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Take a detour from Buenos Aires to the Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

Buenos Aires, with its mellow climate, tango themed breaks and café culture has recently become a hip destination. But just a ferry ride away, across the Río de la Plata, lies the virtually unknown peaceful Colonia del Sacramento, on the southwestern shores of Uruguay. Amongst the travel savvy, this Unesco World Heritage site has long been a popular detour from the Argentinian capital, offering centuries-old stone houses, laid back restaurants where you can eat al fresco and smart craft stores for interesting browsing, reports the New York Times.

And now its appeal is spreading from this historic village to the surrounding countryside, where tastefully decorated ranches offer a taste of rural chic and the chance to learn about ranch life. Try the recently opened La Vigna (www.lavigna.com.uy), 37 miles to the south. It’s a restored Renaissance Revival estate built in 1880 by Italian winemakers where you can relax in one of the five tastefully decorated rooms furnished with rustic antiques and home-crafted ceramics, and learn about farming.

Or if you’re the hunting-fishing type, head inland to the Estancia Tierra Santa (www.estanciatierrasanta.com) and stay in this renovated colonial manor. Its three suites all come with wood-burning fireplaces and outdoor terraces. You can hunt, fish and go riding on criollo horses. The marina at the nearby Puerto Camacho is part of a larger development which is set to include a racetrack with lessons taught by expert riders. You’ll be a gaucho before you know it!

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