Central Argentina Holiday Planning Guide
Whether you're taking a trip to Central Argentina for business, adventure, or romance, this area encompassing three provinces and over 7 million people promises to show you how to eat like royalty, ride like a gaucho, and celebrate local culture like a native. The three provinces--Santa Fe, Entre Rios, and Cordoba--boast a lively economy based on the production of grain, milk, cattle, vegetable oils, and agricultural machinery. In an area known for its distinct cuisine and local festivals, visitors on a vacation in Central Argentina rarely miss a chance to discover the Andes on horseback, stock up on authentic leather goods, and sample some of the country's finest wines.
Places to Visit in Central Argentina
Destinations in Central ArgentinaMar del Plata
: One of the country's most popular vacation resorts, the so-called "Happy City" offers a range of sun-drenched activities and cultural attractions for a Central Argentina vacation.Cordoba
: Soak up the country's exciting history on the streets of Argentina's second-largest city, lined with well-preserved colonial architecture and the ruins of 17th-century Jesuit buildings.La Plata
: This mini version of the national capital attracts tourists with its Belle Epoque architecture, tree-lined plazas, imposing churches, impressive parks, and a top-notch natural history museum.Villa Carlos Paz
: Situated at the rim of the Punilla Valley, one of the province's most popular outdoor spots, this popular getaway offers a plethora of recreational activities and a considerable nightlife scene.Tandil
: This green city serves as a haven for visitors seeking adventure and relaxation in the great outdoors.Tigre
: Situated on a rich delta, this 19th-century trading hub promises a Central Argentina holiday full of river cruises, rowing excursions, and tours of craft markets and elegant historical homes.
Popular Central Argentina Tourist AttractionsZOO Lujan
: A visit to this controversial menagerie, sometimes called the "extreme petting zoo," allows you to get up close to some of the world's most dangerous and majestic predators, especially lions and tigers.Temaiken Biopark
: Explore Argentina's native species, including the beloved capybara--the world's largest rodent--roaming freely in the immersive habitats of Temaiken Biopark.Puerto de Mar del Plata
: One of the fixtures of Central Argentina sightseeing, this seaside city allows you to admire local life on the water.Delta El Tigre
: One of the region's most important former trading ports invites you to explore its vast network of waterways, with glimpses of colonial-era mansions and waterfront settlements along the way.El Paseo Buen Pastor
: Once an asylum and prison and now a popular Central Argentina tourist attraction, this massive complex hosts outdoor concerts, art exhibits, dance performances, plays, tours, and many other cultural events.Coast park
: Featuring rock-climbing walls, laser tag games, and thrilling roller-coasters, this amusement park is a must-visit family attraction in the north of Buenos Aires.Catedral de la Plata
: One of the biggest cathedrals in South America, the Neo-Gothic Catedral de la Plata impresses with its soaring twin spires and cavernous interior illuminated through expansive stained glass windows.Museo Histórico UNC - Manzana Jesuítica
: One of the most picturesque areas of Cordoba, this historic neighborhood preserves the legacy of the 17th-century Jesuit missionaries.Cerro El Centinela
: Watching over the plains below, this hill is probably the most distinctive rock formation you'll see on your Central Argentina tours.Reloj Cucu - Villa Carlos Paz
: A great source of pride for the locals, this admittedly tacky clock attracts a crowd of visitors with its distinctive mechanical display.
Planning a Central Argentina Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Central Argentina with Kids
There are many places to visit in Central Argentina when traveling with your family, ranging from sunny beach resorts and rural cattle ranches to quaint little towns and neighborhoods with rich colonial heritage.
Apart from its charming capital La Plata
, considered in many ways a tiny version of the national capital, the Province of Buenos Aires
serves as a window into traditional gaucho culture and the country's rural way of life.
Popular oceanside resorts make a relaxing setting for a family holiday in Central Argentina. Mar del Plata
offers numerous attractions your kids will enjoy, from watching local fishermen at the harbor to taking in panoramic views from the top of the city's tower. The beaches near the port to the south of the city include some of the best amenities and feature some magnificent rock outcrops surrounded with green areas perfect for children.
Visit the town of Tigre
, known as a subtropical Little Venice, and take a day tour of the Parana River delta on a restored vintage boat. Spot the wildlife, take in the lush nature, and stop off at a rustic riverside restaurant for a healthy family lunch.
For a glimpse of some cultural and historic spots and World Heritage Sites, take your kids to Cordoba
, one of the oldest cities in Argentina.
Things to Do in Central Argentina with Kids
A trip to Central Argentina promises a balanced family vacation filled with equal amounts of natural and cultural attractions, combining fun and learning experiences.
Meet the world's largest and cutest rodent at Temaiken Biopark
, and watch the other rare and exotic animals roaming freely. Then head to Mundo Marino
to get acquainted with dolphins, sea lions, elephant seals, emperor penguins, and the only captive orca in South America. If you have little ornithologists in the family, bring them to Reserva Natural
, a man-made forest that shelters numerous bird species.
