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Top 10 Tango Things to do in Buenos Aires


If you're anything like me as a traveler, you've probably spent your preparation time pouring over various travel guides and underlining various paragraphs, trawling through numerous travel blogs, navigating Google maps to try and get a sense of the city, and written copious lists of 'Things to I want to do in BsAs' on various scraps of paper.

Top 10 (or 20) guides are abundant on the web and rightly say that it is nigh on impossible to do all the wonderful things that this bountiful city has to offer if you only have a few days.

But if you want a distinctly tango flavour to your trip, here's a list of some Top 10 Tango Must-dos that you should try and fit in whilst in the city. Remember, they are in no particular order and by no means definitive.

If you've got anything you'd like to add, just let us know in the comments section - we'd love to hear from you!



1. Visit La Boca

If you're interested in where tango evolved from, then you need to make a visit to La Boca. This gritty suburb is the oldest in Buenos Aires and was the arrival platform for the many waves of immigrants that Argentina had at the turn of the 20th Century. Colourful and historic, La Caminito street is a living representation of what La Boca was to the immigrants that had to make it their home. Check out some of its history before heading there to make the most of your experience.

2. Meander at the San Telmo Markets

The San Telmo Antique Market is held every Sunday in Plaza Dorrego. Tango is in every breath of this vibrant market, from the living legend of Carlos Gardel on his platform, to the dark El Afronte orchestra who drag out a piano onto the cobblestones for their performances.  You can always catch someone dancing tango in the main square and rumour has it that there is occasionally a milonga from 8pm. This is if they can overcome the candombe drummers who usually congregate together and encourage passerbys to join in the dancing. Well worth seeing if you're around.

3. Catch a Tango Show

For a special evening out, why not treat yourselves to a dinner and a tango show. There are many options to choose - from intimate dining or tango theatre or spectacular stage show, there is something to fit everyone. The dancers of the tango shows in Buenos Aires are well trained and bring you a style of tango called Stage Tango, which you aren't going to see on the milonga circuit in town.  If you're unsure about which one to choose, check out our Guide To Choosing a Tango Show, which will help you in your choice.

4. Take a tango lesson

There are a myriad of ways you can whet your appetite for tango dancing. Some tango shows offer a free class before hand (remember to mention it when booking your ticket), some milongas such as Glorieta have beginner classes offered prior to the milonga beginning, or you can opt for group classes or a private class with one of the many fantastic teachers that work in the city. There are plenty of Tango Schools (including Escuela Argentina de Tango) with many reviews to help you choose where to begin.

5. Soak up the atmosphere of Cafe Tortoni

A historic cafe in the heart of the city, Cafe Tortoni is well worth a visit to admire its palatial interior hung with memories of the artistic greats of Argentina's history.  It's popular with tourists so be prepared to queue if you've arrived at a busy time of day. It even has its own tango show. Listed as one of the Bares Notables of Buenos Aires, it's apparently rated amongst cafes from Prague, Paris and Rome for its beauty. Add to that the mysterious seductiveness of tango and you've got a gorgeous atmosphere within which to be sipping your coffee in.

6. Visit the Carlos Gardel Museum

Carlos Gardel is one of the most loved sons of tango. Bringing tango to life in the recording studio, his first hit Mi Noche Triste (My Sad Night) sold thousands of copies. Prior to this 1915 hit, tango was instrumental and it was his voice and interpretation of tango that created him into a tango superstar. With a fascinating story over where his birthplace and a tragic end to his life, this small museum offers fans the opportunity to see old memorabilia within the star's old house. There are also free tango classes on offer depending on the day. More information: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/argentina/buenos-aires/sights/museums-galleries/museo-casa-carlos-gardel

7. Enjoy an evening in the park at Milonga Glorieta

What puts Glorieta apart from the other milongas is that it is set outside. On those balmy summer nights, there's no better way to enjoy the evening than to sit out in the park listening to the strains of tango music while a gorgeous rotunda is filled with dancers from all walks of life enjoying the one passion that brings them together. Located near Chinatown in Barracas de Belgrano, this al fresco milonga captures the heart of locals and tourists alike. Visitors with cameras are welcome. For more information, see Dancing under the evening sky.

