Sierra de la Ventana, Argentina: Mountains in Buenos Aires

Sierra de la Ventana is a popular mountain holiday destination among locals in southern Buenos Aires (province, not city).

The sierras here offer a refreshing nature-focused getaway that can feel hard to come by when you’re in bustling Buenos Aires (city, not province).

The mountains here may not be the towering peaks of Patagonia but they are a hiker’s dream, a bird watcher’s paradise, home to four charming small towns, a refuge of peace and quiet, and there’s even a good winery (because there’s always a winery).

We spent three days here, mostly relaxing.

After four months driving across Patagonia our energy levels for hiking in the sierras were depleted.

We focused on exploring the small towns, relaxing in our cabin, and taking it easy.

Sierra de la Ventana was exactly what we needed.

If you’re looking for a good weekend getaway from Buenos Aires, whether to hike or relax, head south to the sierras.

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How to get to Sierra de la Ventana

Sierra de la Ventana is in the province of Buenos Aires but is nowhere near the city.

If you have a car or want to rent one (check rates here), you can drive to Sierra de la Ventana in 6.5 hours from Buenos Aires.

The freedom of having my own car to get around and a love of road trips always make this my top choice.

Either drive straight through or cut the drive in half with a stay in Tandil.

Tandil is also famous for its sierras so visit both to hit up the top mountain towns of Buenos Aires.

No car? The best way to get to Sierra de la Ventana is by bus, check the timetables and rates here.

Check for a direct bus that goes overnight with the company La Estrella – El Cóndor.

Other options connect via Bahia Blanca and take 20 hours, you do not want this route. It isn’t worth it.

With lie flat seating, an overnight bus is actually painless.

Go to sleep on a comfortable bus and wake up rested and with a full day to explore in your destination.

Once in Sierra de la Ventana, there are buses that connect the different towns and you can always take a remis to get around. But take mobility into account when choosing your accommodation to be close to a bus stop or town.

Can you fly to Siera de la Ventana?

To fly here you would fly into Bahia Blanca and take a bus or rent a car to get to Sierra de la Ventana, an hour and a half north.

Hiking in Sierra de la Ventana

The best thing to do in Sierra de las Ventana is trekking and camping, of which we did none.

Normally we would love to hike but for this trip in particular we were desperate for rest.

But ever the researcher, I did look into it and hope to one day return to do the sierras justice.

Here are the best summits and treks in Sierra de la Ventana.

Ernesto Tornquist Provincial Park

The main attraction is the Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist, located on the main route 76 between Villa Ventana and Tornquist.

Divided into two parts there are two access gates.

Both gates are located on Ruta 76, 4 kilometers apart from each other at the base of two different mountains.

The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

At the visitor’s center you can hire guides for the trails where it is obligatory and get more information.

  • Sector Base Cerro Bahia Blanca – At km. 220 on Ruta 76, the first entrance you reach if coming from Villa Ventana. There are challenging hikes you can do without a guide like summiting Cerro Bahia Blanca and others with a guide. Click here for full information
  • Sector Base Cerro Ventana – At km. 225, you can’t miss it’s imposing iron gate. Click here for full information.

Cerro Tres Picos & Estancia Funke

Cerro Tres Picos is the highest peak in Buenos Aires at 1,239 meters (just over 4,000 feet).

For hiking enthusiast’s this is the area’s most important hike.

Ideally, this hikes is done over two days.

You can camp at the summit in the Cueva de los Guanacos.

If you want to do this as a day hike, leave very early.

The ascent will take 5-6 hours and 2-3 to descend.

It is allowed to go without a guide but a guide is recommended, especially if you have any doubt in your abilities.

This is a challenging hike for those in fit condition. Pack abundant water, food, and sun protection.

The trail starts on the grounds of the Estancia Funke, click here for information.

Sierras Grandes Nature Reserve

This massive nature reserve, just under 10 km from the town Sierra de la Ventana, is ideal for bird watchers and hikers.

More than 700 species of flora and fauna are protected here.

Click here for a full list of the geographical formations, trails, and waterfalls to see in the reserve.