For an engrossing educational experience, let your children inspect fossils of sloths and saber-toothed tigers and learn about the physical and cultural evolution of humankind at Museo de La Plata
offers a whole day of family fun, which includes rock-climbing, a game of laser tag, and a thrilling roller-coaster. To experience a range of outdoor activities in a waterfront setting, like kayaking or strolling along the lake, visit Lago y Dique del Fuerte
Finally, don't miss the region's attractive beaches. With its calm, clear, swimmable waters and green picnic areas, Valeria del Mar Beach
particularly appeals to families with small children.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Central Argentina
As in most other South American nations, Argentinians love children, so it is common to get discounts for small children in hotels, restaurants, and museums. You'll also see lots of parents with young children and toddlers staying out quite late, so consider doing the same while on your Central Argentina holiday, especially if your kids don't show signs of fatigue. Reserving a hotel with a kitchenette and a pool can be a good idea during summer. If traveling with a toddler, consider bringing a baby carrier--crowded and uneven sidewalks are not particularly stroller-friendly.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Central Argentina
Cuisine of Central Argentina
On your Central Argentina vacation, you will find that the regional cuisine is, just like the rest of the country's cooking, heavily influenced by its European heritage, notably Spanish and Italian.
If you enjoy grilled meats, visit one of Cordoba's
traditional steak restaurants--the popular parrillas. Most of these establishments also serve tasty pasta and fish, but if you want to try something really exotic go for mollejas al sauvignon blanc (sweetbreads in a white wine sauce).
During the afternoon siesta, nibble on warm criollitos, soft butter cookies with parmesan cheese, and sip on your mate like a local. Those with a sweet tooth should sample the different flavors of alfajores--local cookies filled with dulce de leche. Limonadas con soda, or squeezed lemon juice mixed with soda water, will cool you down on a hot day. Partygoers should try the popular mixed drink of Fernet con Coca Cola, made from an aromatic herbal liquor brought to Argentina by Italian settlers.
Shopping in Central Argentina
The city of Cordoba offers some of the best shopping in Central Argentina. Stroll through its bohemian neighborhood, Paseo de las Artes
, to see what hip local designers have to offer. The stalls of the weekend street market are stacked with handmade jewelry, leather goods, knitwear, mate sets, and paintings. If you're looking for an authentic gift to bring home from your Central Argentina trip, silver bombillas (straws for drinking mate) or soft, reddish leather goods made from carpincho (South America's native rodent) should do.
The artisan's market next to Iglesia Santo Domingo
offers some more souvenir choices, such as local pottery, onyx crafts, and wool rugs made by Dominican friars. Other atmospheric outdoor shopping spaces include Camino del Jaguel
, where you can shop for local perfumes; Maschwitz Market
, an offbeat spot filled with redesigned second-hand clothes; and Puerto de Frutos
, a lively dock area known for wicker handicrafts and wooden furniture.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Central Argentina
Interesting Facts About Central Argentina
● Central Argentina is home to the widest river mouth in the world, the 200 km (124 mi) wide Rio de la Plata estuary.
● Cordoba boasts Argentina's oldest university, and was also crowned the Cultural Capital of the Americas in 2006.
● Juan Peron renamed the Province of Buenos Aires and its capital city La Plata
after his wife Eva Peron during his dictatorship between 1946 and 1955.
● The population in the region's most popular tourist destination, Mar del Plata
, nearly triples during peak season.
Holidays & Festivals in Central Argentina
Those with an interest in folk traditions may want to plan their Central Argentina trip for January, when some 100,000 visitors from all over the country and the world come to Cosquin
to celebrate the National Festival of Folklore. This colorful event was established in 1961 and remains one of the most important folk music festivals in Latin America. During its nine days, which represent the nine moons of Cosquin, you can observe numerous performances, such as folk dance ballets, and participate in interesting courses and workshops taught by artists and scholars in the famous "boulders" (artists' tents). Few will forget singing and dancing with the revelers around riverside bonfires, or learning a few words in the native Quechua and Guarani languages.
Useful Central Argentina Travel Tips
Climate of Central Argentina
In general, Central Argentina enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Spring (late September to early December) and fall (March to June) are the best times to visit if you want to avoid temperature extremes. Winter nights can be frosty, especially at higher altitudes, with temperatures dropping below freezing. In Cordoba, July is the coldest month (average temperature 11 C [52 F]) and January the warmest (average temperature 24 C [75 F]).
Coastal cities boast an oceanic climate with mild summers and cool winters. Summer temperatures in Mar del Plata hover around 20 C (68 F). As you move farther inland from the Atlantic coast on your Central Argentina tour, the climate changes from humid to semi-humid and semi-arid near the border with Cuyo region. The town of Tigre
, which serves as a gateway to the Parana Delta, has the warmest, wettest climate in the whole region and receives a lot of rainfall in summer and early fall (December through March).
Transportation in Central Argentina
Besides common means of transportation like city buses, colectivos (local buses), taxis, and remises (unmarked radio taxis with fixed fairs), there are more exciting ways to cross distances on your Central Argentina itinerary. For example, while in San Isidro try horseback riding and cycling with Argentina Extrema
. Also, don't miss the opportunity to hop on a boat and explore the lush nature of the Lujan River between the towns of San Fernando and Tigre. As in the rest of Argentina, car rental is an option if your itinerary takes you across large distances.