Research: Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil

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I just returned from a trip to South America with friends.  Below is a copy of the research I did to prepare for the trip.  It probably looks overwhelming and even a bit excessive.  But this is a big trip (18 days) and I wanted to do and see as much as possible.  You will notice that each day I have lots of activities and places listed.  We definitely did not do all of these and we did add some others once in country.  This is not a checklist.  For me, planning is part of the fun.  The anticipation.  The learning.  But it also drives me nuts to waste time standing on a corner trying to decide what to see next, getting somewhere an hour after they closed or crossing town multiple times because I didn’t see things in the most efficient order.  A little research help prevents these problems and allows you to maximize your time.  It also provides you extra options in case you need a plan B because your destination is having torrential thunderstorms or you have blisters and can’t walk another step.  Having a plan does not prevent you from going with the flow or talking to locals about different options…but it does mean you will arrive knowing something about the city, have an idea what you want to see and do, and give you the opportunity to make the most of your time and money.  

Warning – these are my unedited notes just to show how I prepare for a trip.  In the coming weeks I will post specific blogs about what we did, what we didn’t do, what we loved, what we missed, what went right and what went wrong.  

Day 1:  Travel

Day 2:  Arrive early afternoon in BA

Trips on coaches such as Manuel Tienda León from Ezeiza International Airport to Retiro cost 190 pesos ($13 per person) each way. The coaches leave every half hour–less frequently during evenings. From their terminal in Retiro (corner of San Martin and Av. Madero), a smaller van will deliver you to any downtown address for an additional 15 pesos. Manuel Tienda León also offers transfers between Ezeiza International Airport and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport. Tickets can be purchased from their booth just outside of customs. If you miss it in customs (European, Australian, and U.S. travellers are probably more used to such services being located not inside customs), then walk outside. Keep walking for about 200 meters heading towards Terminal B, turn left, go to Terminal B departures, and there’s an outside booth there.  Ensure you go to the ‘Manuel Tienda León’ desk for the coach (the first desk on your right as you leave the Customs screening area but before you exit into the main arrivals hall). People at other desks would happily say there’s no coach to your hotel and will try to persuade you to take a taxi. Alternatively, follow instructions above and go to Terminal B for the coach. The signage for terminal B is somewhat lacking but it’s between terminal A and C so if arriving at A just follow the signs to C and you will find the kiosk. As of 24/05/16 the coach costs 200 pesos with an additional 20 for a district transfer to Palermo. Coach has free Wi-Fi but ita very slow. the coach does not go to your hotel (i.e. if it is outside their coverage area), they will tell you where they could drop you off near-by. 

Two Hotel. Moreno 785, Buenos Aires, 5411, AR

5 PM @ Santa fe Ave and Maipu st. beside the monument Aristocratic FREE tour

 El Zanjon de Granados is “an amazing archaeological site and one of the more unusual places in BA.  Below the ramins of a mansion are a series of old tunnels, sewers and water wells going back to 1730…fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.”  San Telmo is the oldest part of the city. Back then, the rivers flowing through the city were contaminated and foul, so they were built over with brick vaults. Over the centuries, these vaults sank beneath the ground and new houses were built on top. The vaults were forgotten until they were recently rediscovered. They have been excavated and turned into one of the most interesting museum in Buenos Aires.  It is not open on Saturday.

Museu de Arte Moderno is in a tobacco warehouse and shows local artists.

Gran Parilla del Plata (corner of Chile and Peru) serves great steaks. Favourites include the “provoleta” (yummy cheese starter) and the “medallones de lomo” (beef medallions).

  • Ask hotel about a Tango show on Saturday (I found a recommendation for Esquina Carlos Gardel, Confiteria Ideal and El Beso)
  • Ask hotel about best transfer from AEP on 24 Nov

 Day 3:  BA

La Casa Rosada (free tour of government building – if we want to do this they recommend get there first thing (first tour is at 1000) if done by 1030 then we walk to other end of Av. De Mayo for the walking tour. We could also do this our last day in BA)

1100 free walking tour @ Rivadavia Ave and Rodriguez Peña st. (sign near statue at Plaza de Congreso)

Catedral Metropolitana (0900-1900)  This was Pope Francis’ parish.

