I went on the tour here at the end of December and it was a little disappointing. For some reason, I was thinking there were murals of Dante's Divine Comedy. Instead, the building design was inspired by Dante's concept of Hell, purgatory, and paradise. The tour was interesting, but too long, especially when the most impressive architecture is found on the public ground floor.
The lobby floor, with its vaulted ceiling and ornate, gothic carvings, is worth a stop. Unfortunately, tall vendor kiosks obscure the view of the hall and walls. The tour guide explained the history of the building, the significance of the carvings, the designs in the floor, and the eagle sculpture.
The tour then continued to the bland "purgatory" several floors above, the highlight being the opening on the 4th floor that looks down on the lobby floor. Several patterns that coincide with Dante's nine circles of hell are explained. The tour then moves on to a few plain, white, sterile hallways. It is at this point that my attention started to wane. The rest of the tour just dragged. It felt like they were trying to make an hour tour out of 30 minutes of material.
The tour finally arrived up in "paradise", the top circle with small viewing windows. The view of the Congress building and plaza was nice. A narrow, tight spiral staircase leads up to a glass-enclosed space above. One can barely stand upright in this space and the glass was dirty, so I wasn't really impressed. The tour guide had to divide the troop into small groups to take turns climbing up to the tiny viewing area. We were the last ones to go up there and were given a few seconds to look. Literally.
After the less-than-impressive view, my friend and I were ready to leave, and repeatedly tried to hand in our tour badge necklaces to the tour guide, but he kept telling us we needed to go to the cafe to get a free lemonade and validation stamp on our tour ticket, neither of which interested us.
We had already seen the cafe before the tour and knew it was small and cramped, with about 6 tables. We had arrived too early for the tour and thought we'd get a coffee in the cafe while we waited. Nope. We waited for about 7 minutes for one of the three waitresses to address us. Two of them were chatting with customers and were close enough to touch. Not one acknowledged us, let alone said a word to us. We speak Spanish, so it wasn't a language issue. So we turned and rode the elevator back down to the lobby. It wasn't a huge deal, but it left us with no desire to revisit Rude Cafe after the tour.
There's another cafe in the basement. We went down there after the failed coffee mission. This cafe was small and not particularly noteworthy, but would have sufficed for a simple cup of coffee, but I abandoned the mission because I was delightfully distracted by the displays of tango dresses throughout the floor.
There is a free exhibition with photos of the dancers who had worn the dresses and a few video clips of performances. There were more than 20 dresses and about 5 or 6 male costumes on display. No one was visiting here even though it was crowded and noisy on the lobby floor above. I think I enjoyed this display more than the tour...
Don't get me wrong. The tour wasn't terrible. It was interesting. I just thought they eeked it out unnecessarily, probably in an effort to justify the pricey ticket. Do NOT pay $55 for this tour when you can buy it at the ticket booth or online through GetYourGuide for $17.
In retrospect, I think I would've been happier just wandering the basement exhibition and then touring the public lobby on my own, reading about the building and architecture online.
Hope that helps. Enjoy Buenos Aires!
*If you do decide to take a tour, buy your tickets ahead of time. They were already sold out for the day when we arrived (with our prepurchased vouchers).
*If you purchase tickets online, you will still need to wait in a 10-15 min line at the kiosk to exchange your vouchers for tickets.
*There are nice restrooms in the basement.