Flickr © Kevin Dooley
Art lovers might first think to flock to Paris or New York in droves, but the world is filled with creative cities, and we think Buenos Aires belongs in the top five. From bohemian San Telmo to ritzy Recoleta, you’ll find every corner of the Argentine capital to be completely captivating.
Want to explore the city with fewer crowds? April, May, and June – fall in the Southern Hemisphere – form the shoulder season, with lower prices than the recently departed summer and higher temperatures than the impending winter. As an added bonus, April visitors will be treated to the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente, one of the globe’s premier independent film festivals, and its kid-friendly sister, BAFICI Animado.
Whatever time of year you visit, Buenos Aires is full of gorgeous colonial architecture, but at seven stories and a full city block wide, the Teatro Colon won’t be ignored. Even if you don’t snag a seat to one of its world-class performances of opera, ballet, or classical music, you should take the time to enjoy a backstage tour and learn something of the 2,500-set theater’s history. With over a hundred years under its belt, this Italianate structure has seen everyone pass through from Igor Stravinsky to Luciano Pavarotti. Tours are offered daily, but fill up fast, so arrive early and give yourself ample time to explore.
Part of Buenos Aires’ artistic charm is the fact that it keeps the classical and contemporary in perfect balance – even the Teatro Colon has a minimalist experimental theater in its basement. The city’s museums are no exception. Start with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. You’ll discover 19th and 20th century Argentine masters, like Benito Quinquela Martin, Edwardo Sivori, and Xul Solar, alongside the European greats you already know and love, like Picasso, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh. When you’re ready for a new millennium aesthetic, head to the MALBA – the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. Inside you’ll find a more contemporary collection featuring works by Diego Rivera and Antonio Berni, among many others.
One of the greatest things about art in Buenos Aires, however, is the fact that it’s not confined to museum walls. The Argentine capital is one of the greatest cities in the world for graffiti and street art. You can enjoy bright and beautiful murals on an independent afternoon walk, but if you want a little extra help navigating the barrios, you won’t have any trouble finding a guided tour to show you the highlights, either privately or in a group.
Of course, you can’t talk about Buenos Aires without that most tantalizing of words: tango. Practically every visitor will attend at least one performance of the quintessential Argentine dance. It’s sultry sensuality is a critical part of understanding local culture. If you’re interested in taking your appreciation of tango a few steps further, try learning yourself. Too nervous to jump headfirst into a milonga’s group class? The staff at your hotel can probably help you find a private teacher.