11 Incredible Things to Do in Bariloche Argentina

by | 26 Apr, 2019

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You don’t have to search too hard to find countless awesome things to do in Bariloche Argentina. The town is well renowned as Argentina’s skiing capital, with hordes of people coming to shred the slopes every year. But it’s far more than just an off-piste paradise and in fact caters to every kind of visitor.

There are those looking to pass a peaceful week or two in picturesque surroundings. Others are on the lookout for an extreme adventure. Many more come simply for the chocolate and the beer.

Whatever your bag, there are endless things here to keep you entertained. Here’s our pick of the bunch.

Cerro Campanario

This incredible viewpoint tops many people’s lists of best things to do in Bariloche and it’s easy to understand why. The peak provides picturesque panoramas across seemingly hundreds of miles of the surrounding lake region. It’s impossible not to be wonderstruck.

The cerro or hill is about a half hour journey from the city centre by bus or by taxi. And unlike many of the other viewpoints in Bariloche which are at the end of long hikes, it’s widely accessible.

Cerro Campanario viewpoint

You can walk up its steep but relatively straightforward trail for free in around half an hour. But there’s also a chairlift that will carry you up the hillside in an exhilarating 7 minute ride.  

However you choose to get to the top, it’s more than worthwhile. The 360 degree views over the breathtaking local landscapes are truly magnificent.

Refugio Frey

One of the most popular things to do in Bariloche, drawing thousands of visitors each year, is the excellent hiking. The route up to Refugio Frey is one of Bariloche’s definitive treks.

There are a few different routes to the top of Cerro Catedral’s highest point, where Refugio Frey is located. Which one you choose will depend on your experience and skill levels as well as the weather conditions.

Sarah swimming in Lago Toncek

The standard route runs from Bariloche’s skiing hub at the base of Cerro Catedral. It’s the largest ski centre in South America and its season runs from around June to October. From here it’s a scenic ascent through ancient forests overlooking the shimmering Lake Nahuel Huapi and Bariloche town itself.

After about 3-4 hours you reach Refugio Frey and its gorgeous, secluded surroundings. Needle peaks encircle the turquoise, crystal clear waters of Lake Toncek. Not only is it beautiful, those brave enough can take a refreshing dip in the icy cold waters.

Refugio Otto Meiling

Another of Patagonias classic hikes, visiting Refugio Otto Meiling was easily one of our favourite things to do in Bariloche Argentina. We’d never even seen a glacier before this trek. So the thought of spending the night between two of the things, on a mountaintop, was a bit overwhelming. It didn’t disappoint.

Arriving in Pampa Linda where the hike begins, you’re immediately transported to another planet. Up ahead of you is the formidable Cerro Tronador, its face draped in a vast cloak of brilliantly white ice. We immediately began to wonder how on earth we were meant to reach the top of the ice-glazed rock that confronted us.

Trekking To Refugio Otto Meiling Banner

The hike is predictably challenging in parts. Long, steep ascents are made more difficult by the noticeable lack of oxygen as your altitude increases. But if you’re able and willing to put in the effort, you can’t help but be dazzled by what awaits you at the top.

Refugio Otto Meiling’s location between the glaciers Castaño Overo and Alerce is mind-blowingly audacious. “Why?” was a question that popped into my mind more than once. But when surveying the gravity defying sheets of ice cascading over the mountainside, the answer is instantly obvious.

This hike is best to be completed across two days with an overnight stop in the Refugio itself. You could feasibly get up and down in a single day but you’d completely miss the point of going up at all.

Cerro Llao Llao

A less popular but equally-as-impressive alternative to Campanario, Llao Llao is one of the coolest things to do in Bariloche. It’s on the route of the Circuito Chico and a wonderful detour to take from the bike ride.

There’s no chairlift so you’ll have to get to the top using leg power only. But it’s a reasonably easy, well marked path that takes an hour or two each way, depending on your route.

