Planning a trip to southern Argentina? Here is everything you have to do in Villa La Angostura, one of the most beautiful cities in the Andean Patagonia. So much so that because of its green and color it is nicknamed the Garden of Patagonia.
Villa La Angostura has been growing in the last few years, due to the fact that many people from all over Argentina have come to stay in love with the place. Despite having been terribly affected in 2011 by the ashes of the Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile, it has managed to get ahead and all thanks to its inhabitants and the tourists who, despite everything, have continued to visit the region.
Things to do in Villa La Angostura, not to be missed
1) Walk through the center of the town of Villa La Angostura.
Villa La Angostura is a small, rural town with alpine-style houses. The main avenue is no more than 6 blocks long and is, in reality, a road. And not just any road, but no more and no less than Route 40, which in that stretch is called Arrayanes Avenue.
Along this avenue, one after the other, there are all types of businesses, such as kiosks, restaurants, craft markets, gift stores and ski clothing rental. And chocolate shops! They are a temptation. There are the most recognized brands in the area, such as the Turista, Abuela Goye, Rapa Nui and our favorite, En El Bosque.
Among the points of interest to see in Villa La Angostura, we can highlight the following:
- Sculpture of El Pescador, which is located at the entrance of the village and welcomes you coming from Bariloche. It is a sculpture made of wood carved by a local artist, Francisco Acosta, who paid homage to the fishermen who frequent the area.
- Plaza San Martín, at the other end of the Pescador, in front of the ACA. It is a very well kept square on a hill where the bust of San Martin and the Parroquia de la Virgencita (Parish of the Virgin Mary) are located.
- Parroquia de la Virgen de los Siete Lagos or also known as “la Virgencita”, because it has an image of the virgin girl inside. It is a simple construction, although in keeping with its surroundings. It was built by Alejandro Bustillo, a well-known Argentine architect who has done several works in the area (the Messidor for example). We could not enter to see the inside of the chapel because they were just doing an interview with some nuns inside.
- The ports of Villa La Angostura, which are accessed by the road that leaves to the right of the ACA service stations. There are two ports because one corresponds to Bahía Mansa and the other to Bahía Brava. They are not very close to Avenida Arrayanes, but about 2 km away. To get there from downtown you have to walk, hitchhike, take a cab or a colectivo (bus) from the station on the corner opposite the ACA. The pity is that at the time we went, being low season, there was little frequency and schedules of buses, so we took a cab on the way there and on the way back we took a bus.
2) Enjoy the beaches of Bahia Mansa and Bahia Brava.
On the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, there are two of the beaches enjoyed by visitors to Villa La Angostura: Bahía Mansa and Bahía Brava. The difference between the two sounds somewhat obvious. There are two bays, one on each side of the small isthmus that joins the Quetrihué peninsula with the “mainland”.
One of the bays is more repaired and the other a little less, so one has calmer water and the other more moved. The beaches to enjoy are made of stone and in summer they have lifeguards. Also in each of them are the ports from which the excursion boats depart.
But there are more beaches to enjoy in the surroundings of Villa La Angostura, such as the ones in Bahía Manzano, very close to the resort where we were staying.
3) Visit the Arrayanes forest on your own or by catamaran.
The Bosque de Arrayanes is located at the tip of the Quetrihué peninsula and is one of the main things to do in Villa La Angostura. There are two ways to get there: walking a 12-kilometer circuit (one way) or by boat on an excursion.
It is also possible to combine both, for example, going by boat and walking back. This is the option I would recommend given the infrequency of boats, which would condition the walking pace.
💯 Recommendation: if you want to save on your trip, you can visit the Bosque de Arrayanes on your own, walking along the Quetrihué peninsula about 12 km one way and another 12 km back. The scenery is breathtaking.
We went there and back by boat. At that time he was only 1 and a half years old and carrying him on 12 kms of trails did not seem like a good idea. So the most “baby & kids friendly” optionwas the boat.
We left the port of Bahia Brava, which had somewhat calm waters that day. We had a guide throughout the tour who explained very well and clearly the origin and geography of the Nahuel Huapi lakeon which we were sailing, the history of the first inhabitants of the area, who were the first ones to live in the area, who were the owners of the Quetrihué peninsula and how they discovered the small Bosque de Arrayanes.
What is peculiar about this forest and what makes it one of the most special things to see in Villa La Angostura, is that the Arrayanes grow as trees and not as bushes.
Once we arrived at the port where the Bosque de Arrayanes is located, we took a walk following a path marked by a wooden footbridge. The guide was showing us the Arrayanes that we were finding along the way with their different characteristics. We made stops to feel the temperature of the tree by touching its trunk, and to see how they are surviving in a forest full of other species.
The Bosque de Arrayanes can also be reached from Bariloche by catamaran. If you visit the city, check out these recommendations on things to do in Bariloche.
The myrtle is a tree or, as the case may be, a cinnamon-colored shrub with small green leaves. Its rind is smooth and thin, which makes it quite cold to the touch. The characteristic color is given by the chemical substances produced by the tree itself. The myrtles coexist in this forest with coihues and cypresses, mainly.
The walkway that crosses the Bosque de Arrayanes is easy to do, although it has some steps (keep this in mind if someone goes with a stroller).
✏️ The excursion costs 12,000 pesos per person for one leg only and 14,000 pesos round trip, not including the entrance fee to Los Arrayanes National Park, which costs 1,500 pesos for Argentine residents and 6,500 pesos for foreigners (all prices updated to 2023). As prices in Argentina fluctuate quite a bit consider that in dollars or euros the ride with the entrance to the park costs about 17 € ≅ 18 $us.
