TO & FROM
Fly direct into Buenos Aires International Airport, about an hour from downtown BA. Hire a car in advance to take you to your hotel. Houston and Dallas are ideal places to embark from for Midwest/West Coast travelers because customs is a much easier process vs. Miami or Atlanta. Cabs are easy and inexpensive for all travel within Buenos Aires.
For flights to Calafate and Bariloche, fly out of the domestic airport, Jorge Newbery, which is only about 15 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires and very easy to navigate. Calafate and Bariloche both have very small manageable airports about 40- 60 minutes from hotels mentioned below. Cabs are available if you have not hired a car in advance.
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires: Located in the Recoleta neighborhood. Great location and service, awesome breakfast buffet; comprised of two buildings, an old mansion and a newer tower, connected by a tunnel and a beautiful garden.
- Home: Located in the Palermo neighborhood also came highly recommended although we did not have a chance to check it out for ourselves.
EAT & DRINK
Casa Felix: An incredible “closed door” restaurant experience you will not forget in a Palermo style home. Set menu. Make this a must do.
- Club de Cocina: Another “closed door” or “private” cooking school and restaurant that is not to be missed. Chef Fernando Mayoral who has traveled all over the Globe perfecting his skills has come home to Buenos Aires to feed tourist and locals alike. Fernando and his two person staff are incredibly fun and charming and refilled our wine glasses with incredible local wines while teaching us how to make delicious empanadas and grill the perfect cut of steak
- Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep): Chic, cozy and neighborhoody-feel in upscale Recoleta. We felt like we were among locals who come here every week for the delicious meat and fish options.
- Casa Cava: Chic place for lunch in Palermo, near the Evita Museum. Lovely to sit outside on the patio or inside under a ceiling of floating books and incredibly delicious salads, something for everyone including the wine list!
- Brandon: For a great lunch in Palermo Hollywood. Amazing salads, burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and chic atmosphere.
- Ninina: Another great lunch option located in Palermo Soho. Great healthy and organic options in a very stylish casual atmosphere. Smoothies, juices, salads and sandwiches. Good bakery too.
- Croque Madame: is located outside the Museum of Decorative Arts—good French café food in pretty setting. You can squeeze in a quick visit to the museum afterwards.
- Basa: Very good “modern cuisine” in a bar-like atmosphere with an industrial feel. Date night or skip it if you prefer old school and traditional.
- Cabana Las Lilas: Located in the Puerto Moreno district, the steak was the best we had but be warned the place feels new and American. Sit outside with a view of the water and watch the people walk by. It is more expensive than other steak restaurants in Buenos Aries.
- Don Julio: We were told by friends and the concierge that we must go to if we have kids. Yes, it was kid friendly and felt old and authentic but it was packed, mostly with tourists. If you go, order the tenderloin.
- La Cabrera: Similar to Don Julio—a very well-known, high quality steak-house but felt rushed and filled with tourists.
- The Temple Bar: Fun bar in Palermo Hollywood, young crowd with lots of beers and gardens surrounding. Our kids were allowed in until 10pm.
- The Faena Hotel & Tango Show: Very cool spot in the Puerto Marino area – amazing décor and great drinks by the pool. Very hip scene. Go early for a drink inside or out and enjoy a really authentic Tango Show—that breaks down the history of Tango in a very interesting, romantic and engaging way.
- Osaka: This is a restaurant I wished we had time to try. A sushi and ceviche menu, new hot restaurant in town, recommended by a friend from Buenos Aires.
- Fervor: Another spot I was sad we did not have time to try. Known for meats and seafood, in Recoleta near the Park Hyatt.
- Walk and shop the Palermo Soho: neighborhood. Very fun shops and cobblestone streets with plenty of ice cream shops to keep you fueled. Check out the shop Gato for fun items for the kids and Facon for unique home items with a sweet wine bar.
- Biking Buenos Aires: We did a 3 hour private tour focused on the parks in the Palermo and Recoleta areas with Kay and Rodri as our guides. It was an amazing way to see the city and learn about the history and culture of Buenos Aires. We were very impressed with the knowledge of our guides and the casual but effective way they were able to communicate with our children. Our highlight was a Matte ceremony under a statue of Evita. Make sure to specify bike sizes for children in advance.
- San Telmo Market: If you are lucky enough to be in BA on a Sunday take a stroll through the most historic and charming district, San Telmo where Sundays are filled with local merchants selling everything from silver to polo accessories.
- MALBA: Latin American art fill the modern and ultra-cool walls of the Malba located in the beautiful Palermo Chico. The museum is small and full of visual delight. The on-site restaurant, Café des Artes is a lovely place to sit outside and have lunch and a glass of Malbec. Palermo Chico, full of embassies, Ambassador residences and beautiful homes is a charming area to wonder around after taking in some art.
- Shop Hop BA: If time is short but you want to come home with some Argentinian treasures, Sophie Lloyd will guide you in the right direction. Communicate with her in advance as to what you are looking for and she will make sure she has spots for you to discover... mostly off the beaten path. There is no pressure to buy and she is a joy to be around. Also has good recommendations on where to eat and what to do other than shop in BA and will follow up with you to make sure you got everything you needed.
- Bettina Rizzi: Best place to have a leather jacket made without spending a fortune. Shhh… She made them for Keith Richards and Mick Jagger the last time they were in town. She is located a block from Florida Street, Maipu 929, Buenos Aires.
- Walk and shop the Palermo Soho neighborhood. Very fun shops and cobblestone streets with plenty of ice cream shops to keep you fueled. Check out Gato for fun desk items for the kids (or for you) and Facon for unique home items and a sweet wine bar.