View of Hotel Llao Llao

There are a few different starting points you can begin from depending on how much time you have. Along the way you can choose to include visits to Lake Escondido, an Arrayanes forest, Playa Moreno, and Playa Tacul. The final stretch to the top of Llao Llao Municipal Park’s highest peak is the same for all of them.

The view isn’t as expansive as the one from Campanario, but is still truly spectacular and somehow feels more intimate. Despite the name, you can’t actually see Hotel Llao Llao as it lies in the opposite direction to the viewpoint. But what you do see is a completely untouched natural landscape.

Cycle the Circuito Chico

This 27km route is one of the things to do in Bariloche that simply can’t be missed. It’s a circular loop that takes in some of the region’s most magnificent landmarks. And cycling is the perfect way to experience it.

Don’t worry if you didn’t pack your mountain bike, it’s simple to hire one close to where the circuit starts. They give you all the necessary safety gear as well to keep you safe on the ride.

Circuito Chico Bariloche Route

Along the way you can take in incredible views, stop at some of the best local breweries and restaurants. There are also a few fantastic detours and add ons you can include to make a full day of it.

Highlights include aerial views of Hotel Llao Llao, alluring turquoise lakes, snow capped mountains and lush green forests.

The route has some reasonably steep climbs in parts but virtually anyone who can pedal a bike can complete it. And plenty of people jump off and push the bike up the steepest hills.

Chocolate Tasting

Along with the European migration that the town is built on came many of the settler’s traditions and crafts. Chocolate making is, thankfully, one of the skills they brought with them that has endured to this day. It’s natural then that chocolate tasting is one of the essential things to do in Bariloche.

It’s no exaggeration to say that everywhere you turn in the centre of Bariloche Argentina there’s a chocolate shop. There are dozens and dozens of them. From giant international brands to tiny artisanal one man band operations, chocolate is a local obsession.

Chocolate Tasting in Bariloche

There’s really no need to over complicate this one. Simply get yourself into as many chocolate shops as you find and ram your gob full of the good stuff.

Our favourite chocolate shop in Bariloche Argentina is Rapanui. But other notable chocolatiers include Mamuschka, El Reino de los Chocolates, Del Turista, and Havanna to name a few.

Ice Skating

One of the more unusual things to do in Bariloche has got to be going for a spin on its ice rink. You may be wondering “What’s unusual about ice skating?”. Well it’s not the activity itself, but the fact that the ice rink is in the middle of a chocolate shop.

Rapanui is one of Bariloche’s most famous (and easily the best in my humble opinion) chocolate producers. Their shop in the centre of town is a chocolate lover’s fantasy and decked out more like a chocolate cathedral.

Different rooms and spaces boast selections of goodies of all descriptions. There’s the pick and mix handmade chocolates here, alfajors there, a cafe serving up all manner of succulent treats. There’s ice cream, waffles, tostados, a chocolate fountain, you name it, they have it.

And to top it all off they even have their very own ice rink, the height of decadence. Sit and watch skaters glide by from the cafe or hire some boots and take to the ice yourself.

Craft Beer

Thanks in part to its European heritage and in particular the German influence, this town is Argentina’s craft beer capital. Following what seems to be a worldwide trend, craft beer is now big business here.

Even if you’re not a massive beer fan, sampling a few of the local brews is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bariloche. It’s also the perfect way to wind down after a long hike.

Beers at Patagonia Brewery Bariloche

You can’t walk more than about 20 yards in the centre of town without coming across a cerveceria. So your main problem will be trying to settle on just one.

Santino

Hands down our favourite bar in Bariloche, this is a true residents favourite. It doesn’t look much from the outside and isn’t flash or trendy like many of the other places in town.

But they do great beer, fantastic food, and there’s a buzzing local atmosphere. It’s also great value, with a happy hour that goes on until midnight.

Blest

Blest is one of the oldest and best loved breweries in Bariloche and they routinely kick out top quality ale. Their bar in town is in a stunning building in a prime location and upstairs has huge windows with views over Nahuel Huapi.

