Surrounded by places of great beauty, such as lakes, volcanoes, high snow-capped mountains and a couple of mythical routes passing by, we show you things to do in San Martin de los Andes.
The city of San Martín de los Andes is well known for being the starting point of the 7 Lakes Route, a journey along Route 40 that links this city with Villa La Angostura through (obviously) 7 lakes and dreamlike landscapes.
What do you need to know about San Martín de los Andes before traveling?
- Any time of the year is ideal to travel to San Martín de los Andes. In summer (December to February), you can enjoy the lake and many outdoor activities. In addition, it is the dry season. And in winter, snow and mountains. In the rest of the months, the landscapes are still as beautiful and the best thing is that there are less people walking around, while the prices of everything is cheaper.
- The mythical Route 40 passes through San Martín de los Andes, so much sought after by many travelers (including us) to travel from end to end.
- It is the gateway to Lanín National Park, a spectacular volcano, although the best way to visit it is from Junín de los Andes. Another thing we have in our #matelistviajero.
- Lake Lácar, on the shores of which San Martín de los Andes is located, is one of the Argentine lakes whose waters flow into the Pacific Ocean. For this reason, for a long time, this area was claimed by Chile. Two criteria have been used to make the territorial boundary division between Argentina and the neighboring country, that of waters and the high peaks. In this case, the high peaks took precedence.
- Many of the houses will look very similar because there is a municipal ordinance that regulates the architecture of the city, especially in terms of facade, height and in some cases, construction material (stone or wood).
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Things to do in San Martín de los Andes and surroundings
Take a look at these excursions that we recommend you to do from San Martín de los Andes.
1) Strolling around downtown San Martín de los Andes
From the lake, the city grows along three of the most important avenues: Gral Villegas, San Martín and Gral Roca. They are home to most of the businesses that delight tourists who visit the city, such as restaurants, bars, breweries, chocolate shops, souvenir and clothing stores. Although there are also squares to enjoy the outdoors and other representative buildings of the city.
📷 Check here the Free Tour in San Martín de los Andes and reserve your place.
One of the things to do in San Martín de los Andes is to visit the parish church of San José, the patron saint of the city and of carpenters and woodworkers. This is how you will find that the entire interior of the chapel is covered with wood, from the walls to the ceiling, called barrel vault because of its shape. It is relatively new and young, very young, of course, it is our age, it is from 1979/1980. The bell tower is somewhat later.
If you continue walking towards the lake side, you will find San Martin square which, following the line of most of the Argentinean squares, has in the center a monument to whom it honors. In this case, Don José de San Martín riding his white horse.
Just across the street is another park, which houses the Lanín National Park Visitor Center and Museum. There you can find information about the park and its visit, as well as information about its creation, the history of the first settlers in the area, and the flora and fauna that can be found in the park.
At the back of this building, there is a small Artisans Fair where you can buy souvenirs and gifts.
San Martín de los Andes has a very special museum, La Pastera Museum, dedicated to Che Guevara. In this place Che spent the night during one of his trips and from then on this place began to collect photographs and objects of this character to pay homage to him.
2) Walking along the shore of Lake Lácar.
Lake Lácar is of glacial origin but even so, in spite of the coldness of the water, you can enjoy some of its fine pebble beaches. In the summer some brave person is sure to fall. At the time we traveled (early September) it is an ideal place to take a short walk or drink mates.
When we arrived at the lake, we were greeted by the family of Deer, a monument located at one end of the beach. The evening sun left beautiful colors in the landscape and in our memories.
3) Trekking or ascent to Bandurrias Viewpoint
Undoubtedly, one of the activities to do in San Martin de los Andes is this hike or climb to the Bandurrias viewpoint. In it you can see how Lake Lácar extends to the west, until it disappears near the border with Chile. There are some places during the ascent from where you can observe the city.
What most people do is trek or hike up to the Mirador Bandurrias, but we, for “benjiobvias” reasons, went up by car very early in the morning. The road is gravel and the last stretch is not in very good condition. There are parts that are one-handed, which is complicated if there is another car in front of you. However, it is perfectly possible to do so.
📷 Book here the trekking to the Bandurrias viewpoint with guide. A five-kilometer hike through forests to reach the imposing viewpoint over the lake.
This viewpoint is located in an area belonging to the Curruhuinca Community and, before entering the hamlet, there is an access barrier where an entrance fee is charged. The hike is easy and well marked. The views are a dream. There is no security whatsoever, so precautions must be taken if you climb any rocks.
If you walked to the Bandurrias viewpoint, you can continue a few more kilometers to the Islita viewpoint through the forest. The trail is quiet. It is also accessible by car.
4) Trekking or ascent to Arrayanes viewpoint.
The hike up to this viewpoint is easier than the one to Bandurrias, although it is more difficult because it is on a gravel road, so you will always pass a car on the side that will kick up a bit of dust. That was our case, to go by car and to go up the land. 😉
This viewpoint is not located in any private area and there is no charge for climbing. In fact it is a secondary route that leaves you on the other side of route 40 to continue along the 7 lakes route. In order not to do so many stretches of gravel, we went to the viewpoint and retraced our steps to take the 40 in the city.
