You may have heard about the small matter of a World Cup taking place in Brazil, the first time it has been held in South America since Argentina won the trophy on home soil back in 1978.
Brazil’s collective consciousness remains traumatized by the last time it staged the competition, in 1950, when plucky Uruguay beat the hosts in the final. That game is as painfully remembered as any of Brazil’s five subsequent victories are gloriously celebrated, and the dread of a repeat lurks in the mind of an entire nation. Should Argentina triumph in the back yard of their greatest rivals, expect the space time continuum to collapse. You could safely predict Buenos Aires to be a bit noisier for the next, oh, billion years or so.
So if you happen to be in town during the greatest show on earth, where are the best spots to soak up the World Cup atmosphere? Well, for any game involving Argentina, your best bet is to open your door, step through it and go to the first place you see, as the entire nation goes into shutdown and the streets resemble those deserted city scenes from zombie movies. The inevitable Argentinean glory sends delirious waves of humanity to the Obelisco and a night of revelry. For a lot of people, this is the essence of being in a foreign land, sharing those intimate experiences with the locals, although it’s also true that being jostled by a hundred thousand jubilant football fans and getting soaked head-to-toe in Quilmes is not to everyone’s taste.
Either way, over the next few weeks you won’t be able to escape the World Cup. And why would you want to? Here’s a lowdown on some of the best spots in Buenos Aires to catch the games.
If you’re a people person, there’s no better spot to watch the games than amid the multitudes at the giant screens the city will be erecting in Plaza San Martín in Retiro and Parque Centenario in Caballito. Similar ‘fan-zones’ were very popular during the 2010 World Cup and this year, in addition to the actual matches, there will be other activities and events, as well as appearances from ex-players. Will Maradona turn up puffing on a fat Havana? We can but hope. While a fun experience, this government-backed exercise in popular culture is not exactly the most authentic, bonaerense, way of watching games. But the screens offer something different, and on a crisp sunny day are surely preferable to burying yourself in a dark hovel somewhere (as long as there’s cold beer involved). Open from 11am each day.
The old town is crammed with bars and cafes, all of which will be showing games. One of the most popular spots is Gibraltar (Peru 895), a traditional English pub that always attracts a big crowd. Popular with both foreigners and Argentineans, this is football in its natural habitat, standing up, pint in hand, and surrounded by cursing, sunburned Englishmen (yes, even in winter). It’s not the largest space so it’s best to get there early. A few blocks north, Molly Malone’s (Peru 253) is another traditional pub which fills up quick, with plentiful screens and World Cup drinks promotions.
Poland, sadly, didn’t qualify for Brazil 2014, which makes Krakow (Venezuela 474) a good choice for the neutral, away from the presence of the typical wide-eyed degenerate football fan. The long bar is stocked with an extensive range of cocktails and international beers to wash down the Polish, Spanish and Argentinean bar food. Another atmospheric choice, you should reserve if you’re fussy about sitting down.
But, of course, this is Buenos Aires, so it can’t all just be foreign-style bars. Bar Federal (Carlos Calvo 599), one of the most distinguished San Telmo institutions and timeless interior, will be showing games on the big screen. Definitely a good option if you like watching games in more refined surroundings.
La Cigale (25 de Mayo 597) is another well-known Buenos Aires bar that will be showing the whole World Cup schedule. Tuesdays are French nights (the co-owner is French), so any games involving les bleus could be fun here. It stays open late as well, excellent for celebrating or drowning the sorrows.
There are several places in Palermo that are popular for sports events. Sugar (Costa Rica 4619) is one such bar, with three giant screens and hoards of international punters. Any game involving Brazil, England, the USA, Germany or Spain will pack the place out, as will happy hour until midnight. It’ll undoubtedly be one of the liveliest spots in town which, depending on your point of view, can be a good thing or a bad thing.
But if it’s an Argentina game, you might want to check out La Dorita (Humboldt 1905), which absolutely overflows with locals any time la selección are playing. Other games will be showing as well, but if possible swing by (early!) for the national team, and make sure you sample the parrillawhile watching Messi rain hellfire on some luckless opponent.
Catering towards young Argentineans and foreign backpackers, El Alamo (Uruguay 1175) is a US-style bar, exceedingly popular for sports events and late-night partying. If you’re under the age of 25 and enjoy wearing flip-flops around the city no matter the season, you’ll get on well here. If that’s not you, then you’ll probably recoil like a snail from a salted margarita.
As well as being a prime sports-watching venue, Casa Bar (Rodriquez Pena 1150) offers drinks promos and free beer for ladies after midnight. Um, not sure about the ethical stance behind that (drunk women equals lots of male customers??) but there’s no denying that as a business ploy it seems to work. Packed out most nights and another venue which will be showing all games.
One of the city’s best-known football bars is Locos x el Fútbol (Av. Las Heras 2101), which gets incredibly busy. You can always arrive early to grab a table but you’ll likely to then face the prospect of some ogre positioning himself directly in front of you just as the game begins. The beer (draft Budweiser) is also a no-no. We’d recommend elsewhere.
If you are interested in catching a live soccer game in Buenos Aires we provide group outings to the larger club matches between for the Inicial tournament (August to December) and Final tournament (February to June).