Off the Beaten Path: Day Trip to Luján

luján 2

PH: Julian Ortiz

Luján is a small town to the West of Buenos Aires province that is known for its stunning basilica which gathers thousands of devotees of the Luján Virgin Mary -Patroness of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay- year round. The beautiful basilica square is surrounded by cafés, small restaurants and santerías and is an interesting place because of its architecture and unique social activity.  Nearby the basilica is the Luján river where people gather in the weekends to make asados on the river banks, and if you’re into Stephen King kind of quirky there is also an eerie fun park and a haunted house in the town to explore.

If you’re travelling with kids, the Luján zoo is nearby the town center, has a small museum and is a great place for them to play with farm animals, pet a tiger, and enjoy some time outdoors.

How to get there:  The 57 bus to Luján/Mercedes leaves from Plaza Italia  every 30 minutes or so and drops you off at the Luján terminal which is right beside the Town square. Sube ticket is $AR 50 each way, so make sure to charge the full fare beforehand, and expect a long line on weekends on your way back. The bus ride takes approximately 1 1/2 hours depending on traffic.

 

Luján es un pueblo pequeño al oeste de la provincia de Buenos Aires, conocido por la imponente Basílica Nuestra Señora del Luján que todos los años convoca a miles de devotos de esta virgen patrona de Argentina, Paraguay y Uruguay. La hermosa plaza donde está ubicada la iglesia está rodeada de cafés, restaurantes y santerías y es un lugar interesante de descubrir tanto por su belleza arquitectónica como por su convocatoria social.  Cerca de la basílica está el Río Luján donde los fines de semana se junta gente a hacer asados en las orillas, y para quienes gusten de excentricidades al estilo Stephen King, también hay un parque de diversiones y una casa embrujada. 

Para los que viajan con niños, también existe la opción de ir al zoológico de Luján, a las afueras del pueblo, donde se puede jugar con animales de granja, acariciar a un tigre y visitar un pequeño museo. 

Cómo llegar: El colectivo 57 ramal Luján/Mercedes sale cada media hora aproximadamente de Plaza Italia y para en la terminal de Luján, al lado de la basílica.  El pasaje cuesta 50 pesos argentinos y se paga con SUBE por lo que es importante llevar la tarjeta cargada. El viaje en colectivo tarda aproximadamente 1 hora y media, dependiendo del tránsito, y suele ir bastante lleno de regreso a Capital los fines de semana. 

 

 

 

3 Off the Beaten Path Parks in Buenos Aires

One of the great things about Buenos Aires is that despite being a big city, it’s got plenty a park and trees. In the Palermo area, the Botanical Garden in Plaza Italia and the stunning 3 de Febrero parks are common attractions for locals and tourists, but for those that like to stray out a little more, we chose 3 off the beaten path parks in Buenos Aires that are also well worth exploring.

1- Parque de la Memoria

pensar es un hecho revolucionario

PH: Gustav´s

This spot along the coast of the Río de la Plata was created to commemorate the victims of the military coup. It’s outdoor sculptures and monuments by the river side, its quality art exhibit, and its archives and documentation center make it an interesting place to learn more about the local identity and indelibly marked by this tragic moment of the local history. Avenida Costanera Norte Rafael Obligado 6745, downtown.

2- Parque Centenario

parque centenario

PH Beatrice Murch

Located in Caballito and designed by Carlos Thays, Parque Centenario is a favourite in the area where people often gather to spend some time outdoors and share some mates. There is a small lake in the middle, as well as an astronomy association on the side of the premises, an amphitheatre where there is usually a program of free live concerts,  Argentine Museum of National Sciences, and a weekend book fair.  Av. Patricias Argentinas, Caballito

3- Parque Avellaneda

casa olivares

PH paula soler-moya

A little further away,  in the neighborhood of Flores, is this stunning park with a little choo choo train that goes around it and a contemporary arts center located in the beautiful Casona de los Olivera which dates back to the 1800’s.  Av. Directorio and Lacarra, Flores. 

