Buenos Aires is often called the Paris of South America, but with its passionate residents, seductive tango and mouth-watering parrilla grills, it has a personality all of its own. The name dates from the 1920s, when Argentina’s economy was booming and its capital city invested in ornate, European-style buildings like the iconic Café Tortoni and Palacio Barolo. Today, Buenos Aires combines its cosmopolitan grandness with a thriving creative scene that saw it named the world's first UNESCO City of Design in 2005.
Hostels in Buenos Aires likewise blend traditional with modern, with options including a 140-year-old restored mansion with wrought-iron balconies and a glass-roofed atrium. You can take in the city from a Buenos Aires hostel with rooftop terrace or choose one with an outdoor barbecue to get on board with the Argentine love for asado (meaning 'grilled'). Many Buenos Aires hostels also offer daily activities like Spanish classes, tango shows, pub crawls and football.
Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are Buenos Aires' creative neighbourhoods, with designer boutiques, international restaurants and slick cocktail bars. San Telmo is the home of tango: expect to see performances in the neighbourhood's plazas throughout the day. The area has a bohemian vibe, with quirky antique shops, traditional bars and a weekly flea market at Plaza Dorrego. La Boca is a working-class neighbourhood known for its colourful Caminito of brightly painted houses and street stalls selling local art.
Football is almost a religion in Buenos Aires, so try to get a ticket to a Boca Juniors or Rio Plata match, or a guided stadium tour. To get closer to the city's history, check out the grand presidential mansion, commonly known as the Casa Rosada (Pink House), on the Plaza de Mayo, which is famous for its balcony where Eva Perón addressed the nation. You can learn more about her life at the Evita Museum and even track down her grave at the maze-like Cementerio de la Recoleta.
Buenos Aires is a vast city, so you’ll need to get around by metro (subte), bus or bike using the city’s free bike scheme, EcoBici. International flights mostly arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini, and you can get a bus to the city centre, as well as the Retiro and Palermo neighbourhoods. If you’re flying from within Argentina, you’ll land at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, which is close to downtown. Retiro Bus Terminal has routes to cities across the country, including Mendoza and Bariloche.