LATA M Airlines flies daily between Sydney and Santiago via Auckland, with connections to Buenos Aires. The airline also operates direct flights between Sydney and Santiago four times a week with codeshare partner Qantas. 1800 126 038, latam.com
WHERE TO STAY
This former aristocratic home is now an 11-room hotel in the heart of fashionable Palermo Soho. Each room is themed for a famous local character, from tango maestro Carlos Gardel to cartoon heroine Mafalda. The ground-floor library, breakfast room and welcoming courtyard suggest in-house idling, but the siren call of Palermo shopping is hard to resist. Gurruchaga 1848, legadomitico.com
Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
This hotel is the ideal mix of old and new. Its 165 rooms are split between a 1934 Belle Époque palace and a contemporary, 15-storey tower, the two wings separated by private gardens. Interior furnishings marry Persian carpets and Poltrona Frau sofas with chandeliers and original artworks. An in-house vinoteca stocks more than 500 labels, most of them Argentine. Alvear Ave 1661, buenosaires.park.hyatt.com
Germán Martitegui is the Neil Perry of Buenos Aires. His pioneering restaurants - Casa Cruz, Olsen - helped define modern Argentine gastronomy and earned him fame on MasterChef. His latest, and possibly greatest, outing is Tegui, voted Argentina's top table in the 50 Best Restaurants awards. A graffitied wall in hip Palermo Hollywood conceals a chic interior, with the kitchen as "stage". The show - a 10-course tasting menu - changes weekly to spotlight local ingredients. Costa Rica 5852, tegui.com.ar
Gran Bar Danzón
Danzón's spirit never falters. It was one of the first places to do sushi and sashimi and it's still one of the finest practitioners of the art. The rest of the menu is broadly European (veal sweetbreads, duck confit) complemented by a cracking bodega and late-night disco dancing. Libertad 1161, granbardanzon.com.ar
Las Pizarras Bistro Las Pizarras is ideal when you want to be fed well without fuss. Chef Rodrigo Castilla does French cuisine with an Argentine accent, and the wine list impresses, too. Thames 2296, laspizarrasbistro.com
The famous Café Tortoni, long a favourite of artists, writers and musicians, is jealously protected as the oldest, most beautiful and most atmospheric café in Buenos Aires (cafetortoni.com.ar).
Enjoy cocktails among Corinthian columns at Milión, an aristocratic mansion in the city's north. Its three storeys of louche glamour comprise tapas bar, garden restaurant, cocktail bar and art gallery (milion.com.ar).
Seek out un-signposted La Casa del Señor Duncan in Almagro, just south of Palermo Soho. Ring the bell at 3832 Rivadavia Avenue to enter this "multi-space cultural bar" with entertainment to suit every mood - perhaps a pianist in one room, swing dancing in another, a jazz duo in a third.
Etiqueta Negra is Argentina's most elegant men's label (etiquetanegra.us); Felix is cooler and flogs cut-price fashions at its Palermo factory outlet (felixba.com.ar). Salmón Tienda and Autoría BsAs stock eclectic ranges of only-in-Buenos-Aires bagatelles (salmontienda. com, autoriabsas.com.ar).
The gap between rich and poor remains stark. Don't tempt fate by flaunting expensive jewellery or watches while out, and be alert when using late-model smartphones in public. Take only marked Radio Taxis from the street; all drivers and trips are monitored.
Shame to be so close and not visit Uruguay. Ferries (buquebus.com) cross the Plate River from Buenos Aires to UNESCO-sanctioned Colonia del Sacramento. If time allows, continue along the Atlantic coast to Jose Ignacio, the Hamptons of Latin America.