A Guide to the Parks of Palermo & Costanera Norte
When the sun shines, everyone seems to hit the parks, and with good reason.
When the city's hectic lifestyle and heavy traffic become too much to handle, you’ll be pleased to know that Buenos Aires has some beautiful places to escape to and relax amid the confines of vast greenery. From the northeastern edge of Palermo’s residential streets to the Río de la Plata, a series of parks spread around 200 acres (81 hectares).
Officially called Parque Tres de Febrero, the parks have several aliases, including Los Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods) and the Parks of Palermo. It’s an area of recreation and relaxation, home to picturesque gardens, sporting arenas, wildlife, art, and water-based activities. When the sun shines, everyone seems to hit the parks, and with good reason: This is the city’s green lung, similar to London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park.
Things to See & Do
Although technically one big park, this fun-packed area of the city is made up of numerous interconnecting parks; on the southeast side is Plaza Sicilia (between Figueroa Alcorta, Casares, Libertador, and Sarmiento), an open park that's popular with picnickers and groups of friends playing soccer. Check out the various statues and sculptures, including a bust of Mahatma Gandhi by Ram Vanji Sutar. While here, spend a few hours in the Jardín Japonés (Casares 2966). Wander around the beautifully sculpted gardens and across ornamental bridges. Spot koi in the ponds, or have lunch in the teahouse and sushi restaurant. You can also grab coffee or lunch at Selena Café, a lovely cafe/restaurant in a refurbished building in the middle of the park.
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Cross Avenida Sarmiento to Plaza Holanda (between Figueroa Alcorta, Sarmiento, Libertador, and Dorrego), arguably the park's busiest area. It's a hive of activity throughout the day and evening, especially on weekends and public holidays. You’ll find a boating lake, a one-mile running track, fitness stations, and food stands. Sit on the grassy lawns and watch the activity, or get involved by renting a bike, rollerblade, or paddleboat. On weekends, there are free dance and aerobic classes. In the middle of this area is El Rosedal, a stunning rose garden that bursts to life in the spring, summer, and fall with thousands of rose varieties.
Relax with a book, admire the sculpture collection, or enjoy free summer concerts. Alternatively, check out the exhibitions at the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívori. Nearby is the restaurant Tomate, a great place to eat if you are in the park around lunchtime. A little deeper into the parks is Belisario Roldán, a large restaurant with a view of equestarian activities.
On the other side of Avenida Libertador, you’ll find the Ecoparque, a 45-acre area that used to be the zoo. Grab some lunch at Águila Pabellón before taking a stroll through the park. Another pleasant place to relax is Plaza Intendente Seeber, a green area surrounded by impressive architecture, with statues and old trees dotting the lawns. For a more educational activity, visit the Planetario Galileo Galilei (corner of Sarmiento and Figueroa Alcorta). Spot displays of meteorites, learn about the cosmos or watch a movie in the domed cinema. The building looks like a spaceship and is especially impressive when illuminated by colorful lights at night.
Moving northwest from Plaza Holanda, you’ll come to the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo (Libertador 4101), one of Argentina's most important racecourses. Argentina’s biggest horse race, the Gran Premio Nacional, is here in November. Entrance to most meetings is cheap, often free, and an excellent place to watch the city’s high society mingle. The venue also has a small casino, live music events, and restaurants, including BAGA, Rabieta, and Tucson. It is also home to various food festivals on the weekend. The Campo Argentino de Polo (Libertador 4300) is opposite the racecourse. This is the place to experience Argentina’s polo-playing culture. Matches occur from September to December, when upwards of 30,000 spectators fill the stadium. Within the polo field is Bocha Polo, which contains various food stands and activities for kids. There are also a few restaurants and nightclubs like Imperial Beer House, Cruza Polo, and Nomad. The polo field complex is open even if there are no polo matches, making it a great place to visit on a sunny day.
Close to the racetrack and the polo fields is the Arcos de Rosedal, a row of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants underneath the train tracks, opposite the rose gardens. This makes for a fun area for lunch or dinner and is a prime spot for people-watching. It is also home to Avant Garden, one of the best beer gardens in the city, which hosts great DJs spinning house music every night.
For more sport, head to the northwestern edge of the parks and the Campo de Golf de la Ciudad (Tornquist 6397). Unlike the city's other courses, this well-maintained golf course is open to the public. You’ll need your own clubs, however.
