Buenos Aires isn’t a Latin American city at all. Opulent Baroque architecture makes you feel you’re in Paris; yellow-roofed taxis and Porteños (as the locals are called) rush around as if they’re in New York; and there are more theatres and cinemas than London’s West End. But catch a few bars of a melancholic tango from a taxi radio, glimpse a few moves of the erotic dance itself in the dark interior of a milonga, or sniff the deliciously smoky whiff of steak sizzling on the grill at a parrilla restaurant, and you know immediately: you’re in Buenos Aires.
The city’s dramatic history is palpable everywhere: you can imagine the crowds greeting Evita on the balcony of the Casa Rosada in Plaza de Mayo, where mothers of those who ‘disappeared’ in the 1970s Dirty War still parade in protest every Thursday afternoon. And the stunning Belle Epoque architecture along Avenida de Mayo and in Recoleta reminds you of Buenos Aires’ wealthy heyday at the start of the 20th century, when Argentine beef and wheat exports made it ‘the breadbasket of the world’.
Porteños live well, their hunger for fashion fed by abundant designer boutiques, and their desire to pose in cool places spawning an overwhelming array of chic bars and superb restaurants. If you love cities, a week will leave you wanting more. And even if you don’t, a couple of days will start your trip with a bang.
Finally, if you want to escape the city for a couple of days in the land of gauchos (Argentine cowboys), it's only an hour or so's drive to The Pampas - fertile plains fringed by the Atlantic coast - where you'll find some lovely estancias (cattle ranches) turned into boutique hotels.