Confident and stylish, with a vibrant cultural scene and a lively nightlife, ROSARIO dominates the whole region. With a little over one million inhabitants, it is Argentina's third biggest city – Córdoba just beats it for second place. However, Rosario likes to see itself as a worthy rival to Buenos Aires, 300km southeast – in some ways it is a far smaller version of the capital, but without the hordes of foreign visitors or the political clout. Geographically the com-parison certainly holds: Rosario is a flattish riverside city and major port, lying at the heart of a vital agricultural region. Its cobbled streets lined with handsome buildings and leafy trees – both with a tendency to flake – manage to be decadent and dynamic at the same time. Unlike Buenos Aires, however, whose back has until recently been firmly to the water, Rosario has always enjoyed a close relationship with the RíoParaná; the attractive riverfront area runs for 20km along the city's eastern edge, flanked by parks, bars and restaurants and, to the north, popular beaches. One of its main attractions is the splendidly unspoilt series of so-called "delta islands" with wide sandy beaches, just minutes away from the city by boat. Packed with locals during the sweltering summers that afflict the region, they give Rosario the feel of a resort town, despite the city's little-developed tourist industry.