All of the excursions are with a guide, click here to surf their Instagram account which has all of the excursions detailed in story highlights.

You can reach out via WhatsApp (number in the account) to reserve or for more information.

Things to do in Sierra de la Ventana

You may say you’re coming to Sierra de la Ventana but in reality, you probably won’t be spending much time there.

You’ll be exploring the entire area, visiting the different towns and nature reserves.

This area is a Comarca, or a grouping of different municipalities in the same province that in all practicality form the same community.

You’ll find this in El Bolson in Patagonia as well, which forms a Comarca with neighboring El Hoyo, Lago Puelo, Epuyen, etc. It’s referred to as La Comarca Andina.

Here the towns are Tonquist, Villa Ventana, Sierra de la Ventana, and Saldungaray.

So I’m breaking down the best things to do in Sierra de la Ventana (beyond hiking already covered above) by town, to make things a bit easier to plan.

Things to do in Tornquist

The first town we reached when driving up from Bahia Blanca was Tornquist.

We weren’t yet in the mountains and felt like being in one of the many pueblos historicos of the Buenos Aires province (compared to the mountain village vibe of Villa Ventana).

I found Tornquist to be very beautiful from the historic buildings in town to the beautifully manicured main square.

It’s definitely worth taking the time to wander and explore here without much of a goal rather than to stroll, take photos, and relax. I wish we had had more time to spend here.

WHAT TO SEE IN TORNQUIST:

  • Plaza Ernesto Tornquist – Do not skip the main square. It was originally designed by Carlos Thays and was remodeled by the famous engineer Francisco Salamone (making this is a must see for architecture lovers). The square occupies four blocks, there is a massive playground, water features, and beautiful gardens.
  • Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima – The town’s church is located in the center of the main square and constructed completely out of stone.
  • Municipality of Tornquist – At the head of the square you will clearly notice the art deco/futuristic municipality, which was designed by Salamone.
“Downtown” Villa Ventana had a strong holiday feel to it.

Things to do in Villa Ventana

Villa Ventana is a world apart from the other towns in the region.

In researching the area I read it described as the Carilo of Sierra de la Ventana and I have to agree that it has the same relaxed, vacation vibe of its beachfront sister.

All of its unpaved streets are named after native birds. There are no large buildings, only homes, complexes of cabins, and restaurants.

We stayed here and I’m so glad we did, it was the perfect place to unwind.

There are few activities you can do here, admittedly we didn’t do anything but relax.

THINGS TO DO IN VILLA VENTANA:

  • Ex Club Hotel de la Ventana – Take an excursion to see the ruins of this massive resort from 1904. It was considered the best hotel in South America yet closed its doors in 1920 due the economic crisis of the time.
  • Sendero Ribera del Belisario – Walk the trail along the creek that runs along the edge of town. This easy trail takes about an hour with views of the mountains the whole way.
  • Eat the alfajores – Visit Alfajores Mameulquen to pick up some of the best alfajores in the region
Sierra de la Ventana’s historic train station

Sierra de la Ventana

The namesake of the region, Sierra de la Ventana is the largest town here and to be honest, once we drove through we really didn’t want to spend much time here.

We visited the historic train station for photos and that’s it.

If you’re staying here or want to spend a day exploring there is plenty to do.

THINGS TO DO IN SIERRA DE LA VENTANA:

  • Balneario Los Angelitos – This riverfront is the place for picnics, swimming, and overall summer fun during the warm months.
  • Museo del Mate – I actually did want to stop here but tired kids didn’t allow it, I love a kitschy super niche local museum and this would tick all the boxes.
  • Next door and I assume part of the same complex I saw the Museo del Cuchillo, and with the beauty of most gaucho knives I’m sure it’s worthwhile.
  • Estacion Sierra de la Ventana – Nothing much to see except the beauty of the historic station, and I sure love a historic Buenos Aires provincial train station.
  • Museo de La Trochita Ramal 111 – In front of the train station across the tracks you can see a restored train from La Trochita, the narrow train that crossed Patagonia (more famously still running in Esquel).
Salamone’s gate to the cemetery in Saldungaray makes an impact.

