For all its parks and tree-lined avenues, Buenos Aires is nonetheless predominantly urban, and it can be nice to get away from the hectic tumult for a day or two. Immediately surrounding the city limits as you cross the Avenida General Paz ring road, the Capital Federal spreads into greater Buenos Aires. Largely residential, the most appealing suburbs are those to the city’s north – the Zona Norte, an affluent suburban world of riverine villas where the subtropical heart that lies beneath Buenos Aires’ European veneer starts to show through. Most worth visiting is San Isidro, which preserves a villagey charm and worthwhile historic quarter that can be accessed via the Tren de la Costa or taxi. Further on, but still easily in day-trip territory, you will reach Tigre, a kind of cross between Venice and the Everglades, at the edge of the verdant Paraná Delta.
To the east of the city, meanwhile, boats cross the Río de la Plata to the small Isla Martín García, a steamy island that appears to have walked off the pages of a children’s adventure story. Once used as a penal colony, it is now mostly given over to a nature reserve (visits via Cacciola Turismo in Tigre; t011 4749 0931, wcacciolaviajes.com). You can also reach the Portuguese colonial historic town of Colonia in Uruguay or even visit pleasant Montevideo, the capital of Argentina’s rioplatense neighbour – both destinations are served by Buquebus, whose ferries and catamarans depart regularly from Puerto Madero (t011 4316 6500, wbuquebus.com).
Go a little further beyond the city in any other direction and you will swiftly emerge in the emerald green pampas, Argentina’s heartlands. Magnificent estancias (farmsteads or ranches) and traditional Pampean villages are close enough to reach as a day-trip, though if possible they really warrant at least one overnight stay. The capital of Buenos Aires Province, La Plata, an orderly city with a large, old-fashioned natural history museum, is also only an hour or so on the bus from Retiro.