8. Go tango shoe shopping

Okay, so this suggestion is probably geared more towards the non-dancing ladies, than non-dancing men, but there is something irresistible about those colourful high heels that the women tango dancers wear and if you're a shopper, then you'll probably enjoy the experience of getting your own pair of sassy tango shoes.  With an abundance and variety of shops, if you're thinking about taking lessons when you get back home, it's well worth grabbing a pair of shoes while you're in the city itself and your feet will thank you for it later. Head to Comme Ill Faut for a unique experience (they bring out the shoes one at a time depending on what colours or style you think you'll like) or see Tango Shoes in Buenos Aires for more high-quality made tango shoe brands to check out.

9. Dance a tanda or two at Milonga La Viruta

Milonga La Viruta is well known to both locals and tourists. While offering a modern take on the 'milonga' by offering rock n roll and chacarera tandas within the tango mix, it is also one of the only all night milongas on offer on Friday and Saturday nights, with free entry after 3pm. If you're worried about being able to stay out that late, from 4am onwards La Viruta offers coffee and medialunas - which are arguably some of the best medialunas in all of Buenos Aires. Get in quick though as it can be hard to get the waiter's attention through the throng of dancers.

10. Catch a live show of tango in a small bar

This is where you find the real essence of tango that permeates this city's everyday life. Tucked away in historic little bars, you can find some of the great local talent showcased. Offering either guitarists, singers, bandoneon players or a mixture of them all, it is a great way to enjoy a quiet moment in this romantic city.  Check out either El Boliche De Roberto in Almargo (get there early to nab a seat - this place is tiny) or El Faro in Villa Urquiza (at the end of Subte B).

Traditional milongas in Buenos Aires - Sin Rumbo

(image credit Sin Rumbo La Catedral Del Tango)

No trip to Buenos Aires is complete without a night out at one of the traditional and oldest milongas in Buenos Aires.  A place where everyone dresses to impress and a cabaceo must be used to ask someone to dance. A place where the lights are bright and the embrace is traditional. A place which exudes the sentiments of times gone by and the true spirit of tango is tangible in every corner.

One of the oldest milongas in Buenos Aires,  Sin Rumbo (which means aimless) is nestled in the heart of the residential Villa Urquiza. It is one of the milongas in Buenos Aires that proudly maintains the traditions of tango.  It was run for a long time by the famous Julio Dupláa, well known within the tango community both as a tanguero, teacher and as the organiser of traditional style milongas.

Having a strong sense of tradition and respect for the codes for tango for around fifty years, means Sin Rumbo is popular with some of the stars of the tango world.  On the particular night that we attended, we were in the company of some great milongueros. Alberto Podestá was enjoying a soda while observing the dancing couples from his table. Osvaldo and Coca Cartery, famous milongueros and teachers to the teachers of tango, took to the floor often and provided  beautiful interpretations of the music. Natchaya Poberaj was enjoying her evening of dancing tango, smiling and approachable. She won the Salon Tango final of the Mundo Tango in 2006 with Fabián Peralta, whilst 7 months pregnant.

These dancers use a traditional style of tango.  There are several names used for traditional styles including tango salon and urquiza style.  They use an embrace that is closed but loose. The woman usually turns her head more towards the hands, and creates a slight v  between the two bodies of the couple. Her left shoulder is closer to his left shoulder than her right shoulder to his right shoulder. Coupled with a detachment between the upper torso and her hips, this figure allows the woman to complete movements such as ochos without needing to loosen the embrace. It is an embrace that embodies the sentiment of connection.