From the Arrayanes viewpoint you could see the whole city, the hill in front, which is where the Bandurrias viewpoint is, and the lake, which you can see how it curves and extends to the west. Its views make it one of the essential viewpoints to see in San Martín de los Andes.
5) Enjoying some of the beaches of Lake Lácar.
The City of San Martín de los Andes has a beautiful beach to enjoy. But when summer arrives and the days are nice and warm, both tourists and locals go to this pair of beaches on Lake Lácar:
- Catritre Beach, very close to Route 40, where there is also a campground and picnic areas.
- Quila Quina Beach, which can be reached either by car or by boat from the port of San Martín de los Andes. It is a bit more remote, but there are still cabins, camping, picnic areas and incredible scenery.
They are quiet and pleasant places to spend with the family.
6) Things to do in San Martín de los Andes in winter, skiing in Cerro Chapelco
Skiing is one of the activities to do in San Martin de los Andes in winter and Chapelco is the ski center of the city. It also has a kind of villa where you can stay and restaurants to choose from. It has a good number of slopes, while the means of elevation are adequate. Many agree that if there are a lot of people, they are a bit overwhelmed.
📷 Book here your transfer from San Martín de los Andes to Chapelco Hill.
San Martin de los Andes Ski Pass
The ski season at Chapelco starts at the end of June and lasts until the end of September.
The price of the Chapelco ski pass varies according to the age of the person who hires it, the time of the year and the number of days. Discounts are available for children from 6 to 11 years old, university students and seniors from 60 to 69 years old. Children under 5 years old and adults over 70 years old have a free pass (they only pay an insurance of 200 pesos).
Half-day passes are also available, valid from 1:00 p.m. until closing time.
✏️ Due to high inflation in the country, pass prices vary from year to year. You can see the updated prices from here.
Where can I buy the San Martin de los Andes ski pass? It can be purchased online from Chapelco’s website (only if you have a chip card), or in person at Chapelco’s offices in the city center (Moreno 859 from 9 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm daily). In addition to the pass, the cost of the chip card of about 500 pesos per person must be paid, which is reimbursed once it is no longer used.
7) Do the 7 Lakes Trail
Route 40 has unique landscapes along the more than 5000 kms that separate the north from the south. One of the most awaited stretches are these 100 kms of road that go along the blue lakes and the Andes mountain range to Villa La Angostura.
📷 Don’t get complicated and visit the 7 Lakes Road and Villa La Angostura on an excursion in Spanish.
8) Excursions to do in the surroundings of San Martín de los Andes
Finally, there are also many visits that can be made in the surroundings of San Martín de los Andes.
One of them is to visit the Lanín volcano, the symbol of the province of Neuquen, which is located on the border between Argentina and Chile, surrounded by lakes Paimún and Huechulafquen and Tromen. With its snow-capped peak, this imposing volcano is 3,770 meters high.
📷 Book here the excursion to Huechulafquen Lake and Lanin Volcano, two of the natural jewels of the province of Neuquen. It includes a stop in the town of Junín de los Andes.
The second visit worth making from San Martín de los Andes is to visit Villa Pehuenia, a charming village on the shores of Lake Aluminé and in the middle of the Andes Mountain Range. You will be amazed by the beauty that nature hides in this place.
📷 Book here the excursion to Villa Pehuenia with guide. A town that deserves to be visited for its natural environment and charm.
Take a look at these excursions that we recommend you to do from San Martín de los Andes.
Where to stay in San Martín de los Andes?
The city is small, so from wherever you stay you will be just minutes away from the lake or the city center.
Our recommendations for lodging in San Martín de los Andes are as follows:
- Arrayan Mountain Hosteria and Tea House: considered as historical patrimony, the inn is located far from the center in a spectacular enclave to view the lake and the mountains. A homemade breakfast with jams and regional products is served daily.
- Monteverde Inn: alpine style, this inn is located in the heart of the city. It has a swimming pool, sauna and barbecue. The staff is very helpful.
- La Fontaine Inn: beautiful inn that has a park in the back, a swimming pool and a creek that borders it. Comfortable rooms, good breakfast and excellent service.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in San Martín de los Andes.
And take a look at our article on where to stay in San Martín de los Andes. You are sure to find more options.
How to get to San Martín de los Andes?
San Martín de los Andes can be reached by plane from Buenos Aires or Neuquen Capital during the high season. The airport is located about 20 kilometers from the city center.
📷 Book here your transfer from San Martin de los Andes airport to downtown.
There is also the alternative of arriving by bus to San Martin de los Andes, mainly from nearby places such as Villa La Angostura or Bariloche, although it is also possible from Buenos Aires in a trip of about 22 hours.
If you reach San Martin de los Andes by car from Buenos Aires, it is necessary to make the route up to Neuquen capital and then there are two possible alternatives: Route 22 to Zapala and then Route 40 to San Martín de los Andes, or Route 237 through Piedra del Aguila, then Route 234 and finally Route 40.
If you are going to cross to San Martin de los Andes from Chile by car, the closest pass is Huahum, but on the Argentinean side the road is gravel. To access from Chile by paved road, you must cross the Cardenal Samore pass at Osorno and Villa La Angostura in Argentina.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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- Asia tickets with 12Go
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