8 Essential Buenos Aires Day Trips and City Escapes
The Best Buenos Aires Day Trips To Escape the City
Welcome to Buenos Aires, now get out. No, really, go and explore the countryside! Buenos Aires is a big city and there are plenty of things to do there. Check out my ideal Buenos Aires itinerary here just to get an idea. But to really experience Argentina is to explore its rural culture: gauchos, ranches and a unexpectedly tropical river delta. So if you’re looking for the best Buenos Aires day trips to perfect your itinerary, then you are in luck. These are the essential Buenos Aires excursions!
1. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
One of my favorite day trips from Buenos Aires is highly unoriginal. The quick hop over the River Plate to spend the day in Uruguay is one fo the most popular excursions from Buenos Aires and for good reason. To say the cobblestone streets are quaint and that the historic downtown is frozen in time may sound like cliches, but they are true! Take a break from breathing in the city bus fumes in Buenos Aires and breathe in the fresh air in Colonia. Slow down and ramble aimlessly before enjoying a relaxing lunch overlooking the water.
There are three ferry companies that offer packaged day trips to Colonia, they are: Colonia Express , Seacat , and Buquebus . If you want a more organized tour that includes hotel transfers, this tour is excellent. They have an English speaking guide so you don’t need to worry about language barriers or transportation. However you choose to go, you'll be sure to fall in love with Colonia and its stark contrast to bustling Buenos Aires.
The municipality of Tigre is only 20 miles north of Buenos Aires, making it one of the easiest day trips from Buenos Aires. Once there, you can visit museums, the Mercado de Frutos or the delapidated amusement park. But the real highlight is the Parana River delta. The canals and streams of the delta weave among the islands. Spend a day on the water or on one of the lush, green islands (bearing stark contrast to the rolling pastures of the nearby Pampas).
If you're on a budget, you can D-I-Y Tigre with public transportation. The most affordable option is to take the train from Retiro to Tigre and take the interisleña boat to Tres Bocas, where you can wander and relax at your own pace (do stay mindful of the boat schedule for your return).
If you have the budget for it, a tour that includes a private boat is well worth the money. This tour will take you through the delta on a private catamaran. You can choose to stop for lunch at one of the many resturants on the waterfront, many of which aren't easily accessible with the public interisleña boats. Check availability here .
3. Peru Beach
Peru Beach is one of my favorite secrets that’s absolutely no secret with the locals. It’s in the San Isidro suburb to the north of Buenos Aires, right on the river. This restaurant is neither Peruvian nor a beach, but the grassy knoll and deck are so enticing you won’t miss the actual beach for one second. Sit at one of the tables to be served by a waiter or waitress, or even better, order at the bar and carry your snacks to enjoy on the grass. I recommend their clericot (a sangria like drink sold by the pitcher, and theirs is very good!) .
This riverside paradise is also very easy to get to: take the Mitre train line from the Retiro Station to the very end and connect to the Tren de la Costa. Enjoy the views as the train rides alongside the shoreline and get off at Las Barrancas Station. If you’re visiting on a weekend, the train platform will have been transformed into a fabulous flea market.
4. Spend a Day at an Estancia
How does a gaucho day trip from Buenos Aires sound? Then you need to book a dia de campo, literally “a day in the countryside,” at an estancia. These working ranches offer full day packages filled with activities fit for a gaucho. Each ranch will offer their own flare but all offer more or less the same idyllic day at a traditional Argentine ranch. You’ll eat empanadas and meat grilled to perfection, drink lots of red wine, and ride horses with gauchos.
The Estancia Santa Susana offers a very popular gaucho day trip from Buenos Aires. And importantly, it includes transportation to and from the ranch. You'll be treated to all the traditional Argentine foods you could dream of including an asado (bbq), wine and of course, mate. Enjoy live tango and folkloric music, watch a display of gaucho games and more. Reserve your ranch day here .
5. San Antonio de Areco
Spend a day in this tiny, rural town that feels years away from Buenos Aires rather than only 115 kilometers. Step into an old bar, or pulperia, for a drink and peruse the shops for antiques and gaucho wares like beautifully crafted knives, boina hats (like berets) and more. Every November for Tradition Day, or El Día de la Tradición, the city is taken over by every gaucho and ranch in the surrounding area. Hundreds of horses are paraded through the city streets, there’s a rodeo and an overall air of celebration. If you happen to be in Buenos Aires for Tradition Day, get yourself to San Antonio for a once in a lifetime experience.
If you don’t happen to be here on that one particular day (and I mean, what are the odds? 1 out of 365, I suppose), spending a morning in San Antonio is still worthwhile. Ideally, it’s easiest to visit with your own car. However, if you don’t have access to a vehicle there are plenty of guided tours to estancias, like this one that will include free time in San Antonio de Areco as well.
6. TAKE POLO LESSONS
Want to experience the Argentine countryside, be posh about it and also take home a new skill? Spend a day taking polo lessons! Polo was first introduced to Argentina by the British in the 1800’s and it’s been a staple of local culture ever since. Polo Clubs sprouted up almost immediately and they still produce some of the world’s best polo players. Learn from the best in a beautiful ranch setting outside Buenos Aires. Polo day trips from Buenos Aires, like this one will teach you the history of the game, how to play and most importantly, a visit to a beautiful Argentine ranch.
7. Carlos Keen
There are a number of small towns dotting the province of Buenos Aires that came to life due to Argentina’s railway. When the trains died, the towns faded along with them. Currently, these pueblos historicos, or historic towns, are being revived for tourism. Among locals, Carlos Keen is the most popular of these towns and one of the most common side trips from Buenos Aires.
Carlos Keen centers around the train station and the large park/plaza that it’s in. This green space is surrounded by historic buildings from the 1800’s turned into parillas (grills) serving fixed menus. Read about our day in Carlos Keen here. we drove there, stopping to see the impressive Lujan Basilica along the way.
8. Mataderos Market
Including the Feria de Mataderos in a list of Buenos Aires excursions feels like cheating, because it lies within the city limits. But, I stand by this decision because this gaucho market is far off the beaten path on the western border of Buenos Aires. This weekly market is worth the effort it takes to get to. Musicians and dancers perform on the stage they painstakingly set up each week and on the street below locals dance to folkloric music from the northern provinces. Street vendors sell mouth watering empanadas, tamales and stews hailing from provinces like Salta and Tucuman. If you want to experience a different perspective of Argentine culture, you won’t regret dedicating your Sunday to the Mataderos Market.
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