As the South American capital with the most cosmopolitan credentials, Buenos Aires - also known as Capital Federal or simply BA - is a city gifted in the art of seduction. Suffused with European flavour, but with a strong Latino spirit, it’s both refined yet chaotic, self-confident but unpredictable, where evocative tango rhythms fill crumbling colonial plazas and cutting-edge cultural centres integrate with an increasingly diverse food scene and a legendary nightlife that keeps bouncing until dawn.
Spread out on the southwest banks of the River Plate, the city exists as a series of stand-alone neighbourhoods, or barrios, each with its own distinct charm. There’s bohemian San Telmo, known for its historic streets and bustling antiques market, or working-class La Boca, home to colourful houses and Argentina’s beloved football club. The sparklingly new dockland of Puerto Madero feels far-removed from the old-world elegance of Recoleta or the leafy boulevards of Palermo, where a collection of ultra-hip cafes, boutiques and bars draw in a young, carefree crowd.
Despite its sprawling size, the city is easy to navigate on the Subte underground system, although it can be equally enjoyable to explore the big colonial avenues on foot. Visitors with only a few days can busy about ticking off a long list of must-sees, from photo stops at Plaza de Mayo to eyeballing the towering tombs of Recoleta Cemetery. Yet BA is also a remarkably liveable city, and those with more time can get under its skin by sipping mate in atmospheric cafes, indulging in decadently long asados (traditional barbecues) or interacting with the gregarious Porteños, as the local residents are known.
Whatever side of Buenos Aires appeals, come with an open mind and a sense of adventure and you’ll quickly fall under this city’s spell.