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Travel to San Martin de los Andes: One of Patagonia’s Most Gorgeous Towns

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Are you looking for one of the most underrated place to visit in Argentina? Travel to San Martin de los Andes, and you'll experience some of the most stunning nature and delicious food, without the crazy crowds.


San Martin de los Andes was on my bucket list for a long time, and I found the perfect opportunity to visit on my birthday trip gifted to me by Fede. Just 3 1/2 hours from Bariloche, it is popularly visited at the end of the famous route of the seven lakes from Villa La Angostura. While some just visit as a day trip, we highly recommend staying at least a night or two to experience all that this underrated city has to offer.


In this guide we're going to share all of the great things to do in and around San Martin de los Andes, where to stay, places to eat, and so much more! Let's jump right into our full guide to travel to San Martin de lo Andes, Argentina.

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Where is San Martin de los Andes in Argentina?

San Martin de los Andes is located in Neuquen, a province in the northwest of Patagonia, Argentina. The city is the gateway to Lanin National Park, and sits on the bank of Lake Lacar, one of the seven lakes along the route of the seven lakes.

Where is San Martin de los Andes in Argentina

San Martin de los Andes is in the north west of Patagonia, Argentina


How Do You Get to San Martin de los Andes?

There are a few different options for how to get to San Martin de los Andes. You can either fly, or you can visit via the route of the seven lakes, coming from Bariloche.


What is the Closest Airport to San Martin de los Andes?

The closest airport to San Martin de los Andes is Chapelco Airport (CPC) which is located a little under 20 km away, or a half hour drive to the city center. There are regular flights coming from both of Buenos Aires' airports, as well as daily flights from Cordoba, Neuquen, and Rosario.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can you can check the calendar feature to see which are the cheapest dates to travel to San Martin de los Andes.

How to Get from Bariloche to San Martin de los Andes

Another popular option (which is what we did), is to travel to San Martin de los Andes from Bariloche, one of the most visited cities in Patagonia.


There is a famous stretch to San Martin de los Andes from Villa la Angostura, which is an hour north of Bariloche, called the route of the seven lakes. This is a part of route 40 that is super scenic, and features 7 different lakes that you can visit. You can either visit here on a tour from Bariloche, take the bus, or you can drive there yourself.

route of the seven lakes, travel to San Martin de los Andes
route of the seven lakes, travel to San Martin de los Andes
driving the route of the seven lakes
route of the seven lakes, travel to San Martin de los Andes

The route of the seven lakes if a popular route to travel to San Martin de los Andes.


Buses are the most affordable option, but the downside is you won't be able to stop along the way to enjoy the route of the seven lakes. However, if you want to travel to San Martin de los Andes for the cheapest option, you can take the bus from the center of Bariloche, dropping you off right in the heart of San Martin de los Andes.

travel to San Martin de los Andes by bus

The bus station is right in the heart of San Martin de los Andes.

Here are a few tours that you can choose from:


Driving to San Martin de los Andes

The drive to San Martin de los Andes from Bariloche is 190 km, and takes about 3 1/2 hours without stopping. This is can be a day trip fro Bariloche, but we highly suggest renting a car from Bariloche so that you can have more flexibility in your schedule, and take time to spend at least a night or two in San Martin de los Andes.


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Entry Requirements for Argentina

Before traveling anywhere new, it's important to know the different visa and vaccine requirements for entering. Here's what you need to know for traveling to Argentina.

Argentina Visa Entry Requirements

Argentina is a pretty welcoming country when it comes to tourism, and there are a lot of nationalities that can visit visa-free for a period of up to 90 days. The countries from the Americas that can visit Argentina without needing a visa include BoliviaBrazil, Canada, ColombiaCosta RicaChileEcuadorEl Salvador, Guatemala, GuyanaHondurasMexicoNicaraguaPanama, Paraguay, Peru, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and the USA.


European countries that are able to visit Argentina visa-free include Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, BulgariaCroatia, Czech Republic, CyprusDenmarkEstonia, Finland, France, GeorgiaGermanyGreeceHungaryIreland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, PortugalRomaniaRussia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, SwitzerlandTurkeyUnited Kingdom, and Vatican City.


Other countries that can stay for up to 90 days in the country include Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. Venezuelans can stay for a period of up to 60 days, and those from Grenada, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia can stay for a period of up to 30 days.


Argentina Covid Entry Requirements

All prior covid-related requirements to visit Argentina have now been dropped, so you can freely enter Argentina whether or not you are vaccinated. Masks are no longer required anywhere, nor does anyone wear them anymore.


