Buenos Aires is a beautiful, vibrant city—but a respite from the hustle and bustle can be a nice change. The good news is that water, wildlife, adventure, and culture are just a quick drive, train ride, or ferry away. These day trips will help you see that the area has so much more to offer than just the capital city.
Colonia del Sacramento: UNESCO World Heritage Site
A trip across the Río de la Plata to see the UNESCO-recognized historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento is completely feasible in a day. The crossing takes either one hour or three, depending on which ferry you use. With cobblestone streets, the Uruguayan town itself is quaint and provides a refreshingly chill vibe away from the chaos of Buenos Aires. Meander through the streets to choose where to eat lunch—and make sure to pair whatever you get with a glass of Tannat wine, Uruguay’s national varietal. Prices are a bit higher than in Argentina, but for a day trip it is worth the splurge.
Getting there: Head to the ferry terminal in Puerto Madero. There are three companies that go to Colonia: Colonia Express, SeaCat, and Buquebus, the most popular option.
Travel tip: While it seems obvious, do not forget that you are actually crossing into another country. You will have to pass through Migraciones, where you will show your valid passport and be checked to make sure you are not bringing any fruit or other banned items across the border.
Tigre: Water and Wildlife
One of the largest delta systems in the world, Paraná Delta is just 20 miles north of Buenos Aires. Tigre, a port town on the Paraná, is a favorite weekend getaway for locals, who like to take boat rides through the modern canal systems to see the stilt homes and abundant wildlife. While most tourists take one of the affordable interisleña boats, it’s also possible to book a private catamaran. Adventurous travelers should definitely explore the delta by kayak in order to enter areas that boats are not able to.
Getting there: The quickest and least expensive way is to hop on a train, which will take you all through Zona Norte to Tigre.
Travel tip: Don’t stick to just the water. Tigre has an amusement park and an extensive marketplace where you can buy inexpensive handcrafts.
San Antonio de Areco: Gaucho Handcrafts
Just 70 miles from the capital, San Antonio de Areco is one of Argentina’s more historic sites. In the middle of La Pampa, it's built around Argentine gaucho (cowboy) culture. Eat traditional asado (barbecue) and watch gauchos as they display some impressive horse riding skills. The town’s colonial streets are filled with locally-made leather goods, silverware, and rope for purchase, plus a few sleepy museums to wander. Every November for Tradition Day, or El Día de la Tradición, every gaucho in the surrounding area swarms the city and hundreds of horses are paraded through the streets.
Getting there: It’s easiest to visit by car. However, if you don’t have access to a vehicle, there are plenty of guided day tours run by agencies in the city.
Travel tip: This is one of the best places to get souvenirs to bring home. Handcrafted knives and leather purses are top-quality here.
La Plata: World Class Attractions
With the streets laid out diagonally and a plaza every seven blocks, the "City of Diagonals" is easy to navigate. Plata is home to a world-class natural history museum, which is much more extensive than the one in Buenos Aires, and is perfect for those who want to explore Argentina’s paleontology. Children will enjoy a visit to Children’s City, the largest theme park on the continent. Rounding out the attractions is the neo-Gothic Cathedral of La Plata, the 58th tallest church in the world.
Getting there: It's about 35 miles from Buenos Aires, and there are always buses going between Retiro Station and La Plata.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the Museum of Natural History, really. The entrance is guarded by two saber-tooth tigers, an animal that inhabited the Pampa 10,000 years ago—and it only gets better inside.
Perú Beach: Picnics and Watersports
While most tourists will never hear of this spot, Perú Beach is no secret with many locals. It’s in the San Isidro suburb in upscale Zona Norte, right on the river. Plan on lounging the afternoon away here with a pitcher of clericot (a sangria-like drink). If you are feeling more active, there is always the possibility of windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking.
Getting there: Take the Mitre train line from the Retiro Station to the last stop. From there, connect to the Tren de la Costa.
Travel tip: If you’re visiting on a weekend, the train platform will have been transformed into a flea market.
Mendoza: Incredible Wine
We're not going to lie—this is a stretch for a day trip, but it's not impossible. It's recommended that you spend at least three days in Mendoza; however, if you only have one and you're interested in great wine, you can make it happen. Book the earliest and latest flights of the day, grab a rental car at the airport (hopefully with a designated driver) and hit up some of the closer vineyards, such as those in Maipú or Luján de Cuyo. Valle de Uco is where the most stunning scenery is, but because it hugs the Andes, that may be a bit far to get to in such limited time.
Getting there: You will need to take a plane. LATAM is the most reliable airline in the country.
Travel tip: Most of the best wine that comes out of Argentina is not even exported. Take advantage and buy some bottles to take home—many of the vineyards will help you package them up well for travel.
Feria de Mataderos: Gaucho Culture
The Feria de Mataderos (Mataderos fair) is a slice of Argentine countryside. Located opposite the old National Livestock Market, the festival sees around 15,000 people every weekend. It boasts 700 stands selling gaucho crafts like mates, ponchos, blankets, and leather goods, as well as traditional regional dishes like locro, empanadas, and tamales. There are often music and dance performances, gaucho horse riding competitions, and games of pato—a sport that is a mix between polo and netball.
Getting there: Take a taxi, or hop on bus 126 (from downtown) or bus 55 (from Palermo). The trip takes about an hour.
Travel tip: Plan accordingly as it is only open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., from March to December. It is also open on public national holidays: May 25, June 20, July 9, August 17, and October 12.
Refurbished in 2011, this estancia (which is much like an American ranch) is owned by a British-Argentine couple who wanted to make polo more accessible. More rural-chic than stately, this 240-acre property in Cañuelas offers Polo Days with a professional polo player. Tourists will get to walk through the basics, take a couple of lessons, and watch an adrenaline-fueled pro match. While many polo estancias in the area can come off as pretentious, this one knows how to cater to beginners and experts alike.
Getting there: The easiest way to get there is by car. It’s about an hour drive from Buenos Aires, and a half hour from Ezeiza airport.
Travel tip: Dress appropriately—long pants and sunscreen go a long way. While you do not in any way have to show up in fancy white polo pants, clean and respectable attire is appreciated.
Carlos Keen: Old Western Vibe
While there is not a whole lot going on in Carlos Keen, its sleepy tranquility is what makes it so charming. Once a train stop in the 1800s, the town is home to only 400 inhabitants now. You will feel like you are on the set of an old Western here. Take a day trip to eat at one of the restaurants and enjoy the contrast to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.
Getting there: It is 61 miles west of Buenos Aires, which will take you about an hour and half to get there by car. A cheaper option is to take a bus to Luján and then a hail a cab to Carlos Keen.
Travel tip: Eat anything and everything that has the word "criollo" in it. It will be a traditional, typical plate.
Montevideo: Ciudad Vieja
Visiting Montevideo, Uruguay for a 12-hour day trip is doable—but it's best done in the summer months to take advantage of the abundant daylight. Take the ferry straight there from Buenos Aires and wander the Ciudad Viejo (the Old City), which is filled with colonial buildings, museums, and art galleries. Then head to 18 de Julio Agenda to see Art Deco buildings and shop.
Getting there: Take a ferry from Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires.
Travel tip: The best time to go is from October to April, when the weather is bound to be more enjoyable.