Travel Destination: Province of Buenos Aires
Overview: Argentina is a geographically large country, and as such it can take a significant amount of time to travel to some of its many top destinations. As great as these longer trips are, sometimes you might find yourself with an urge to travel on a weekend and are not sure where you can reasonably travel in just 1 or 2 days! Here are some day-trip or weekend-trip ideas for when you are studying or perhaps interning in Buenos Aires and only have Saturday and Sunday free!
This is a small town located about a 2 hours’ drive away from Buenos Aires (113 kilometers) and is perfect for a short day trip getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The idea of a trip to San Antonio de Areco is not to pack as many activities as you can into a day, but rather to escape the city for a relaxing day of peace and quiet, as well as a taste of small-town Argentina.
When to go: San Antonio de Areco is ideal for a nice weather day, particularly in the spring or fall, as there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.
What to do:
* Bike riding
* Horseback riding
* Guided tour of the town
* Rural tourism (Estancias)
* Lunch in the park or in a boutique café/restaurant
How to get there: By car or by coach. By coach, the bus will leave from the Retiro bus station. Some coach companies that offer service to San Antonio de Areco are:
Another small town in the northern part of the province of Buenos Aires, San Pedro, is also accessible by car or by coach. Less-touristed, but nevertheless a fine example of small-town Argentina.
Larger than San Antonio de Areco and San Pedro, Luján is still quite a small city, and the points of interest can be easily seen in a short day trip. Known for its Basílica in honor of the Virgen de Luján, the patron saint of Argentina, Luján is a typical site of pilgrimage for residents of Buenos Aires. In fact, many make the trip walking from Buenos Aires all the way to Luján (about 68 kilometers). Although it is a largely Catholic destination, it is also worth the trip for the spectacular architecture of the church.
When to go: On a warm sunny day, in order to enjoy the outdoors and the architecture.
What to do:
* See the Basílica Nacional
* In font of the Basílica is the central plaza, lined with stands selling souvenirs, generally religious in nature
* Have lunch at a typical parrilla near the Basílica
* Enrique Udaondo museum, exhibits about colonial life in Luján
How to get there: By car or by city bus number 57 (ONCE-LUJÁN, which leaves from Once, or PALERMO-LUJÁN-MERCEDES, which leaves from Plaza Italia). It is also accessible by train Sarmiento line, leaving from Once (not recommended – must change trains).
Capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires, La Plata is located about 50 kilometers south of the city of Buenos Aires and has roughly half a million inhabitants. Unlike the city of Buenos Aires, La Plata is based on a very structured planning, typical of cities of its time (founded in the late 19th century). Streets form diagonal blocks, each numbered instead of named, facilitating one’s ability to find one’s own way around the city.
When to go: Anytime, although it may be best appreciated in nicer weather.
What to do:
* See the Plaza Moreno, the principal square of the city, where the Cathedral “Inmaculada Concepción” and the “Palacio Municipal” are located
* Cultural Centers
* Museum of Natural Sciences. Latin American Contemporary Art Museum, and many more
* University of La Plata
* Paseo del Bosque (largest green space in the city) and the República de los Niños theme park, supposedly an inspiration previous to the construction of Disneyland
How to get there: By car or by coach leaving from the Retiro train station in Buenos Aires:
La Plata is also accessible by train, but this is not recommended unless on a very tight budget.
Colonia is a historical colonial-style town located just across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires and is another example of a great day-trip (not to mention a fun way to renew your Argentine tourist visa to stay longer than 90 days!) More about this UNESCO world heritage site coming up later on in the Road2Argentina travel series!