While beautiful Buenos Aires, with its boulevards, fine museums, and fantastic tango spots has plenty to keep the average traveler entertained for a week, it also makes a great base for visiting the surrounding sites. From upscale escapes and fine wine, to cowboys and rock climbing, or even catching a ferry across the Rio Plata for a taste of tiny Uruguay, your options are almost endless.
Head Upscale to San Isidro
Just 21km (13mi) north of Buenos Aires proper at the mouth of the Rio Plata is posh San Isidro, the National Capital of Rugby (don’t miss the museum) and home to the Hipodromo de San Isidro, Argentina’s premier horse racing track. Peruse Plaza Mitre and the gorgeous neo-Gothic cathedral, play a round of golf or just do like the locals and shop or yacht ’till you drop. San Isidro offers a glimpse of Argentina’s upper crust, complete with cobbled streets, fine dining, and gorgeous old mansions, as well as a popular Sunday market, just minutes from downtown Buenos Aires.
Go Gaucho in Las Pampas
The iconic Argentine cowboy, or gaucho, is much more than just a cheerful cultural stereotype. The grassy plains, or pampas, that surround the Rio Plata lowlands, are home to some of the world’s finest beef cattle and the men (and women) who herd them. Operators offer “dia de campo” (day in the fields) tours and overnights that offer a taste of rural Argentina, right down to the hearty red wine and delicious pit barbecue after a day on horseback. While several estancias, or ranches, offer tours, independent travelers could try the Don Silvano, a traditional ranch where you’ll enjoy a full “fiesta gaucha” (gaucho party) experience.
Get Back to Nature in Tandil
Book a bus (or better, take the train) to this picturesque spot several hours south of Buenos Aires. Perhaps a better weekender than a day trip for active travelers, it is famed for its rock climbing amidst the gently polished boulders of the Sierras de Tandil. This outdoor sports center is also a top spot for mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and much more.
Take the Slow Boat through Tigre
Perhaps the most popular day trip from Buenos Aires begins in the affluent city of Tigre, on the Rio Plata Delta. After perusing the pretty streets (and perhaps stopping in posh San Isidro), most Tigre tours embark on a beautiful boat trip along the Rio Plata, Panama Delta ecological area, and much more. A worthwhile exploration of Buenos Aires’ hidden beauty.
Enjoy Argentina’s Fine Wines
While the epicenter of Argentina’s renowned wine culture is the city of Mendoza, not everyone will have time to step out among the vines. Fear not! You can book a tour to some of the city’s finest wine bars, or even to the vineyards in southern Buenos Aires Province.
Escape to Uruguay
Just across the shimmering Rio Plata is the oft-underrated Republic of Uruguay, famed for its fine beaches, pretty Spanish colonial cities, hearty cuisine, and libertine social views. Most day-trippers choose to take an hour-long ferry to Montevideo, the skyscraper-strewn capital, surrounded on three sides by water; or a day trip to quaint Colonia, founded in 1680 and so superbly preserved that today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.