Buenos Aires

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Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital mixes European flavors with the flamboyant tastes of South America, including soccer, tango, and the world’s greatest steaks. It’s a heady mix, and it’s easy to see why Buenos Aires is the most visited city in South America.

Take a walk through the colonial streets of downtown Buenos Aires and you could be in urban Italy or France. It’s an eclectic combination of architectural styles, with grand old facades slowly fading and others lovingly restored. The city’s palpable sense of history and culture — the Old World in the New — has inspired the city’s literary core, producing writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Arlt, and a host of painters, sculptors, playwrights and filmmakers.

And then there’s the city’s undeniably flamboyant side, full of the Latin American love for life that embraces tango and romance, food and wine, and one of the world’s most passionate and hotly contested soccer derbies. When Boca Juniors plays arch rivals River Plate, not a soul in the city can ignore the battle between the two most historic soccer clubs.

Among the city’s urban sprawl are some 250 parks. Here, the city’s almost three million inhabitants — the Porteños, as they’re known — relax in the sunlight of humid summers and mild winters, eating ice cream and watching the world go by. The patrons of European-style cafes spill out onto the sidewalks, talking politics and discussing art. At night, hungry carnivores head to the city’s innumerable parrillas, or steakhouses. Here they dine on arguably the world’s finest steaks, with every cut you can imagine, each cooked to succulent perfection and served with deliciously herby chimichurri sauce.

After a few glasses of red Malbec or white Torrontés, the night beckons with tango clubs and discotecas. For a less energetic but more cerebral night out, Buenos Aires offers almost 300 theaters — more than any other city in the world — including the magnificent Teatro Colón.

Buenos Aires is a sensual yet cultured city, with a wealth of sights and smells, sounds and rhythms, food and drink — and a certain subtle, intangible something that makes the Argentine capital an unforgettable destination.

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