All these people have been names and youtube videos for me for so long, it was an experience to see them all in one room in such an environment.  The best part was the sense of family and community that saturated the milonga. Verbal acknowledgements and welcomes were extended to these celebrities, not because they are famous, but because for their role as a leaders in this community and the respect they have earnt for their dance.

The evening ended with the usual flurry of kisses and hugs farewelling our fellow dancers, leaving me with a sense of nostalgia and kinship.  All in my local neighbourhood. This is grassroots tango as its best.

Things to Know


Sin Rumbo

José P. Tamborini 6157, Villa Urquiza

10pm until 4am - table reservations are recommended but are only held until 11pm.

Website: http://elsinrumbo.com.ar/

Reservations and Information: 4574-0972 // 155-922-7922

How to get there

Villa Urquiza is a barrio (or neighbourhood) of Buenos Aires that is located to the northwest of the city. It is largely residential and streets are lined with large graceful old trees that provide much needed shade during the summer months.  It has a distinctly relaxed feel to it compared with the rush of the inner city, and this is reflected in its milongas as well. It is the home to several traditional tango salons including Club Sunderland and Sin Rumbo.

Located on the edge of the barrio at José P. Tamborini 6157, Villa Urquiza, Sin Rumbo can be difficult to get to with public transport but it is definitely worth the effort. Villa Urquiza is located at the end of the subte Linea B (Rojo). Linea B runs from the central city and intersects with other subte lines at Diagonal Norte (Obelisco).  From the station Los Incas, you can take several buses including 110, 111, 112, 127, 140 and 176, that will take you to near Sin Rumbo. You will need to walk several blocks depending on which line you take.  From the last subte station Las Rosas, you can take a taxi. Check www.comoviajo.com for details.

Since the subte closes around 11pm, you will need to take a taxi back to the city. As current taxi rates are increasing, this will cost you at least $90 pesos but this is subject to change. Please double check with your driver to ensure you know before hand what the cost will be.

The Antique Spirit of Tango in San Telmo



What could be more perfect than walking over cobbledstoned streets in the warm sunshine, warm sweet coffee in one hand, empanada in the other and being surrounded by the sounds of a market complete with live tango music? Everything about this atmosphere is addictive - the colours, the sights and the smells. Small antique coffee cups nestle amidst coloured glass bottles, rusting old tins mix with old brass door knobs and antique jewellery hang like beaded curtains from every nook and cranny.  

This is the San Telmo market - a pure treasure trove of delightful pieces of the past and handmade artesanal products San Telmo is the oldest barrio of Buenos Aires and its cobblestoned streets are ladened with antique stores and cafes, and every corner is haunted by the soul of tango. Its buildings have the spirit of Parisian memories attached to their street fronts which forms a nice juxtaposition against the recent and vibrant graffiti that has been left by its resident artists.  This barrio oozes bohemian charm, packed full of cafes, museums, tango history and book stores, all of which have the old world charm appeal.

Held in Plaza Dorrego every weekend (with Sunday the largest day), this huge street market is guaranteed to have something for everyone and tango is at the heart of it. Laid spread out in the middle of the plaza is a portable floor which is home to several tango street performers which are there every Sunday. Tango music blares from a set of small speakers, doing its best to compete with the noisy buzz of the crowd that gathers at the edge of the floor. Exhibitions are given throughout the afternoon so you can feel free to take a break by wandering around the stalls. If you show any interest at all, chances are that you might be picked up by another tanguero in the crowd and given the chance to dance in front of everyone.

The tango is not just limited to the main plaza Hidden down calle Humberto Primo, opposite the large church, the band El Afronte gathers every Sunday afternoon to entertain the market goers with dark and dramatic interpretations of many famous tangos. Not content to electrify any part of the music, this band drags a piano out onto the street to join the cello, three violins and four bandoneons. The band plays at a local San Telmo milonga on Monday and Wednesday nights and are well worth checking out as they are fresh off the back of a tour of Europe. The players are dramatic and serious to match the melodrama that tango encompasses.

