In the middle of the humid pampa (Argentinian plains), and only a short distance from Buenos Aires, this magnetic town offers visitors a unique opportunity to embrace rural Argentinian traditions surrounded by a breathtaking backdrop.
Declared as the National Capital of Tradition, San Antonio de Areco is considered as one of the best places to go for a classic getaway. This historic town, in the province of Buenos Aires and located only 113 kilometers from the capital, offers travelers the chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours and submerge yourself in enthralling Gaucho culture.
Although the founding of San Antonio de Areco can be traced back to the 18th century, while meandering through cobbled streets and the adjacent old houses in the town’s Historic Center, it seems that no time has passed at all, with rural traditions present at every turn.
But, as well as offering a journey back in time, this colonial destination also boasts a long list of attractions: from museums dedicated to its history, local art galleries, and unforgettable gastronomic experiences to outdoor activities to suit every taste.
Museums in San Antonio de Areco
When it comes to museums, San Antonio de Areco has an extremely varied offer. The Ricardo Güiraldes Gaucho Museum is probably one of the first on the list. Set inside a house which recreates an 18th century farm, here visitors will be able to immerse themselves in Gaucho culture with various historical artefacts, as well as through the well-known work of the writer, Ricardo Güiraldes, who is also the museum’s namesake. Inside its walls, you can also visit the pulpería (tavern) “La Blanqueada”, a symbolic place in “Don Segundo Sombra”, one of the author’s most famous titles.
In the Draghi Workshop Museum, travelers will be able to continue learning about the town’s history, this time through a major collection of rural goldwork from the 19th century. The De Ayer y De Hoy Museum is another unmissable stop, especially for perfume lovers. In this historic museum, 2000 bottles of perfume from different periods are on display – both national and international.
Where to Eat in San Antonio de Areco
A getaway to this town isn’t complete without having visited some of its typical pulperías (taverns), which are characterized by their ever-welcoming atmospheres. Although San Antonio de Areco’s specialty is grilled food, the majority of its restaurants offer menus to suit all palates.
In LaEsquina de Mertí, for example, which can be found on one of the corners of the main plaza, visitors will have the opportunity to taste various dishes whilst at the same time appreciating the antiques on show in the establishment.
The Vieja Sodería is another of the town’s most well-known bars. With an equally informal atmosphere, travelers can sample a classic merienda (afternoon snack)here or try picada (finger food) surrounded by period objects which all goes hand-in-hand with personalized attention from the owners themselves.
San Antonio de Areco is also a synonym for getting in touch with nature. The Old Bridge (Puente Viejo) is, as well as being the oldest construction of its type in the country, one of the most famous postcard images of the town. Built in 1875 over the River Areco, it’s currently only for pedestrian usage and connects to the part of the town which is home to the Criollo Ricardo Güiraldes Park and the Gaucho Museum. When the weather’s good, locals meet up nearby to share a drink of mate and enjoy the area’s charming scenery.
The traditional Circuit of Arquero Artisans (Circuito de los Artesanos Arqueros) is another recommended outdoor activity to enjoy when passing by San Antonio de Areco. The circuit includes stops at the town’s different workshops to discover the behind-the-scenes of the rural craft.
For anyone travelling with kids, in the Carlos MertíZoo and Botanic Gardens, children will be able to come face to face with indigenous Argentinian species and different specimens of the local flora: rosewood, jacaranda and palo borracho, amongst others.
But, without a doubt, one of the most popular plans in San Antonio de Areco is to reserve a day in one of the ranches outside of the town. Anyone who opts for this choice will enjoy barbecues, horse rides, walks and even carriage rides in the middle of the eternally peaceful scenery.
Festival of Tradition
Although San Antonio de Areco can be visited throughout the year, on November 10th, one of the most important Gaucho events in the country takes place in this town: the Festival of Tradition (Fiesta de la Tradición). With many different activities, every year this celebration – which has free entry – turns into a true homage to the local identity.
Anyone can visit the city during these dates, but it’s a good idea to reserve accommodation in advance.
How to Get to San Antonio de Areco
By car: leaving from the center of the Federal Capital, take the Panamericana and National Highway N°9. At the second fork in the road, turn left on the Acceso Norte and take National Highway N°8 until Kilometer 113. The estimated journey time is one and a half hours of driving time.
By bus: In the Retiro Bus Station, the “micros” buses belonging to the companies Nueva Chevallier and Pullman General Belgrano stop at the entrance to the town. The journey lasts approximately two hours.