Argentina has the most diverse climates, places, landscapes and customs.
You can visit Patagonia Argentina, with cities you will fall in love with, such as San Carlos de Bariloche, San Martín de los Andes or Villa la Angostura. Undoubtedly, the best family vacations will be found here.
Or go to the Litoral, passing through Posadas Misiones to the beautiful Iguazu Falls … that is why it is one of the favorite countries for all tourists in the world.
The history of San Martín de los Andes Neuquén
The amazing city of San Martín de los Andes, begins when in 1898 General Rudecindo Roca, head of the Army, decides to reoccupy the Maipú fort (which was unoccupied) and found a town on the shores of Lake Lácar, in order to establish sovereignty over the region.
Thus, on February 4, 1898, Colonel Celestino Pérez, following his orders, founded San Martín de los Andes, the last Patagonian city within the framework of the desert campaign.
1575 km from Buenos Aires, San Martín de los Andes is the head of the Lácar Department.
It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the province of Neuquén and the Patagonian region. It is accessed through National Route 401 and has an airport 22 km away from downtown.
Nestled in the Andes Mountain Range, San Martín de los Andes is the head of the department of Lácar, 640 meters above sea level and 1575 km from Buenos Aires.
It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the province of Neuquén and the Patagonian region. It is accessed by National Route 401 and has an airport 22 km from downtown.
San Martín de los Andes Places What to do?
Delicacies for all tastes, from pizzas and classic meals to the most elaborated international dishes.
All together next to the best natural landscapes of San Martin de los Andes.
Bars such as Corazón contento, Doña Quela, La Casona and the famous El Regional, where you can enjoy the best drinks and Patagonian snacks, or why not savor the best pastry delicacies in San Martin.
The Best Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes (Argentina)
Not as popular or crowded as the nearby tourist city of Bariloche, quiet San Martin de los Andes is a beautiful town where you can relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Lake Lacár.
Visitors can choose from water sports, hiking, sailing, biking, skiing, kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding and fishing.
With tons of lakes, trails and even hot springs and a snow-capped volcano within reach, you will be overwhelmed with ways to enjoy this pristine wilderness.
Enjoy the charming small town atmosphere, stroll through its cafes and craft stores, and then plan your outdoor activities in this peaceful Andean oasis.
Let’s explore the best things to do in San Martin de los Andes:
1. Take a boat ride on Lake Lacár
This clear blue lake is the focal point of San Martin de los Andes, so after you’ve had your fill of strolling along its shore, book a cruise from the town’s docks to Hua Hum, located on the other side of the lake.
You can go by sailboat, boat or basic ferry, depending on your style and the stops you want to make along the way.
You could even paddle a kayak if you prefer to do it yourself.
Some cruises will drop you off at the Chachin docks so you can walk to the waterfall, while others will stop at beaches you couldn’t visit by car or visit the village of Quila Quina.
The Hua Hum dock is close to the Chilean border, and you can grab a bite to eat here and explore nearby Lake Nonthué before returning to your ship.
2. Spend the day at La Islita
Combine a short hike with a day at the beach by making the trip to La Islita, a charming spot that is popular with local youth.
About three miles (5 kilometers) from the city center, it’s not a difficult hike as long as you bring mosquito repellent, sunscreen and a couple of drinks.
You’ll pass through part of Lanín National Park, around Lake Lacár and Cerro Bandurrias, where you’ll see fern forests and viewpoints of the lake and town below.
In good weather, the sandy shores are a good place to picnic or camp, and some people swim the ten meters to the rocky and serene La Islita.
3. Plaza San Martin and the Artisans Fair
This small tourist town is a great place to shop for local products such as Patagonian handicrafts, artwork, and even smoked meats and cheeses.
Stroll through the open-air craft market in the centrally located Plaza San Martin, which is filled with artisan stalls selling pottery, silver jewelry, mate, knives, leather goods, weavings and woven woolens.
Be sure to stick around, as you’ll also find food carts, street performers and live bands, especially in the late summer evenings.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, head to the stores on Avenida San Martín and General Villegas to buy souvenirs and other regional products such as chocolate.