A final mention goes to El Lago de Regatas, a large lake behind the golf course. Strolling around and looking at the cypress, eucalyptus, jacaranda, and palm trees is nice. There’s also a large area with free-to-use exercise stations.
An Introduction to Costanera Norte
The Northern Waterfront runs along the banks of the Río de la Plata, on the northeastern edge of Buenos Aires. It’s a curious mix of green spaces, theme parks, sporting events, and nightlife, making it busy 24 hours a day. Weekends are a notably lively time here: Families and groups of friends stroll along the wide lanes of Avenida Rafael Obligado Costanera; fishing enthusiasts dangle lines into the river below; aviation enthusiasts go to spot the planes coming and going from Aeroparque (the city’s domestic airport); and partygoers fill up the nightclubs.
Things to See & Do
Besides simply enjoying the riverside walk, plenty keeps you occupied here. The area known as Complejo Costa Salguero (corner of Rafael Obligado Costanera and Salguero) is the place to go for sports. Here, you’ll find the driving range of Costa Salguero Golf, Jurado Golf pitch and putt, Salguero Fútbol, and the Circuito 9 go-karting center.
At the other end of the waterfront is Parque Norte (corner of Cantilo and Güiraldes), a large water park with three family-friendly swimming pools, plus tennis, football, basketball, and volleyball courts. When the mercury soars, it's the most accessible public swimming area in the city to cool off. The shallow pools are child-friendly, and you can rent loungers and umbrellas. Do as the locals do and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grass verges. The water park is no secret, so expect crowds and lines, especially from December through February.
Perhaps Buenos Aires’ oddest attraction is close to the water park, Tierra Santa Parque Temático (Rafael Obligado 5790). This religious theme park, or Jesus Land, offers visitors the chance to wander a mock version of Jerusalem while reliving biblical events. Keep your eye out for the 40-foot-tall Jesus statue that rises from behind a rock at the turn of every hour. There are also music and dance shows to keep you entertained as you explore the park.
Restaurants & Nightlife in Costanera Norte
A big draw of the food scene along Costanera Norte is the collection of carritos (food carts). They line the Avenida Rafael Obligado Costanera pavement and are similar to those found outside the Reserva Ecológica in Puerto Madero. A dozen or more food carts on the stretch of the Costanera Norte by the airport serve delicious parrilla snacks and meals. Try a choripán (chorizo sandwich), morcipán (black pudding sandwich), bondiola (pork steak), or vacipán (flank steak sandwich). The prices are affordable, and you can sit at the carrito’s tables or take your snack away to enjoy while looking out to the river.
In terms of restaurants, Gardiner is an Argentine restaurant with a see-and-be-seen vibe. On weekend nights, it hosts the city's jet set, who enjoy dinner before hitting up the nearby nightclubs. Garibaldi Restaurante is an excellent spot if you are looking for a view. The restaurant extends into the river, and its large glass windows provide an almost 360-degree view of the water and coastline. For a classic parrilla experience, check out Happening. Or head to nearby Enero for an eclectic menu with an upscale ambiance.
Far greater than the dining scene, however, is Costanera Norte’s nightlife. Spread along Avenida Rafael Obligado Costanera are half a dozen or so of the city’s biggest nightclubs – the type that open late and don’t close until the DJ falls asleep. Two of the most popular, Pacha and Tequila (on the corner of La Pampa and Rafael Obligado Costanera) are within a stone’s throw. Pacha is for serious house and electronic music fanatics and attracts big-name DJs such as Darren Emerson, Paul Oakenfold, and Sascha. Avoid lines by purchasing your tickets online in advance. Tequila is a smaller venue favored by Buenos Aires’ A- and B-list celebrities. There’s a dress code here, and unless you know someone who knows someone, you’ll have to be at your charmingly best – or insanely attractive – to get in. Across the street is Moby Dick. It's a restaurant that turns into a nightclub and is an excellent spot for a classic Argentine experience: Have dinner at 10 pm, stay for the party, and leave at 5 am!
Another spot for house music lovers is Mandarine. It’s big, loud, packed to the rafters on the weekend, and based on a Berlin-style club. While electronic/house music is the mainstay, DJs also entertain the masses with a mix of reggaeton, rock, and hip-hop.