Music keeps the market breathing all the way down Defensa. There are the traditional music performers, occasional stilt walkers, buskers with guitars and accordians, colourful brazilian drummers, plus acting characters including ´Caught in the Wind´guy and the Argentine Captain Jack Sparrow. Located just near the plaza is a living memory of Carlos Gardel. Complete with a fedora, this guy stands in a doorway singing out the passionate tangos of a bygone era, attracting many a tourist for a photo with him.

Lining the streets around Plaza Dorrego are small bars and coffee houses, some of which offer their patrons small and intimate tango exhibitions as well. My favourite haunts are on the second floor of the buildings, as their balconies offer a view over the plaza and it is easy to pass an afternoon in the sun with a wine and friends, watching both the market goers and the tango dancers. The many bars and cafes usually have a front of house person on the street who is more than willing to explain any tango exhibitions and music that they offer, so do not be afraid to ask.

As late afternoon falls and the stalls begin to pack up, the drumming starts. There are several groups that occasionally join together and create an atmostphere that has almost the entire crowd dancing. It´s a great way to warm up the muscles before the milonga in Plaza Dorrego starts. Surrounded by old buildings and dancing outside in the warmth of a summer Buenos Aires night is the perfect way to end an afternoon of vibrant colours, people, music and treasure hunting.

Things to Know

San Telmo Market is held every Sunday from 10am until 5pm. The main plaza houses the antiques stores and the other stalls run all the way up Calle Defensa until Plaza de Mayo. The street is closed to traffic and the stalls are numerous. You will need at least a couple of hours to enjoy the entire market.  Note, the antique stalls usually pack up first so head to that part of the market before walking down Defensa.

San Telmo can be reached by buses (4 - 9 - 10 - 17 - 20 - 22 - 24 - 29 - 33 - 54- 64 - 74 - 82 - 86 - 93 - 111 - 130 - 143 - 152) but the easiest route is to take the Subte on Linea C and get off at the station Independencia. Walk down Independencia (against the traffic) until you hit the Defensa, easily identified by the market stalls on the corner.

A Guide To Choosing A Tango Show in Buenos Aires

Photo credit Ornella M. on Flickr.com

Since Buenos Aires offers its tourists an abundance of everything tango, it can be a little overwhelming to sift through the myriad of tango shows on offer to find the one that will be the gem of your experience in this intoxicating city.  From the discerning milonguero to the budget conscious backpacker, there is a tango show for everyone - whether you are looking for a full evening experience including three course dinner and show or a show-only option for an injection of tango into your evening.

So, “which tango show should I choose?” you ask. You've read the online reviews extensively and have a storm cloud of possibilities whizzing around in your head. Well, we’ve done some leg-work (high heeled and all) to bring you a list of shows under umbrellas to give you some help in deciding what type of evening you’re looking for.  Note that some shows will come under various umbrellas, meaning they will satisfy an array of desires.

By Popular Demand
Tried and tested by many, these tango shows are long-standing favourites amongst the visitors to Buenos Aires.  Do not be put off by the extent of their popularity - these places have not become the fast food giants of tango shows. They have authentic charm and flawless shows and work hard to keep up their good reputation. The dancers and orchestras are talented and their performances impeccable every night. For those looking for something steeped with history, the Esquina Carlos Gardel tango show is held in the old theatre haunt of tango legend Carlos Gardel. If you’re staying in the heart of the popular old tango district San Telmo, El Viejo Almacen brings to life its small historic ballroom and La Ventana delights you in a warm 1940s vintage wine cellar ambience.