4. Tour of the Seven Lakes Route
One of the biggest and most picturesque attractions in the area is the Seven Lakes Route from San Martin de los Andes to Bariloche (along Routes 40 and 63).
You can drive it yourself or take an all-day bus tour that stops along the way so you can see the sights and take pictures.
You’ll see each of the seven lakes – Lácar, Machónico, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo, Falkner and Villarino – nestled among the snow-capped Andes before arriving in the touristy city of Bariloche.
There you can wander the streets of the alpine city center and the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi.
You can easily make a trip to picturesque Villa La Angostura while doing this route as well.
5. Go white water rafting
Book a rafting excursion to enjoy some excitement along the Chimehuin River.
Departure through the Patagonian steppe, passing by Huechulafquen Lake and Lanin Volcano to reach the river and its class II and III rapids.
San Martin de los Andes tour companies will provide you with guides, transportation, and all the equipment and instructions you need to get out of the area.
During the summer, look for wildlife along the way such as kingfishers, wild boar and deer.
Afterwards, relax on the beach with drinks and sweets provided by the company.
If you wish, you can also arrange to raft down the Aluminé River or Hua Hum River and cross into Chile on multi-day excursions that can be combined with kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.
6. Lanín National Park
Created to preserve and protect this part of the Andean-Patagonian forests, this national park is filled with more than 20 lakes, including Lake Lacár near the city and Lake Huechulafquen further north.
You’ll find mountains, rivers and the extinct Lanín volcano, the conical snow-capped peak that borders Chile.
While some people make the two-day trek to the volcano, there are also relatively easy hikes in the park.
Try the trails to the Malleo River and Lake Tromen or the hike to Saltillo Falls.
During the summer, it is advisable to simply relax on the shores of Lake Lacár at Quila Quina or on the beach at Catritre, and there are several free campsites available if you wish to spend the night.
Other activities within the park include mountain biking, kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding and fishing.
7. Cerro Chapelco Ski Resort
One of the attractions of this area in winter is the solid skiing and snowboarding that can be done in the nearby mountains.
You can try a variety of winter sports at Cerro Chapelco, an excellent ski resort just 19 kilometers from the city.
The slopes are ideal for all skill levels, plus they offer dog sledding and snowshoeing.
The resort amenities are fantastic, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to relax in, even if you don’t ski.
In summer you can walk around the resort to take the cable car to the summit or visit the craft stores selling smoked meats and chocolates.
8. Horseback riding
Explore the countryside near San Martin de los Andes and Lanin National Park on horseback with gaucho guides at your side.
Take half a day to visit the Mapuche settlement of Quila Quina and tour the Andean landscapes of Lanin Volcano and Lake Lacar.
You will see the traditional houses, livestock and orchards of the local families who live around here.
We will cross streams and walk through lenga forests as we visit valleys that cannot be reached by car and learn about the landscapes and cultures of this region.
You will be paired with a horse suited to your abilities (no experience necessary) so that you can ride comfortably through the Patagonian terrain.
9. Chachin Waterfall
Drive or take a boat across the lake to the starting point of this hike that will take you to a beautiful and powerful waterfall.
The one hour hike through dense rainforest will take you to a fantastic viewpoint of the falls.
There are places to sit by the rushing waters, but swimming is not allowed.
Keep an eye out for birds and ancient trees along your hike, and spend some time relaxing and taking photos when you arrive.
It is ideal for children and adults, and there is a small cafe nearby where you can buy hot drinks and snacks.
10. Fly fishing
This area of Argentina is famous for its fly fishing, so hire a local guide to take you to the best trout fishing spots.
Venture into rivers like the Limay, Malleo, Chimehuin and Collón Curá in search of brown and rainbow trout, and learn the best techniques for casting, fly selection, water reading and landing these fish.
From day trips to multi-day excursions with transportation, equipment, lodging and meals included, these professional guides and tour companies can tailor fishing trips to fit your needs.
Pablo Zaleski receives rave reviews for his trip planning services, fishing knowledge and results.