Wine & Salamone in Saldungaray

Saldungaray is THE place to go if you love architecture to see some major works by Francisco Salamone.

Truthfully, Saldungaray is very small but architecture lovers will be very entertained.

There is also a vineyard outside of town that we, gasp, didn’t visit.

I make it my personal mission to visit all wineries I possibly can on these trips but our time in Sierra de la Ventana came at the end of a four month road trip where many wineries had been visited and many a tasting had been had.

I was tired.

Though I DID try the wine at lunch and can say it is delicious.

THINGS TO DO IN SALDUNGARAY:

  • Bodega Saldungaray – Visit the winery that I should have visited, the wine was excellent and I can only imagine the views from the bodega must have been impressive in the sierras.
  • Salamone & La Delegación Municipal – The main municipality building here is also by Salamone, you can see it on the corner of the main square and it even looks a bit like a smaller version of the one in Tornquist with that square clock tower
  • Salamone & The Cemetery – Salamone designed the entrance to the town’s cemetery and it is unique to say the least. It’s very notably his art deco style, it is also massive.
  • We spent our time here in the playground (ah, travel with toddlers), but here among the slides and swing you’ll see Salamone’s impact with the art deco light poles and benches throughout the square.
Our cabin at Ventana al Alma was so good for families and had beautiful views of the sierras.

Where to stay in Sierra de la Ventana

The first thing you need to define is which town or area you want to stay in.

I was set on staying in Villa Ventana but there are also beautiful places to stay in the outskirts of Tornquist or on the way to Sierra de la Ventana.

In the end, we rented a cabin at Ventana al Alma.

Out of over four months of travel this was the best house we stayed in, hands down.

The quality of everything from kitchen appliances to the mattresses was the best.

Most rental cabins are stocked with the cheapest items available but you can tell that at Ventana al Alma that they take pride in what they offer.

My husband and I joked that if we could we would rent the cabin for the entire year.

All their cabins have a different layout so some are ideal for a couple and others for families.

Other options on where to stay in Sierra de la Ventana:

  • Tiny House – This tiny house really caught my eye but being with kids it didn’t work for us, had we been going as a couple I would have definitely stayed here!
  • Cabins – Another excellent set of cabins in Villa Ventana, it’s highly reviewed and also towards the back of town (further from “downtown” but closer to the mountain views.
  • Hostel – This area is mostly cabins but there if you want a social hostel environment try this hostel in Sierra de la Ventana

Argentina Travel Resources

  • TRAVEL INSURANCE | It is always a good idea to travel insured. It protects you in so many cases, like lost luggage and trip cancellations, medical emergencies and evacuations. It’s very affordable with the potential to save you thousands in the case of an emergency. I recommend SafetyWing.
  • PHONE PLAN | These days, traveling with data is essential. Especially in Argentina where everything is managed on Instagram and WhatsApp. I recommend this E-SIM card. It’s hassle-free and affordable, for more read how to get an Argentina sim card.
  • ACCOMMODATION IN ARGENTINA | booking.com is the most common hotel site used in Argentina and it’s where you’ll find the most options.
  • RENTAL CARS | I love to travel Argentina via road trip, check out RentalCars.com for the best rates for rental cars here.
  • BUS TICKETS | I like Busbud for long distance bus routes and tickets.
  • VPN | If you’ll be using a public WiFi connection and want to secure your data, I highly recommend using a VPN, I personally use and have had a good experience with ExpressVPN. I also use it to access Hulu and American Netflix from Argentina.
  • FLIGHTS | Always check Google Flights and Skyscanner for flights to and within Argentina. Aerolineas Argentina is the local airline with the most routes. FlyBondi and Jetsmart are two budget airlines with dirt-cheap prices (but expect to pay for every add-on like luggage).
  • NEED HELP PLANNING? | I offer one-on-one travel consultations to help you plan your trip to Argentina. Pick my brain to get a local’s insight. Click here for more information.

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