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Travel to San Martin de los Andes: Local Adjustments

Another important thing to keep in mind when traveling are the things that may change like currency, language, and the tipping culture. Here are the local adjustments to keep in mind for when you travel to San Martin de los Andes.


What Language do They Speak in San Martin de los Andes?

The official language in San Martin de los Andes is Spanish.


What is Argentina's Currency?

The currency used in Argentina is the Argentinian peso. One thing that makes the currency of Argentina very different than the rest of the world is that there are so many different exchange rates. The key is bringing US dollars with you, and exchanging them at the "blue dollar" rate. This is one place you can put away your credit card, and rely solely on cash.


Outlets Used in Patagonia

San Martin de los Andes used plug type I, which has three prongs- one on the bottom that is vertical, and two above it that are slanted towards one another. Argentina runs on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. There are very few countries that use the same plug type, two of them being Australia and New Zealand. If you are coming from any other country, you will need to get a travel adapter.


Can you Drink the Water in San Martin de los Andes?

The water in Patagonia is some of the best in the world. It is perfectly safe to drink the water from the tap, so we suggest bringing a reusable water bottle and skipping the bottled water.


Tipping Culture in Argentina

The tipping culture in Argentina is similar to many other countries. While it is never mandatory, it is customary to leave an extra 10% tip while in restaurants.

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Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes

Now you know almost everything you need to know to get ready to travel to San Martin de los Andes. Here are the best things to do in and around the area.

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San Martin de los Andes pin
San Martin de los Andes pin

Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #1: Explore Lake Lacar

Lake Lacar is where San Martin de los Andes sits, and is also the final lake along the route of the seven lakes.


Unlike the rest of the lakes in the area though, Lake Lacar is much bigger, and has a ton of different things to do around it! Here are some of the best spots in Lake Lacar to check out:


  • Muelle de San Martin de los Andes: the pier in the city that is on the east side of the lake
  • Muelle Hua Hum: the pier on the west side of the lake
  • Playa Yuco: a series of swimming spots with turquoise waters and a mountain backdrop
  • Playa Quila Quina: the most popular beach in the area
  • La Islita: a small island close to the coast of the lake
  • Chachin Waterfall: it's not technically on the lake, but nearby on the river
Lake Lacaer, travel to San Martin de los Andes
Lake Lacaer, travel to San Martin de los Andes
Lake Lacaer, travel to San Martin de los Andes
Lake Lacaer, travel to San Martin de los Andes

Lake Lacar is huge and has a ton to do around it.

Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #2: Take in the Best Views of the City

One of our favorite things we experiences we when traveled to San Martin de los Andes was the absolutely breathtaking views that we experienced.


There are several viewpoints on the outskirts of the city, which give you panoramas of the city of San Martin de los Andes, as well as Lake Lacar.


The closest viewpoint you can reach with your car right behind the city, which has a balcony overlooking the city, called Mirador el Balcon. The second viewpoint located in the same area is Mirador Bandurrias, which is a little of a hike. Head to the other side of the city and you can drive straight to another viewpoint Mirador Arrayanes, and then our favorite one is a secret one just behind it! Simply walk a dirt path up to the rocks above and you'll get the stunning panorama in the photo below:

travel to San Martin de los Andes


Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #3: Visit the Arrayan Tea Room

While you're checking out the stunning views of San Martin de los Andes, don't forget to pay a visit to the amazing Arrayan tea room! Not only is it a great place to have a drink or something to eat, but they have a stunning property that you can explore. They have a trail that goes around it with beautiful views, an amphitheater, and a lot of information to learn about the history of the owners.

teapots ona. tree, San Martin de los Andes
Mirador Aldea, 
San Martin de los Andes
San Martin de los Andes
Arrayan tea house San Martin de los Andes

The Arrayanes Tea room has a beautiful property to explore.

Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #4: Explore Lanin Volcano

This cone-shaped volcano is actually part of two different national parks- Lanin National Park in Argentina, and Villarrica Park in Chile. Lanin Volcano is a symbol of the area, and can be hiked in about 5-6 hours, making it the perfect day trip from San Martin de los Andes.


Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #5: Check out Huechulafquen Lake

While you're in Lanin National Park, you can't miss out on the beautiful Huechulafquen Lake, which is a glacial lake in the Andes mountains. It has Lanin Volcano as its backdrop, and is typically paired with a visit to the volcano on excursions.


Here are some tours that visit both Lanin Volcano and Huechulafquen Lake:

Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #6: Do the Route of the Seven Lakes

If you are coming from Bariloche, this is actually what you would have done on the way to San Martin de los Andes. However, if you are visiting San Martin de los Andes from anywhere else, then the route of the seven lakes definitely needs to be on your list of things to do.

