With lakes at every turn and the peaks of the Andes beckoning you to get out and explore,the town of Bariloche and the surrounding area is magnet for outdoor sports enthusiasts, and offers oodles of scenic drives and excellent viewpoints to take in the terrain, Bariloche vacations offer this and much more.
Argentina’s history of Swiss, German, Austrian immigration is also evident here, as many made Bariloche their home. The architecture in town also reflects the alpine regions of Europe, and features so many chalets dotted about it’s often nicknamed Little Switzerland. But this is still South America, and the town buzzes with life and offers an excellent combination of small town charm and impressive nature on your doorstep. Here’s our roundup of the best things to do while you’re in town.
Feeling inspired to jet off to the Andes? Check out our full list of Argentina tours here.
Tour the Circuito Chico
This scenic driving tour takes you on a 37 mile (60km) circuit along with oodles of water views, beaches and mountain terrain. The circuit starts right in town by cruising along the coast of Lago Nahuel Huapi, the lake on Bariloche’s doorstep. Notable stops include Playa Bonito (beautiful beach), a sweet spot to take a dip or wander along the water’s edge, as well as Mount Companiaro, where you grab a set on the dinky two-man chair lift, but don’t let its size fool you: it ascends 3440 feet (1050m) for 360 degree views of the Andes and a mosaic of verdant peninsulas and islands mirrored in multiple lakes. The circuit continues to the luxury Llao Llao hotel, one of the most famous for its location perched on a hill overlooking Lake Moreno.
Indulge your sweet tooth along the avenue of chocolate dreams
Bariloche is also known as Argentina’s chocolate capital. European settlers brought with them their tradition of making chocolate and today, a stroll down Mitre Avenue (nicknamed ‘The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams’) in the center of town bombards you with the aroma of sweet cocoa from the cluster of chocolate shops. Pop into a few for free samples and contemplate if the dark truffle cream is better than hazelnut-filled crunch bars. And don’t miss the ultimate Argentinean favorite: Chocolate mixed with dulce de leche, a blend of milk and sugar that is beloved in this part of the world. It’s the ultimate combination of European chocolate roots paired with Argentina’s favorite creamy caramel-like concoction.
Drive along the Road of the Seven Lakes
For a serious dose of this lake-filled area, embark on the 248 km round trip drive that takes in seven different lakes, lively villages and plenty of outdoor activities to stretch your legs along the way.s a must-do for its inviting cafes and Alpine-style wooden structures. From here you can also grab a lake cruise or take a short hike in the hills. Further along are several miradors (mirrors) peering out above Lake Espejo. The water is generally quite still and creates a mirrored effect, reflecting the Andes and the lush forests of the area. Along the way you’ll experience the dramatic change in landscape, from rocky, jagged mountains and verdant deep green trees to dry, grassy tundras.
Kick back with a mug of Patagonian craft beers
Thanks to a history of immigration from Germany, excellent access to top-quality mountain water and local hops grown in the region, there’s a booming craft beer scene across Patagonia. And right in Bariloche you can sample a fee brewed in town. Try Cervecería Blest, the first brewpub the pioneer on the local scene that serves a variety of foamy goodness like traditional pilsners or a raspberry ale. Cervecería Berlina serves Patagonia IPA or Cappuccino Stout (brewed with a jolt of expresso) from its prime lakeside location. Or kick back with a robust porter or English Brown ale at the lively Cervecería La Cruz.
With trails located only 5km from the center of Bariloche, this is an easy jaunt to hike up the surrounding hills for views over Bariloche, fabulous views of Bariloche, Huapi as well as the surrounding Andes. Depending on your speed it takes between 1.5 to 2.5 hours to reach the top. Or save your knees and catch the Teleférico (cable car) for the leg up or down, all proceeds for the journey go to local hospitals.
Ski, board or snowshoe the Andes
In winter, Bariloche morphs into one of South Americas best ski destinations. Hit the Slopes at one of the biggest in the area with terrain for all levels and fabulous views over the surrounding lakes. It’s located about 30 minutes from Bariloche. Closer to town but smaller, Cerro Chapelco is great if you just want a few days skiing and tends to be less crowded than Cerro Catedral. Both cater to all levels and offer off-piste skiing and boarding and cross-country tracks. Don’t ski or board? Strap on a pair of snowshoes and embark on some winter hiking—the hills right around Bariloche are excellent for beginners.
Slopes are generally open June through October, but for the best snow head there from late June through August.