Buenos Aires

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Incredible food, fresh young designers, and a thriving cultural scene—all these Buenos Aires has. Yet less tangible things are at the heart of the city's sizzle—for one, the spirit of its inhabitants. Here a flirtatious glance can be as passionate as a tango; a heated sports discussion as important as a world-class football match. It's this zest for life that's making Buenos Aires one of Latin America's hottest destinations.

Of course, the devalued peso is a draw, too. Equally attractive, if you're trying to escape the financial doom and gloom abroad, is the locals' unfazed attitude to the financial crisis—they've weathered so many here that this one is barely news.

A booming tango—and tango tourism—revival means dance floors are alive again. And camera crews are now a common sight on street corners: low production costs and "Old World generic" architecture—hinting at many far-off cities but resembling none—are an appealing backdrop for European commercials.

Women are taking more-prominent social roles, not least in the form of the first female president, Cristina Kirchner, elected in 2007. (She's technically the second female president, though she's the first woman elected to the position. When Perón died, his third wife, Isabelita, took over for a disastrous couple of years.) Recognized civil partnerships and a thriving scene make Buenos Aires a prime gay destination. And the country is finally seeking to bring the torturers of 1976-82 dictatorship is to justice.

Sadly, there are increasing numbers of homeless people, and protests about the city government's health and education policies are commonplace. Some things stay the same, though. Food, family, and fútbol (or fashion) are still the holy trinity for most porteños. Philosophical discussions and psychoanalysis—Buenos Aires has more psychoanalysts per capita of any city in the world—remain popular pastimes. And in the face of so much change, porteños (as city residents are called) still approach life with as much dramatic intensity as ever.