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Founded back in the 1600s, Buenos Aires has blossomed from a trading port used by the colonials into a vibrant metropolis often referred to as the ‘Paris of the South’. From its humble beginnings, the city has been transformed into a blend of modern skyscrapers, traditional European architecture and whitewashed buildings. The newly modernised cruise terminal hints at the grandeur and passion of the city while the locals are friendly and welcoming to all those who arrive here.
As you would expect with any thriving cosmopolitan metropolis there are plenty of things to see and do, however; Buenos Aires also holds some unique little gems that leave guests astounded and at times a little bit bemused. Around the city, visitors can feel the deep sense of religious connotations that adorn this fiercely Catholic locale, and with a wide range of festivals and parades it becomes even more evident. It’s no surprise, then, that the city is host to the world’s first religious theme park. Other attractions include tombs tours, while more adventurous tourists can indulge in a taste of Argentina’s famed past times, by taking part in polo matches and tango classes at schools around the city. Here are some of the sightseeing highlights that you really mustn’t miss once you have docked:
Campo Argentino de Polo
Experience one of Argentina’s most famous pastimes and enjoy a polo match at the Campo Argentino de Polo. This stadium can hold up to 16,000 spectators and takes on a carnival atmosphere during November when crowds flock to watch the Abierto Argentino de Palermo (Argentinean Open). Rub shoulders with locals as they immerse themselves in this passionate and explosive sport. For truly adventurous travelers, the El Rincon de Polo club will let you saddle up and have a go yourself.
Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso
No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a tango lesson. The Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso takes this dance very seriously and before receiving expert tuition yourself you will be able to watch professionals glide their way across the floor. For travellers with two left feet, the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel lets you experience the vibe of the dance without actually having to get involved.
For something really unique, and a little bit out of the ordinary don’t miss a visit to Tierra Santa. It’s the world’s first religious theme park and lets visitors experience the rising of Christ (albeit a plastic version) every 15 minutes.
If you’re a football fan then the world famous Bombonera stadium provides tours of the grounds made famous by Maradona and his internationally impressive team. On match days the streets are awash with blue and yellow and it’s as if Mardi Gras has migrated to the city’s shores. Allow yourself to get swept along in football fever.
The people of Buenos Aires treat their shopping with the same energy and passion as they do everything else in life. Malls are family friendly and mix traditional and modern wares with a wide variety of entertainment. The largest and most mainstream shopping centre is the Abasto de Buenos Aires. The striking art deco façade used to house a fruit market but is now home to over 240 shops as well as a cinema and numerous restaurants and eateries.
One of the city’s top visitor attractions also happens to be a shop, a beautiful book store that has taken up residence in an old grand theatre. It still maintains some of its old features and has a café on the stage. Visitors are encouraged to settle down in one of its comfy chairs and while away the hours with a good book.
As you might expect, Buenos Aires has a wide selection of restaurants to choose from with an eclectic mix of cuisines on offer and because it was once a colonial port, the city still has a European flavour to many of its dishes, and is renowned for its steaks throughout the world.
Not far from the cruise ship terminal is El Bistro. This stunning restaurant is a favourite with locals and tourists. It serves up a mix of European and Argentinian flavours with fusions of ingredients that you might not expect. After a sumptuous meal in its striking interior, venture next door to enjoy a tango until the late evening.
Also within easy reach of the port is a quaint little tea house. Maybe not something you would expect to find in this city but certainly worth a try. There are some beautiful infusions to try, all served with delicate patisseries and mouth-watering soups. Don’t leave without buying some to take home with you.
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