Twenty kilometres north of Cosquín and a little more peaceful still, LA FALDA serves as a base from which to explore the nearby mountains – a taste of the far finer scenery to come some way up the valley. Today the town is best known for its annual three-day tango festival (wwww.festivaldetangolafalda.com) in July, but in the early twentieth century, La Falda was an exclusive resort, served by the newly built railway and luring the great and the good from as far afield as Europe. A major advertising campaign was conducted here by a German-run luxury hotel, Hotel Edén, a magnificent holiday palace built in the 1890s, now a dilapidated and unusual tourist attraction (wwww.hoteledenlafalda.com). Nearly all of Argentine high society stayed here in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as such famous international guests as the Prince of Wales and Albert Einstein, and some say even Adolf Hitler. The state confiscated it from its German owners in the 1940s, after which it fell into decline, but its grandiose design and opulent decor are still discernible, especially in the newly renovated lobby, wine cellar and confitería. The guided tours take you around the faded rooms; night tours, which are good, creepy fun, are also run during the summer and Easter (Jan, Feb & Holy Week 10pm & 11pm), though you’ll need decent Spanish if you want to understand the ghost stories.
The RN-38 winds through the western side of the town as Avenida Presidente Kennedy; from it, Avenida Edén heads straight towards the mountainside to the east. For exhilarating views of the valley, head for nearby Cerro Banderita; go to the far end of Avenida Edén and take Calle Austria as far as El Chorrito, a small waterfall among lush vegetation. This is the starting-point of the steep one-hour climb to the peak, which many people do on horseback, before riding along the mountaintop. Of the longer routes, one of the most impressive takes you east over the Sierra Chica towards Río Ceballos; the views into the Punilla Valley from the peak at Cerro Cuadrado, 2km from La Falda, are stunning.