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48 Hours In: Buenos Aires. Esquina Carlos Gardel recommended by The Independent.

48 Hours In: Buenos Aires. Esquina Carlos Gardel recommended by The Independent.

As summer sun bathes Argentina's capital, the city takes on a carnival air - just in time for its annual Shakespeare festival. Tango is Argentina's obsession. The Esquina Carlos Gardel - named after the tango composer - also stages shows, nightly at 10.30pm, at Calle Carlos Gardel 3200, in the Abasto district.

Why go now-

The Argentinian capital is at its best during the first months of the year, basking in high-summer temperatures that foster a merry, near-carnival atmosphere. This will play out from 9 to 17 February in the shape of the annual Festival Shakespeare Buenos Aires a celebration of Britain's revered playwright (various venues; festivalshakespeare.com.ar).


Day One

Take a hike

Begin at the core of the city, in the Plaza de Mayo. Note the Cabildo, in the south-west corner of the square at Calle Bolivar 65, the seat of Spanish colonial power. Whitewashed and elegant, it is a foil for the Casa Rosada, at the plaza's east end which houses the Argentinian president's office, from where Eva Perón made her quasi-religious balcony appearances.

Leave the plaza at its south-east corner, passing the fenced-off Parque Colón, with its Christopher Columbus statue. Turn south on Avenida Ingeniero Huergo - noting the Thirties bulk of the Edificio Libertador, the Ministry of Defence, on your right - then east on to Calle Azucena Villaflor and into Puerto Madero. The swing bridge, Puente de la Mujer, a 2001 vision in white, is visible along Calle Juana Manuela Gorriti.

Lunch on the run

Continue through the Puerto Madero docks. Try a steak sandwich - from the food trucks at the end of Avenida Dr Tristán Achíval Rodriguez.

Window shopping

Running north to south between Plaza San Martín in Retiro and Avenida de Mayo in Monserrat, Calle Florida is the city's key retail drag. This pedestrianised strip includes Galerías Pacifico - a Beaux Arts arcade, dating to 1889, that hosts more than 150 stores. The cross-street, Avenida Corrientes, is also known for its bookshops, such as Librería Hernández.

The Palermo district is festooned with modish fashion outlets such as men's clothing store Bolivia at Calle Gurruchaga.

Take a ride

Though richly evocative, Boca has a reputation for street crime. Hail a (yellow and black) Radio Taxi to see the key sights: Caminito, the iconic street painted by artist Benito Martin in the Fifties, and La Bombonera, the cauldron-stadium home of Boca Juniors.

An aperitif

Palermo Soho buzzes at night, especially Plaza Serrano.

Dining with the locals

BA is famous for its parrillas - grills selling fine Argentinian beef.
Vegetarians may prefer Puerto Madero

Day Two

Sunday morning: go to church

Pitched on the corner of Plaza de Mayo at Calle San Martín 27, Catedral Metropolitana is an oddly secular structure, lost behind a Neoclassical facade. Rather prettier, the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar is a Jesuit landmark, dating to 1732.

A walk in the park

Near the Basilica, the Cementerio de la Recoleta, is a lovely spot for a morning stroll. A necropolis of narrow avenues and mournful trees it contains the tombs of the national elite. Evita's family vault, well signposted, is marked, simply, 'Familia Duarte'.

Out to brunch

Head to Café Tortoni, a city legend at Avenida de Mayo. This coffee salon, with its stained-glass interior, still recalls its 1858 origins.

Cultural afternoon

Puerto Madero has the hot spot of the Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. Open daily noon-9pm except Monday, this striking gallery was built in 2008 to showcase 20th-century Argentinian art, as well as pieces by Klimt, Dalí and Rodin. The Museo de Arte Latinamericano also shines a spotlight on Latin art in the 20th century.

It is worth visiting the Teatro Colón The spiritual home of Argentinian ballet and opera boasts an ornate auditorium that holds 3,500 people.

Icing on the cake

Tango is Argentina's obsession. The Esquina Carlos Gardel - named after the tango composer - also stages shows, nightly at 10.30pm, at Calle Carlos Gardel 3200, in the Abasto district. Tango-only tickets and dinner from (00 54 11 4867 6363; esquina carlosgardel.com.ar).


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