Attractions Argentina

Attractions Argentina: Buenos Aires

To the city's poet laureate, Jorge Luis Borges, Buenos Aires was as eternal as air and water. To many Argentines, their capital city is synonymous with the country itself - indeed, nearly 40% of the population lives in the city or its massive, sprawling suburbs.

Buenos Aires is situated on the banks of the Río de la Plata. A city transported from its European parents, its compact and regular center is reminiscent of Paris, and its tree-lined avenues and frequent plazas have a beguiling, faded elegance.

In this cosmopolitan city, sophisticated dressers mingle with the shabbier unemployed from the surrounding suburbs.

Downtown, the Plaza de Mayo is the traditional focus of activity, and lately has been the scene of mass protests against the government's handling of the economic crisis.

Nearby Avenida 9 de Julio is popularly known as the world's widest thoroughfare and is truly a pedestrian's nightmare. Avenida Santa Fe is the most fashionable shopping area. Buenos Aires' attractions include the Catedral Metropolitana,
which contains the tomb of revolutionary hero José de San Martín; the Teatro Colón, a world-class facility for opera, ballet and classical music, and a cluster of worthwhile and popular museums like the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Museo del Cine and the Museo Histórico Nacional, which presents a panorama of the Argentine experience.

Don't miss the colorful Italian suburb of La Boca, which features brightly painted wooden houses lining the Riachuelo waterway, or the Cementerio de la Recoleta, a testament to the national passion for death. Buenos Aires is an expensive city, but whether you're after a bargain hostel or a top-end hotel, it is possible to stay right in the center of things.

is a good place to look for inexpensive lodgings, while mid-range hotels are concentrated on Avenida de Mayo. Food bargains can be had in the suburbs of La Boca and San Telmo. Downtown, Lavalle and Avenida Corrientes are the places to go for pizza, coffee with the city's intellectuals or one of those ubiquitous meaty dishes.