Buenos Aires is a leading cultural destination in Latin America; a city of rich literary traditions, eclectic architecture, grand boulevards and theaters, countless bookshops, historic cafés, and trendy neighborhoods. It is also the birthplace of the tango and home to majestic parks and gardens. While it is worthwhile spending a few days to explore the sights of this vibrant and sophisticated capital, Buenos Aires also serves as a great base for day trips if looking to explore some of the city’s surroundings.
The Tigre and the Paraná Delta are a short train ride north of the city where you can enjoy a river cruise along a maze of waterways dotted by thousands of islands, dense forests, and unique flora and fauna. The town of Tigre has numerous historic buildings, great restaurants, and Argentina’s biggest market of handicrafts and artisanal products.
On the way to Tigre, Villa Ocampo and the Sans-Souci Palace are worth a detour or a day trip of their own.
Former house of Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, Villa Ocampo is a UNESCO managed museum and cultural center. The manor was built in 1891 in an eclectic style combining French and British architectural elements. Set in 2.7 acres of private gardens, Villa Ocampo houses an important collection of art, photography, furniture, personal letters, and over 12,000 books. The house was famous for having hosted distinguished visitors to Argentina including Graham Greene, Igor Stravinsky, Le Corbusier, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Albert Camus and Tagore, just to name a few, and was a regular meeting place for Argentine writers including Jorge Luis Borges.
Built in a French neo-classical style, the Sans-Souci Palace was inspired by the Palace of Versailles and built as the residence of one of Argentina’s patrician families in the early 20th century. It is surrounded by 22 acres of French gardens. Nowadays the palace is mostly used for private functions, but themed dinners with guest chefs as well as elaborate afternoon teas are regularly scheduled. It is also possible to rent out some of the palace’s apartments for short stays.
Nature and wildlife enthusiasts can also visit the nearby Paraná Delta Biosphere Reserve, home to numerous native species of fauna including capybaras and marsh deer.
Argentina is famous for its Pampas, the great plains that were roamed by gauchos, the local cowboys. A day trip to an estancia and a visit to the traditional town of San Antonio de Areco are a great way to learn about gaucho customs. Enjoy a traditional asado (barbecue), learn some classic horseback riding skills, watch a polo game or take a quick polo lesson. Walking the cobblestoned streets of the town’s charming center is like taking a trip back in time with its traditional restaurants and a museum dedicated to the gaucho.
Located 40 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, Luján is famously known for being a place of pilgrimage. The gothic style Basilica honoring the Virgin of Luján – the patron saint of Argentina – is the main attraction. The nearby Enrique Udaondo museum complex housed in the former residence of the Viceroy during colonial times houses exhibits of colonial life as well as art and silverware. Transportation buffs can also check out the Transport Museum for its collection of antique vehicles as well as Argentina’s first steam locomotive and the first hydroplane to have flown between Europe and Argentina. Luján can easily be combined with a visit to a traditional estancia.
For additional information on travel to Argentina visit: argentina.travel