The Parks of Palermo and Costanera Norte

An Introduction to the Parks of Palermo

When the hectic lifestyle and heavy traffic of the city become too much to handle, you’ll be pleased to know that Buenos Aires has some wonderful 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 is a series of parks that spreads across an area of 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 both recreation and relaxation, home to picturesque gardens, sporting arenas, wildlife, art and water-based activities. When the sun shines, it seems that everyone hits 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 in the Parks of Palermo

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, be sure to 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.

Cross Avenida Sarmineto to Plaza Holanda (between Figueroa Alcorta, Sarmiento, Libertador and Dorrego), which is arguably the busiest area of the parks. Throughout the day and evening, especially on weekends and public holidays, it’s a hive of activity. 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, rollerblades or a 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.

On the other side of Avenida Libertador you’ll find Buenos Aires Zoo, a 45-acre zoological park home to around 2,500 birds, mammals and reptiles. 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, go to 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 itself looks like a spaceship and is especially impressive at night when illuminated by colorful lights.

Moving northwest from Plaza Holanda you’ll come to the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo (Libertador 4101), which is one of Buenos Aires’ most important racecourses. Argentina’s biggest horse race, the Gran Premio Nacional, takes place here in November. Entrance to most meetings is cheap, often free, and it’s a good place to watch the city’s high society mingle. The venue also has a small casino, live music events and restaurants. Directly opposite the racecourse is the Campo Argentino de Polo (Libertador 4300). This is the place to experience Argentina’s polo-playing culture. Matches take place from September to December, when upward of 30,000 spectators fill the stadium. Ticketek is a good place to check for tickets and events. For more sport, head to the northwestern edge of the parks and the Campo de Golf de la Ciudad (Tornquist 6397). This well-maintained golf course is open to the public, unlike the city’s other courses. You’ll need your own clubs, however.

A final mention goes to El Lago de Regatas, a large lake situated behind the golf course. It’s a nice place to stroll around and look at the cypress, eucalyptus, jacaranda and palm trees. There’s also a large area with free-to-use exercise stations. Be aware, however, that after sundown, areas around the lake turn into Buenos Aires’ red light district. It’s not necessarily a danger but more of a shock if you aren’t prepared for it.

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 and Do in Costanera Norte

Besides simply enjoying the riverside walk, there’s plenty to keep you occupied here. For sports, the area known as Complejo Costa Salguero (corner of Rafael Obligado Costanera and Salguero) is the place to go. 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), which is 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, however, so expect crowds and lines, especially from December through February.

Close to the water park is perhaps Buenos Aires’ oddest attraction, 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 pavement of Avenida Rafael Obligado Costanera and are similar to those found on the street outside the Reserva Ecológica, in Puerto Madero. A dozen or more food carts on the stretch of the Costanera Norte by the airport serve up delicious parrilla (barbecue) 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. Stalwarts among the many carritos are Parrilla Oriente and El Tano Criollo.

In terms of restaurants, El Muelle Restaurante (Sarmiento and Rafael Obligado Costanera) – set on a pier in the city’s Club de Pescadores – is one of the best options and an ideal place for fish lovers. Dishes aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every centavo. The menu includes seafood platters, fish kebabs, shrimp risotto, grilled sardines, tuna steaks and more. Elsewhere, Clo Clo Ristorante (corner of La Pampa and Rafael Obligado Costanera) is an Italian restaurant with a see-and-be-seen vibe. The stuffed and homemade pastas are good, but you’ll be paying top dollar for them.

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 (both on the corner of La Pampa and Rafael Obligado Costanera), are within a stone’s throw of each other. 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 to get in – or just be insanely attractive.

Another spot for house music lovers is Mandarine (Punta Carrasco). 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. Saturday’s Human night is popular with the city’s gay crowd. If you find yourself still out and wondering what to do at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, head along to CAIX (Complejo Costa Salguero). One of the city’s biggest after parties takes place here from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday. Bring your shades and step out onto the terrace to dance the morning or afternoon away in the BA sun.