Museo Evita (1100-1900)

Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento (some sources say it opens at 1300 and some say this was Pope Francis’ parish)

Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world

Obelisco: memory of Argentina’s Independence from Spain. 

Museo del Bicenternario (1000-1800) – Argentina’s tumultuous history.  Exhibits in Spanish but movies have English sub-titles.

Mueseo Historico Nacional (1100-1800) – pre-historic through Colonial.  Exhibits all in Spanish.

Tour Teatro Colon (make reservation)

*Lunch — We need to eat Pizza standing up on Ave Corrientes. (Also recommended by woman from BA)

Palmero Soho at night?

The A line: Oldest Subway in South America  Return to Casa Rosada via the ‘A’ subway line which runs underneath Avenida de Mayo. This is the oldest subway on the continent, opening 1913, and it shows. Get on the front carriage and make sure it is one of the old wooden carriages. (If not, wait.) These charming carriages creak their way down old cut out tunnels and are a joy to ride.

Day 4 (Sunday):  BA and travel to Patagonia, Puerto Madryn

El Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca (famous colored streets and most photographed neighborhood in the world) – a second review recommends doing it early early in order to see the sun rise.  Take Bus 29 to La Boca and catch the rising sun playing across the harbour. Then walk along the famous Caminito street where poor immigrants used spare paint from the ships to brighten up their corrugated steel shacks. Enjoy the walk but don’t stray too far or you’ll be mugged. Take your pictures and then return to San Telmo.

Cementerio de la Recoleta (0700-1800)

Recoleta Artisan Fair (1200-1800 on weekends)

San Telmo Market (Defensa Street, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo)

  • Depart AEP @ 1905 / Arrive Trelew @ 2105

Hotel Gran Madryn:  Lugones 40; Puerto Madryn, Pcia Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina

Day 5:  Patagonia Whales and Sea Lions

Tour pick up from Argentina4U  

Day 6:  Penguins & return to BA

Tour pick up from Argentina4U

(BA Hotel) 562 Nogaro Buenos Aires  562 Julio A Roca Avenue  Buenos Aires, AR, C1067ABN

Day 7:  Ferry to Colonial, Uruguay 

  • 1230 Buqubus ferry from BA to Colonial de Sacramento / 1325 arrival

Hotel Beltran (old town – Avenida General Flores 311, Colonia del Sacramento, Colonia 70000)

Colonia was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese in an attempt to piss of the Spanish. Colonia faces Buenos Aires from the opposite side of Rio de la Plata (the silver river) and its main purpose was to avoid the trading taxes imposed by the Spanish crown. Put another way, the Portuguese settled a smuggler’s port next door to one of the most important trading posts of the Spanish.

The Spanish showed their displeasure by invading Colonia, and thus started one of the more ludicrous territorial tug-of-war conflicts between nations. Colonia was conquered and re-conquered by the Spanish and the Portuguese (later Brazil) no less than ten times between 1680 and 1828 when finally the region had had enough and declared themselves independent from Brazil and formed Uruguay. Since no one messes with Uruguay (no one!), Colonia has been left in peace ever since.

Well, in as much peace as a UNESCO World Heritage site can expect. The invasions of Colonia are re-enacted daily as tourists from Buenos Aires cross the river to get away from the big city and enjoy a day in Colonia, walking down the cobbled streets and lunch at one of the many lovely restaurants.

Curiously, one of the things that make Colonia stand out is not the lighthouse, the typical Portuguese blue-on-white artwork or the bohemian looking people drinking mate on the street. Nope, it is the prevalence of vintage cars. How these cars have survived driving over the roughest cobbled streets I’ve ever seen (Seriously, check that your travel insurance covers twisted ankles!) is beyond me, but they are a pleasure to see.

