Buenos Aires: Places to Explore

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Palermo

Trendy shops, bold restaurants, elegant embassies, acres of parks—Palermo really does have it all. Whether your idea of sightseeing is ticking off museums, flicking through clothing racks, licking your fingers after yet another long lunch, or kicking up a storm on the dance floor, Palermo can oblige. The city's largest barrio is subdivided into various unofficial districts, each with its own distinct flavor.

Luminous boutiques, minimal lofts, endless bars, and the most fun and daring restaurants in town have made Palermo Viejo (also known as Palermo Soho) the epicenter of Buenos Aires' design revolution. Many are contained in beautifully recycled town houses built in the late 19th century, when Palermo became a popular residential district. Most shops and eateries—not to mention desirable properties—in Palermo Viejo fill the cobbled streets around Plazoleta Cortázar.

In neighboring Palermo Hollywood quiet barrio houses and the rambling flea market at Dorrego and Niceto Vega sit alongside sharp tapas bars filled with media types from the TV production centers that give the area its nickname.

Some say Palermo takes its name from the surname of a 16th-century Italian immigrant who bought lands in the area, others from the abbey honoring Saint Benedict of Palermo. Either way, the area was largely rural until the mid-19th century, when dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas built an estate here. After his defeat, these grounds were turned into the huge patchwork of parks north of Avenida del Libertador. Their official name, Parque Tres de Febrero, is a reference to February 3, 1852, the day Rosas was defeated in battle. The park, which is more commonly known as Los Bosques de Palermo (the Palermo Woods), provides a peaceful escape from the rush of downtown. The zoo and botanical gardens are at its southern end.

Palermo has two mainstream shopping areas. The streets around the intersection of Avenidas Santa Fe and Coronel Díaz are home to the mid-range Alto Palermo mall and many cheap clothing stores. There are more exclusive brands at El Solar de la Abadía mall and the nearby streets of Las Cañitas, Palermo's northwestern outpost. Its thriving, in-your-face bar-and-restaurant scene is the favorite of local models, TV starlets, and others dying to be seen. If a week away from your analyst is bringing on anxiety attacks, the quiet residential district around Plaza Güemes might bring some relief: it's nicknamed Villa Freud, for the high concentration of psychoanalysts who live and work here.

Plastic surgery and imported everything are the norm in Palermo Chico (between Avenidas Santa Fe and Libertador), whose Parisian-style mansions are shared out between embassies and rich local stars like diva Susana Giménez. Higher-brow culture is provided by the gleaming MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires or the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires), whose clean stone lines stand out on Avenida Figueroa Alcorta.

Palermo at a Glance

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