The curious case of Buenos Aires; one of South America’s – and indeed the world’s – most vibrant and exciting cities, it throbs with activity across an enormous 78 square miles, all the while moving at something of a relaxed pace.
The city’s seductive combination of neoclassical architecture, cafe culture, nightlife and world-class restaurants has enough to do to keep you busy for months. If you haven’t got that kind of time, focus on the city’s incredible cultural resources during the day, taking in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Japanese Gardens, and the stunning 19th century cafes.
At night, do as the porteños (locals) do and hit the town. Dine on grass-fed beef at a parilla (barbecue) restaurant, sample the incredible grape beverages of Argentina at a lively lounge, and dance until the sun comes up at one of the city’s nightlife venues.
In addition to its steakhouses and barbecue joints, Buenos Aires has a flourishing culinary scene that offers plenty of other choices. Cheap eats in cafeterias, delectable pastries and strong espressos in coffee shops, or delicate fusion dishes based mostly on fruit and veggies – take your pick. The profusion of cafes and lounges makes this a fantastic city to sightsee in, as you can break up your day with lots of delicious stops that will leave you feeling refreshed and satiated.
Working off all that food is easy – try taking a tango class, or just joining in at a local tango club. If you're feeling more adventurous, take a polo lesson, and test your mettle at a sport that Argentineans love almost as much as football. More sedentary activities, from theatre to live music to dance performances, are available everywhere – Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city and its inhabitants demand sophisticated cultural fare.
But whatever you do, take time to simply wander the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, exploring the traditional, the new, and everything in between. Among them, Palermo, the trendy neighbourhood du jour, is like a city within a city, large enough to have distinct subdivisions like Palermo Viejo, Palermo Hollywood, and Palermo Soho.
Argentina’s popularity with visitors, especially since inflation has driven down costs, is escalating on an almost daily basis. Happily, this means that the range of accommodation on offer is ever increasing, and that you’re virtually guaranteed to find something in your price range. (Do book ahead of time in popular seasons, though.)
The best hotels in Buenos Aires are the small, boutique numbers with a healthy dose of character and a good amount of luxury, although the options for low-budget rooms are also plentiful, and the highest-end choices are the equivalent of anything you’d find in New York or London.