Convento de San Francisco

Iglesia Matriz (Uruguay’s oldest church)

Old Port

1700 merienda – tea time (unique to Uruguay vs. the rest of Latin America)

 The best way to travel from Colonia to Montevideo is by bus.  The bus terminal is close to the Buquebus terminal and there are bus services every hour.  So my recommendation is to tour the old part of the city (which is very quaint) and then go to the bus terminal to buy your tickets.

 Day 8: Colonial and Montevideo Uruguay 

Museo Portugues de Colonia del Sacramento (closed Wed, open Thursday @ 1115)

Hotel Presidente, Av 18 de Julio 1038, Montevideo, 11100

Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo (1400-2000 Free Art gallery in a prison)

Dinner at Mercado del Puerto (1868 wrought-iron structure sheltering a gaggle of restaurants)

 Day 9:  Montevideo 

Morning (or evening) walk on promenade

1100 Free Walking Tour Plaza Independencia, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo del Carnaval (1100-1700)

Street Art (map at

MAPI (the Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indigena), a museum focusing on Pre-Columbian and Indian art (1030-1800)

Plaza Matriz flea market

 Maybe teatime before ferry ride.  NY times recommends Café Brasilero or Jacinto

 Jose Gervasio Artigas, a soldier who became Uruguay’s national hero fighting for equality and democracy. Palacio Salvo, an iconic structure of the city that was once the tallest building in South America and the remains of the former citadel from colonial times.

  • 1930 Ferry back to BA (2100 arrival)

Regal Pacific Buenos Aires, 25 De Mayo, 764, Buenos Aires, BPN1002

Day 10:  Flight to Iguassu Falls

Depart AEP at 1325 / arrive Iguazu 1515

Taxi should be $60 AR

Jasy Hotel, San Lorenzo 154, Puerto Iguazú, 3370, Argentina

Iguazu isn’t one big waterfall that you go to, look at, take a picture of and then leave. It is a lush subtropical jungle with about 275 discrete waterfalls for you to explore among butterflies and coatis.

Guira Oga (Ruta Nacional 12, km 1637 Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, Argentina (a 13 km de las Cataratas del Iguazú).) Animal Hospital and rehabilitation for wildlife.  Last entry is 1645.

La Casa Ecologica de  Botellas (Casa Ecológica de Botellas Plásticas)

Barrio Las Horquideas, Manzana B, Lote 7, Tel. +54 03757 405621)  House and crafts made out of used packing materials

Three Frontiers Landmark, (walk down Av. Tres Fronteras). Have a look at Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, all in the same glimpse of the eye while there are cargo freighters making slowly their way along the water.

La Rueda, Av. Cordoba. Excellent food, and probably the best restaurant in Puerto Iguazú esthetically. The Pollo al Diablo (Chicken Devil’s Style), Surubi al Diable or La Rueda Salad are delicious. English spoken. Accept cash and credit cards.  edit

La Vitrina, Av. Victoria Auirre 773, ”+54” 3757-422165 ( Go there for the Asado prepared on the big outdoor barbecue. They have good salads, pasta, empanadas, etc. But the bife de chorizo, asado de tira, etc is what set La Vintrina apart from other places.  edit

Aqva, Av. Córdoba y Carlos Thays, ”+54” 03757 422064, [5]. Excellent food, many options of dishes with local river fish and Argentinian beef, of course. Extensive wine list. Reservations recommended on weekends. Opens everyday for lunch and dinner. Accepts major credit cards.

Ask hotel about best way to get to Brazil the next afternoon

Day 11:  Iguassu Falls, Argentine side

 The Argentine side has 80% of the waterfalls and it takes at least a day to explore. It is divided into four circuits, and I’ll list them in ascending order of ‘wow’.