 

 

Off the Beaten Path: Day Trip to Gouin

gouin-1

PH Mauricio Genta

Buenos Aires is a large province, and although known for its vibrant city capital, there are many small towns in the city outskirts that preserve a local feel which remits to another time in history. One such place is Gouin where the old train station, traditional lunching spots and open countryside make for an inviting quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The town is a 2 hour drive away from the city center,  10km off from the larger Carmen de Areco (not to be confused with San Antonio de Areco), which is also an interesting place to stop by. It has only 122 inhabitants, a small church, a park, an old train station and three lunch spots:

Restaurante La Estación in the old train station. 02273- 15-406056

Pulpería Don Tomás which serves cold cuts, homemade pasta and asados prepared by the owners.  02273-15-406865 / 02325-15-657425

Pulpería “La Mora” on Calle Andrade y Rivadavia  attended by a lady called Carmen López. Cel: 02273-15-409706

The town’s attractions include the chapel, the San Martín park and a fair with regional products in front of the park that opens on weekends.

Rosario Getaway

(Photo by pablodf)

Rosario is the third largest city in Argentina, after Buenos Aires and Cordoba, and, at just 298 km from the capital, it is a common destination for Porteños on a short visit. It´s architectural and historical relevance, as well as its vibrant cultural life and privileged setting over the Paraná River, make it an interesting place to visit.

The most popular attractions include the monument to the Argentine flag, where it was first hoisted in 1812; the Plaza San Martin, which is surrounded by Italian neo-renaissance, German neoclassic and art deco architectural styles; an art nouveau- modernist route; the art deco Pasaje Monroe; Batten Cottage, which looks like a street out of London; Parque de España, which was funded by the Spanish and opens to the Paraná river; El Bajo, a neighborhood that overlooks the river with cultural and gastronomic options; the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Rosario (MACRo) which exhibits the largest collection of Argentine contemporary art in the country. and the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Juan B. Castagnino (the largest after the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires).  Of course, the Paraná River is an attraction in itself and there are many water related activities to participate in as well. Additionally, Rosario is the birthplace of many renowned Argentines including artist Antonio Berni, comic artist Fontanrosa, the polemic Che Guevara, and football star Messi.

How to get there:

Local flights to Rosario are offered by Aerolinas Argentinas and leave from Aeroparque every day. The flight lasts approximately an hour and a two-way ticket costs approximately 600 pesos, depending on the season.

There are also two trains that leave from Retiro train station from Monday- Friday and take approximately 7 hours. Returns from Rosario are from Sunday-Thursday. A one-way ticket costs between 20-70 pesos depending on the train and seating. The train schedule is available here.

Another option is to go by bus. The drive takes approximately 3-5 hours (depending on the service) leaving from Retiro bus station and there are many companies that offer this route. One-way tickets cost approximately 150 pesos. (Find tickets with Urquiza here.)

Where to stay:

Pullman City Center Rosario: This 5 star hotel has a casino, tennis courts, pool and more.

Barisit House Hotel: This centric boutique hotel is a renovated house from the 1900´s. It is ideally located and it has a pool and serves a buffet breakfast.

Day Trip to La Plata

(Photo by mccopa)

La Plata is the capital of Buenos Aires province. It is commonly referred to as the “ciudad de los tilos” (linden city) because its streets and squares are lined with linden trees. Its most common nickname however, is “ciudad de las diagonales” (city of diagonals), because urban planner Pedro Benoit, designed its unique city grid full of diagonal streets with small parks or squares every six blocks. It also has rich architecture including a Le Corbusier building, the Catedral de La Plata, which is the largest church in Argentina, and La Plata University, which includes an observatory and a natural history museum, amongst others.

