Nicknamed the “Garden of the Patagonia,” Villa La Angostura has long been a vacation destination for wealthy Argentines. Today it also attracts international tourists who’ve made their way out of Bariloche to find something a little more relaxed. Charming, cozy, and surrounded by mountains, Villa La Angostura is home to lakefront beaches, wooden and stone architecture, and the relatively tiny yet stunning Los Arrayanes National Park.
Perfectly situated along Nahuel Huapi Lake, visitors have plenty of options when it comes to boat trips, sailing, and kayaking. While the town remains peaceful and beautiful, it certainly caters to tourists with its many gastronomic options, spa resorts, and tour companies offering a variety of outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and biking.
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Villa La Angostura:
1. Ruta de Los Siete Lagos
Many people stop through Villa La Angostura on their drive down the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Route of the Seven Lakes), so it’s a good place to base yourself if you want to explore more of the Lake District.
You can book a tour or drive yourself along this famous scenic route that runs from the city of Bariloche to San Martín de los Andes in order to visit each of the seven lakes – Machónico, Hermoso, Falkner, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo Chico, and Villarino.
Make time to get out and take pictures or picnic by the water during your full day of sightseeing.
Particularly active visitors might even choose to bike a portion of this route – you can easily make it to both Lake Espejo and Correntoso in a day of cycling from Villa La Angostura.
2. Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes
Created to preserve the unique arrayán trees, a type of Chilean myrtle, this is one of the smallest national parks in Argentina, but it’s well worth a visit for a great walk through its ancient preserved wilderness.
Many visitors take the 12-kilometer trail from the port of Villa la Angostura to the reach the forest of arrayanes trees which range from 300 to 600 years old.
Others go by mountain bike or one of the tourists boats cruising Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Wander the Quetrihué Peninsula where these spindly myrtles are located – the pedestrian trail you’ll use is made of wooden planks to protect the soil around them.
After seeing the forests, visit the wooden cabin there where you can have refreshments, or go sit on the rocky shores of Patagua Lagoon.
3. Shop at the Artisan Fair
Villa La Angostura has a number of high end shops as well as local handicraft items available for the discerning souvenir-buying tourist.
In the Bahia Mansa, you can wander the artisan fair where craftsmen gather each day in the port to sell their wares.
You’ll find leather, silver, wood, clay, and wool products alongside the artisans displaying their techniques and chatting about their works.
There’s original pottery, knives, ponchos, hats, and candles, as well as traditional Mapuche goods like loom-woven clothing.
You can also pick up some regional foodstuffs, including locally smoked venison, trout, and boar, plus homemade jams and pastries.
The town’s more upscale shopping is located along Avenida Arrayanes
4. Cerro Bayo
If you’re here during ski season, venture out to Cerro Bayo, a boutique (ie, small) ski resort which offers 20 miles of runs and lifts, along with warm restaurants, coffee shops, and bars for families.
You can go skiing, snowboarding, snow-tubing, sledding, and cross country skiing on the different terrains here, and there’s something for all skill levels.
The crowds are minimal compared to some neighboring ski resorts even though it’s just 15 minutes away from Villa La Angostura.
There’s a ski and snowboard school for beginners and some off-piste action and terrain parks for the pros.
In the summer you can still visit to take the chairlift up for panoramic views or do a few hikes, including one to a waterfall.
5. Go Sailing on Lake Nahuel Huapi
One of the favorite activities of many a tourist in Villa La Angostura is sailing.
Local guides will arrange a sailboat for you to cruise along Lago Nahuel Huapi from Puerto La Mansa, making stops at Los Arrayanes National Park, Victoria Island, and several different beaches.
Many trips include a gourmet lunch of smoked trout, venison, and cheeses or even an asado (barbecue) accompanied by wine.
Patagonia Sailing is one of the oldest sailboat charter companies in Argentina, and they’ll create custom itineraries which range from a few hours to multiple days depending on how much you like the sailing lifestyle.
If you’d prefer to cruise via motorboat, check out Bahia Brava, a company that also provides great tours, picnics, and customer service.
6. Cascada del Río Bonito
Just an hour and half walk alongside the Río Bonito, this beautiful trek is perfect for people who aren’t looking for anything too intense.
Off the road to Cerro Bayo, you’ll find a steep trail that takes you to a viewing platform of a plunging waterfall.
Keep going to see more of the forests and start down a track that surrounds you with nature, leading you to a gray volcanic sand beach along Bahia San Patricio.
It’s a convenient (and free!) way to explore more of the area outside of town.
You’ll often see local families having a day out with their kids and pets spending a little time along the shores.
7. Hit the Spa
As a playground for Argentina’s rich, Villa la Angostura has no shortage of luxurious hotels with spas for those visitors who might want a little pampering in the middle of these pristine natural surroundings.
Look into La Escondida Casa, Don El Faro, Sol Arrayan, or Las Balsas for high-end accommodations and spa facilities.
They feature indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas, and jacuzzis, as well as a range of treatments like massages, facials, body wraps, and mud baths.
These indulgences can often be upgraded to incorporate more local ingredients like essential oils and even chocolate.
