I have another friend asking for a travel recommendation and this time I suggested heading to Argentina. A few years ago, I traveled to South America for the very first time and I opted for Buenos Aires — this vibrant city leaves little room for disappointment.
Buenos Aires’ neoclassical architecture, cafe culture, and international vibe give the city a strikingly European feel — as it is often referred to as “the Paris of South America“. But Buenos Aires is undeniably Argentine, with its tango salons called milongas, hip clothing and leather goods boutiques, and culinary focus on local staples such as Pampas grass-fed steak in many excellent parrillas (Argentine steakhouses), Malbec wine from the Mendoza region, and bakeries selling dulce de leche alfajores (chocolate-covered cookie filled with dulce de leche).
The barrio (or neighbourhood) of La Boca originally developed as a trading post and shipyard and was the entry point of Genoese settlers from Italy at the end of the 19th century. The centre of this barrio is El Caminito, a pedestrian walkway lined with sculpted statues and murals. Surrounding the cobblestone street are houses built with corrugated metal and painted in an assortment of vivid colours, recalling a time when the locals utilized left over paint from the shipyard.
One of the oldest barrios is San Telmo, located north of La Boca, which was the main residential district for the European colonial officials and their staff between the 16th and mid-19th centuries. When yellow fever struck in the 1870s, the city’s elite moved north and poor immigrants filled this neighbourhood converting houses to tenements. Eclectic San Telmo is now a treasure trove of antique shops and open-air markets.
The new Buenos Aires – Puerto Madero. This barrio was gentrified from abandoned warehouses by the dock of the late 19th century and rejuvenated into high end restaurants, bars and residences. This is the only neighbourhood where all the streets are named after women.