Herald favorites: Buenos Aires beach towns

Indulge in the porteño tradition of spending summertime near the sea and flee the city heat

Asado, tango, and fleeing to beach towns to escape the humid heat — these are some of the essential time-honored traditions respected by Buenos Aires city-dwellers. The humid heat can become unbearable in January, and with temperatures rarely dropping below 30°C in the summer, even a quick weekend escape to the coast is a welcome break.

With the closest coastline getaway around three hours away by car, there are many potential destinations in Buenos Aires province — here are five of the Herald’s favorites if you’re looking to leave the capital for a bit.

Mar del Plata

Good for: everyone, except nature lovers

We start with the quintessential Argentine beach town. Located just over 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata has become synonymous with Argentine summer.

The birthplace of Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez, Mar del Plata is where generations of Argentines have encountered the sea for the first time. The city’s preeminence as a summer destination meant it grew far and wide. With over 600,000 residents, it towers in size compared to other Buenos Aires beach towns.

Although it is the most crowded place during the high season, Mar del Plata has much to offer throughout the year, with local museums, theaters, eateries, and architecture good enough to stay and enjoy even in the coldest of winters, and 48 kilometers of beaches to choose from.

Photo: Télam

For dinner, we’d like to highlight Vespoli (3 de Febrero 3158, 12:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Thursday to Monday). Trattoria Napolitana Véspoli, which was created by a family of Italian immigrants, became famous as the first place to serve sorrentinos (large, ravioli-style pasta unique to Argentina).

If you’re looking to visit Mar del Plata but prefer to stay in a more quiet and small place, then Chapadmalal is the place to go. Only 10 minutes away by car, connected by bus, and with great waves to surf all year long.

Villa Gesell

Good for: young friends groups, but also families

Located some 110 kilometers north of Mar del Plata, it was founded by Carlos Gesell, who bought a terrain of dunes, planted pine trees, and created a big forest in the center of the town. 

In recent years, Gesell has become the go-to summertime destination for young groups of friends due to cheap housing, increasing services, and the growing nighttime club scene, including the iconic Pueblo Límite at the edge of town.

However, with long beaches, a pine forest nearby ideal for some quiet time, and plenty of commercial and recreational activities at the walkable Avenida Tres, the place is also great for families with young children to get away from the hustle of bigger towns like Mar del Plata.

Be sure to visit the restaurant Pastalandia (Avenida 1 727, 12:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., all week). A traditional beach town restaurant, it offers everything from pasta to fried squid. Be warned; portions are big!

Santa Teresita

Good for: Families and couples

If you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation, Santa Teresita is the place for you. This small beach town offers a relaxed environment — there aren’t any nightclubs around — and wide beaches to enjoy the sun and the sea.

After a day at the beach, you will find the artisans’ fair along the coastline, and you can visit a near-exact replica of Columbus’ Holy Mary caravel.

However, the main attractions are on 2nd Street, which is pedestrian during the evenings. There you will find street performers and artists, theaters, and lots of arcades for the kids. 

There are also dozens of options for dinner — but you can’t miss Parrilla San Miguel, a barbecue restaurant where you can share a fine parrillada or bodegón style dishes with your family. It’s located on 2nd St. 783.


Good for: nature lovers

If spending time surrounded by people like the days of your work life is the last thing you want from your vacation, then Cariló is the place for you. Named after the Mapuche words for green, carí, and sand dune, , you can probably see where this is going.

Much like Gesell, the land was heavily populated with a forest of pines and acacias. A big forest formed, with the town developing within instead of around it. As a result, a walk around Cariló feels like a tour of a fantasy town, with streets going up and down around the trees and wooden structures.

Since then, it has developed into one of the pricier destinations available, so be prepared for it. However, the town offers plenty to do, from excursions through the woods to music concerts, sports, and plenty of commercial activities.

If you visit, don’t forget to try Camelia Sensi (Boyero 1471, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., all week).

Mar de las Pampas

Good for: everyone, especially dog owners

Another beautiful option where soft sandy beaches meet the forest, Mar de las Pampas is one of the most pet-friendly places you could ask to holiday in.

This quiet getaway has seen some gentrification in recent years, with a fairly large new hotel complex on the village’s outskirts, but there are still plenty of cozy cabins you can rent — and the dirt roads might not be for drivers with learner’s permits.

Once you’ve walked through the whimsical paseos with wood-carved dwarves, make sure to visit the large La Pinocha (Al Lucero and Santa Maria corner, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Monday). You may have seen this artisanal chocolate shop and café in Buenos Aires, but it began life right here on the Argentine coast.


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