During our one-week stopover in Buenos Aires, before heading to Patagonia, we wanted to maximize our time in this vibrant — and huge — South American capitol.
We like visiting big cities occasionally, but we much prefer the quieter, less bustling, more outdoorsy vibe of the outskirts. While planning our week in Buenos Aires, we knew we’d want to leave the city a couple of times.
Thankfully, there are some amazing day trips out of town that are doable in a day and live up to the hype. During our trip, we took two: one to Tigre and one to Colonia del Sacramento. We’ll also talk about a few other options that we researched but did not do ourselves.
Hope you find some helpful information!
Day Trip 1: Tigre
Whenever you combine “Buenos Aires” and the words adventure, outdoorsy, or day trip together in an online search, Tigre will always be included. And for very good reason. Tigre is a town located only a one-hour train ride from the city, but it is a whole other world.
Tigre is a very popular weekend and summer vacation spot for local “portenos” (people from Buenos Aires originally) and there didn’t seem to be many foreign tourists there. The main attraction? The Parana River Delta, which is currently (according to our guide) the world’s fifth largest river delta system. The town of Tigre sits along this delta, and hundreds of islands and channels make up the awesome visitor attraction.
We decided our visit would best be made via kayak (good decision, us!) and we soon we narrowed our search down to a company called El Dorado Kayak.
El Dorado runs several tour options — half day, full day, night excursions, and custom events — for a very reasonable price, relative to U.S. standards. Our afternoon half-day tour cost $600 AR pesos (about $37 USD) per person, and included a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, a boat ride out to a resort, storage of our belongings, safety gear, and use of the resort property when we were finished. We read a detailed blog post (this one) about another traveler’s experience and what drew us to El Dorado was that the meet-up process and logistics of the day seemed so smooth. Our own experience was the same, and we were so grateful for the easy process.
Our guide, Martin, was wonderful! He was very easy to communicate with, and during our tour he pointed out different kinds of birds and trees and gave us a very thorough history of the area. The other three people originally on our tour had gotten sick, so we ended up having a private tour, so that probably added to our good experience.
The kayaking itself was great. We wished we could have been in the boats for a bit longer — it ended up only being about 2 hours — but we were easily able to paddle upstream a ways, past the more congested touristy areas and into the more natural areas of the delta. At our end point, we hopped out and swam for a bit, which felt great on our hot summer day, before returning back the way we came to the resort.
Although the water was murky (it is a river delta after all) the scenery was really gorgeous. The trees canopied the river, and the riverways were very uncrowded in the middle of the week. Colorful houses dotted the banks (near town at least) and it was nice to see where locals go to unwind.
We would highly recommend visiting Tigre during your stay in Buenos Aires, especially if you are outdoorsy or want a little extra adventure.
Day Trip 2: Colonia
There is another day trip from Buenos Aires that we never stopped hearing about, and that is the option of taking a ferry from Buenos Aires across the bay to a small city called Colonia del Sacramento (shortened to Colonia) in the neighboring country of Uruguay.
When we saw this option of adding another country to our trip and after reading the rave reviews, we added it to our Christmas list and booked a ferry through Buquebus. Of the three primary ferry companies that run regularly to Colonia, Buquebus seemed to be the cheapest and most reputable. The round-trip tickets ended up costing us about $1000 AR pesos ($63 USD) each for the cheapest ferry possible. With a bigger budget, you could take the fast ferry in about half the time, or travel on the weekends, or upgrade your ticket to first class. (And if you know us at all, you know we said no thanks to all of that).
The Buquebus ferry reminded us of Alaska’s ferry system: huge, convenient, comfy, and stocked with amenities and concessions, and we arrived in Colonia three hours after departing.
Colonia del Sacramento is Uruguay’s oldest city, and most people that visit stick to the historic district. That’s how we spent our five hours, too. We walked around the cobblestone streets, picked up some delicious food (burgers “completas”) and ice cream, paid a few dollars to climb up in the historic lighthouse, and walked along the shore. It was a very nice day. Nice, but not quite extraordinary.
Of course, when someone hypes up a place so much, the experience is usually at least a little disappointing, and I wouldn’t say our trip to Colonia was at all disappointing. But I would say that it wasn’t completely all it was cracked up to be. If you want a very pleasant day with a picturesque backdrop and some good food (and maybe your budget is not as tight as ours was), you’d very much enjoy Colonia.
Other Day Trips from Buenos Aires (that were recommended but we didn’t visit):
- Historic cities of La Plata or San Antonio de Areco
- Ferrying to Montevideo, Uruguay
- Visiting an Estancia (similar to a dude ranch)