Some places to visit:

Museo de Ciencias Naturales de La Plata: This famous natural sciences museum has a permanent exhibit that traces the history of life from the inorganic to the organic and concluding with mankind and culture. It showcases over 2,500,000 objects including dinosaur fossils. Open Tue-Sun from 10am-6pm. Tickets 6pesos. Paseo del Bosque S/Nº. La Plata. (54-221) 425-7744 / 9161 / 9638. museo@museo.fcnym.unlp.edu.ar.

Catedral Metropolitana de La Plata: This stunning New Gothic style church is the largest in Argentina, and has 37 French and German vitraux, impressive carvings and religious icons and an ecclesiastic museum.  Open Mon-Sat 9am-7pm and Sundays from 9am-8pm. calle 14 between 51 and 53. La Plata. museocatedral@speedy.com.ar.

Casa Curutchet: Swiss architect Le Corbusier built this house for Dr. Curutchet between 1949 and 1953. Now a day it is leased to the Colegio de Arquitectos and can be visited from Tuesday- Friday between 10am-2pm. Entry fee: 40 pesos. 53 Street # 320. La Plata. – Buenos Aires – Argentina. casacurutchet@capba.org.ar.

Parque Provincial Pereyra Iraola: This natural reserve on the outskirts of La Plata city once belonged to the aristocratic Pereyra Iraola family. The premises, which spread over 10,000 hectares, have over 100 tree species, and are commonly visited for bird-watching and horseback riding. It is also an architectural landmark as it has a pampa-style estancia from the 1800’s, where the family lived.

República de Los Niños: This Disney-style children’s theme park on the outskirts of La Plata was built in the early fifties for civic learning. The team of architects based the design on stories by Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm brothers and legends by Tennyson and Mallory. The park also includes a doll museum with dolls from all over the world. The theme park can be visited every day from 10am-6pm and costs 10pesos to get in. Camino General Belgrano and 501, M. B. Gonnet, La Plata. 0221-484-1409.

How to get to La Plata:

The best option is to take a long distance bus from Retiro, which takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic and on the bus. Buses leave every twenty minutes from the Retiro bus terminal, and tickets cost 20 pesos for the fast bus and 10 pesos for the slower bus that also stops at Constitucion. The bus service is Terminal Costera linea 195 and the timetable is available here.

Another option, which takes longer, is to take the train from the Constitución Train Station. See timetable here.

There is also an English Tour of La Plata with hotel pick-up and drop-off. More information here.

We Recommend: Graffitimundo Tours

(Photo by dandeluca)

Street art has become increasingly popular in cities worldwide and has resignified art by brining it out of the academic context and into the city for every passer-by to see. Buenos Aires of course, with it’s flourishing artistic and design community,  is no exception, and it is common to find stunning visuals painted onto once forgotten walls of the different neighborhoods, which thanks to the intervention of young and cutting edge artists have recovered their appeal.

Aiming to promote the urban art scene in Buenos Aires, Graffitimundo offers off the beaten path tours of the city’s street art. Group tours, Bike tours and Private tours are available for those interested in learning more about these unique murals and the political and social context behind them.  For those looking to get involved in the creative process itself they offer a great stencil workshop as well.

More information on Graffitimundo tours, workshops and local street artists here.

Off the Beaten Path: Day trip to La Campiña

(Photo by gotencool)

Set in the Buenos Aires town of San Pedro, La Campiña is a 25 year old orange farm owned by a couple who wished to turn their love for the land into their life. Now a days the farm not only cultivates over 100,000 fruit trees, wheat and soy, it is also open for public visits and special lunches made from La Campiñas own  produce.

Visits include a tour of the orange plantation (with the added joy of the orange blossoms perfume in the spring), of the selection process, of a dovecot, jam making area, storage and the restaurant.

La Campiña is open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10AM with the last guided tour starting at 4.45pm.  Charters to San Pedro and back are offered by Turismo Billoch and take approximately two hours and a half to get there.

