Mar del Plata is the second most visited city in Argentina after Buenos Aires, but the majority of its visitors come from within the country. It has a complex and large infrastructure for tourism including hotels, beach clubs, restaurants, casinos, golf and sports venues.
There is no trains or tube here, only buses and they are not that good. So the best you can do is to hire a car if you want to move freely or use taxis. If you come by plane you can do it at the airport. If you are brave and willing to practice your Spanish, then you can use some of the buses, which are quite cheap. Number 221 goes along the cost so one ride would be a good and cheap tour.
The Coastal Tour
The best spot to start a coastal tour is in the southern end of the city and drive all over the coast, stopping in the places/beaches you like. Here you can find the best beaches in the city according to all the locals, the so-called “playas del Sur” (southern beaches). Some of them are La Reserva, La Caseta, Mirador 9 and Mute. I strongly recommend the latter. It has more space and facilities and it is less crowded. They also organise events bringing national and international artists such as Marco Carola, Solomun, Above and Beyond and John Digweed.
The second point of interest (heading north) is the city’s lighthouse. Next to it there is an aquarium called “Aquarium“. Then you can get into the pier/port. There you can walk to a wharf (“fishermen wharf”) where there are a lot of little yellow ships and you can also see another wharf full of seals (a special type, called “marine wolf”). Then you have plenty of restaurants to eat good and fresh fish. I would recommend Viento en Popa or Lo de Fran. For a good summary of the food you must try in Argentina check out this post and for the best restaurants in Mar del Plata check this one.
Then you keep driving north and you will pass the golf club and then you will get to “Playa Grande” (big beach). It’s the most popular beach in the city. It is always overcrowded but it is nice. In the south end of it, there is a place called Quba, one of the best spots in the city. You can eat and drink during the day or night looking at the sea, and you can also dance and meet locals (it becomes a nightclub) from 1 a.m. until around 5 a.m., just in time for the sunrise.
You keep driving north and you will pass a park and in front of it a beach with rocks. Then you will see another good place to eat called Manolo. There you MUST eat “churros con dulce de leche”.
Keep driving again you will pass the Casino. The beaches at that point are not that nice. In front, you have a fountain with lights (good to see during the night). And you have the only pedestrian-only street called “Peatonal San Martin”. Most locals don’t like it but it is a tourist place.
Keep driving again you get to “Avenida Constitucion”. And there you will find a modern art museum.
All that journey can take one full day or the whole weekend, depending on the time to spend at the beach or restaurants. The following map shows the full path.
More places to visit
It is the street where the Saint Jeanne Hotel is. There are good shops, coffee shops, and pubs. Again you must eat medialunas (croissants) from SAO or Boston patisseries. You should also visit Antares which is the best beer in the city, and probably of the whole country. And don’t forget to try Alfajores Havanna.
It is next to Playa Grande beach. It used to be the street where all the parties took place. All late pubs and clubs closed or moved after years of arguments between residents and club owners. But there are some good coffee shops and restaurants.
Costa & Pampa Winery
Costa & Pampa started as an experiment by the popular winery Trapiche, and actually, it is still considered as such. With quite different weather and altitude than Mendoza, and only 6 k.m. away from the sea, the area is now able to produce quality whites and sparkling.
Visit our post “Visiting Costa & Pampa winery in Mar del Plata” for more information.
Museums and historical places
There are a few museums, art galleries and cultural centres.
- Centro Cultural Victoria Ocampo
- Museum of Contemporary art MAR
- Juan Carlos Castagnino Municipal Art Museum
- La Casa del Puente
Sierra (and Laguna) de Los Padres
If you still have time and the weather is not as sunny and hot as usual (in summer), you can go 15 km into the countryside and find Sierra de los Padres. You can drive around a few hills and there are good places to have afternoon tea. There is also a golf club and a very beautiful boutique hotel such as La Rocchetta and places to have Asado.
Before that, you will pass Laguna de los Padres, a small lake with various recreational areas to have a barbecue and spend the day. Sport fishing and rowing are the main recreational activities.
Where to stay
One 4-star hotel I would recommend is Saint Jeanne, on Guemes Street.
Otherwise, you can find all kinds of hotels, flats, guesthouses, etc. I would recommend staying close to Guemes Street or Playa Grande (if possible) and not in the city centre. Booking.com or Airbnb can help you.
Where to eat
Check our “Best restaurants in Mar del Plata” post to find the best places to have all kinds of food in town, including coffee, ice cream, pastries, beer and more.
I would like to highlight a couple of places, as follows.
- Sarasa Negro: the most sophisticated and expensive on the list and one of the best restaurants in the country. Extensive wine selection with a cellar in the basement.
- Lo de Tata: delicious seafood in a cosy restaurant with vintage decoration. You can try several small dishes as starters, to then order the fish of the day (“pesca del dia), which is for 2 or 3 people.
- Trattoria Napolitana: very traditional place, run (or used to) by the Italian “Chiche Vespoli”. Best Sorrentinos I’ve ever had. They actually invented this type of pasta.
To have a better idea about Argentinean food, you can read about its traditional cuisine in this post.