Often called the "Paris of South America," Buenos Aires certainly has a European flair. Strolling streets where the architecture is a mix of Colonial, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic and French Bourbon style, or attending an opera at the ornately adorned Teatro ColÃ³n, you could almost be forgiven for imagining that you are actually in Paris. But the illusion only lasts a moment; though outward appearances suggest Europe, the culture here is decidedly Latin American.
Beneath the stately stone buildings from another era, modern porteÃ±os - or people of the port, as the locals call themselves - live life with a passion and perseverance that belies the economic struggles faced by the country in the last few decades. While the economic collapse of 2001 meant a long road to recovery for the people of Argentina, it's also meant low prices for those visiting from abroad. While the days of shockingly cheap Argentine steaks are over, the country is still a bargain. Trendy design hotels in Buenos Aires, particularly in the upscale neighbourhoods of Recoleta and Palermo, are available for much less than their European counterparts.
Though the seasons in Buenos Aires are reversed from the northern hemisphere, prompting many to visit during South America's balmy summers, the city is not a beach destination. It's all about the urban delights here - visiting museums and art galleries, seeing a play or opera, strolling through one of the city's many parks and gardens, wandering through the maze of the famous Recoleta cemetery, or learning to dance the tango at a traditional milonga, or dance hall. From the city, it's an easy day trip to the grassy pampas that produce the country's famously tender beef or across the Rio de la Plata from the delightfully sleepy town of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.