Entertainment, art and shopping in Buenos Aires

Living the high life is inexpensive in Buenos Aires.

You can swan around the galleries, shop 'til you drop and party until the wee hours without blowing your travel budget.

The joy of travel is closely linked to the affordability of fun. In Buenos Aires you can look forward to plenty of joy, because you don't have to spend much to have a good time. Complementary to this is the party spirit of the portenos, the people of Buenos Aires. Whether you want to watch a tango show, shop for Argentine designer fashion in Palermo Soho or catch a production at Teatro Colon, you'll be surrounded by energised city dwellers who seize every moment.

Attending a performance at Teatro Colon is perhaps the very best way to feel the richness of Buenos Aires' character. The theatre offers an all-year-round programme of opera, ballet and musical events.

It takes two to tango

While wandering through the old streets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, chances are you'll come across an impromptu tango show. This passionate dance has its roots in the late 19th century and is still very much alive in contemporary life. In Buenos Aires you can't escape tango dancing, whether it's watching street performers or visiting a milonga (tango dance hall) tucked within the cobblestone streets.

For a first-hand view of tango in Buenos Aires, head along to one of the city's many tango classes and try it for yourself. Or make an evening of it with a tango show, which lets you connect over dinner and on the dance floor.

Many say the best tango show in Buenos Aires is Tango Porteno. Its fantastic orchestra, mesmerising dancers, elaborate scenery and costumes will transport you back to the golden age of the 1940s; it's even set in a renovated art deco theatre. There are numerous other tango clubs in the city, which usually include dinner. Check out the Google Maps ratings before you book.

Buenos Aires nightlife

The people of Buenos Aires love to have a good time, so finding a great place for cocktails at the end of the day is part of the city's culture. For an authentic experience, and a chance to rub shoulders with the locals, head to artsy San Telmo. It's one of the coolest, most bohemian nightlife districts in the city.

There are many highly-rated bars in the area, including Doppelganger, The Gibraltar, El Hipopotamo and GueBara. Don't be surprised if you're still up at two in the morning, because Buenos Aires is a city for party-hard night owls and late-night diners. Pack your best nightlife remedies and enjoy a siesta in the afternoon to catch up on lost sleep.

To feel the edgy pulse of the city at night, head to Palermo Soho, a sub-barrio of Palermo in the central city. Around Plaza Serrano you'll find great restaurants, cool bars and some of the city's best nightclubs. In the summer months the plaza is a great place to sit outside and sip ice-cold Quilmes (beer).

Performing and visual arts

Attending a performance at Teatro Colon is perhaps the very best way to feel the richness of Buenos Aires' history and character. One of the most important opera houses in the world, the theatre offers an all-year-round programme of opera, ballet and musical events. Book tickets before you depart to guarantee a night to remember.

Another key cultural experience is Malba Museo de Arte Latinoamericano in Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, where works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Tarsila do Amaral share exhibition space with Argentinean modern masters. This gallery also includes a small cinema specialising in art house retrospectives.

At the not-so-classical end of the arts spectrum, the Google Street Art Project features more than 270 images created by well-known mural artists. You can tour the works with a guide or find your own way around the art-endowed streets, which are in Palermo and Recoleta.

Retail culture

You can tell a lot about a culture by the cut of its designer fashion, so find your way to Recoleta, San Telmo and Palermo Soho for Argentina's most intriguing boutiques. Emerging local designers are reaching beyond mainstream fashion to produce pieces that focus on quality, rather than fast fashion. On a shopping expedition in Buenos Aires, you could find something you'll own for the rest of your life.

Pottering through a Buenos Aires department store, like Falabella in the centre of the city, is another way to connect with the city's retail spirit. You'll discover brands you've never encountered before and an excellent selection of basics. If there's something critical you forgot to pack, you'll find it here.

Sporting spirit

Ole, ole ole! That's the song they sing at Buenos Aires' Bombonera football stadium. You'll be singing too, if you secure tickets to a game. Various words are used to describe a football match at Bombonera - intoxicating, uplifting, cacophonous, intense and rousing, to mention but a few. Search online to find a football tour operator who'll collect you from your accommodation and shepherd you to a game. It's worth every penny. Try to wear blue and yellow to honour Maradona's beloved Boca Juniors.

Buenos Aire's other favourite sport is polo. It's played between September and November at the magnificent Campo Argentino de Polo (aka the Cathedral of Polo). Tickets for major matches are sold online. Admission to less-important local tournaments is usually free; check the website for upcoming matches.

Buenos Aires nightlife highlights

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