1,640km (1,017 miles) SW of Buenos Aires; 200km (124 miles) N of San Carlos de Bariloche
San Martín de los Andes is a charming mountain town of 35,000 nestled on the tip of Lago Lácar between high peaks. The town is considered the tourism capital of the Neuquen province, a claim that's hard to negate, considering the copious arts-and-crafts shops, gear-rental shops, restaurants, and hotels that constitute much of downtown. San Martín has grown considerably in the past 15 years, yet a city law that limits building height and regulates architectural style means the town has kept its lovely character, unlike Bariloche. The town is quieter than Bariloche and decidedly more picturesque, thanks to its timber-heavy architecture and Swiss Alpine influence. Because it's in a valley between two peaks, however, it lacks the majestic lake view and can feel dark and closed-in. San Martín overflows with activities including biking, hiking, boating, and skiing. The town is also very popular for hunting and fishing -- and, believe it or not, some come just to relax. The tourism infrastructure here is excellent, with every lodging option imaginable and plenty of great restaurants.