Best places for breakfast with a great view. Manolo (Bv. Maritimo Patricio Peralta Ramos 4800) is famous for its churros and its food offers good value for money: huge portions and good quality. Confiteria Boston (see review) is a must for croissants. Mirador Waikiki (AV. Martinez de Hoz 4320) has fantastic panoramic views of the city and the sea. The best tables are on the deck. Expect long waits during the summer season. The secret to beating the crowds is simply getting everywhere very early, while everybody else is still in bed.
Public transport is pretty good. Buses go everywhere, including to nearby towns like Santa Clara del Mar and Miramar. Again, during the peak summer season, buses get packed to the rafters when everybody and their wife decide to go to the beach, more or less between 12 pm and 3 pm, and when it is time to go back home, around 6 or 7 pm. It sure is a long crawl to the beach. You can’t pay for your fare in cash; you have to get a prepaid card. It costs AR$ 1 and each fare is AR$ 1.60. The card can be bought at special kiosks or at any outlet of the Riadigos pharmacy chain and it can be used on any bus line except the number 221. If you take the 221 bus, you must pay AR$ 1.70 to the conductor.
If you can’t be bothered to do your own laundry, head to one of the many launderettes and have it done for AR$ 15 per load (about US$ 4). Most are part of the LaveRap franchise (I think it’s the biggest in the country). The price includes "servicio de valet", which means that you drop your laundry off and someone will wash it, dry it and fold it for you.
How to get to Mar del Plata. You can fly, drive, or take a long distance bus or the train. There are many bus companies that service the city. LADE, Aerolineas Argentinas and Sol Lineas Aereas fly into Astor Piazzolla airport (airport code MDQ.) Trains leave from and to Constitucion Station in Buenos Aires.
Mar del Plata offers a unique combination: sunbathing and shopping. There are many vendors hawking their wares at the beach: coffee, ice-cream, bikinis, sarongs, bracelets, jewellery and so on while you work on your tan.
Shops like convenience stores, supermarkets, eateries, etc, are open all day every day, but the rest, nuh-uh. Most shops selling non-essentials like clothes or books generally open late, between 4 and 6 pm and close even later, at around midnight. The reasoning behind it is if it’s sunny, people would rather go to the beach, not shopping, and then go out later in the evening. They may open earlier on a rainy day.
If you go to MDQ during January or February, you’ll probably have to wrestle people for a square foot of sand. These are the months when the majority of the population takes their summer holidays. So my advice is to stay away from the centrally located beaches (La Perla, Bristol) and head south, past the lighthouse, to La Morocha, La Serena or La Reserva. You’ll probably have to pay for the privilege of parking there but it’s a small price to pay!