San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Plaza Arellano, San Antonio de Areco

During the quieter winter months, we invite our Buenos Aires administration team on tours so they can offer first-hand advice to guests who want to travel the province of Buenos Aires. Last weekend we traveled to San Antonio de Areco in the north of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.

Guests often ask us where to travel and stay outside the city of Buenos Aires. If guests are vacationing in Buenos Aires for a short time, their first question is, ‘shall we go to Colonia?’ I do my best to dissuade them, as San Antonio de Areco is always my first choice if tourists are pushed for time.

Guests can see the pampas; see the many historical ‘sign-posts’ left  by the wealthy landed classes of yesteryear; and even take a drink with the gauchos as they relax after a hard day’s toil.

Located 113 kilometers from Buenos Aires City, San Antonio de Areco is the capital of the partido of San Antonio de Areco, declared a city of historic national interest.

Going on an organized tour is the best way to get to San Antonio de Areco or you can go by bus or hire a car.  We chose to hire a car.

We left Recoleta Buenos Aires at 11h30 and headed north on Route 9 to Pilar, as you pass Pilar you need to stay on the same road, relatively straight, easy to follow and well signposted it changes to Route 8 and takes you directly to San Antonio de Areco. Check out our route map and various points of interest.

We cruised along just below the national speed limit much to the annoyance of other drivers who tailgated us, one cutting us up for good measure. Driving in Buenos Aires Province is dangerous and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  The impatience and downright negligence of drivers young and old is both sad and the reason for the appalling number of road deaths annually. Be warned and please be safe.

Finding accommodation can be tough during high season, even during winter there are limited beds available. If you are going to visit San Antonio de Areco and stay for more than the day, we suggest that you reserve accommodation early.

We booked a cheap hotel and fully expected to check in at 14h00 by agreement.

It is with regret that we warn tourists to beware of Hotel Los Abuelos. The hotel’s owners are the most unprofessional shower we have happened across in a decade, if interested click our link – Tourist Warning – Los Abuelos Hotel – San Antonio de Areco.  This is a cheap hotel and we suggest that you avoid booking by telephone.  Amongst other problems, they gave our room away. The ‘Smart-Aleck’ son of the owner / manager found our complaint amusing and told us – ‘we do not care we have many clients’.

Needles to say we spent our first afternoon seeking alternative accommodation.

Even on one of Buenos Aires Province coldest and overcast winter days, you cannot ignore the charm and elegance of this sleepy gaucho town ‘adorned’ with rows of antique colonial houses, built in a very neat grid system of one-way streets around a grand plaza.  Even though disappointed, my team were excited and happy to be outside Buenos Aires City, happily pointing out the wonderful architecture and remarking on the quaintness of this idyllic rural gaucho enclave so close to Capital Federal.  Their enthusiasm lifted our spirits and things quickly got better.

Posta de Vages Chalets

Posta de Vages Chalets

We went to the main Tourist information service at Boulevard Zebroni and Arellano to complain about our treatment and ask for other accommodation options.  My team decided on the wonderfully rustic La Posta de Vagues, which is a San Antonio de Areco estancia, just three kilometers from town.  The set-up is great for couples or groups with basic, but comfortable chalets set up around an old barn, tastefully refurbished as a clubroom and restaurant.  The chalets are perfectly adequate clean and modern, there are no televisions and WiFi is only available in the restaurant and clubroom.

Once settled in our San Antonio de Areco estancia we headed back into to town for a wander around. It was getting dark by this stage, but next day promised sunshine and blue sky so we waited for photo opportunities.

San Antonio de Areco is small and perfectly formed; unless you are heading off riding or fishing, we suggest that a midday arrival and a second full day touring is probably enough for most sightseers.

On Saturday night we dined at a typical Parrilla called Almacen de Ramos Generales on Zapiola, we all had a steak, the meat was how I remembered my beef in Argentina some years ago, even those who liked their meat well-done cut through the steak without effort, and it was just delicious. We had the Trapiche Merlot to accompany our food, which was perfectly drinkable – all four bottles – OUCH! If not in a celebratory mood, we suspect the cost per person with wine would have been around $50 pesos per person.

Boliche de Bessonart local Pulperia

Boliche de Bessonart local Pulperia

There are later bars that you might visit and we opted for a nightcap in the ‘local’ Boliche de Bessonart, a favorite with the local gauchos who are both friendly and welcoming. An old style pulperia where you might take coffee, a beer or two and picadas – cheese and cold assorted meats.

We retired at midnight so we might get an early start.

We went for breakfast at 10h00 and enjoyed a good continental breakfast Argentine style with lots of medialunas, cakes, cereal and local dulce de leche.

The owner of La Posta de Vagues invited us later to an asado that is a Sunday tradition, she said that there would be music and plenty to eat and that was enough for us, so lunch arranged we went for a walk.

San Antonio de Areco

San Antonio de Areco

Sunday was blissful, cold but not in the sun, it was just glorious. We walked around town taking photos of all the wonderful old buildings, and orange tree lined streets and finally headed for a walk along the Areco River that runs through the north of town.  The river is good fishing and there were a number of locals renting rods and bait. Along the river, there are lots of photo opportunities and organized tables and grills to picnic your own asado. If you want to drive into the San Antonio de Areco and make your own barbecue there are many great spots to choose from. Our guides often choose to make and teach the art of good asado cooking rather than take our guests to a restaurant when we organize tours.  You get to choose your own menu and wines according to budget.

We headed back for lunch at 15h00, just in time for the music that turned out to be an Argentine folk and tango sing-along, and the best asado we had eaten for a while, it was very good and only $60 pesos for two! We left San Antonio de Areco at 17h00, arriving back in Buenos Aires city at 19h30.  Everyone enjoyed their short break and would return with their families when they had the chance – overall, a great weekend break.

Should you wish to visit San Antonio de Areco for the day, 08h00 departure to 20h00 arrival back to BA, we suggest you contact Buenos Aires Experience ask for further details.

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