Viedma is the capital of Río Negro Province in the north-east of Argentina's Patagonia region. The city lies at the shore of Río Negro river. Across the river, there is the charming old town of Carmen de Patagones.
Viedma is one of the oldest cities in Patagonia and was founded in 1779 under the name Nuestra Señora del Carmen. It included nearby Carmen de Patagones at the northern shore of the river, which was for a long time the main settlement, until 1878 when the Patagonia government was created, separating the twin towns. In 1987, a plan to move the capital from Buenos Aires to Viedma was approved by the government, but it never materialized due to financial problems.
The city is quiet, with all essential services and several accomodations. It doesn't attract many tourists despite of the beauty of the scenery at the river shore, with good beaches and a spectacular view of the old town of Carmen de Patagones, which can be reached by a small ferry or by bus.
Viedma is a gateway to a little-known series of beaches beginning at El Cóndor, 30 km SE of the city, which stretches west until San Antonio Este with important sea-lion and parrot colonies.
- 1 Edgardo Castello Airport (VDM IATA) (7 km south of the town). The airport is small and only offers flights to Buenos Aires (Aeroparque), 5 times per week.
Local buses to El Cóndor and La Lobería don't stop at the bus terminal but in Zatti street east of Álvaro Barros, just south of the city center, and can be paid in cash (about $1.50 to El Cóndor). Buses to Carmen de Patagones can be taken in Sarmiento street, with the most centric stop just south of 25 de Mayo street, and only can be paid with SUBE and Viedma Bus cards.
- 2 Terminal de Ómnibus Viedma, José María Guido 1600 (2 km south-west of the city centre). The bus station is located at one of the main boulevards south of the city center, in a somewhat poor neighborhood. Taxis are available.
- 3 Train Station (Estación Viedma), Avenida Cardenal Cagliero 4000 (5 km south of the centre). Located at the southern end of the urban area.
A cheap, small ferry connects Viedma to Carmen de Patagones. However, in periods of low tides, the boat only operates when the winds are not too strong. The operator announces service suspensions at a Facebook page.
Local buses are the main transportation means. The buses use two types of cards: SUBE, the same one like in Buenos Aires, and the Viedma Bus local card. Taxi stops are located at Plaza Alsina and at the bus terminal.
As the city is small, the central area can be perfectly explored by foot. A walk on the shore of the Negro river offers very beautiful sights. It can be also pleasant to explore the city by bicycle. Streets are wide, with only very occasional heavy traffic, and topography is flat, with one exception: if you want to visit Patagones which is located a bit higher. However, there is no public rental service, and only a few private options.
Most historic buildings are located between Plaza Alsina in the south, where the Cathedral is located, and Plaza San Martín in the north.
- 1 Cathedral, Yrigoyen 37. A picturesque neo-baroque temple with some parts built in the 19th century, while most of the building dates from between 1900 and 1979 when the towers were finally finished.
- 2 Ex Colegio y Torre Salesiana, Rivadavia 1-99 (south of the Cathedral). Nice building complex with a clock tower, an old school and an internal square. It hosts two museums with very limited opening hours, and an old chapel. Parts of the building are run-down, but the area around the square has been restaurated in the 2010s.
Bathing in the river is possible from November to March.
A catamaran offers tours at summer weekends. There are also operators organizing canoe tours.
The main shopping street is Buenos Aires, north of the centric Plaza Alsina until 25 de Mayo. Nearby streets also offer several shops and gastronomy.
Most restaurants are located at the Río Negro shoreline, with also some in 25 de Mayo street. In the surroundings of Plaza Alsina there are only a few options.
- Balneario El Cóndor (originally called La Boca, still in use by locals). A seaside resort 30 km. south-east of the city near the mouth of Río Negro into the Atlantic Ocean, with a very wide sandy beach which never gets too crowded, and a rocky hill at the southern end with an old lighthouse and a big parrot colony. The central beach tends to be windy, while the more southern ones are better protected. Waters are warm.
- Balneario La Lobería and Punta Bermeja. A very small resort with a rocky, picturesque beach and a sea lion colony, 60 km south of the town (via El Cóndor). Very few basic services, the only accommodation is a camping ground. One daily bus from Viedma and El Cóndor.
- Balneario Bahía Creek, a newly developed resort on a very large, wide and sandy beach in a big bay with blue waters, accessible by a gravel road. Only basic accommodation and services.
- San Antonio Oeste, 150 km west of the city. The port town has very interesting surroundings and nice beaches. The most well-known beaches are at the suburb of Las Grutas, Patagonia's most visited seaside resort, with rocky and sandy beaches with caves, good services and plenty accommodation, gastronomy and night life, although it tends to be expensive and crowded in summer.