Buenos Aires in the summer is hot. A few years ago, someone somewhere took their giant cigarette and burned a hole right through the ozone layer above the city, creating saunas out of any homes lacking AC and forcing Argentines to develop a system for having a constant supply of ice to cool water when the cold tap runs hot (note the buckets of ice in freezers decanted from the ice trays). Most of the summer is spent sweating it out on the sidewalks, wishing for a pool but having to make do with a pelopincho or the brown murk of the water in Tigre. But it needn’t be so. If you’re not lucky enough to have a swanky pad in Palermo with a pool, check out our list of porteño piletas guaranteed to make you drop a few grados.
Argentines are prepared for the excessive summer heat, and as such Buenos Aires caters for the masses wanting to get their splash on in spades. The city is littered with public parks that are home to a smattering of public pools. This is a great option for people with kids, as these swimming complexes are family friendly.
The giant pool at Parque Norte; photo courtesy of Expanish.
Parque Norte in Belgrano is one of the most popular public pools, and as such is probably better visited on a weekday when it is less crowded. Composed of 3 huge swimming pools (each one is over 4500m2), there is also a separate pool for children. If you are looking for a little more seclusion, you can pay extra for entrance to the private pool, which also has poolside service.
Parque Sarmiento in Saavedra combines swimming with a great family day out, as the three-pool complex is situated in a vast expanse of green space which also boasts 11 football pitches, 12 tennis courts and a skate park.
Parque Manuel Belgrano is popular because of its location in the Bosques de Palermo, and also offers more than just a swimming pool, being surrounded by children’s games and additional sports facilities.
All three public pool complexes have amenities for picnics and parillas. In summer, these parks are open to the public and you can pay a day rate to gain entry to the pools, but check the websites for prices and details as they vary depending on inflation and dates of feriados.
Hotels and members clubs
Why slum it with the hoi polloi at a public pool when you can rub shoulders with the VIPS in the pools offered by hotels, spas and members clubs. While you will definitely have to pay for the privilege of attending these urban fish tanks, you’re less likely to be part of a human soup as they are usually quieter than the public pools. Expect a clientele of dollar-earning ex-pats, as Argentines would rather hold onto their pesos than blow them hob-nobbing with foreigners.
The poolside scene at Oasis Clubhouse; photo by Sorcha O’Higgins.
Oasis Clubhouse in Palermo Soho is a favourite of Buenos Aires’ hipsters. Oasis is a private members’ club that doubles as a workspace for the city’s entrepreneurs, so people will flit between their MacBooks and poolside cocktails from about 12pm until the sun sets. The daily pass was abolished last year, but monthly passes are still available, if your wallet can stretch to it. Email [email protected] for details.
The Philippe Starck-designed Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero is the pinnacle of excess at the city’s regenerated port. The go-to joint for celebrities visiting BsAs, the swimming pool is adorned with an OTT bejewelled crown. If you fancy yourself as a mover and shaker who likes to see and be seen, this is the place for you. And who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber lounging poolside. The best way to avail of the Faena’s pool is to grab a drink from the hotel’s Poolbar.
The glamorous rooftop pool at The PanAmericano Hotel; photo by Jocelyn Mandryk.
The views at The PanAmericano Hotel are unrivalled, overlooking the Obelsico on Av. 9 de Julio, so you can see the chaos of the city pass by below as you feel super smug and relaxed on your poolside pedestal. Full-day and half-day (4 hours) passes are available and spa treatments can be bought separately if all the chilling gets a little too much.
Porteños are an active bunch and the city is inundated with gyms, yoga studios, football pitches and Crossfit centres. And for those of us whose body is a temple, stewing in the heat by the pool just doesn’t cut it. Luckily, there are a few sports centres with pools that are specifically designated for fitness, so you can pump out those laps to your heart’s content. A medical certificate is required for access to most athletics clubs, consult your doctor before going.
Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima is a recreational centre offering swimming, football, hockey, rugby, tennis and much more. It has a great outdoor pool located in the leafy environs of the Bosques de Palermo and overlooked by the train tracks. The swimming lanes are marked and classes are available for all levels from Monday to Friday. Email so[email protected] for more information on how to become a member.
Instituto de Natacion y Deportes is for hardcore swimmers and operates not just as a facilitiy for people looking to practice the sport, but also trains and certifies swimming professionals, whether they be instructors or sportsmen. The centre also serves as a clinic for water-based therapy and rehabilitation. Located in Palermo Hollywood, contact them from this page for details on day passes and memberships.
Ain’t no party like a BA pool party! If you like to sip beers in the sun and get amongst it with the beautiful peeps of Buenos Aires, then pool parties are the thing for you. Hitting a pool party is also a great way to get behind closed doors of the beautiful mansions that are hidden away behind the faceless facades of BsAs, as they are often held in private houses rented especially for the event.
A pool party held by Frameless Events; photo by Ignacio Bidart.
Frameless Events has held pool parties in a rambling old pad in San Telmo, but for those who refuse to leave Palermo, at the end of the summer the party will be coming to you, with a Palermo pileta being the venue of choice.
La Casona is a shared house in Boedo that opens its doors to those seeking some back garden fun, often hosting full-on ragers until the wee hours.
And finally, The Garden Events are known more for their music events than their pool parties, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page for updates about when these are being held, as they don’t get much better than this.
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