The capital and largest city of Argentina, Buenos Aires is always buzzing with the passionate beat of tango, the sizzling sear of steaks in the parrillas (steakhouses), and the frenzy of shoppers. There is much to do in this cosmopolitan city that is full of beautiful European-style architectural monuments.
However, sometimes the hectic city life can get overwhelming and you may need to get away from the action. Just a short journey out, here are the top 5 day trips and tours from Buenos Aires for those who seek a temporary change of scenery and pace:Head out and explore the whole region!
1. Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay)
Just an hour by ferry across the Rio de la Plata, Colonia del Sacramento is one of the easiest day trips to make from Buenos Aires. The oldest city in Uruguay, Colonia was once a Portuguese colony so its cobble-stoned old town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of Portuguese influences.
From Buenos Aires, you have the option of taking an express ferry (1 hour ride) or a slow ferry (3 hours’ ride) to Colonia. Seacat is one of the best options as it offers the same services as the bigger company, Buquebus, at slightly cheaper prices. However, Seacat’s online booking system does not accept foreign cards so you have to call to purchase or visit their sales office in Buenos Aires. If you value convenience, purchase your tickets from Buquebus as you can get tickets directly at the terminal too. Alternatively, for total convenience and a hassle-free trip, why not book a tour and have everything taken care of for you? From your transportation to your sightseeing itinerary, enjoy the luxury of day-tripping that doesn’t come so easily when you travel independently.
Enter the old town via the restored Portón de Campo (City Gate) with its grand stone pillars and quaint wooden bridge and wander along the quiet streets of the Barrio Histórico (historic quarter). The historic centre is quite small, so take your time to stroll around and you will find yourself stumbling upon charming plazas, green parks, old colonial buildings, and quaint restaurants. Fans of vintage cars can take pleasure in spotting different models of antique cars lining the streets, some of which are still in use today. The antique cars are a legacy of wealthier times in Uruguay before the economy crashed and people could not afford to replace their existing cars.
Grab a bite to eat at the relatively unknown gem of a cafe, Lentas Maravillas. This is a cosy spot to enjoy a sandwich with a cup of coffee or tea, or sip on a glass of wine and admire the river views from the upper floor. In warm weather, curl up with a book from the owner’s personal library on one of the lounge chairs in the river-facing garden.
At dusk, make your way to the lighthouse and ascend the narrow spiral staircase. After climbing the 111 steps up, the beautiful bird’s eye view of the river and the city unfolds before you. Take a moment to watch the sunset colours play out on the river’s surface and reflect off the ancient cobble stones.
Stepping into Colonia feels like stepping onto an old movie set. Time and the effects of tourism seem not to have made their mark yet, making Colonia a tranquil and intimate day-trip destination.
Sales Office Address: Avda. Córdoba 772, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires
Price: Roundtrip ticket from 1,100 ARS (74 USD)
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am - 1 pm
Contact: +54 4314-5100
Address: Av. Antártida Argentina 821, 1104 CABA, Argentina
Price: From 1,329 ARS (89 USD)
Contact: +54 11 4316-6530
Address: 61, Calle de San Jose, 70000 Col Del Sacramento, Colonia, Uruguay
Opening Hours: 2 pm - 10 pm daily
Contact: +598 4522 0636
Day Trip to Colonia from Buenos Aires
Departure Point: Buenos Aires hotels or ferry port
Price: from 170.67 USD
Hotel Pickup Time: From 7.30 am
Duration: Around 10 hours
2. Montevideo (Uruguay) (From 505 USD)
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay and it lies on the northeastern bank of the Rio de La Plata. Having consistently been rated as having the highest quality of life in Latin America, Montevideo is a mellower city than Buenos Aires.The city moves to a different beat, that of the Candombe, a Uruguayan style of music and dance that is performed regularly on the streets.
Ciudad Vieja is the oldest area of Montevideo, and the ornate architectural style of the buildings contribute to the olde-worlde charm of the old town. Don’t be surprised to see abandoned buildings with peeling paint and crumbling facades; these are remnants of the economic crisis that hit Uruguay hard in the 2000s. Take a leisurely walk down Calle Sarandí, the main pedestrian street in the city, and browse the plethora of shops and goods of peddlers lining the street. For a taste of Uruguayan cuisine, have a meal at the waterfront Mercado del Puerto, which is home to bustling parrillas (steak restaurants) that specialise in grilled meats. On weekend afternoons, the atmosphere at the market is lively with the chatter and hum of visitors.