11. Explore the city and enjoy the beaches
Although not as large as nearby Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes and its lakeside beaches are ideal for a day of sightseeing and relaxation.
Grab a coffee and a medialuna at one of the many street cafes and then stroll along the lovely lakeside area of Lago Lacár.
You can grab your towel and walk or hop on your bike to the rocky beach of Catrite or Quila Quina a little further away.
There are water sports and a couple of restaurants available on these beaches if you want to do more than lounge.
Head back into town to see the afternoon street performers at Plaza San Martin, then head to the First Settlers Museum or sample chocolates from the town’s craft stores.
In the evening, dine al fresco at one of the many patio restaurants so you can enjoy the Andean scenery while dining on regional dishes, Argentine meats or local trout and salmon.
12. Ziplining and Canopy Tours
Zipline along the Chapelco mountain range and through the lenga forests that surround the town.
The whole family can participate in this activity with Miramás Canopy guides.
The half-day tour takes you to Miramás, where you will be fitted with helmets, harnesses and gloves and taught the proper techniques to help you glide through the trees.
Stepping off the first platform is exciting and adrenaline-filled, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
The panoramic views are incredible from the top, and you can do seven ziplines, with a hike through the forest included to get to the last two.
After your canopy tour, head to the bar for pizza, beers and a spectacular sunset.
13. Ascent of Lanin Volcano
If you’re up for this two-day hiking adventure, take one of the most incredible hikes in the area and climb an extinct stratovolcano in Lanin National Park.
It’s a mountain trek that requires advance planning, but if you’re fit and in good weather, you can make it to the rewarding summit.
Make sure you have all the proper equipment – crampons, boots, poles, appropriate winter clothing, etc.
On your first day of trekking, you will be amazed by the volcanic rocks and landscapes, as well as the ancient «Monkey Puzzle».
Stay in one of the shelters overnight before attempting to reach the summit on the second day for breathtaking views. (If you want to do something easier around here, check out the trails at the base of the volcano).
14. Visit the Hot Springs
After finishing your hike, relax your sore muscles by heading out of town and into the rainforest of Lanín National Park, to the oasis of the Lahuen Co hot springs (also known as Termas de Epulafquen).
Surrounded by lakes and mountains, you can choose from several thermally heated pools.
These are natural hot springs that were part of an eco-resort that is now abandoned, so you can enjoy the tranquility and relaxing qualities of the waters for free.
There are also hot springs near Lake Queñi, where you can hang out in the lake and then hike through the woods or take a 4×4 vehicle to soak in the hot springs and visit a waterfall.
15. Visit Quila Quina village and beach.
This small beach town, located in the national park, is a popular place to spend time in the warmer months, and features hiking trails, sandy lakefront beaches, campgrounds and restaurants.
Arrive by car, bicycle or ferry, but be sure to visit the Mapuche community settlements on the outskirts of town – you can see their houses and traditional fences made of sticks.
The town is full of large houses built in the 1940s, as well as markets selling hand-carved wooden crafts.
Hike to the Arroyo Grande waterfall on a well-marked trail or visit the cave paintings and mineral springs.
Relax on the beach and gaze at the huge cypress trees lining the sheltered cove, or have a coffee on the terrace of a café overlooking the lake.
Lodging in San Martín de los Andes
The municipality of San Martín de los Andes through the tourism department can provide you with interesting information to make your family vacations come true.
Aparts and cabins designed for families or groups sharing a house with several rooms, including kitchen and classic hotel services.
San Martin de los Andes also offers for nature lovers lodging experiences in rural areas, camping with all services near the city, or by a lake in the National Park.
Cabins in San Martín de los Andes
Beautiful cabins, beautiful hotels, hostels, houses and all kinds of accommodations that will make your stay unique.
The city and its surroundings combine landscape and architecture.
More Accommodations in San Martín
Find the best option and the best price in the market for your family vacations, since we work with Booking, the most important accommodation search engine in the world.
San Martín de los Andes gastronomy
El Regional San Martín de los Andes
A favorite place to enjoy a few drinks, watch something fashionable, or have a hot chocolate with cake is El regional San Martín de los Andes.