  1. The lower circuit takes you first through dense jungle before leading you up to the middle of a great waterfall. Standing there, with a wall of water only meters away, you feel very small indeed.
  2. The San Martin Island lies in the middle of the Iguazu falls and is only reachable by boat. Some steep walking up the island rewards you with spectacular views of the falls and gets you close to the many vultures nesting in Iguazu.
  3. The upper circuit takes you to the top of a long ridge of waterfalls. The views here are so exquisite that it can be hard to believe that such a perfect vista can exist anywhere but the imagination of a most creative and imaginative artist.
  4. The Devil’s Throat lies at the furthest end of the ridge of waterfalls seen from the upper circuit. It is the biggest single waterfall in Iguazu, and it will hit you in the gut with its raw power. Slack-jawed, I could do nothing but stand at the head of this monster and stare in bewildered wonderment. (The Devil’s Throat can become congested, so go here early in the morning to beat the queue!)

For the most direct and intense experience of the falls, take a boat ride right into them. Yes, intothe falls! These crazed boats go into and underneath two of the medium sized falls, and every single one of the screaming tourists will get thoroughly soaked.  You can take the boat ride from either the Brazilian or Argentine side. The Brazilian side is more expensive but worth the extra cost as it can be hard to do both the boat ride and see everything on the Argentine side on a single day.

There is no reason why you should pay extra for a guide or book anything in advance. Public transport to and from the falls are frequent, and it is more fun and engaging to explore alone and at your own pace. After all, the raw awesome beauty of Iguazu requires no explanation.

Del Rey Hotel, Rua Tarobá, 1020, Foz do Iguacu (Parana), 85851-220, Brazi

Day 12
:  Iguacu Brazil & Fly to Rio

 Trilha das Cataratas (senic 1km trail leading to Garganta do Diabo – aka Devil’s Throat)

 Parque das Aves – exotic birds

  • Fly to Rio at 1318 and arrive 1515

 Taxi $65-90 R

 Americas Copacaban Hotel Rua Barata Ribeiro

Sunset at Sugar Loaf Mountain (sunset at 1743, cable car open until 2130)

Recommended by Brazil News, 3 days in Rio:  The so called Churrascarias in Rio are all-you-can-eat restaurants specialized in barbecued meat. Most of them have good buffets with salads, sushi and lots more. Below are two of the best, and on holidays and weekends it’s a good idea to call for a reservation.Ipanema Beach

Porcão R. Barão da Torre 218, Ipanema, tel 3389-8989 or Av. Infante Dom Henrique, Parque do Flamengo, tel 3389-8989. More famous and more expensive, you would probably spend around R$120 per person with dessert and wine.

 – Carretão R. Visconde de Pirajá 112, Ipanema, tel 2267-3965 or R. Siqueira Campos 23, Copacabana, tel 2236-3435. Cheaper but still high quality. Bring about R$80 per person and that should cover dessert and wine as well.

Day 13:  Rio

Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer w/ cog train (although Brazil News recommends going here first thing due to weather and crowds so may want to consider this Wed AM) Bus 583 passes through Zona Sul on its way, or a cab is about R$25, just tell the cab driver: “Trem do Corcovado”. The train to the top and back is R$45, and despite your religious views, the panoramic sights are incredible. –

Catedral Metropolitana

Forte De Copacabana

Copacabana Beach

Santa Teresa neighborhood (lunch or dinner) Santa Teresa trolley station is about R$25,tell the cab driver: “estação de bondinho no Centro”. Tickets for the trolley are R$1 and enjoy a hair-raising scenic ride through the historic neighborhood. Get off at Largo de Guimaraes in time for lunch, two recommendable restaurants are: – Bar do Mineiro R. Paschoal Carlos Magno 99. The most famous restaurant in Santa Teresa. Located close to Praça de Guimaraes. Brazilian food. Closed on Mondays. Open from 11 AM. – Bar do Arnaudo R. Almirante Alexandrino 316. A beautiful restaurant with a nice ambience. Food from the Northeast. Has a big selection of cachaças. Open from midday.

