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Why Should I Visit Mar del Plata? A Guide for Visiting the Beach Area of Buenos Aires

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There are so many incredible places to visit in Argentina! From the stunning Iguazu Falls to the grand Perito Moreno, there are a variety of landscapes that Argentinians are proud of. The beach actually isn't one of those. So you may be wondering -why should I visit Mar del Plata then?


While the beaches certainly don't compare to those in Brazil, this coastal city remains one of the most popular vacation destination for porteños. I'm not going to lie- I didn't have such high hopes for our weekend getaway, but I ended up falling in love with Mar del Plata, and the unique charm that it has to offer.


In this guide I'm going to share all of the hidden gems we found throughout the city, the best beaches to visit, and some fun places to eat and drink. You'll learn how to get there, how to get around, and everything else you'll need to know for visiting- so let's dive right in to Argentina's favorite beach town!

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Where is Mar del Plata?

Mar del Plata is located on the east coast of Argentina in the province of Buenos Aires. It is a little over 400 km south of the capital, and is 4 1/2-5 hours away driving.

where is Mar del Plata in Argentina

Mar del Plata is in the south of the province of Buenos Aires.


How to Get to Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata can be easily reached from Buenos Aires by flight, train, bus, or by renting a car.


Flying to Mar del Plata

The most convenient way to get to Mar del Plata is by hopping on a quick one-hour flight. Aerolineas Argentinas offers a few flights a day, and they leave conveniently out of AEP, which is the smaller airport located right inside the city.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Mar del Plata.

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Trains to Mar del Plata

Another convenient option (and the cheapest) is to take the train from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata. Tickets are 2,700 pesos and the ride is 5 1/2 hours leaving from Plaza Constitucion. This is a great option if you are traveling with a lot of things, or want to have a fun ride with a group of friends.


They sell food on the train, you can bring your bike, and they have AC onboard Just make sure to book your train tickets early, as they sell out far in advance.


If you take the train, make sure to confirm your trip between 48-72 hours before your trip.


Buses to Mar del Plata

Another cheap option for getting to Mar del Plata is by taking the bus, which is a 6-hour ride. It's actually more expensive than the train, but there are way more options for times, and you can also get seats that recline all the way down if you want to sleep.


Typically, we use Busbud to book our bus tickets around the world. However, in Argentina there is a local site which is much cheaper! Rather than finding a ticket for $35 USD, the local site sells the tickets starting at 11,000 pesos ($12.50 USD), with fully reclining seats for around 16,000 pesos ($18,50 USD).


We suggest checking the site beforehand to see if there are seats open, and go directly in person to pay in cash, as this is the overall cheapest option.


Renting a Car to Visit Mar del Plata

We honestly think the most fun way to visit Mar del Plata is by taking a road trip. At just 4 1/2 hours away, it's not too far, and there is also an iconic medialuna place along the way called Atalaya.


We used Fede's mom's car, but you can easily rent a car in the city of Buenos Aires, or at either of the airports.


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Argentina Entry Requirements

One of the most important things to know before traveling somewhere new is what the requirements for entering the country are. Here are the entry requirements for Argentina in regards to visas and Covid,


Visa Entry Requirements for Argentina

Argentina is a pretty accepting country when it comes to tourism, and there are many countries that can visit visa-free for a period of up to 90 days. The nationalities from the Americas that can visit Argentina without a visa include BoliviaBrazil, Canada, ColombiaCosta RicaChileEcuadorEl Salvador, Guatemala, GuyanaHondurasMexicoNicaraguaPanama, Paraguay, Peru, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and the USA.


European countries which can visit Argentina visa-free include Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, BulgariaCroatia, Czech Republic, CyprusDenmarkEstonia, Finland, France, GeorgiaGermanyGreeceHungaryIreland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, PortugalRomaniaRussia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, SwitzerlandTurkeyUnited Kingdom, and Vatican City.


Other nationalities that can stay for up to 90 days in Argentina include Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. Venezuelans can stay for a period of up to 60 days, and people from Grenada, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia can stay for a period of up to 30 days.


Covid Entry Requirements for Argentina

Covid is finally a thing of the past in Argentina. All requirements have now been dropped, so you can freely enter the country whether or not you are vaccinated. Masks are no longer necessary, nor do many people wear them anymore.


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Mar del Plata Local Adjustments

Whenever traveling to new cities or countries, there are certain things that may be different than home. These are what we like to call "local adjustments" and are something we include in all of our guides. Here are some of them that you should know about for when you visit Mar del Plata in Argentina.


What Language Do They Speak in Argentina?

The official language in Mar del Plata is the same language as the rest of Argentina, which is Spanish.


Currency in Argentina

The currency used in Argentinian peso. Currently (October 2023) the official exchange rate is 350 pesos for every USD. There are actually a lot of different exchange rates though, and if you bring USD, you can exchange your pesos at the blue dollar rate, which is 870 pesos. 


Due to the insane inflation in Argentina, exchange rates change every day, and can be wildly different from the previous week, or from other exchange rates.


We suggest sticking to cash, as this is the best way to have affordable prices in Argentina.


Plug Types in Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata uses plug type I, which has three prongs- the bottom one which is vertical, and two above it that are slanted towards one another. Argentina runs on a 220 V supply voltage and 50 Hz. There are very few countries that use this same plug type, two of them being Australia and New Zealand. If you are coming from any other country, you will need to get a travel adapter.


