BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
Buenos Aires combines faded European grandeur with Latin passion. Sexy and alive, this beautiful city gets under your skin.
BA’s famous dance is possibly the city’s greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy strut that’s been described as ‘making love in the vertical position’. Folklore says it began in the bordellos of long-ago Buenos Aires, when men waiting for their ‘ladies’ passed time by dancing among themselves. Today, glamorized tango shows are supremely entertaining with their grand feats of athleticism. You’ll also find endless venues for perfecting your moves, from milongas (dance salons) to dance schools. Be aware that some people become addicted – and can spend a lifetime perfecting this sensual dance.
Steak, Wine & Ice Cream
BA’s food scene is increasingly dynamic, but for many travelers it’s the city’s carnivorous pleasures that shine. Satisfying a craving for juicy steaks isn’t hard to do in the land that has perfected grilling wonderfully flavorful sides of beef, washed down with a generous glass of malbec or bonarda. Parrillas (steakhouses) sit on practically every corner and will offer up myriad cuts, from bife de chorizo(sirloin) to vacio (flank steak) to ojo de bife (rib eye). But leave room for ice cream, if you can – a late-night cone of dulce de leche(caramel) helado can’t be topped.
Take a disco nap, down some coffee and be prepared to stay up all night – this city doesn’t sleep. Restaurants get going at 9pm, bars at midnight and clubs at 2am at the earliest; serious clubbers don’t show up until 4am. And it’s not just the young folk who head out on the town in this city; BA’s diverse range of bars, clubs and live-music venues offers something for everyone, from DJs spinning electronica to live jazz sets. Just remember you’ll be doing it all very late.
Art & Architecture
Look closely: this city is beautiful. Sure, it might look like a concrete jungle from certain angles, but stroll through the streets, paying attention to the magnificent architecture around you, and you’ll soon be won over. Grand French- and Italian-style palaces grab the limelight, but you’ll see interesting architectural details in the buildings of even low-key, local barrios. These days the beauty of these traditional neighborhoods is further enhanced by colorful murals painted by artists involved in the city’s vibrant street-art scene. For these talented individuals, the city is their canvas.
It’s apparent why Argentina has long held travelers in awe: tango, beef, gauchos, fútbol, Patagonia, the Andes. The classics alone make a formidable wanderlust cocktail.
From mighty Iguazú Falls in the subtropical north to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Glaciar Perito Moreno in the south, Argentina is a vast natural wonderland. The country boasts some of the Andes’ highest peaks. It’s home to rich wetlands that rival Brazil’s famous Pantanal, mountains painted in rustic colors, deserts dotted with cacti, massive ice fields and arid steppes in Patagonia, cool lichen-clad Valdivian forests, Andean salt flats, a spectacular Lake District, penguins, flamingos, capybaras and more. All are stunning sights and adventures just waiting to be experienced.
Tango is possibly Argentina’s greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy dance that’s been described as ‘making love in the vertical position.’ And what about fútbol (soccer)? Argentines are passionately devoted to this sport and, if you’re a fan, experiencing a live match should definitely be on your itinerary. Add a distinctive Argentine take on literature, cinema, music and arts, and you have a rich, edgy culture – part Latin American and part European – that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train. Outside the taxi window, a blurred mosaic of a modern metropolis whizzes by, and then the street life appears – the cafes, the purple jacaranda flowers draped over the sidewalks (in spring!), and porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) in stylish clothing, walking purposefully past handsome early-20th-century stone facades. And it’s not just Buenos Aires that’s a stunner – Córdoba, Salta, Mendoza and Bariloche each have their unique personalities and unforgettable attractions, so don’t miss them.
Food & Drink
Satisfying that carnal craving for juicy steaks isn’t hard to do in the land that has perfected grilling wonderfully flavorful sides of beef. Parrillas (steak restaurants) are everywhere and will offer up any cut you can imagine. And if you’re a fan of pizza and pasta, these Italian staples are ubiquitous as well. But there’s more – in Buenos Aires you can experience a huge variety of ethnic cuisine, from Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern to Scandinavian. Down it all with that famous Argentine wine, and you’ll be struggling to maintain your waistline.