Villa Carlos Pas is a town with plenty of life, famous among young people and families, filled with theaters, crowded bars and restaurants but not so much nature as the rest of the province although it’s on the way between Cordoba city and almost any other touristic place in the region.
It is worth making a short stop if you are driving doing the Valle de Punilla or the Ruta de las Altas Cumbres, specially for eating, having some drinks and see the costanera. Lastly you can use it as gateway for the Quebrada del Condorito National Park and some other less famous attractions in the area if you want a confortable place to sleep.
For the average traveler this is not an interesting place. It’s very famous on name because schools bring their students on trips here and some other not travel related reasons. In general, not very interesting place for a traveler.
What to do in Villa Carlos Paz
The historical downtown has the Reloj Cucú (Cucú Clock), people always expect you to go there to say “I’ve visited Carlos Paz” although I would say skip it.
The new downtown (commercial district, 9 de Julio street between Av Libertad/Ruta 14 and the bridge) is the area full of local tourist, dancing club publicity and ton of shops not very special. This area is quite boring for most travelers and do not recommend it, or just walk through to kill some time, better at night when the access to cars get block so people can walk in the middle of the street freely.
The costanera (coastline, Av. Arturo Umberto Illia) is a good place, fairly pretty, relax, nice to drive or walk along the river. There are lot of nice restaurants and bars lot better and more special that those in downtown. Where you can do the sailing in Catamaran on the San Roque Lake but it looks quite boring in my opinion, you can see all the spots from the road from the other side of the lake.
If you have a car you can take a ride on the high ground of town, going up a little bit in the mountain. This neighbourhoods have very pretty house and you can find some beautiful views of the city.
The aerosilla (lift-chair) is one option to go high in the mountain to get a panoramic view of the city and the lake without having to walk up there. It’s open from 9.30 to 20.30hs.
Cerro de la Cruz: is the other option to get a panoramic view but this one you climb on foot to the top of this mount (close to the one the liftchair goes but not the same). The walk to the top starts in the base of the lift-chair then after 45 minutes walking up you climb 300 meters to get to the cross on the top. This can be done from 8 to 20hr. with or without guide. There is a night climb with guide (Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 18.30hr.) going up because of the stops to explain the history and more. For this option there is a limit amount of people who can join, you have to sign up in the Tourist Information Office (right outside the bus station).
Nightclubs are popular among young people. Pretty well done and crowded considering this town is not as big as the capital of the province. One of the most important one is Club Zebra.
Where to eat in Villa Carlos Paz
The costanera (coastline) is possibly the best place to eat same as for having some drinks.
- Pueblo Mio ($$) excellent “parrilla” (grill), good quality food and pretty decor. The establishment has parking.
- Atelier ($$) for eating and drinks.
- Many other options along the costanera.
Around Teatro Luxor (theater) there are many restaurants franchise style not very unique. Downtown has many others even less recommended.
Where to sleep in Villa Carlos Paz
Downtown is small, hotels here are usually bad and not location is not the best. I would not chose this area.
The costanera (coastline) near downtown is the better, specially if you don’t want to deal with transportation. Best between the bus station and Bahía del Guitano.
- El Ciervo de Oro ($$) hostel with pool right on the lake. The price is high compared with other hostels in Argentina but you are paying for the pool on the lake. For the price of 2 beds here you can get a private room somewhere else. Private rooms are not worth the money, but as I said, you are paying for the location and the facilities.
- Los Sauces Hotel & Spa ($$$) best hotel in this area.
The nice hotels are mostly far away. Popular among most travelers that go around with their own cars.
- Posada La Villa ($) pretty and cheap.
- Portal de la Montaña ($$) best one with views, mansion style not so much as a hotel.
- Hipocampus ($$$) imposing hotel imponente. You can tell it was the most important some decades ago, now its style is a bit old fashion specially inside but it’s still an excellent for the views and the terrace looking at the lake.
- Pinares Panorama ($$$) best modern hotel in town.
- Eleton ($$) quite crowded and chaotic, common areas feel more like a shopping mall, it has a theater inside and the quality is not great. The pyramid you see outside the room it’s a night club. I do not recommend it. I stayed here because it is among the few modern options with views and big pool but not as expensive as the previous one.
Camino de las Cien Curvas
The Camino de las Cien Curvas (Hundred Curves Road) is the road (Av. Back) leaving Villa Carlos Paz up to the Dique San Roque through the mountain along the lake. The road is paved and has some panoramic points, one stop it’s enough. The road finish in the Dique San Roque, a dam where you can take some pictures of the funnel, the river and the side of the road where it’s full of restaurants and shops selling salames and cheese, a local specialty from this province, the goat cheese (queso de cabra). Most people just take a look from the car without stopping unless they plan to eat lunch.
This road is perfect if you travel north: towards La Falda, La Cumbre Capilla del Monte, etc. Prettier than taking the highway and not much slower. Recommended only if you have a car and travel in that direction, I don’t think it’s worth to do it as a excursion from Carlos Paz and back.