From top tango shows to savory steaks, Buenos Aires offers plenty to keep travelers busy. But for those looking for a little outer-city adventure, there are plenty of exciting day trips set within just an hour or two of the big city. From learning to horseback ride out on the Pampas (the plains known for their cowboy culture), to cruising through the Tigre Delta, to playing polo (one of Argentina’s most beloved sports), these three day trips offer those without much time – or money – to spare, a unique taste of greater Argentina, set within easy reach of the capital.
San Antonio de Areco
Immerse yourself in Argentina’s gaucho (cowboy) tradition out on the Pampas near San Antonio de Areco, located about 1.5 hours from Buenos Aires. Explore the atmospheric 18th-century colonial town, brimming with harmonious architecture, artisan workshops, and history-rich establishments. Amble alongside the pleasant Areco River, or check out the gaucho-inspired collection at the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes, or the eclectic art and antiques on display at the Centro Cultural Usina Vieja (note both are currently closed for renovations indefinitely).
Tack on a visit to a historic estancia (ranch), like the transporting Estancia La Bamba, dating to the 1830s. Their un dia de campo (day in the countryside) package invites day trippers to channel their inner gaucho while horseback riding on the flat open grasslands of the Pampas, followed up by a generous asado (barbecue), a horsemanship show, and alternate activity options like horse carriage rides, biking, fishing, or simply unwinding on the immaculate grounds of the beautiful Estancia hotel (day rates from $140/person).
Take a bus to San Antonio de Areco from the Retiro Bus Terminal ($18 round-trip); the estancia is a 20-minute taxi ride from town (about $36 round-trip).
Follow the Rio de la Plata down about an hour from Buenos Aires to the Tigre Delta, a place where five rivers meet, cradling hundreds of small islets (many of which are now the site of exclusive private homes and spa retreats). Day trippers come for activities like boat tours, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, bird-watching, and hiking. In the town of Tigre, peruse the daily market at the Puerto de Frutos, gain insight into the national obsession with mate at the Museo de Mate ($3), or ogle Argentine art at the Museo de Arte ($3), set in gorgeous century-old belle-epoque building on the waterfront.
Get out to explore Tigre’s signature waterways and remote islands, dotted with stilted houses, with a boat trip out to Isla El Descanso. Here, you can wander zen-inspired botanical gardens, lagoons, bridges, and large-scale contemporary sculptures by renowned Argentinian artists. Day visits include options like afternoon tea, garden cocktails, or a traditional lunch (rates from $27–$120, with local boat transfers).
Tigre is accessible via boat from Puerto Madero (from $6.50 one-way on Sturla), or train from Retiro Station ($.30 one-way).
Polo Days at Puesto Viejo
Set on the grounds of a sprawling former Estancia hotel, just an hour outside of the city center (in Cañuelas), the Puesto Viejo (or "old post") polo club and posh 10-room hotel sprawls out over some 250 acres of Argentine countryside, and was born of an British-Argentinian husband-and-wife team with a shared passion for a popular pastime in both of their native homelands: polo. The sport has enjoyed tremendous success in Argentina, thanks to the country's longtime gaucho tradition and the world-class quality of their horses. Sign up for a full-day "Polo Days" excursion, and you'll have a chance to hop on horseback and have a go at sharpening your own polo skills (it's suitable for beginners), under the tuition of a pro. After a gallant attempt at the game, indulge in a generous asado, complete with free-flowing wines. After lunch, participants will have a chance to observe the speed and skill of the sport in a polo exhibition game, while gaining insight into the rules from a staffer.
Rates are $150/person, inclusive of private round-trip transfers from the city.
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!