I had returned to Buenos Aires after a week and a half back in the US for my grandmother´s funeral. With a free day before starting the workweek, I decided to explore the town of Tigre just to the north of Buenos Aires. According to the internet, Tigre is considered to be the top day trip near Buenos Aires.
November 13, 2022: BA´s Top Day Trip
To reach Tigre, I took Buenos Aires´s suburban train line. The line extends from Retiro Station to Tigre, but I caught it in Belgrano. The ride took about an hour and was exceedingly cheap (20 pesos or less than 10¢).
In Tigre´s beautiful train station, I saw a kiosk selling scenic boat tours. This was supposedly the top things to see here, so I booked a 1-hour tour leaving at 13:30… in 30 minutes.
The boat dock was just a few minutes down the gorgeous and lively waterfront. I boarded the half-full boat, and we took off!
Tigre is at the edge of third largest river deltas where multiple rivers converge including the Rio Parana and the Uruguay River to form the mighty Rio de la Plata. The delta contains over a thousand islands, all only accessible by boat.
The landscape is a forested flood plain where both tropical and more temperate species roam. The closest ecological comparison for me is southern Louisiana.
The islands are inhabited by two types of people: locals who live a unique river lifestyle and rich people from Buenos Aires looking to get away from the city. The locals live off the grid. There are no utilities provided, so most people use generators and water filters. Supplies such as groceries get delivered by special grocery boats. There are schools and government buildings.
Additionally, many rich people have second homes here that they use on weekends. These rich people included the seventh president of Argentina, Domingo Sarmiento. His house is now a museum and is encased in glass for preservation.
Our boat tour took a loop around a couple islands and claimed to traverse down 6 rivers, some wide and others looked like glorified canals. Commentary was provided in Spanish, English and Portuguese (for the many Brazilian tourists).
The final stretch of the tour took us by the glamorous rowing clubs built during the town´s heyday in the late 1800´s .The town remains the rowing capital of the country and the clubs are still quite active.
With the boat tour done, it was time to walk around the beautiful town, which has a strong English influence.
My first stop was the art museum. Housed in a palatial former social club, the iconic Tigre Museum of Art looms over the river. Inside, there are some art galleries accessible for about 100 pesos (30 cents), but the real highlight is admiring the exterior.
Next, I visited the National Naval Museum. The museum covers everything from the early European explorers and naval battles to modern excursions to Antarctica. They had a large section dedicated to the Falklands War of 1982 when Argentina briefly captured the archipelago before getting crushed by the British navy. For some reason, the country cannot let that conflict go. Many planes from the war are on display outside.
Continuing south of the harbor, I stopped at the ever-popular Puerto de Frutos. What formerly was a dock for fruit shipments has now become a mid-priced furniture market. The place was humongous – it stretched over multiple piers – and was packed!
I also saw the effects of Argentina´s rampant inflation here. Argentine law requires the ability to pay in up to 12 installments for large purchases. By paying in a single cash payment, the store offered almost a 25% discount!
While I did not visit, Tigre also has a solid amusement park next to the market. I imagine that many families come up for just this.
On the way back to Buenos Aires, I stopped briefly in the town of San Isidro. This historic town is one of the oldest in the region. The highlight is the main square and the cathedral.
After just 30 minutes in San Isidro, it started to rain and I knew that was my sign to head back to Buenos Aires.
Tigre is a beautiful and well-rounded destination. The islands and the delta are unique. While there are longer options, I felt that the 1-hour tour was sufficient.
The town itself has plenty to see with museums, an amusement park, and the furniture market. Tigre truly has something for everyone and is well-deserving of its status as Buenos Aires´ top day trip.