Escadaria Selaron – mosaic steps (In Santa Teresa)

Old Rio

Museu Historic National

Sunset from Aprpador

Paco Imperial

Forte do Leme

Museu do Indio

Nossa Senhora de Candelaria

 Sobrenatural, Address: Rua Almirante Alexandrino 432, Santa Teresa, Telephone: +55 21 2224 1003 or +55 21 2221 9465 Armazém São Thiago (Bar do Gomez), Address: Rua Áurea 26, Santa Teresa, Telephone: +55 21 2232 0822

 Bar do Mineiro, Address: Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno 99, Santa Teresa, Telephone: +55 21 2221 9227

Academia da Cachaça, Address: Rua Conde de Bernadotte 26, Leblon, Telephone: +55 21 2239 1542

Siri Mole, Address: Rua Francisco Otaviano 50, Copacabana, Telephone: +55 21 2267 0894

 Day 14:  Rio and back to Iguassu Falls

Pista Claudio Coutinho (2km trail)

Museu Internatcional de Arte Naif do Brasil (MIAN) – colorful native art

  • Fly back to falls on GOL 2077 leaving GIG at 2125 and arriving 2335

Hosteria Los Helechos  Paulino Amarante 76

Day 15:  Fly to Salta

Depart Igaucu @ 1105 / AEP 1305 / Salta 1645

Hotel Boutique Balcón de la Plaza; Espana 444, Salta

Salta is both a province and a city. The city is called ‘Salta la Linda’ (Salta the beautiful), and it is a bold-faced lie. The nickname refers to the well-maintained colonial architecture, but the city pales in comparison to Buenos Aires, both in beauty and colonial heritage.

The only must-see thing in Salta is the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology. It explains the Inca tradition of joining different clans together by marrying a boy and a girl from two clans and then bringing them to the summit of a tall mountain. There, the children drink themselves to sleep and are left in deep pits to freeze to death, possibly buried alive.

The museum also describes the archaeological story that ends in the discovery of three of these children on the 22,000-foot summit of Mount Llullaillaco. These mummies are among the best preserved in the world because no actual mummification was performed. The extreme cold and dryness did the job. Seeing one of these perfectly preserved 500-year-old children is fascinating and well worth the time.

Salta has two interesting looking churches, both reminding me of cakes. The first is the cathedral, a large pink meringue-inspired brick monstrosity dressed up in fake marble. The San Francisco church is equally fake in its red velvet cake outfit, but at least it looks good as opposed to the baby-pink cathedral.

Finally, there is a cabin ride to the top of a large hill overlooking Salta. It has some nice waterfall fountains to walk around, but the view serves mostly to debunk the myth of beautiful Salta.

Fortunately, the area around Salta has more to offer than the city. The city is the starting point for two regional trips, one to the south and one to the north, both requiring two days.

Day 16:  Salta & Return to BA

  • Tour with Argentina4U

Depart Salta @ 2100 / Arrive AEP at 2300

Tango de Mayo Hotel:  Av de Mayo 1396; Buenos Aires, C1085ABQ

Day 17:  BA & late night flights back to US

 El Ateneo Grand Splendid book store (in an old theater)  1860 Ave Santa Fe

Palazio Paz: The Reception Hall of WOW!  Argentina used to be rich. Filthy rich. The most ostentatious display of personal wealth I’ve ever seen is Palacio Paz, a not-so-humble home for a family of nine. The tour starts with a stunning ballroom and continues through increasingly dazzling rooms, from the dining room (where each guest had his personal servant) through the president’s room (where the owner of the house hoped that he one day would sit as the president, but he died before the house was finished) to the final and most OMFG-jaw-dropping-unbelievable-out-of-this-world-my-mind-is-fracturing reception hall.  Do not miss Palacio Paz.

Museo de Armas: Homage to Murder  One corner of Palacio Paz has been turned into the Museum of Weapons. This museum is a total sensory overdose of destruction. Every wall of every room is packed full of guns, knives, axes, grenades, rifles and so forth. If it was created to kill another person, you’ll find it here. Keep muttering ‘cumbaya’ as you make your way through the museum or you might go berserk.

The Falkland War Memorial and the English Tower: A Study in Irony  To calm down from the weapon museum, take a stroll through the series of parks next to Palacio Paz. Here you’ll find the Falkland War Memorial, engraved with the names of those who died in the Falkland War against the British.  From the memorial, walk across the street to the English Tower. The clock tower was based on the Big Ben and given by the British as a gift to Argentina on their 100-year anniversary of independence. You can’t get into it, so just walk around it and enjoy the irony.