For an Intimate Experience
Who can’t help but fall for the romantic charm that Buenos Aires has and the sexy sensual tango is sure to make anyone swoon, making it the perfect night out for a date in this gorgeous city. For those looking for the romantic experience of the intimate ambience a smaller venue can give you, then look no further than the opulent and luscious settings of Gala Tango and Rojo Tango. Offering superb VIP packages in a cosy atmosphere where you can be close enough to see the sequins on the dancers’ costumes, these shows ensure an elegant and romantic evening for you and your partner with a fine dining experience. Those looking for romance and intimacy in a theatre setting, should head to Cafe de los Angelitos, whose refined baby blue and gold theatre makes for a charming evening at very affordable prices.

For the Dancer Within - a tango lesson
If you’re more of a hands on type traveler, you might be eager to dip your toes into the tango waters and try your hand at this dance of love. While you won’t be learning leg flicks and high boleos, many shows including La Ventana, Complejo Tango, Gala Tango and Piazzolla Tango offer a free tango lesson before the show, giving you a taster of this beautiful dance and the chance to also meet one or two of the performers who assist in these classes. While the one hour tango lessons are included in the dinner packages, they require reservation so make sure you request the tango lesson when making your purchase. 

The Traditionalist
For those looking for the historic ghosts of the traditional tango, look no further than El Querandi or El Viejo Almacen, both of whom pays tribute to the history of tango. These golden gems offer their guests a trip back down memory lane sticking to traditional music, compositions and ambience. For the musicians amongst you, the show Piazzolla Tango is dedicated to the 1950s music composed by Astor Piazzolla - a bandoneon player who brought tango to the orchestra scene - and whose music is known extensively throughout the world.

The Modern Twist
For those who are looking for something a bit more modern and contemporary, some shows are now embracing the ever-evolving branch of modern tango into their shows. With brighter lights and dynamic stage productions, these shows can offer an entertaining and spectacular show. Set in the heart of the glitzy suburb of Puerto Madero, Madero Tango offers a stunning view of the Rio De La Plata, reminding patrons of the humble seafaring immigrants who created the tango dance that is now danced in both historic and modern day Buenos Aires and the world. If you’re truly looking for something different, try Señor Tango - whose round stage and innovative lighting guarantees a spectacular show.

Tango and Folklore
The other child of Argentine music is folk music. It is to the campo (countryside) what tango is to the city. A dynamic and charming style, its rhythms are strong, its sentiments joyful and its sound is warm. Some shows offer an injection of this style to its patrons as a way of showing more of their country and its dance. It is not uncommon for tangueros to dance several of the folk dances (chacarera or zamba) at a milonga (dancehall) so its place within a tango show is not without reason.  The boleadoras set is not to be missed as a male dancer dressed as a gaucho (cowboy) uses two long ropes, each with a ball at the end, to accompany his zapateo (shoe tapping dance). It is dynamic, rhythmic and energetic. Sabor a Tango’s high quality folklore act comes recommended for those eager for a show with a bit more than tango, while La Ventana and El Viejo Almacen also include an Andean music and gauncho dance in their tango shows.

Budget Conscious Traveller
So you’ve made it to Buenos Aires but limited funds means you’re unsure whether a tango show is an option for you during your stay. Have no fear - there are tango shows that deliver a quality show for those with a smaller budget so you don’t have to miss out. So if you prefer something with a showcase note (Taconeando was founded by the 1920s Argentine star Beba Bidart) or related to tango music’s history (Esquina Homero Manzi pays homage to tango writer Homero Manzi), or something with sumptuous decor (Sabor a Tango is housed in Palacio Rossini which was home to the Opera Singers Guild), be sure to check out these budget-friendly options.

Upgrading to VIP
Everyone loves an upgrade, so what exactly is your VIP upgrade getting you? The options can include a guarantee of a private booth or a balcony seat on a higher floor (Piazzolla Tango, Esquina Carlos Gardel, Cafe de los Angelitos) or front row seating (Madero Tango, La Ventana, El Querandi, Complejo Tango) which gives you and your date privacy and a clearer view of those amazing dance moves. Upgrading to VIP also includes a more elaborate menu with more course options and finer wine choices to accompany your meal. It’s a little bit extra for better views and an upgraded menu which is sure to enhance your tango show experience.

