San Juan is located in the Tulum Valley in the province of San Juan, west-central Argentina, and is the capital of the province. It has a population of about 112,000, and including the surrounding area, it has over 500,000 people.
San Juan is a very modern city with wide streets, and is pedestrian-friendly. It also has plenty of vegetation, irrigated by the canals which run through the city. The change from an old-fashioned, colonial city to a modern metropolitan came after an earthquake hit in 1944. Following the destruction, the city was rebuilt in a more modern style. There are so many amazing things to do in San Juan, such as visit the Casa Natal de Sarmiento and the Fabril Alto Verde. Below is our San Juan travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
LAS MARINAS – This beautiful winery was built in 1922, but abandoned in 1950. It became reinstated in 1999, and is a wonderful place to visit as you can still see the old equipment that was used at the winery.
CASA NATAL DE SARMIENTO – This museum was once the house of Domingo Fautisno Sarmiento. He was a famous writer, politician and journalist. His writings recounted his childhood in this house with his family – here you can see old books and documents. Look out for special workshops and events held here.
CAVAS DE ZONDA – Cavas de Zonda is in a cave outside the city, and here you can find a champagne maker. This man boasts that he has the only wine cellar with a mountain as the roof. It makes for an interesting trip and the chance to try some of the amazing champagne.
MUSEO DE CIENCIAS NATURALES – In this museum there are plenty of exhibits to look through, and some good fossils and minerals. There is also a dinosaur skeleton that you can look at. This is one of the more interesting parts of this museum.
FABRIL ALTO VERDE – This is one of the larger wineries, and is a more up to date and modern vineyard. It sells most of its wine as exports to other countries. Here you can try organic wine, and there are tours offered in English and Spanish.
MUSEO DE VINO SANTIAGO GRAFFIGNA – A wine museum well worth a visit, this museum is very informative, and even has a bar where you can enjoy sampling some local tipple.
VINAS DE SEGISA – This is one of the older wineries, and has a feel likened to that of a museum. There is a tour of the underground wine cellar complex, which is one of the more interesting parts of this winery. They also have wine tasting.
MIGUEL MAS – This is one of the more interesting little wineries as almost the entire process is done by hand, except for the placing of the cork is not done by hand. There are good tours of this winery in Spanish.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Close to 65% of San Juan’s surrounding area is involved in the wine industry, so there are plenty of trips offered to vineyards. Wine is very popular in San Juan, so if you are in the area then this is the perfect opportunity to see one of the many vineyards and sample some wine.
San Juan has lots of different options for dining. Cafes are very popular and serve great fresh juices. There are also some good places to enjoy the popular grilled meat here in San Juan; meat is one of the more common foods in Argentina, and the best way to try it is on the grill.
For your typical steak and Argentinean meats, head to Remolacha (Av. Jose Ignacio de la Roza y Sarmiento), where you can sit out in the garden to enjoy your meal. If you’ve had your fill of Parrillas, try Club Sirio Libanes (Calle Entre Rios sur 33) for Lebanese food. The building resembles a beautiful Moroccan manor house. For vegetarian dishes, go to Soychu (Av. Ignacio de la Roza 223 Oeste). It’s pay-by-weight, and you can choose to take-away, or eat-in at the small restaurant. The food is amazing, and includes dishes such as lasagne and Indian samosas. You can’t visit Argentina without trying their famous ice-cream, or ‘gelatto’: at Portho Gelatto (Lateral de circunvalacion 511 sur) you’ll find the best quality and flavours.
There are a few different places to enjoy the nightlife here in San Juan, with some different light-atmosphere bars that are good places to enjoy drink and relax. One place to visit is Flores Arte Bar (Calle Entre Rios sur 145), which has great décor, a patio, and various rooms with different vibes. Come here for drinks and nibbles, and enjoy the live DJ. It’s located very close to the main square. For pizza and drinks, go to Barcelona Bar (Av. Libertador General San Martin 1438) – if you’re lucky you might catch some live music!
During the summer months (from November to March), the temperature is nice and the average is between 23 – 27 degrees Celsius. During June, July, and August the temperature changes quite a bit, and the average temperature is between 6 – 8 degrees Celsius. There is very little rainfall in San Juan throughout the year.
There are flights that go from San Juan to Buenos Aires - the journey time is 2 hours – and your options are with LAN or Aerolineas Argentinas. The main way to get to and from the city is by bus. The city is on one of the main highways in the country, and so there are buses that go to almost every main city in Argentina. From Buenos Aires, it takes 14 hours.
In San Juan, there are several different options for lodging. You can find a few of the lower budget hostels closer to the bus station, and some of them have shared rooms. Most of the hotels can be found within a few blocks of the downtown area, and there are also higher end hotels which have pools. With plenty of good options to choose from within the city centre, you can easily find a good place to stay.
One option is Capital Hostel (Ramon y Cajal Norte 302), which is within walking distance from the main attractions, has a well equipped kitchen, and very hospitable staff. Hostel Trotamundos (Hipólito Irigoyen 1411 este) is another great place to stay, with small and large dorm options, informative staff, and located close to the bus terminal. If you’re after something more fancy and aren’t on a tight budget, go to Hotel Provincial (Av. José Ignacio de la Roza Oeste 132). Here you can sit out by the pool and enjoy the sun, in the centre of the city. There is even a small gym and a bar, and the breakfast (which is included) is very good.
Always take caution when touring through the city, and try to stick to the main areas. Be aware of pickpockets and potential robberies.
Also, make sure when taking transport on a tour that it is safe.