- La Recoleta Cemetery: Take a stroll through this city-like maze containing the graves of some of Argentina's most famous and influential people. The graves themselves are architectural wonders. A tour was recommended to us but we did not take one.
- Estancia Cristina: We were not able to spend the night here but after visiting for the day found it hard to leave. The grounds are rustic and beautiful; the food, warm and delicious. Amazing hikes, horseback rides and kayaking are available right outside your door. Most of all, this place is very remote and peaceful—you will feel like you have come to the bottom of the earth.
- Alto Calafate: Typical to hotels in Calafate, this place is a bit rustic with minimal amenities. The rooms were clean and there is a decent buffet breakfast. SKIP dinner in the restaurant, the food is overpriced and not good. The kids enjoyed the indoor pool and the views were gorgeous. We were not able to find a hotel that impressed us though there may be one out there. There are also lots of hostels in the area.
Eat & Drink
- La Tablita: Great mixed grill and lamb. Upscale setting for Calafate. By far our favorite Calafate restaurant experience.
- Mi Rancho: Small quaint restaurant in a little house. Food was good and restaurant had a nice homey feel but our family of 5 was a little much for the tight space leaving me stressed that we were ruining the romantic dinners of the couples next to us. Save it for date night.
- Estancia Cristina and the Upsala Glacier: This is at very least a twelve hour excursion from Calafate and a must do in some way, shape or form. There are many options including spending the night which we would recommend trying even though we did not have the chance. The journey from Calafate includes a 2-3 hour boat ride through Lago Argentino, past icebergs and beautiful scenery, a 4x4 or trek up and down from the Glacier viewing point, a walk on the property and lunch in the pretty restaurant and then a two hour boat ride back. There are several adventure companies that can arrange this outing located in Calafate and online, including Viator.
- Pietro Moreno Glacier: No trip to Calafate is complete without a viewing of the Pietro Moreno Glacier. Unlike Upsala, this glacier is located quite close to Calafate and offers easy access to many outstanding viewpoints. Those over the age of 10 can arrange to hike/trek on the glacier. We recommend the short 40 minute boat ride to get up close to the glacier for pictures followed by a walk on the paths surrounding the glacier. It is on the paths that you will be able to stop and listen to the glacier breaking and if you are lucky, catch huge pieces following off into the lake with thunderous sound.
- Puema Hue is one of those special spots on earth unlike any other you feel lucky to stumble on when you do. Holding a maximum of 28 guests, Puema Hue, means land of dreams and that it is. The massive grounds allow for amazing hiking, horseback riding, boating, kayaking and much relaxing. The staff is family like from the minute you arrive, always attending to your needs but in a very casual way. The accommodations are nice but very low key. All meals are taken in the dining room together at set times. Evenings begin with Happy Hour in the main house where guests gather around wine and appetizers and report on their day’s adventures. PSSST… Be sure not to stay in the Mountain Cabin as it is too far away from the main activities. Always ask for what you need be it a special diet, a ride across the lake for a hike, a horseback ride for a child with a broken arm…they will accommodate you
- Llao Llao Originally built in 1938, the hotel has the feel of an old world lodge and offers incredible views in every direction. There is a newer building that is connected by a tunnel is closer to the lake which I may request on a second visit—though it is further from the amenities. The breakfast buffet is incredible with waffle and omelet bars and the concierge service is great. Be prepared for high prices and average food, but it is a very lovely place to call home in Patagonia.
Eat & Drink
- La Masia: A very beautiful small restaurant with 5 tables and gorgeous view serving wonderful pastas and trout.
- Il Gabbiano: Located in a pretty little house within walking distance of Llao Llao this place will have you thinking you are in Italy. Menu includes superb pastas, especially the ravioli, and delicious trout. Don’t skip dessert, we recommend the Tiramisu.
- El Boliche de Alberto: Really authentic simple steak house with incredibly fresh and delicious meats and salad. The prices are not to be believed, very reasonable. Options to eat at their location in Bariloche or along the lake outside of the town. Skip town and eat along the lake if weather is clear.
- Patagonia Cerveceria: This is a very cool and new spot with great beers, views and food. Highly recommended for lunch, dinner or just a mid afternoon beer.
- El Patacon: Rustic winter lodge with great lamb and amazing service.
- Golf: The course at Llao Llao is world-renowned.
- Hike: Both Puema Hue and Lloa Lloa have well marked gorgeous hikes within a stone’s throw of your bed.
- Spa: Llal Llao has a nice workout facility and spa. The spa offers children’s and teen treatments, perfect for a mother-daughter escape.
- Mano a Mano: Don’t miss this little sweater shop about a mile towards the town of Bariloche. The owner Gaby designs the sweaters herself and her styles are a perfect combination of current trends and Patagonian style.
THE INSIDE SCOOP
- Valeria Berwick (ph: 1-786-245-0632) of Neptuno Viajes, is a great travel agent located in Buenos Aires that can handle any or all of your travel bookings.
- Argentinians run on a late schedule. Plan on dinners starting at 9pm and ending at midnight. Do not make reservations for activities in the early morning.
- Argentina is very casual and Patagonia is not very warm, even in December. Pack lots of layers. Buenos Aires is the only place you will wear a sundress.
- Bring a lot of cash to shop with. It is hard to take out more than $120 at a time from a cash machine and fees are high.
- Make dinner reservations a couple weeks in advance, especially for Calafate and Bariloche, during winter months.
- No need to pack hiking boots. Running shoes with a good tread are good enough for all the hikes we did.
- Remember that Summer in Argentina is Winter in the U.S. and vice versa.
- Do not expect Argentina to be cheap. A few years back it was but now prices are comparable to U.S.