As wonderful as Buenos Aires is, at some point you will want to escape for a few hours, if only for a change of scenery. Thankfully getting away from it is not difficult (or expensive) and there are some lovely spots worth a visit within in easy reach.
Probably the most popular Porteño daytrip of all, Tigre is a must-see, even if you’re just in Buenos Aires for a few days. Situated on the delta of the river Paraná, the town is a gateway to hundreds of kilometres of navigable river, complete with restaurants, hotel, holiday complexes and entire neighbourhoods.
Numerous boats leave the Estacion Fluvial for a guided tour up the river, pointing out the main points of interest (including the house of former President Sarmiento, faithfully preserved in a huge glass box) along the way. The town is also host to an amusement park (Parque de la Costa) and an enormous, flashy casino if you like your pleasures a little more risky.
An easy hour-long train-ride from Buenos Aires (leaving from Retiro, but if you’re in Palermo get a taxi to the Lisandro del Torre station), a day in Tigre is a wonderful way to escape the heat of a Porteño summer.
2. La Plata
In 1880, when the decision was finally made to make Buenos Aires the capital of Argentina, a new site for the capital of the Province of Buenos Aires had to be found. It was decided to build a new city from scratch about 50km from the new national capital.
The result, La Plata, is known as La Cuidad del Diagonal (the Diagonal City), due to the large tree-lined avenues that criss-cross the usual square block layout. La Plata is a pleasant place just to wander, with shops to rival Palermo’s finest and a beautiful central square, home to the striking Cathedral.
At the other end of the central thoroughfare are the Bosques de la Plata, a large and leafy park, complete with boating lake, Observatory and numerous museums.
It takes about 90 minutes to reach La Plata by train, leaving from Constitucion station.
Hop on the number 57 from Plaza Italia and in just over an hour you’ll find yourself in Luján, the religious heart of Argentina. Home to a large neo-gothic Basilica (not unsimilar in design to the cathedral in La Plata), built to honour La Virgen de Luján, the Patron Saint of Argentina.
Known as the nation’s Capital of Faith, Luján attracts some 6 million pilgrims a year, many of them walking the 68 kilometres from Buenos Aires. Whilst the town itself is pleasant place to visit, and the Basilica is definitely worth a visit, a short taxi ride is recommended to nearby village Carlos Keen.
Once home to an important railway hub, the trains stopped a long time ago and made room for restaurants. Lots of them. Set round a large central green, people now flock here on Sunday for a generous portions of homemade food (asado being very popular of course) in a peaceful and rustic setting.
Luján is also home to a large and well-advertised zoo (about 10 minutes out of town). A trip here is not recommended for animal lovers, the enclosures are small and barren with more emphasis on entertainment at the creature’s expense than conservation. To be avoided.
Colonia is a popular daytrip for many reasons, not least for expats who need to renew their 3-month tourist visa. A 3-hour ferry ride (Buquebus run several a day from their Retiro terminal, including a fast boat which does the trip in an hour) across the mighty River Plate, the Uruguayan town of Colonia del Sacramento is a well preserved Portuguese stronghold originally founded in 1680, with many of the original buildings still standing.
A tranquil place in the week, the picturesque and compact historic centre is overrun with daytripping Porteños on the weekends, it’s well worth the trip if you have a day spare. You could even venture to one of the estancias that surround the town for a traditional asado and cabalgata (horse ride).