If any city represents South America’s rise as the world’s most vibrant continent, Buenos Aires is it. A passionate Latin American capital with all the airs and graces of a European city, BA is a fusion of street corner tango and Spanish colonial architecture, scandalously colossal steaks and stunning Mendoza Malbecs.
From colourful La Boca to the upscale sweep of Recoleta, Argentina’s largest city is a concoction of contrasts. Spend the day exploring world-class art galleries, lounging in perfectly manicured parks and sipping Malbec in pretty squares, before taking a siesta and seeing the whole place come alive after the sun goes down.
Buenos Aires’ nightlife is legendary. The city moves to the rhythm of the tango, with milongas (tango clubs) bustling well into the small hours. It’s seemingly fuelled by succulent, oversized steaks, that come fresh from the surrounding estancias (ranches) and go straight onto one of BA’s countless, sizzling parrillas (grills). These restaurants serve up succulent meat, better than you’ve ever tasted before, all washed down with gorgeous plonk from the country’s peerless vineyards.
And all that’s before you’ve even peered up at the architecture. Buenos Aires’ buildings are beautiful, sometimes crumbling, and always worth a closer look. The majestic Plaza de Mayo, with the presidential offices and surrounding churches will leave you wowed, as will a stroll down Avenida Cordoba and Avenida de 9 Julio, especially if you stumble upon the stunning Teatro Colon. Even BA’s graveyards are architectural marvels: the Recoleta Cemetery a masterpiece of towering tombstones and monuments to the city’s dearly departed.
Shoppers will find themselves in paradise in the swanky, hip area of Palermo, where media types have helped turn the streets into their own take on East London and the sharper parts of Brooklyn. Think unique boutiques, excellent record stores and sleek coffee shops and you get the idea. It’s here where you’ll also find some of the city’s best boutique hotels too, with design-led rooms and staff armed with tips on the very latest places to eat and drink.
Being the home of Argentina’s greatest novelist and poet, Jorge Luis Borges, culture is never that far away either. The excellent Museo de Arte Latin Americano De Buenos Aires, or MALBA as it’s known, has an amazing collection of 20th-century art from the continent’s finest artists, including Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo. Just up the road you’ll find the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, chock full of works by European masters and the first Argentine immigrants. If that’s not enough, the Borges Cultural Centre plays home to an ever-changing roster of live events and art that’ll challenge even the most fanatical culture vulture.
But perhaps the best thing about Buenos Aires is the locals or porteños as they’re known. The people of this thrumming metropolis add to the bustle and are always willing to point you in the right direction of a great new bar or toward an off the beaten track experience. Their insider knowledge and Buenos Aires’ heady mix of European and Latin cultures make this one of the most exciting places to be on the planet right now. Pack your dancing shoes and get ready for an adventure like no other.