Mar del Plata

Overview:  Where do the porteños, inhabitants of the city of Buenos Aires, go for summer vacations?  There’s always Brazil, of course, and also the amazing beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay, but there are also a number of popular vacation spots on the Argentine Atlantic Coast itself, many of which within a half day’s drive of Buenos Aires.  In this installment of the travel series, we present Mar del Plata, a true Argentinian vacation spot in the summer, and a tranquil beach-side city in the winter (for those fans of abandoned beaches!)

Mar del Plata (photo)

Located roughly a 4-5 hour drive (about 400 kilometers) to the southeast of the city of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata is one of Argentina’s most important beach towns and tourist destinations during the summer months.  Nevertheless, this is an interesting city to visit any time of the year, depending on your preferences and whether you prefer the bustling summer beach towns or the quiet off-season coastal city.

When to go:  Mar del Plata is a highly touristic coastal city located right on the beach.  As such, the high season is during the summer months of December through February.  During this time the weather is ideal for a visit to the beach, but the city will also be completely overrun by Argentine tourists looking for a little beach getaway.  An ideal time to go in order to take advantage of pleasant weather, but also avoid the large tourist-rush of the summer, is either in the spring (October to November) or fall (March to April).  This way you can enjoy the city in pleasant weather, even though it might not be quite swimming weather (but who knows, you may get lucky!)

What to do:
*Enjoy the beach and walk La Rambla, the pedestrian sidewalk that runs along the beach
*Enjoy some great beach/street food or restaurant with outdoor seating for lunch
*Explore the city center
*See the lighthouse “Punta Mogotes”
*Take a walk down the main pedestrian strip
*Get alfajores from Havana, the café chain that originated in “Mardel” as a famous alfajor shop, although now widely available in Buenos Aires as well.
*Have dinner at one of the luxurious restaurants on the beach with a view of the water
*If you have a car or want to brave a city bus, explore the beaches located further away from the city center, either to the north or the south.  The further away you go from the center, the less crowded you should find the beaches!

How to get there:  By car or by coach.  A number of different bus companies offer service to Mar del Plata, leaving from the Retiro bus terminal.  For information on how to buy tickets, consult Plataforma 10:  http://www.plataforma10.com/

Check back later on for further installments of the travel series for more great trip locations on the Argentine Atlantic Coast!