Can You Drink the Tap Water in Mar del Plata?

The tap water in Mar del Plata is perfectly safe for drinking. We suggest asking for tap water in restaurants, and bringing a reusable water bottle to fill up for when you're at the beach or exploring.


Tipping Culture in Mar del Plata

The tipping culture in Argentina is similar to many other countries around the world. While it is never actually mandatory, it is customary to leave an extra 10% tip on top of your bill while out to eat.

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Why Should I Visit Mar Del Plata?

Argentina certainly isn't known for its beaches, and there are so many incredible places to see! So why should you visit Mar del Plata?


Mar del Plata is the closest major beach area to the city of Buenos Aires, and it is a really cool mix of city and sea. It has gorgeous German architecture, fun nightlife, and is an easy getaway from the busy capital.

things to do in Mar del Plata
things to do in Mar del Plata
things to do in Mar del Plata
things to do in Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata has a great variety. 

Things to Do in Mar del Plata

Now you know why you should visit Mar del Plata, but what exactly is there to do? Actually- there is much more to do than you may have thought! Although it's most popular for its beaches, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this great city.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

Mar del Plata pin
Mar del Plata pin
Mar del Plata pin

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #1: Relax at the Beach Clubs

There are a ton of beaches to choose from in Mar del Plata, and many of them are super wide and long. On the biggest beaches such as Playa Grande for example, there are beach clubs lined up. They are super affordable, and you'll find people renting cabanas, or getting access to chairs, umbrellas, bathrooms, servers, and even pools.


If you're going with a group of friends, staying at a beach club is a great option as you'll have plenty of amenities, and room for keeping your belongings safe.

beach clubs, things to do in Mar del Plata Argentina
beach clubs, things to do in Mar del Plata Argentina
beach clubs, things to do in Mar del Plata Argentina

There are a ton of big beach clubs along Mar del Plata.

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #2: Take Surf Lessons

One of my favorite things to do in Mar del Plata is to surf! (Although I am truly awful at this sport). There are surf schools with some of the most affordable rates in the world, and they have all of the gear included. The instructors take small groups, and have personalized attention, making it perfect for beginners.


Surfing, things to do in Mar del Plata
Surfing, things to do in Mar del Plata
Surfing, things to do in Mar del Plata


Things to Do in Mar del Plata #3: Visit the Sea Lions

One of the cutest things to experience while in Mar del Plata is the Sea Lion Reserve. It's a protected area where you can view the sea lions from behind the gate over the water. Watch them cuddle, fight, and play in their natural habitat, for free of charge! Just remember a change of clothes for after, because the smell is definitely not something you'll want to take as a memory.

Sea lions, things to do in Mar del Plata
Sea lions, things to do in Mar del Plata
Sea lions, things to do in Mar del Plata
Sea lions, things to do in Mar del Plata

It's incredible to see the sea lions in their natural habitat.

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #4: Walk Around the Port

Right by the Sea Lion Reserve is the port area of Mar del Plata. While it certainly has a distinct smell from the sea lions nearby, it definitely is a cute place to walk around and browse the restaurants and shops.

port of Mar del Plata

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #5: Check out the Casino Central

Casino Central is not just a gamblers' haven, but it is actually one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Dating back to 1939, the beautiful red casino is perched right in front of Bristol Beach, and visiting it is one of the top things to do in Mar del Plata.


Casino Central, Mar del Plata
Casino Central, Mar del Plata
Casino Central, Mar del Plata

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #6: Snap a Photo With the Sea Lion Statues

Right in front of the casino is another attraction that brings visitors to Bristol Beach. Mar del Plata is known for its sea lions, and you can actually find several statues of them, the most popular ones being the ones facing the beach.

sea lion statues, things to see in Mar del Plata

The Sea Lions are a symbol of the city of Mar del Plata.

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #7: Hang Out at Plaza Colon

Located just in front of Bristol Beach is Mar del Plata's most beloved public square. Plaza Colon is a wide green space with palm trees, statues, and a traditional carousel.

Mar del Plata plaza
Mar del Plata plaza
Mar del Plata carousel

Plaza Colon has a traditional carousel in the corner.

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #8: Stop by Basilica de los Santos Pedro y Cecilia

If you're looking for some beautiful historical buildings in Mar del Plata, then make sure to head over to the incredible Basilica and admire its Neo-gothic style.

Mar del Plata cathedral
Mar del Plata cathedral
Mar del Plata cathedral


Things to Do in Mar del Plata #9: Roam the Weekend Market

Another great reason for visiting the cathedral is for the weekend market that happens right in front of it. If you're looking for something special to take home with you, or to support locals, then this is a great place to stop by if you happen to be in town on a Saturday or Sunday.

weekend market, things to do in Mar del Plata
weekend market, things to do in Mar del Plata

There are markets open on the weekends in Mar del Plata.

Things to Do in Mar del Plata #10: Enjoy the Views from Plaza España

Plaza España is definitely not a crazy interesting square. However, it does have two paths you can follow along the sea towards the more northern beaches in town. You can walk along the water, or choose to walk on the road above from some nice views of the surrounding area.