A day at the spa frequently includes access to relaxation rooms, a gym, restaurants, and an outdoor terrace.
8. Go Horseback Riding
See the brilliant lake scenery and snow-capped Andes from the back of a well-trained horse as you ride through the hills around Villa La Angostura.
Companies can arrange horses for all levels of riders, even complete beginners.
Some rides take you through the nearby Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi while others will lead you up the winding trails surrounding Cerro Bayo and Cerro Belvedere in the summer.
Venture through forests and cross rivers with your gaucho guide, and maybe even stop for snacks along the way while you enjoy the views.
There are several companies, but in this little town Cabalgatas del Tero is pretty popular.
9. Laguna Verde
Get away from the crowds by hiking out to this peaceful little oasis in the middle of nature.
During your walk you’ll pass beneath thick canopies of humid forests and almost feel how the area is situated in a mild microclimate.
This allows for the variety of wildlife, including the many species of birds and trees that you’ll find the area.
Take the walk around the freshwater lagoon with the backdrop of those ever-present snow-capped mountains as you experience the quietness being secluded in the woods away from the city.
Many folks take bikes to ride around the trails or books to sit and read out here.
10. Hike to the Mirador Belvedere and Cascada Inacayal
For a tougher hike and some rewarding views, pack enough water and some snacks for the day and head uphill through Mapuche territory.
The Belvedere Viewpoint and Inacayal Waterfall lie within walking distance of each other, provided you’re ready trek through the forests and conquer some steep slopes.
From the viewpoint or mirador, you’ll see the expansive Lake Nahuel Huapi below, along with parts of Lake Correntoso and the mountains that mark the Chilean border.
Then follow the signs to Cascada Inacayal, and after a walk alongside the stream of Las Piedritas, you’ll pass through thick ferns and other vegetation to come face to face with the powerful waterfall.
11. Go Kayaking
Get out on the waters of one of the many beautiful lakes in the area and spend the day communing with nature.
You can book guided trips to Lago Espejo, so named for its mirror-like qualities, which lies on the border with Chile, or stick with the nearby Nahuel Huapi.
Journeys include a few hours of paddling along the crystal clear waters, stops for snacks or lunch, and occasionally even some snorkeling or hiking.
The gear is all provided for you, and first time kayakers will have no problems learning.
Check out the highly rated half-day trips that Patagonia Infinita can arrange and the custom multi-day tours by Endurance Kayak & Mountain Expeditions.
12. Beaches, Watersports, and Fishing
Between the recreational offerings of Nahuel Huapi and Correntoso Lakes, you’ll have your hands full.
Whether you just want to lounge on the shores and go swimming or try your hand at windsurfing or fishing, you’ll find it in Villa La Angostura.
Nahuel Huapi is the place for watersports and sport fishing, where you can catch brown, fontinalis, and rainbow trout.
Or if you’re just into hitting the beach, check out the shores of Correntoso – lots of locals hang out here and you’ll find camping facilities, bathrooms, and warm(ish) waters.
It’s backed by scenic mountains, and you can also find motorboat tours and horseback rides available.
Other beaches near town include Playa Mansa and Brava, as well as the resort-lined Bahia Manzano.
13. Day Trip to Bariloche and Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi
You may have started your Patagonian journey in Bariloche or flown into the airport there, but if you haven’t visited this touristy alpine-inspired town, make the trip to do it.
Stroll through the streets lined with architecture reminiscent of a Swiss ski village while stopping in its many chocolate shops and craft breweries to sample the local products.
Hit the lakefront, check out the church, and then venture to the national park.
Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi offers visitors the chance to walk, drive, boat, or camp next to its many mountains, forests, waterfalls, and lakes.
Hike the Circuito Chico to see the wildlife or hop on a boat to Isla Victoria, a reserve in the center of the lake.
14. Check Out the Scene at El Mercado
A very cool place to eat, hang out, and shop, El Mercado is a beautifully constructed “social space” where tourists and locals alike can meet up.
Built over four city blocks in a style that blends contemporary with old town antiques, this gastronomic, art, recreation, and commercial center is super charming.
Its wooden exterior and stained glass windows pay tribute to the traditional building materials of Villa La Angostura, while the interiors contain all the modern amenities you might need.
There’s a pub, pizza parlour, hamburger joint, and tea house if you’re feeling peckish.
And for entertainment and shopping, visit the art gallery, clothing stores, ski shops, paintball center, and (yup!) the ice skating rink.
15. Try the Local Dishes
Since so many affluent Argentines vacation here, Villa La Angostura unsurprisingly attracts a lot of fabulous chefs.
And lucky them, they’ve got great local ingredients to work with – like venison, trout, wild boar, Patagonian lamb, and forest mushrooms.
Try some of the regional specialties, and squeeze in a fine dining experience, traditional parilla (steakhouse), or even some fondue.
For refined food with lake views, visit Mirador Social Club or Delfina, and for generously portioned grilled steaks or lamb, grab a table at La Caballeriza.
Nicoletto does homemade pasta very well, and Gran Nevada attracts a hungry crowd on a budget with the classics.
If you’re after that post-ski melted cheese session, check out the rustic La Encantada for fondue.