Buenos Aires, Argentina, the country’s capital and largest city, is often described as “The Paris of South America.” Offering elegant architecture, exquisite cuisine, a legendary frenzied nightlife and fashionable shopping in designer boutiques, this is a South American city with a genuine European flavor. Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan metropolis with both slick neighborhoods and equally downtrodden areas -- but that’s part of its appeal. It’s an elegant, seductive place with a ragged edge, laced with old-world languor and full of contemporary attitude.
Classic Buenos Aires features old-world cafés, colonial architecture, fun outdoor markets and diverse communities. Visitors looking for an urban adventure will find it all -- and then some -- in Buenos Aires, whether shopping for affordable designer clothes and enjoying some of the world’s best steaks during the day, or sampling the scintillating nightlife and maybe even learning how to dance the sexy tango in the evening.
With the increase in the number of visitors to Buenos Aires and its favorable climate, there are more and more possibilities and activities to suit every tourist on every budget, including sporting events, tango tours, cultural tours, architectural tours, quaint cafes, museums, and pub crawls in the popular Palermo and San Telmo neighborhoods.
Palermo, located in the northeast section of Buenos Aires, is the city’s largest neighborhood, and offers tree-lined streets and intersections packed with the trendiest restaurants, bars and boutiques. San Telmo, in the southern part of the city, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and offers a step back in history, with its cobblestoned streets and buildings from the colonial era. San Telmo features churches, museums, antique shops and a weekend Antique Fair in historic Dorrego Square, which also includes tango performances.
The cuisine of Argentina is uniquely distinctive in South America because of the strong influence of Spanish, Italian, French and other European cuisines rather than other Latin American cuisines. Another determining factor is that the country is one of the world's major food producers. It is a major producer of meat (especially beef), wheat, corn, milk, beans and, since the 1970s, soybeans. Given the country's vast production of beef, red meat is an especially common part of the Argentine diet, and is featured prominently on most restaurant menus. And considering the large wheat production in Argentina, white bread is also popular, as is Argentine pizza.
For dining out, La Cabrera Norte in Buenos Aires serves fantastic steaks and side dishes, and attracts a primarily tourist clientele. Another great steakhouse in Buenos Aires is El Establo Parrilla. For fresh seafood, including fantastic grilled squid, try Oviedo. For authentic Argentine pizza, don’t miss El Cuartito. And save room for dessert. Persicco, with locations throughout the city, blends the gelato techniques of Italians with the excellent dairy product from Argentina to create a truly memorable treat.
Visitors to Argentina will likely fly into Ministro Pistarini International Airport, about 15 miles from Buenos Aires, which serves most major air carriers. Taxis and buses are readily available to take you into the city. Since the city has become a top tourist destination, the cost of internal flights has drastically dropped in recent years, and tourists can now enjoy the more remote, northern areas of Argentina for a good price.
For visitors, Buenos Aires is extremely accessible, not only because of the integrated and modern transport system (metro, train and buses), but also because tour operators have caught onto the tourist’s desire to see the city in different mediums, including getting around with a downloaded MP3 audio guide, on an organized walking or bike tour, or on a sightseeing bus.
Buenos Aires’ climate is generally pleasant, with an annual rainfall of about 35 inches spread evenly throughout the year. The changeable spring, hot and humid summer and mild fall resemble the seasons in New York City, but winter temperatures are moderated by the South Atlantic and more comparable to winters in Los Angeles, Sydney or Cape Town.
In terms of weather, spring (September to November) and fall (March to May) are the best seasons to visit Buenos Aires. Also, most festivals take place during these months, as well as many sporting events. Winter can be cold but not freezing, and a fine time to visit the city’s many theaters, museums and cafés.
Many tourists come during the late spring and summer (November to March), though the hottest months of January and February are usually unpleasantly humid and some tourist locations, including museums and entertainment venues, close down in the capital during these months. But no matter what time of the year you visit, Buenos Aires will have something exciting to offer.