First-time visitors tend to associate Buenos Aires with tango, steak, and wine—that trifecta of local passions—but the Argentine capital’s French buildings, Italian food, and Spanish nightlife also tell the story of a city with one foot in Latin America and the other in Europe. Beyond the “Paris-of-South-America” clichés, this is a city of world-class art, exceptional cuisine, and internationally acclaimed design. After a 2001 crisis battered the nation’s economy and the value of its currency, B.A. became one of the world’s few high-gloss/low-cost travel destinations; the resulting influx of visitors and expats transformed the city, in some ways arguably saving it from an even worse downturn. In recent months, however, acute inflation has confounded the country’s once-robust recovery. The days of Buenos Aires as a bastion of bargains have passed—at least for now—yet its physical and cultural charms have never been more evident.
Wandering among the Art Deco and Art Nouveau mausoleums that fill the stunning Recoleta Cemetery—especially in the early morning (it opens at 7 a.m.), when no one’s there except for the cats and the women who feed them.
A late-afternoon stroll through Palermo Chico, the exclusive neighborhood of French-style mansions that house embassies, TV celebrities, and the merely wealthy. Finish with a stop at the Floralis Genérica, a giant metal flower sculpture in the United Nations Plaza that opens and closes with the sun.
Staying up late. Dinner starts at 9:30 p.m. at the earliest, and nightlife begins at midnight. You’ll have a lot more fun if you pretend you’re a Porteño (as locals are known) for at least one evening.