Lake Espejo, the route of the seven lakes
Lago Espejo, route of the seven lakes
Lago Hermoso, route of the seven lakes
route of the seven lakes, travel to San Martin de los Andes

The route of the seven lakes has several beautiful lakes along the route.

The route of the seven lakes is the section of the highway 40 that goes from San Martin de los Andes down to Villa La Angostura, and is known for its several beautiful lakes along the way. You can either take a tour from San Martin de los Andes as a day trip, or rent a car and do it yourself. We liked doing it on our own as we were able to spend time in both Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes.


Don't want to rent a car? Here's a tour that you can sign up for:



Things to Do in San Martin de los Andes #7: Hike to Ñivinco Waterfalls

Just an hour from San Martin de los Andes along the route of the seven lakes is a set of waterfalls that are definitely worth checking out! Ñivinco waterfalls can be reached by an easy hike, and the start of the trail is located right off the side of the main highway, making it a convenient day trip from San Martin de los Andes.

Ñivinco waterfalls, travel to San Martin de los Andes
Ñivinco waterfalls, travel to San Martin de los Andes
Ñivinco waterfalls, travel to San Martin de los Andes

Ñivinco Falls are just an hour from San Martin de los Andes.


Travel to San Martin de los Andes: Local Food & Drink

Argentina doesn't have a ton of extravagant dishes, but it's all about the quality in this country. They have some of the best meat in the world, and for that reason have a very meat-rich diet. Here are a few of the dishes, as well as restaurants you should try while in San Martin de los Andes.


Local Dishes to Try

  • Empanadas- an Argentinian specialty- these pockets come with a variety of flavors and are great for on-the-go
  • Asado- Argentinians have the best meat in the world, so don't miss out on their typical barbecue!
  • Locro- a hearty stew which is typically served from late fall to early spring
  • Medialunas- similar to croissants, but they are smaller, denser, and sweeter
Locro, Argentinean food

Locro is a typical dish to try in the winter.

Recommended Restaurants in San Martin de los Andes

When we decided to travel to San Martin de los Andes, we were pretty limited on time, so didn't get to try a ton of different restaurants. However, we do have two recommendations to check out!


Parador Ruta 40

This was the first restaurant we visited in San Martin de los Andes. Located right on Lake Lacar, we'll be honest- we were worried the food wouldn't be great, and it would be a tourist trap.


Honestly, we loved this place though! The service was outstanding, views were beautiful, and they had an extensive menu with local specialties, vegetarian options, and basic ones as well. We got the Locro, which we highly recommend.

Restaurant Parador 40, San Martin de los Andes

Parador 40 is a large restaurant located on Lake Lacar.

Nonino Empanadas

If you're looking at having local flavors for affordable prices, then you cannot miss Nonino Empanadas! These are actually some of the best empanadas we've had in our life, and they have a ton of unique types to choose from! While most empanada places have just a few options like ham & cheese or caprese, Nonino offers local flavors such as deer, trout, and seafood empanadas! They also sell beer & wine, so you can grab drinks and empanadas for the perfect Patagonian picnic.


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Getting Around San Martin de los Andes

The town of San Martin de los Andes is very small, and can easily be explored on foot. However, some of the best things to do in San Martin de los Andes are located on the outskirts of town, and truly deserve a rental car to explore them.

travel to San Martin de los Andes with a car

The best way to explore San Martin de los Andes is by car.

As prices for cars aren't as cheap as the other things in Argentina, we do suggest booking as early as you can in advance for the best prices and availability.


Here is a site that we typically use for affordable car rentals around the world:

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Where to Stay in San Martin de los Andes

San Martin de los Andes is a very small city, but it does have some great options for places to stay. We personally loved the hotel group ROTUI, which has a few different properties around the city, and definitely some of the best ones for affordable rates.


We were originally going to stay at one of their properties, and their was a system error and were overbooked. They sent us to their sister hotel La Fontaine, with a whole suite! The place was stunning, had breakfast included, and even has a backyard area on the river with a pool.

La Fontaine, where to stay in San Martin de los Andes
La Fontaine, where to stay in San Martin de los Andes
La Fontaine, where to stay in San Martin de los Andes
La Fontaine, where to stay in San Martin de los Andes

La Fontaine is a beautiful property with great amenities.

The best hotel to stay in San Martin de los Andes is ROTUI Apart Hotel, which is the most famous and nicest of the hotel group. It is perched right over the river, and has spa baths, breakfast included, and some rooms even include a fire place!