The theatre and arts scene in Montevideo is flourishing, and it is well worth a visit to the stately Teatro Solis, Montevideo’s oldest theatre. Behind-the-scenes tours of the theatre (available in Spanish and English) are conducted from Tuesday to Sunday for a small fee. On Wednesdays, however, the tours are conducted for free. Near Teatro Solis is the grand Plaza Independencia, said to be Montevideo’s most important plaza. In the centre there is an imposing monument and mausoleum erected in honour of independence hero, José Artigas.
In the early morning or evening, stroll, jog, or cycle along the Ramble of Montevideo, a promenade stretching along the banks of the river. In pleasant weather, it is an invigorating activity whether you are by yourself, or with a partner, friends, or family.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Montevideo is by taking the Buquebus direct ferry service. The journey time is about 2.5 hours and the ferries are spacious and comfortable.
Address: S/N, Urug, Buenos Aires, 11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
Tour Price: From 20 ARS (1.35 USD)
Opening Hours: 11 am - 7 pm
Contact: +598 2950 3325
Website: Teatro Solis
Mercado del Puerto
Address: Piedras 237, Montevideo, Uruguay
Opening Hours: 8 am - 5 pm daily
Website: Mercado del Puerto
Day Trip to Montevideo from Buenos Aires
Departure Point: Hotel or ferry port
Price: From 505 USD
Pickup Time: From 5.30 am
Duration: Around 10.5 hours
3. Tigre Delta (Argentina) (39 ARS (2.62 USD))
Of course, you don’t have to cross international borders to escape the frenetic pace of Buenos Aires. An hour on the train from Retiro Station will bring you to a whole new world. Within the province of Buenos Aires, the city of Tigre, the gateway to the Paraná Delta, is popular, even among the porteños (Buenos Aires locals), for a day trip or weekend getaway. The lush forested islands of the delta provide a welcome reprieve from stressful metropolitan city life.
It is water-transportation only here in this part of Argentina. Navigate the coffee-coloured waters of the delta in a kayak and you will get an intimate perspective of the secrets that lie hidden behind the thick vegetation flanking the waterways. Local stilt houses, uninhabited islands, rare fauna, and exclusive private resorts are just some of the hidden gems in the delta. El Dorado Kayak provides a range of guided kayaking tours that will allow you to explore the labyrinth of secluded waterways in depth.
If water is not your cup of tea, the town of Tigre offers enough attractions to keep you busy for a day. There are a few museums in Tigre, but the most beautiful is the Museum of Art. Situated in a resplendent building that used to be a social club and casino in 1912, the museum still holds true to its ‘Belle Epoque’ (Beautiful Age) roots. The building has been restored to its former splendour and showcases works of famous Argentinian artists. Don’t miss the Puerto de Frutos, an old fruit market that buzzes with activity on the weekends, with vendors selling wares like handcrafted furniture, artisan foods, and leather goods.
Tigre got its name from the jaguars (who used to be known as tigers) who once roamed the islands. Today, there are no longer any jaguars, but the city of Tigre retains the raw and mysterious beauty of its namesake
Museum of Art, Tigre
Address: Paseo Victorica 972, Tigre B1648, Argentina
Price: 39 ARS (2.62 USD)
Opening Hours: Wed to Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Weekends 12 noon - 7 pm
Contact: +54 11 4512-4528
Website: Museum of Art, Tigre
Puerto de Frutos
Address: Calle Sarmiento 55, Tigre
Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm (7 pm on weekends)
Contact: +54 4512 4493
Website: Puerto de Frutos
Tigre Delta Day Trip From Buenos Aires (Full or half day)
Address: Central Buenos Aires
Price: From 49.16 USD
Departure Time: 9 am or 2 pm
Duration: 4 or 8 hours
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4. The Pampas (Argentina) (from USD 160.0)
Vast green fields spread out as far as the eye can see, a gaucho on horseback roaming the plains, and farmers working the lands that extend westward across central Argentina, the Pampas is a picturesque scene of calm.
