Fun and Free for Everyone
Being on vacation doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money every day. This is especially true in Mar del Plata where there are plenty of free things to do.
Whether you love taking photographs, exploring new cities, hanging out on the beach, or learning about art and history, you will love spending time in Mar del Plata.
Here are my favorite fun and free things to do in Mar del Plata.
1. For the Art Lover: Visit Mar del Plata’s Modern Art Museum
Be sure to visit the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) while in Mar del Plata. This incredible museum just opened its doors in December, 2013 and promises to be one of Mar del Plata’s best attractions. The museum currently features pop art by famous Argentine artists, including Marta Minujín.
Marta Minujín is internationally famous for her sculptures made of unique materials, including “The Statue of Liberty of Strawberries” (1985), “The Obelisk of Pan Dulce” (1979), and “The Venus of Cheese” (1981). She currently has several pieces of work displayed at the museum. “The Sea Lion of Alfajores” (2013) is the first of her works that you’ll see upon approaching the museum. While the alfajores were artificial, in April 2014, the Sea Lion was laid down so people could take the alfajores off and exchange them at Havanna for real ones. Dirt and grass replaced the alfajores, and the living sculpture will remain in front of the museum. Other pieces of her work at the museum include the “Soft Gallery” room of 200 mattresses and the photos “Paying the Argentine Debt to Andy Warhol” (1985).
This is just an example of one of the amazing artists on display in the permanent collection at this incredibly entertaining and interesting museum. There are also several temporary exhibits, a book store, and the café La Fonte D’Oro. The museum is completely free, so be sure to take advantage of learning more about Argentinian contemporary art.
2. For the Beach Bum: Spend Time at La Playa
Las Playas (the beaches) are the main attraction in Mar del Plata during the summer months of December, January, February, and part of March. If you want to take advantage of the free beaches, plan on arriving early for a great spot, putting down some towels or renting some chairs, and enjoying the day soaking in the sun. While the days can be hot, the water is always cold and refreshing. Be forewarned though, the beaches can get super crowded, which can be fun for people watching but not so great if you’re planning on napping.
If crowded public beaches aren’t your thing, you can rent a private tent or umbrella. However, the private beaches are further away from the water, while the public beaches are right by the water. Some of these private beaches have swimming pools, which make for a nice treat.
If you prefer grass to sand, there are many grassy areas further from the shore where you can still lay on a blanket and have a beautiful view of the ocean. Another fun option is to go to the Mar del Plata Aquarium (entrance fees), see the animals, and then use their private beach. You’ll also see families camped out along the boardwalk with chairs, eating picnic lunches and drinking mate. There are many different ways to enjoy the beaches of Mar del Plata.
3. For the Photographer: Take Pictures with the Sea Lions
Sea Lions are the symbol of Mar del Plata, and there are several great photo ops that can only be taken while here.
1. Tourists and marplatenses (a person from Mar del Plata) have been taking photographs next to the two giant sea lion sculptures between the beach and casino for decades.
2. New to Mar del Plata is Marta Minujín’s sculpture “The Sea Lion of Alfajores” (2013), which stands outside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art).
3. Be sure to have your picture taken with the real sea lions, too. There is a colony of about 800 sea lions near the port. Although they are quite smelly, they are interesting creatures to watch.
4. For the Romantic: Watch the Incredible Sunrises and Sunsets
Climb the Water Tower and Watch the Sunset
For unbeatable views of Mar del Plata, climb the Torre Tanque (water tower). You can either climb the stairs for a little workout or take the elevator to the top. The viewing room at the top is enclosed and has several places to sit and enjoy the 360 degree view. While the water tower is open most of the day, the best time to visit is at sunset.
There is an information center for those wanting to know more about the water tower. There are also concerts held on the lawn during the summer. Consult the information center for dates and times.
Watch the Sunrise Over the Ocean
Wake up early, snag a spot on the rocks or beach, and enjoy watching the sunrise over the ocean. If it’s a weekend morning, you’ll probably see a lot of teenagers out, just heading home from their late night. Take a walk along the coast and enjoy the quiet calm of Mar del Plata before the beaches fill with people. You might even pick out a spot on the empty beach and stay there all day. Whatever you decide to do, it will be a morning to remember.
5. For the Explorer: Go on a Walking Tour of Mar del Plata
One of the best ways to see Mar del Plata is by foot. Here are three different walking tours you can easily do on a nice day in Mar del Plata.
City Center Walking Tour
Starting at Plaza Colon, walk toward Peatonal San Martin (across from the Casino Central, look for the La Fonte D’Oro on the corner). This is a pedestrian only street lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll, window-shop, stop for a coffee and pastry at one of the cafés, and enjoy the day.
If you keep walking down Peatonal San Martin you’ll eventually come to Plaza San Martin and the Catedral de los Santos Pedro y Cecilia, the main cathedral of Mar del Plata built in 1905. During the summer months, there are artisans selling handmade goods at the stalls surrounding Plaza San Martin. Stay a while in this area or continue the walk.
From the cathedral, make a slight left on Diagonal Pueyrredon. This tree-lined street is one of the most beautiful in Mar del Plata. At the end of Diagonal Pueyrredon are two shopping malls with food courts, movie theaters, and a lot of shops. Los Gallegos Shopping is the largest shopping mall in Mar del Plata and is a fun place to end your walking tour.
There is a taxi stand in front of Los Gallegos Shopping, so you can easily go back to your hotel for an afternoon nap.
La Rambla (South) Walking Tour
For another walking tour of Mar del Plata, start at the Casino Central and walk south along La Rambla, the large boardwalk near the sea lion sculptures. On this walk you will pass by the Torreón del Monje, Playa Varese, Playa Chica, and Playa Grande. There is a Confitería Boston across from Playa Varese that makes for a nice halfway stop. Once you make it to Playa Grande, you can continue to walk to Calle Alem (parallel to Playa Grande), which is a street known for its shops, restaurants, and nightlife.
La Rambla (North) Walking Tour
If you walk north from the Casino Central, you will pass by Playa Bristol, Playa Popular, Playa Punta Iglesia, Paseo A Dávila, Playa La Perla, and Plaza España. If you really want a long walk, you can continue all the way to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art), enjoying the ocean view along the way.
6. For the History Buff: Go on a Sculpture and Wall Art Scavenger Hunt
In every park and plaza, in the city center and on the coast, are sculptures and wall art that tell the story of Mar del Plata’s rich history. Take the challenge to find them and learn about the figures represented. From immigrant communities to military leaders, famous entertainers to literary figures, Mar del Plata boasts an interesting collection of art through the city.
To learn more about the history of Mar del Plata, my favorite things to do, and the best places to eat, check out my other articles about Mar del Plata.