Living in a metropolitan city like Buenos Aires, one probably wants to get away from all the hustling and bustling once in a while. Tigre Delta, Colonia in Uruguay, and una estancia en el campo (a traditional ranch in the countryside) are probably the most likely weekend destinations that come to mind. But do you know there’s another very interesting place, slightly under the radar, also great for an one-day getaway close by? I am referring to the famous little gaucho town, San Antonio de Areco, which is just 2 hours away by bus north of Capital Federal. You can simply catch a bus from the Retiro bus station to get there.
San Antonio de Areco is one of the oldest urban settlements in La Pampa region, and was declared by the Government as the Historical Town of National Interest. It has many national monuments and museums that dedicate to its rich gaucho culture and traditions. The ones that definitely worth a visit are the Parque Criollo and Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes, and Museo Las Lilas de Areco which features a collection of original artworks from the very famous artist Florencio Molina Campos. His depiction in an unique caricature-style of the rural gaucho life has made him a household name since 1930’s and had also collaborated with Walt Disney in the 40’s.
Every November 10 is El Día de La Tradición, a day of gaucho celebrations in San Antonio de Areco. Around that time, there’ll be a lot of organized activities in town with live music, dance performances, parades, handcraft fairs and so on. If you can’t make it there in November, it’s also a very pretty, tranquil place to spend a day. Other than the many interesting museums and cultural centers, you can start walking around the main Plaza Arellano, where you’ll find a lot of cafés, cute artisan shops, almacén (old-school grocery store), bars and antique stores. A few blocks north, you’ll come to the Río Areco with a very picturesque path to walk along.
The town is not big at all so it’s completely walkable, but if you want to venture out a little more out of the center, you can rent bikes from the Tourist Center which is close to the river at the corner of Zerboni and Arellano. They also offer free guided tours on the weekends and public holidays. If you want to immerse even more into the gaucho life, you can ride horses, do historical carriage tours, play polo and have outdoor parrillas. There are definitely a lot of things you can do to fill up a day’s schedule. By early evening time, you can catch the bus again and head back to the city. Just remember to keep an eye on the bus schedule because it is still a small town, the buses going back to the city are only available at certain times.