Its principal, goods-producing economic activities are agriculture and the raising of cattle for meat exports. Home to a dynamic services sector, over 2,000 commercial businesses are registered in the city.
The town's cemetery portal and main slaughterhouse were both designed by architect Francisco Salamone, and contain elements of Art Deco style. Built in the late 1930s, these buildings were some of the first examples of modern architecture in rural Argentina. The town was the scene of an attack on outlying Army barracks by the far-left ERP on January 19, 1974, the most violent siege of its type in the country up to that point.
Azul is home to the schools of Agronomy and Law of the National University of Central Buenos Aires. The Teatro Español, founded in the city in 1897, is among the most important of the central pampas area, and in 1992, hosted the Bolshoi Ballet.
The Miguel de Cervantes Festival is held there annually since 2007, and Casa Ronco, an antiquarian library and museum, maintains among the country's best collections relating to the noted Spanish writer. The Casa Ronco is named after the collector Batolomé Ronco. Azul was declared Argentina's "City of Cervantes" by UNESCO in 2007.