Still want to read a little more about your options? Here are some happy Tangotix customers who enjoyed the shows so much that they wanted to share their experience on TripAdvisor. Click on the show you’ve chosen to read what they had to say about the show:

Rojo Tango
Esquina Carlos Gardel
La Ventana
Viejo Almacen

Matinee Milonga - an afternoon out at Confiteria Ideal

Photo copyright Rebecca Travaglia



It was one of those rare afternoons that we were actually awake for. Usually filled with café, medialunas and a siesta, afternoons were a bit of a no-man's-land for my tanguera friend and I as we recovered from the previous night's milonga or dilly dallied over whether to brave an evening class. This day however, we found ourselves underneath the mid afternoon sun navigating the treacherously thin footpaths of central city Buenos Aires on our way to a matinee milonga.



Whilst the word 'milonga' is synonymous with late nights under the watchful glow of orange street lamps, La Confiteria Ideal is one of the few matinee milongas (afternoon milongas) that offer something different to tango dancers and tourists alike. Located at Suipacha 380, the hidden gem started its life as a pastry and tea shop in 1912. The milonga itself wasn't established until the 1990s and the salon was declared a historical monument in 2003. It is one of the Cafe Notables of the city of Buenos Aires with the gorgeous French Fleur de Lys as its emblem.



The art deco style ballroom's faded grandure is alive with the ghosts of memories past - the untold stories and lives of those who have passed over the marble floor for over a century.  Making our way past the old cafe (complete with old glass display cabinets) and up the staircase, we found ourselves in a ballroom straight out of an old-time movie - with long dark columns lit up by French chandeliers and elaborate ceiling decorations. We busied ourselves with the comforting routine of ordering coffee and choosing a table - a process that took less than 2 minutes as we were part of only a sprinkling of patrons that had made it out this early. Drinking in the elegance of the place, I found myself reluctant to initially engage in the 'cabaceo', preferring instead to soak in the decor and atmosphere.



It turns out that the afternoon milongas can offer more comradeship and friendliness than the darker modern tango salons as the diffused afternoon sun means there is no hiding in the shadows.  Small conversations erupted between the little tables, over the small white cups of hot black coffee and laughter could be heard amongst the murmur of exchanging pleasantries.  My final dance that afternoon was with a very persistent (yet friendly) gentleman who had been trying for a chance to cabaceo me for nigh on an hour. As we made our way onto the dance floor, he warned me that he did not dance in the traditional way. "I move fast and dance quick. Preparate (prepare yourself)." Already a nervous dancer, this did little to settle the voice in my head that usually gives a nervous running commentary as I try my best to follow the leads of the person I dance with.



His lead was indeed quicker and more energetic than a more traditional approach - learning to read the nuances of this leader's particular style took the first two songs of the tanda (set of songs). He sang along as he "dah dah dah brrrr rump!" ed his way to the music. As the third and final dance of the tanda began, I thought I finally had his lead sorted ... until my tanguera friend decided to yell "ESA!" (that's it!) during a particularly tricky sequence. You'll hear "esa!" expressed as a form of appreciation or encouragement at performers who has just successfully navigated a difficult step. My tanguera friend had preempted my success and dissolved into giggles as, at the sound of her call, I clearly tripped over my foot and fumbled through the last 4 beats of the song with shoes and feet splayed out to keep me upright rather than follow the lead. "Que bueno! Muy bien, muy bien" (Well done! Very good, very good!) my dance partner praised me as we finished together, miraculously not having seen (or even apparently felt) the disastrous footwork I had just executed. Or perhaps he had and was praising me for not falling on my face or twisting my ankle. Either way, he seemed pleased and talked jovially as he escorted me back to my seat, back to my giggling friend and we hightailed it out of there before another cabaceo could be made.



Things You Need To Know:


La Confiteria Ideal is located at Suipacha 380. For more information about milongas or classes, head along to