Buenos Aires is a pulsating, passionate, cosmopolitan city. The combination of rich architectural and cultural heritage, modern creative energy, electric nightlife, unique traditions, a vibrant arts scene, extensive parks, and warm, friendly hosts makes it one of the world’s most exciting capitals.
There are dozens of reasons to visit, hence why the city has repeatedly been voted the best in Latin America by users of TripAdvisor, but here are just ten of the big ones.
Sensual, nostalgic, and fiendishly difficult to learn, tango emerged in the city's portside neighbourhoods in the mid-19th century and has since conquered the world. Today, Buenos Aires is a place of pilgrimage for tango dancers from all over, and the dance is still very much alive - danced by the young and young-at-heart well into the early hours every night of the week. As well as witnessing traditional social dancing and learning some steps at a milonga, you can treat yourself to sumptuous dinner-shows with spectacularly choreographed performances, and see live orchestras playing everywhere from cosy neighbourhood bars to grand symphony halls.
Buenos Aires is a city that lives and breathes football (soccer), and the passion can be felt in the stadiums, the neighbourhood cafes and the goal celebrations of a local amateur team. The atmosphere at the city's stadiums has to be experienced to be believed, and the Boca vs River derby has been described as the most intense sporting event in the world. The city also boasts the world's best polo, with the glamorous Argentine Open considered the greatest club tournament going.
Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, famous for its phenomenal nightlife, which ranges from traditional neighbourhood taverns to award-winning cocktail bars, big clubs, hidden gig venues, and underground nightspots catering to every niche. The city's incredible openness and diversity also make it the top destination in Latin America for LGBT visitors. Just be prepared to stay out late! We eat late, party late and sleep late, if at all!
The city's cosmopolitan, multicultural identity was forged in a melting pot of cultures, from native American and colonial Spanish roots, to the influences of immigration from Italy, France, Great Britain, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. You'll see this eclectic mix of influences in the city's architecture, food and in the character of its people. And while Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city always looking towards the latest trends, we also have passionate pride for our history and tradition. Feel the nostalgia in the cobbled streets of neighbourhoods like San Telmo, visit old cafes where poets used to gather, witness traditional gaucho displays of horsemanship and folk dancing at the Feria de Mataderos, and explore the political history of the Plaza de Mayo, where huge crowds turned out to see Eva Perón speak.
Designated Ibero-American capital of Gastronomic Culture 2017, the city boasts outstanding culinary options, from elegant 19th and early 20th century “bares notables” to some of Latin America’s most acclaimed contemporary restaurants and bars. Dining is important in Buenos Aires, and you can enjoy the world's best steaks, Argentina's famous malbec wines, and hearty Andean fare, plus there's pizza, pasta and ice cream on every corner thanks to the city's Italian heritage. Buenos Aires boasts several restaurants recognised in Latin America’s 50 Best. Local treats to look out for include the traditional infusion mate and addictive alfajores - chocolate-covered double-deck cookies filled with caramel-like dulce de leche.
Buenos Aires is fortunate to have a pleasant climate and many expansive green spaces, full of flora and fauna. From the 350-hectare Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve - one of the world's most important urban nature reserves - to the popular Tres de Febrero park - the place to relax and unwind at the weekend, there are plenty of spaces to enjoy the sunshine, walk, run and watch the world go by. The city also has a free 24-hour public bike share system and an extensive network of cycle lanes, making cycling a fun way to see the city, while the many pedestrianised streets in the centre mean that walking is also a pleasure.
Long seen as Latin America's capital of culture, Buenos Aires has almost 300 theatres, 380 bookstores and 160 museums, and some of them will take your breath away. The Teatro Colón is one of the world's best opera houses, with outstanding acoustics and beautiful interiors, the Ateneo Grand Spendid is considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, and you'll find creative, artistic expression not only in the many galleries and cultural centres, but in the streets themselves. The city has its own traditional form of folk art known as fileteado, recognised as cultural heritage by UNESCO, and you can find incredible street art on every corner (pay a visit to the incredible 2000m² mural El regreso de Quinquela in Barracas).
Buenos Aires leads the way in Latin American fashion and design, and is a fantastic city when it comes to shopping for unique gifts or new styles from independent designers. With everything from modern malls stocking local and international brands to historic markets and fairs, the city has something for every taste, but perhaps the biggest stars are the top-quality locally produced leather goods and the incredible antiques and native handicrafts you can pick up at the city's markets and fairs.
Buenos Aires is the place to connect with the life and work of Pope Francis, who was born and raised in the city. You can visit his childhood home and the schools he attended in the neighbourhood of Flores, the prison where he worked in Villa Soldati, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, where for 20 years he led mass as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. There's a free Pope Francis bus tour that visits many of his old haunts. Buenos Aires is also home to Tierra Santa - the world's first religious theme park!
Perhaps the biggest attraction of Buenos Aires is the city's people. No matter how long you stay, you're bound to make friends and feel at home. Porteños, as the city's residents are called, are warm, friendly and very affectionate. They greet with a hug and a kiss, and talk for hours over a dinner or a drink. Expect to be engaged in conversations on all topics, to be invited to try mate, the local infusion and a social ritual in itself, to receive help whenever you need it, and to be made to feel welcome at all times.