El Ateneo: The World’s Greatest Book Shop  A couple of streets north lies El Ateneo, a converted theatre turned bookshop. It’s worth a quick stop to enjoy the atmosphere. You’ll be tempted to sit down at the café and enjoy the ambience, but resist! There is a much tastier treat waiting for you in the next section!

Volta: An Ice Cream Addiction  You’ll find traces of Argentina’s Italian influences in their ice cream. It is dizzyingly fantastic, and the best of the best is Volta. If I could inject it, I would. I dare you to order in the “maracuya” (passion fruit) and only have one spoonful. Go on, try it. Once you’ve failed that challenge, head back home for a rest.

Museo De La Inmigracion  Almost 40 percent of the immigrants who arrived in Argentina in order to populate it and start a new home stayed at this venue. The walls of what today is the Immigration Museum witnessed the stay of countless people who left their hometowns and families in search for a better future and found in the buildings of the port of Buenos Aires their first roof, a meal and an assistance center (for five days) during their passage to a new life awaiting in Argentina.  An old saying goes that Argentinians descend from the ships. For better or for worse, this cannot be denied and figures confirm that between 1869 and 1895, the population of Argentina doubled as a result of immigration.  For us, as well as for most Argentinians, visiting the Immigration Museum, housed in what used to be the Immigrants’ Hotel, had a special significance. Not only does this venue keep record of the thousands of people who stayed there as they entered the country, but it is also a tribute to each of those people who left their homeland behind to find a future.

Dinner: Pasta at Amici Mei  The Italian migrants that form a large part of the Argentine ancestors didn’t just bring delicious ice cream but also some great pasta. For dinner, head over to Amici Mei (Plaza Dorrego, above Havana) for some marvellous northern Italian pastas.

Tigre River.  The train station is about a 50-minute bus ride outside the city but this trip can be easily achieved by taking the 152 bus up Santa Fe, which brings you directly to the station, for about 30 cents. The train runs every 30 minutes which allows you to hop off at any of the 11 unique stations to explore and then use your same to ticket to get back on the next train. The final destination of the Tren de la Costa is conveniently the Tigre River. Take a boat tour through the islands—Venture farther away from the entrance to the Tigre to get the best deals on boat tours. Then enjoy a relaxing boat ride through the surrounding islands, observing the quaint yet quirky homes on the water and even wave to some of the locals who live there! Museo de Arte Tigre—This beautiful museum sits right on the edge of the water, offering exquisite views both inside and out.  Don’t miss out on trying mate!—You can’t leave Argentina without trying their famous drink. Mate is a bitter tea that most Argentines drink religiously and is accompanied by its own rich history and set of customs. At the Museo del Mate you can take a tour through mate’s history and finish the day by trying your own mate at the adjoining restaurant.

Historical San Antonio de Areco Town

Museo Histórico Dr Arturo Jáuretche (or ‘the Money Museum’ for short) illustrates Argentina’s chaotic economic history through a timeline of the country’s old bank notes, a desperate tale of rampaging inflation and attempts to print ever-greater notes (including a 1 Million Peso note) and several launches of newer and ‘stronger’ pesos every few decades.


bife de chorizo Sirloin
bife de costilla Tbone
bief de lomo tenderloin
ojo de bife eye of round steak
jugoso = rare
chimichurri = olive oil, garlic and parsley
salsa criolla = tomato,onion & parsley
Tannat – Uruguay red wine
Clerico – white wine and fruit juice
Grappa con miel – grappa with honey

Buenos Aires is famous for their steaks, reared on the pampas where happy cows munch green grass all day long. The quality of the meat is simply wonderful. Unfortunately, the Argentines have no clue how to cook the meat and will unfailingly overcook it unless you ask for it raw, at which point you’ll get it medium. If you want it rare you should ask for it viviendo (alive).

Brazil – round up to the nearest whole for taxi’s; 10% for meals



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