A pleasant place, good Patagonian architecture makes El Regional a must visit.
Cabins, beautiful lodgings and exclusive hotels in San Martin de los Andes… excursions, walks, shopping and many food courts.
Everything you need to make your family vacations pleasant and fun.
Mountain sports and lake tours, fly fishing, red deer and wild boar hunting.
In winter you can go skiing or snowboarding among others.
The excursions have the services of Lanin National Park tour guides, who are the indispensable link between the visitor and the natural environment, helping with their explanations to better understand the fantastic peculiarities of nature that surrounds the city of San Martin de los Andes.
San Martin de los Andes backpacker: Places like Lolog Lake are great to spend the day. Or a hike to the Mirador Bandurrias, among the most visited. A walk by the Chachín waterfall in Lanín National Park.
Then, all the outings you can do, especially excursion San Martin de los Andes 7 lakes… Arriving at Villa La Angostura, the beach of Lake Espejo… a spectacle.
If you want to visit a native forest of pellines oaks, in the camping San Martin de los Andes «Amigos de la Naturaleza» on the Callejón de Gingins, where they can organize a guided tour… besides they have some very good homemade sweets.
In the middle of the mountain range of the province of Neuquén, San Martín de los Andes has a winter resort called Chapelco.
With its modern infrastructure and the quality of its services, it is the most valued vacation spot by those who are looking for magical weather and unforgettable vacations.
By a road that is drawn with the typical beauty of the Andean Patagonia, visitors access daily from the city to find snow, sun and adventure.
Cerro Chapelco has its renowned ski and snowboard school, with private and group lessons.
Ideal for the whole family for its varied slopes suitable for all levels, with its routes where they are immersed in a spectacular native forest of lenga trees.
What is the weather in San Martin de los Andes?
The weather in San Martín de los Andes allows you to enjoy everything, it is always convenient to be aware of the weather conditions; that is why we leave you to check the weather in San Martín de los Andes.
The strong geographical differences between the Patagonian steppe and the Andes Mountains are the cause of these strong climatic differences from east to west that determine the forest to the west and the steppe to the east.
While the climate of the Andes is cold and humid, moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, that of the Patagonian steppe is cold and dry, with temperatures as low as -15 °C in winter.
In summer it ranges between 9 and 25 °C (average values) and in winter 1 to 8 °C, with temperatures below 0 °C.
- See also: Windguru San Martín de los Andes
What to do in San Martin de los Andes when it rains
Pilot, hiking shoes and the desire to enjoy something unique! Because this option is very rewarding and fun, because when you wonder what to do in San Martin de los Andes in the rain, hiking and expeditions, is an alternative to consider.
Another option to do on a rainy day in San Martin de los Andes is to enjoy its hot chocolates with cake, some drinks in local bars, or some of the delicious handmade snacks.
Videos San Martín de los Andes
Mamuil Malal Pass
The Mamuil Malal Pass is the main border crossing linking the province of Neuquén Argentina and the Araucanía region in Chile.
The distance between these two localities is 156 km. On the Argentinean side the access road is the provincial road Nº 60, while on the Chilean side the access road is the CH-199.
In Argentina, it is located inside the Lanín National Park, while in Chile it is located inside the Villarrica National Park. Through this pass you can see the Lanín Volcano very well.
Its routes with many curves that should keep us alert mainly in the winter season for possible landslides, also these zigzagging roads are quiet and traced between vegetation, rivers and lakes of great beauty make it frequently used by tourists.
San Martín de los Andes Digital Newspapers:
Among the informative portals with up to date information we will find: San Martín a Diario – Lacar Digital – Realidad San Martinense – Diario 7 Lagos – Diario Río Negro Newspaper
San Martin de los Andes zip code: 8370
Flights to San Martin de los Andes: In general, Aerolineas Argentinas is the main airline flying to San Martin de los Andes in Argentina.
The most popular route is from Argentina, and Aerolineas Argentinas operates the most frequent service on this route.