On the sixth day of our stay in Argentina we really felt like another day trip from Buenos Aires. We decided to visit the capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires, La Plata. The reviews that we had read claimed that La Plata was a bustling and green city.
With a population of nearly 750,000 inhabitants, La Plata is one of the biggest cities of Argentina. It is located 56 kilometers south-east of Buenos Aires. It’s known as “la ciudad de las diagonales” (city of diagonals) and “la ciudad de los tilos” (city of linden trees). These nicknames are the result of careful urban planning; the bustling university city is built in the shape of a square with a central park and two main diagonal avenues, north to south and east to west. Many of the streets and squares of the city are lined by linden trees. The city was founded by Dardo Rocha in 1882, after Buenos Aires became the new capital of the country. Interesting fact: La Plata was the first city in Latin America to have electric street lightning.
La Plata – How to Get There
The easiest way to get to La Plata is by bus from the Retiro bus station. The bus station is located a couple of blocks from the train station, so it’s not a long walk. I didn’t feel particularly safe at the station – the infamous Villa 31 starts on the other side of the building and the bus station is also famous for its pickpockets. One can buy tickets on the top level of the terminal building. The station is quite big and the ticket offices are grouped by destination. It took us a while to find the correct office and buying the ticket was quite an adventure; we had already bought and paid for our return tickets and were boarding the bus, when we were told that we only had one ticket. We returned to the office and were given the second ticket. Fortunately the buses were frequent and we could hop on a bus almost directly. The ride to La Plata took approximately an hour and a half. Right after leaving Buenos Aires the scenery changed drastically – the area between the two cities was very green and there were horses grazing everywhere.
Arriving and Getting Lost In La Plata
At first sight La Plata was a disappointment. Instead of lush, green and lively, it was worn out and grey. Our bad luck continued, we started walking in the wrong direction from the bus station. The city is planned in a very logical fashion but walking in the right direction is always a good idea! My opinion of the city changed once we finally found the city center. Here we found the little parks and the belle epoque architecture mentioned in the guide books. The cathedral of La Plata is magnificent and it was surrounded by green parks. The cathedral is the biggest in Argentina. There was much more graffiti than in central Buenos Aires, though people seemed friendlier and a lot more relaxed here. We found a cozy place (Market Café it was called) for lunch – I continued my meat adventure, Jesper had chicken. And the huge coffee after lunch was a real treat!
Having a Fright In La Plata
The Botanical Garden of La Plata is the largest zoo in Argentina. After lunch we decided to spend the afternoon admiring exotic animals. Instead of the cute animals at the zoo in Buenos Aires, the zoo in La Plata had lots of peacocks strolling around freely. Oh the horror! Birds – and especially peacocks – are really scary! The baby goats were cute, though. After a couple of hours at the zoo we made our way back to the city center to catch the bus back to Buenos Aires. It turned out that we were not the only ones wanting to go to the Argentine capital; we queued for almost an hour before getting on the bus. A very comfortable bus, I’d like to add. Back in Buenos Aires we enjoyed some empanadas and red wine before returning to our hotel. It’s no wonder we were tired, we had walked over 16 kilometers in one day.
Do you want to know more?
You can read more about La Plata by clicking on the links below.
- Welcome to Argentina – La Plata >>
- Lonely Planet – La Plata >>
- The Guardian about La Plata >>
- The Botanical Garden of La Plata >>
- Villa 31 >>
This text is a part of a series about our trip to Uruguay and Argentina in October, 2015. You find the previous posts below:
- Planning our trip to South America >>
- Our first days in South America: Montevideo, Uruguay >>
- iHola Buenos Aires! >>
- Day trip to Tigre, Argentina >>