents helped to fuel the expansion of the city’s port area and developed Argentina’s famous dance – the Tango – in the brothels and nightclubs of the port. By the turn of the 20th century, the nation was finding its feet and brimming with self-confidence. Massive infrastructure improvements – including Argentina’s first rail network – helped outlying regions to benefit from the capital’s rising prosperity.

Today, of course, Tango is one of Argentine culture’s potent and emblematic symbols. The dance boasts a long and complex history, born from large-scale European immigration to Buenos Aires in the 1880s. Seeking company in the city’s burgeoning bordellos and bars, a vibrant display of masculinity and prowess evolved into a flamboyant dance brimming with passion. Small musical ensembles were soon brought in to accompany early tangos – it came to represent the new urban experience for the immigrants, a fitting emblem of a rapidly changing society.

The Challenges of the 20th Century

Sadly, this period of prosperity and social development did not last. The onset of the worldwide Great Depression led to massive economic pain in Argentina and a military takeover. However, the now legendary politician Juan Peron emerged in 1940 to become Argentina’s most revered and equally despised public figure. With the help of his second wife, Eva Duarte (Evita), he ran for and won the presidency in 1946. Although he ruled by decree rather than consent, Peron did much to improve the livelihoods of the poorest members of Argentine society, which naturally put him at odds with the conservatives and wealthy landowners. Ultimately, economic hardship and inflation undermined Peron’s second term – the death of Evita in 1952 dealt a massive blow to both the country and the president’s popularity. In 1955, a military coup sent him into exile in Spain. Thirty years of catastrophic military rule would follow.

Argentinians returned to democracy in the 1980s, heralding a new era for the citizens of Buenos Aires. However, they have had to contend with economic depressions and uncertainty since the election of Raul Alfonsin in 1983. Nevertheless, Portenos (Buenos Aires residents) remain optimistic about their future, defined by their infectious warmth and gregarious social nature. This quickness to engage and joie de vivre is at least as important to visitors as the old-world cafes, colonial architecture, lively markets, and diverse neighborhoods. Just step inside Buenos Aires for a moment, and you’ll realize why so many people have fallen in love with this captivating city.

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    Steak Grill, parrilla

    Gastronomy & Wine


  • Teatro Colon

    This impressive seven-story building is one of Buenos Aires’ most prominent landmarks. It’s the city’s main performing arts venue and a world-class forum for opera, ballet, and classical music. The building itself is magnificent, occupying an entire city block, the theater can seat 2500 spectators.

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  • Palacio del Congreso

    Another one of Buenos Aires’ architectural highlight, the green-domed Palacio del Congreso was modeled on the Capital Building in Washington DC. The interior is splendidly ornate, particularly in the Senate Chamber and the Chamber of Deputies.

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  • Barrio de San Telmo

    Bursting with charm and personality, San Telmo is one of the city’s most attractive and vibrant barrios (districts). Its narrow cobbled streets and low-story colonial houses naturally attract many visitors; this is where some of the first homes were built in the early years of the colony and these elaborate mansions later became home for European immigrants. Talk a walk around; history is rife in this barrio.

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  • Museo Historico Nacional

    Buenos Aires’ natural history museum is arguably the finest in South America. Large parts of the museum are dedicated to Argentina’s revolution in 1810, however, there is also some fascinating exhibits that take the visitor through Argentina’s pre-colonial history.

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More information

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Cellar Tours Private Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Cellar Tours

Welcome to Cellar Tours, the premier Luxury Travel Specialist since 2003. Our goal is to provide you with the ultimate food and wine vacation experience, with exclusive Mercedes chauffeured tours that showcase the best of local cuisine and wines.

Our team specializes in crafting bespoke, custom-designed vacations, events, and incentives tailored to your unique tastes and preferences. Travel is not just about seeing new places - it's about creating unforgettable memories and indulging in the finer things in life.

As members of Slow Food, OTAVA (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), we promote sustainable tourism and support local communities. We work closely with top-rated hotels, restaurants, and wineries to provide you with the highest level of service and attention to detail.

Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a corporate retreat, let Cellar Tours be your guide. With our passion for food and wine, extensive knowledge of local culture, and dedication to exceptional customer service, we're confident we can exceed your expectations.

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