Nestled within the lush heart of the Argentinean Pampas, the town of San Antonio de Areco draws many day-trippers keen to get a taste of gaucho culture. The icon of the Pampas, gauchos are the Latin American equivalent to American cowboys, romanticised and immortalised in folklore and the imaginations of the Argentines. You will find the gaucho culture well-preserved as you wander around the colonial streets and pass by old-fashioned stores selling silver, fine leather saddles, and horseshoes. The town truly comes alive during the annual Fiesta de la Tradición in November, when gauchos congregate on horseback and are dressed in their best finery. Get ready to dance, eat, and be entertained. Skilled horsemen display their best tricks and show off their well-groomed horses. Meat-lovers will rejoice when the tantalising smells of beef and chorizo on the grill permeate the air. Be sure to work up a huge appetite for the asado (barbeque), another element of the festival.
Booking a night at an estancia (large farm ranch) is the best way to dive into gaucho culture. There are many estancias scattered across the Pampas who open their doors for visitors to stay a night or two. Feel the wind in your hair on horseback rides, feast on asado prepared for you by the gauchos working on the farm, and be entertained by the gauchos who perform nifty tricks with their horse. If you are lucky to have a gaucho with some musical blood in him, you will have the pleasure of being serenaded to the soothing sounds of the guitar.
The rest of the world will fade into temporary peaceful oblivion when you are surrounded by nothing but the sky, the grassy plains, a good barbeque, and the legendary gauchos.
If you cannot spend a night (or several) in the Pampas, don’t worry! You can still enjoy the area’s captivating charms and unique atmosphere on a day trip from Buenos Aires.
San Antonio de Areco Gaucho Farm Day with Small Group
Duration: 9 hours
5. La Plata (Argentina) (30 ARS (2.02 USD))
One hour away to the south of the federal city of Buenos Aires lies the capital of Buenos Aires province. The thriving university town of La Plata is also called the City of Diagonals due to its planned streets where diagonal avenues cross a regular 5-kilometre (3.1-mile) square-patterned grid to connect the major plazas. While the innovative layout makes it confusing to navigate at times, public squares every seven blocks at the intersections and the leafy tree-lined boulevards infuse the city with a green and airy vibe.
In the centre of La Plata, the grand square of Plaza Moreno is home to two of the city’s most important landmarks: the neo-gothic Cathedral of La Plata and the Palacio Municipal (City Hall). Dinosaur and history lovers will have a field day at the Museo de La Plata (Natural Science Museum), where dinosaur skeletons and fossils are some of the interesting exhibits on display. Look out for the two smilodons (saber-toothed tigers) standing guard by the Greek-Roman-inspired entrance. (Smilodons inhabited the ancient plains of the Pampas more than 10,000 years ago.) The museum is located within the Paseo del Bosque, the largest park in La Plata, so you can spend a quiet evening in the company of swaying willow trees and chirping birds.
Families with young ones will enjoy a trip to the Republic of Children (or City of Children), a theme park built proportionately to match the size of children. The 52-hectare (128.5-acre) theme park has all the institutions of a regular city, based on the fairytale stories of Hans Christian Andersen, and the Grimm brothers, as well as legends by Tennyson and Mallory. This is the ultimate playground for children and an intriguing place for adults.
The sister city of Buenos Aires, La Plata is worth a visit for a taste of Argentinean life at an unhurried pace. Catch the bus to La Plata at Retiro Station in Buenos Aires. The frequency is high, with a bus departing every 15 minutes. Otherwise, book a tour of this beguiling and interesting city.
Cathedral of La Plata
Address: Calle 14, 1900 La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun and holidays from 11 am to 7 pm
Contact: +54 221-4273504
Website: Cathedral of La Plata
Museo de La Plata
Address: Paseo del Bosque s/n, 1900 La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Price: 30 ARS (2.02 USD)
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun 10 am - 6 pm
Contact: +54 221 425-7744
Website: Museo de La Plata
Republic Of Children
Address: Cno. Gral. Belgrano y 501 Gonnet, (1900) , La Plata, Buenos Aires
Price: Adults and children over 7 20 ARS (1.40 USD) ; Children under 7 free
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 10 am - 6 pm. Weekends 10 am - 7 pm
Contact: +54 221 484-1409
Website: Republic of Children
Day Trip to La Plata from Bueno Aires
Address: Buenos Aires hotels
Price: From 50 USD
Departure Time: 9.30 am
Balance is beauty
Make the most out of your trip(s) from Buenos Aires and explore the wonders across the river and in the surrounding countryside areas, maybe even popping into a neighbouring country! Depending on which day trip you choose, you could even make it back in time for some late night tango. A day trip out of the city makes for a good balance between the adrenaline-pumping city life of Buenos Aires and the serenity of nature or the unhurried pace of quiet colonial towns.
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