Whilst you are in the area you can also visit the charming town of San Pedro, set on the shores of the Parana River. The town, which is a fruit and fishing paradise and is famous for its ensaimadas, has some excellent views and is also home of an old battle field (La Vuelta de Obligado) and of a museum showcasing renowned artist Fernando Garcia Curtens work.

 

We Recommend: Isla Martín García

(Photo by Ostrosky Photos)

Between Argentina and Uruguay, in the middle of the Rio de la Plata is a scantly populated island called Martín García, one of Buenos Aires´ natural reserves and historical landmarks.

The island, which was discovered by the expedition of Juan Díaz de Solís in 1516 was initially used as a prison 1765 until 1886 since it was very difficult to escape from due to the turbulent waters around it. Later on it was also used as a political prison and military garrison and some of the country’s most important and controversial political figures such as Marcelo Alvear,  Hipolito Yrigoyen, Juan Domingo Peron and Arturo Frondizi  served time there.

Now a days the island functions as a tourist destination and ecological reserve with over 800 species of plants, and more than 250 species of birds. Historical sites include a museum, a lighthouse, the prisons and a cemetery amongst others. The island is also famous for its Panettone.

 

How to get there

There are only two ways to get to the island, one is by a light aircraft which takes approximately 20 minutes from the city, and the other is by the Cacciola boat company in Tigre which offers day trip excursions including snacks and lunch and also overnight excursions with lodging at the only hostel in the Island.  Aircraft information here. La Cacciola here.

Day Trip to Tigre

(Photo by escalepade)

 

At the starting point of the Paraná delta, in the outskirts of the city, is the town of Tigre, set on an island lined by small rivers and streams. This rugged location surrounded by nature offers a variety of attractions including canoeing,  kayak  and other excursions by boat, trekking, ecotourism, motorboat and commuter boats to take you to different places on the riverside, restaurants, spas, tea-houses, picnic sites, a naval museum, an art museum, a mate museum, a casino, a crafts fair and an amusement park.

How to get there:

By train:

The train is one of the fastest ways to get to Tigre and you have the option of taking the regular train or the “Tren de la Costa” which includes a scenic view and the possibility to stop at different train stations where you can shop for antiques (Borges station) or organic food (San Fernando station on Saturdays.)

Direct train from Retiro Terminal Station
- At Retiro station you have to take Mitre line train going to Tigre. Trip duration: 50 minutes.

Tren de la Costa from Retiro
 Terminal Station

1. Retiro to Tren de la Costa: At Retiro station you have to take the Mitre line train heading to Mitre station. Once you have arrived at Mitre station you have to cross the bridge over Maipu 2600 Ave, which takes you to Maipu station of Tren de la Costa.

2. Maipú station of “Tren de la Costa” to Tigre: At Maipu station of Tren de la Costa you have to take the train going to the Delta. It is a 30-minute long trip in a modern train with a beautiful view of Rio de la Plata and you can get on and off as you please.

Getting to Tigre by bus- Take Line 60 bus which starts its route at Constitucion. Trip duration: 90 minutes.

Getting to Tigre by car- Take Panamericana Highway up to Acceso Norte, then Tigre road on the ‘Autopista del Sol’

For a great lunch on your way to Tigre stop by Tipula, a Spanish inspired gourmet restaurant belonging to Fierro Hotel’s chef, Hernan Gipponi. Vicente Lopez 76, Martinez. 4793-7185.

Off The Beaten Path: Tito Ingenieri’s Bottle House

 

(Photo by Justin Bugsy Sailor)

Six million bottles are the building blocks of sculptor Tito Ingenieri’s home.  The project, which began 21 years ago after a few other impressive feats, such as walking to Peru, and building a theatre out of junk (to name a few), was born from economic need, the desire to have a unique home and the search to transform garbage into something useful. The unique house, set in Quilmes, is also surrounded by Tito’s sculptures and has become a neighborhood emblem. Although it is not officially open to the public, it is the artists desire that the house, on Av. 25 de Mayo and Los Naranjos, be turned into a museum and that the philosophy of building with recycled material expand.