4) Hiking in the Quetrihué Peninsula
This is one of the most beautiful activities to do in Villa La Angostura, trekking along the trail that runs along the Quetrihué peninsula from end to end. In addition to walking in the middle of nature, there are a few viewpoints to enjoy. The most visited are those of Bahia Brava and Bahia Mansa, which must be climbed high enough to do it with a baby in tow.
At the Tourist Information Center at the entrance of the peninsula, we were recommended to do a thematic trail called El Balcón de la Mansa, very simple, in which we walked about 700 meters almost without inclination. Every few meters there were signs explaining the vegetation of the place. Very nice and a good alternative if traveling with children to Villa La Angostura.
5) Bayo Hill
Inevitably, if you are going to travel to Villa La Angostura, even if you are not going to ski, you must go up to Bayo Hill to enjoy the snow.
The general entrance fee to climb Bayo Hill includes one ascent and descent only, either by cable car or chairlift. I really wanted to go up or down by chairlift, but luckily we didn’t, since we hadn’t taken Benji’s backpack with us to be sure.
Once up there, we tried to get Benji to play a little with the snow, but he didn’t have much confidence in it. So as a conclusion we can say that it is more of the sea. 😉 At lunchtime we ate at one of the restaurants upstairs and then enjoyed the spectacular views of the lake and mountains. Incredible scenery!
✏️ To go up to Cerro Bayo, we hired the services of a van that took us to the entrance.
📷 Book here the round trip transfer from Villa La Angostura to Cerro Bayo.
6) Do the 7 Lakes Trail
One of the reasons why many travelers visit this area is because of Route 40 and the viewpoints of the 7 Lakes Road. One of the must-see must-sees in Villa La Angostura.
📷 Book here the tour to travel the Seven Lakes road and San Martin de los Andes from Villa La Angostura. Includes guide and round trip transportation.
7) Waterfalls in Villa La Angostura
Although there are many waterfalls in the surroundings of Villa La Angostura that can be visited, we show you how to get to the main ones with a map included.
The Ñivinco waterfall trail starts at the side of Route 40, about 45 kilometers from Villa La Angostura towards San Martín de los Andes along the Seven Lakes Route and 13 kilometers after the detour to Villa Traful.
The trip to the waterfall takes one hour (two hours each way) and on the way you have to cross a stream that does not have a bridge, so it is recommended to wear appropriate footwear. The trail enters the forest of lenga and coihue reeds until it reaches the beautiful waterfall.
Rio Bonito Waterfall
The trailhead is located on the road leading to Cerro Bayo. The advantage is that the walk to the waterfall is only 20 minutes, so it can be done with children.
The walk runs through forests, there are two viewpoints to stop and take pictures with panoramic views of Cerro Bayo, until you reach the Rio Bonito waterfall, which can be seen from afar. It is an imposing waterfall of 35 meters high that falls over a turquoise pool of water surrounded by rocks and large trees.
Santa Ana waterfall and Dora waterfall
It is accessed from route 231 that goes towards Chile. Take Route 40 towards San Martín de los Andes and then take the detour to Route 231. The beginning of the trail is after passing the customs office (it is advisable to inform the customs office that you will not be crossing into Chile but only visiting the waterfall).
The physical difficulty to reach the two waterfalls is medium, it is not recommended to do it with small children. You have to cross rivers without bridges and climb slopes. In total it takes about five hours to get there and back. In addition, to reach the two waterfalls after visiting the first one, it is necessary to take the road back to the fork in the road.
If you have to choose one of the two, for us the most impressive is the Santa Ana waterfall, since it is a 50-meter high waterfall that falls from the rock to form a large pool of water surrounded by green vegetation. For the more adventurous, you can climb to the top of the rock and watch the water fall from above.
The closest to downtown Villa La Angostura. It is of medium-low difficulty because you have to climb slopes. Anyway, the trip is not long, it takes about 40 minutes from the place where the car is parked to walk along the trails to the waterfall. The Mapuche community charges 100 pesos per car for parking.
The waterfall is not so high, about three meters approximately, but it is worth it for the beauty of the trails in the middle of the forest and the viewpoint towards the city of Villa La Angostura.
Map with the location of the waterfalls in Villa La Angostura
Other tours from Villa La Angostura
In addition to the sites already mentioned there are more places to visit in one day from Villa La Angostura:
- Excursion to Bariloche: Bariloche: the main tourist destination in the Argentine Patagonia. Its hills, the panoramic Chico circuit and the Nahuel Huapi lake give it that special charm.
- Excursion to Villa Traful: Villa Traful: one of the most beautiful villages in Patagonia, on the shores of Lake Traful and surrounded by forests and mountains.
Where to stay in Villa La Angostura?
The city is crossed by Route 40, which becomes the main avenue at the center of the city. The options for lodging in Villa La Angostura are varied and scattered in various parts of the city. Here are three places we recommend:
- El Faro Boutique Hotel: Located two kilometers from downtown, all its facilities overlook the lake as it is on the shore of the Nahuel Huapi. It has a spa and swimming pool during the summer season.
- Friends of the Forest: About Puerto Manzano, it is an inn with the classic Patagonian wood and stone construction, surrounded by forest and with magnificent views of the lake.
- Alma Andina Hosteria: Only 300 meters from the main avenue, it is an inn with modern facilities surrounded by nature. The rooms are spacious and the warmth of the staff stands out.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Villa La Angostura.
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