San Martín de los Andes is a small city, but what makes it one of the best destinations in Patagonia is its natural environment, surrounded by lakes and mountains. Here are the five must things to do in San Martín de los Andes
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1) Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route)
It is perhaps the essential thing to do in San Martín de los Andes. The Seven Lakes Route starts in this city and runs for about 100 km to Villa La Angostura, crossing dream landscapes and seven Patagonian lakes (hence its name). It is recommended to drive slowly, in order to stop at all the viewpoints of each of the lakes and get ready to take many pictures. It’s really one of the places to see in Argentine Patagonia.
2) Bandurrias and Arrayanes Viewpoints
The Bandurrias viewpoint is one of the must things to do in San Martín de los Andes. With a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Lácar and the surrounding mountains, it is situated on the northern shore of the lake, very close to the city centre. To get there, you can either drive along a gravel road or hike the approximate 3 km from the city center through beautiful forests.
Another must see in San Martín de los Andes is the Arrayanes viewpoint, which provides views of the city from above and part of Lake Lácar. The easiest and shortest access is from the center of the city, through a gravel road of little difficulty and well marked.
3) Stroll around the city center and the lake shore
If there is one thing that characterizes San Martín de los Andes, it’s the beautiful architecture of low houses built in wood and stone. The downtown is a space for recreation, shops and restaurants, where no large buildings are seen. The most important streets that concentrate the restaurants, breweries, chocolatiers and bars are Gral Villegas, San Martín and Gral Roca. You should also visit the parish of San José, whose interior is covered with wood.
At the western end of San Martín de los Andes is the small promenade on the shores of Lake Lácar, where the main dock is located, allowing catamaran excursions around the lake. It is a pleasant place to sit and contemplate the lake.
4) Cerro Chapelco
During the winter, one of the must-see attractions in San Martín de los Andes is Cerro Chapelco. It is one of the most important ski resorts in Argentina, ideal to enjoy with friends or family. It has several slopes of different levels of difficulty and paradores to relax after the intense day of skiing.
5) Quila Quina Beach
During the summer, one of the things you have to enjoy if you go to San Martín de los Andes are the beaches on the shores of the lake. Without a doubt, the most famous is Quila Quina, reachable by car through the Route 40 and a short detour by a gravel road, or by catamaran from the main pier of San Martín de los Andes. Here you will find crystal clear water and an impressive natural environment. In the place there are lodges and campsites to stay and many picnic areas to enjoy a lunch overlooking the lake.