The Central Sierras
Nowhere near as visually spectacular as the nearby Andes, the Central Sierras more than make up for it by being way more hospitable. The area is dotted with little towns that are worth a quick visit or a longer stay, and is connected by an excellent road network with frequent bus services.
San Luis & Around
The little-visited province of San Luis holds a surprising number of attractions, made all the better by the fact that you’ll probably have them all to yourself. The province is popularly known as La Puerta de Cuyo (the door to Cuyo), referring to the combined provinces of Mendoza, San Luis, La Rioja and San Juan.
Set around a 17th-century Jesuit reservoir, Alta Gracia is a tranquil little mountain town of winding streets and shady parks. The star attraction here is the 17th-century Jesuit estancia, whose exquisite church, nighttime lighting and lovely location between a tiny reservoir and the central plaza make it one of the most impressive of Córdoba province’s World Heritage sites.
At the top of the Valle de Conlara, the mountain town of Merlo is a growing resort known for its gentle microclimate (the local tourist industry buzzword) in a relatively dry area. The town is located 200km northeast of San Luis, tucked into the northeast corner of San Luis province. The municipal tourist office has maps and information on hotels and campgrounds.
The pace of life slows waaaay down in this alpine-styled village, nestled in the forest in the Valle de Calamuchita. The tranquility is largely thanks to the town’s pedestrian-only policy. It’s a great place to kick back for a few days and wander the forest trails leading to swimming holes, waterfalls and scenic lookouts.
Villa General Belgrano
More a cultural oddity than a full-blown tourist attraction, Villa General Belgrano flaunts its origins as a settlement of unrepatriated survivors from the German battleship Graf Spee, which sank near Montevideo during WWII. The annual Oktoberfest held during the first two weeks of October draws beer lovers from all over the world.
Really jumping in summertime, Mina Clavero pretty much empties out for the rest of the year, leaving visitors to explore the limpid streams, rocky waterfalls, numerous swimming holes and idyllic mountain landscapes at their own pace. Mina Clavero is 170km southwest of Córdoba via RN 20, the splendid Nuevo Camino de las Altas Cumbres (Highway of the High Peaks).
A woodsy resort town, La Falda is busier than its Central Sierra neighbors and not quite as interesting. It’s worth a day or two of your time, though, for walks in the hills and around the grounds of the defunct Hotel Eden. La Falda’s main plaza is a charming, tranquil affair, all the more so for being removed from the main drag.
Cosquín is known throughout the country for its Festival Nacional del Folklore, a nine-day national folk-music festival that's been held in the last week of January since 1961. The town gets packed for the festival, stays busy all summer and goes pleasantly dead the rest of the year.
Nestled between the banks of the Río Grande and the foothills of Cerro Tomalasta (2020m), Carolina is a photogenic little village of stone houses and dirt roads. Take away the power lines and you could be stepping back in time 100 years. The region boomed in 1785 when the Spanish moved in to exploit local gold mines that had first been used by the Inca.