Kutral

Coolest place in town? Maybe. It’s packed to the rafters every night and has a really chill, laid back vibe. Food here is great, be sure to arrive early(ish) to get a table if you want to eat. Beers are from the brilliantly named Van Titter brewery and Blest.

Kutral Bar Bariloche

Konna

This is a no frills spit and sawdust type bar that turns into a late night venue after hours. But it also has a nice outdoor seating section that’s literally in the road. Top beer courtesy of its own microbrewery. Plus they serve surprisingly good food with huge portions – don’t miss their signature lamb burger.

Stradibar

A tiny bar with a large outdoor area, Stradibar has a long happy hour and kicks out fantastic pizzas. The musical theme is a bit random but the guitars growing out of the ceiling are pretty cool.

Pizza in Stradibar Bariloche

Belek

Delicious burgers are served up along a large choice of artisanal beers. What’s not to like? It’s also pretty cheap despite its prime location in town.

Patagonia Brewery

A bit of an anomaly on this list, the Patagonia Brewery is actually on the route of the Circuito Chico and not in Bariloche town. But it’s well worth a stop off if you’re cycling the route, or even a dedicated trip if you’re not. The views are out of this world, the food is top notch, and the beer is internationally renowned.

Check Out the Architecture in Centro Cívico

In reflection of its European heritage, Bariloche contains plenty of architecture that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in Argentina. Rather than colourful colonial structures, it’s full of wood based chocolate box style chalets and Swiss/German inspired cabins.

While these would be wildly out of place in the rest of the country, here they totally fit. This is thanks to the surroundings that are reminiscent of the Alps in Southern Europe.

Bariloche main square

The Centro Cívico in Bariloche is a great example of this style of architecture. It’s a series of impressive buildings built around a large square and was designed to be the focal point of the town.

Though they’re built out of a local stone, wood features heavily in the buildings’ design. They look as though they could have been lifted straight from a Swiss alpine skiing resort.

The buildings include the town’s municipality, a library, police station, the former post office, and the Museum of Patagonia. You’ll also find the tourist office located here, a great starting point for any extra info you might need.

Visit Los Arrayanes National Park

Rumoured (falsely) to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s creation of Bambi, the Arrayanes forest is completely unique. There’s literally nowhere else in the world where they grow like this in such abundance.

The striking, cinnamon-coloured Arrayan trees themselves are native to the central Andes region between Chile and Argentina. But whereas elsewhere they’re dotted among other species, in Los Arrayanes National Park they’re virtually the only trees found there.

Arrayanes Forest in Argentina

Something that many visitors are unaware of is that it’s not a completely natural phenomenon. The land Los Arrayanes National Park sits on was previously privately owned by a local family. They loved the Arrayanes so much that they destroyed everything else on the land, allowing them to flourish without competition.

Regardless of the forest’s dubious origins, it’s a charming place to visit. And because it’s a one off, one of the most compelling things to do in Bariloche.

The forest lies at the end of a peninsula that juts out into Lake Nahuel Huapi. You can get to it via a 12km hike or cycle, or a catamaran ride that provides unrivalled views of the surrounding scenery.

Hit the Water

Now this one is highly dependent on time of year and weather conditions. But you’re in  Argentina’s lake district. You’re surrounded by some of the lushest, crystal clear, most inviting bodies of water you’re likely to set eyes one. It would be a real shame not to get in.

If you make it to the top of Mount Catedral to Refugio Frey, you must have a splash in Lake Toncek. Swimming at over 1,500 metres is not to be missed.

There are loads of beaches where you can simply pull your keks on and go for a refreshing dip. The warmest lake is reportedly Lago Gutierrez but it’s also possible to swim in plenty of places along Nahuel Huapi.

things to do in Bariloche Argentina - Swimming

If swimming doesn’t convince or you’re after something a bit more active, you can try out some water sports instead.

Kayaking is an extremely popular pastime here and a great way to check out the landscapes from a different perspective. Check out this half day kayak tour that takes in some of the most stunning local landmarks.

Another great way to see the lakes is on a stand up paddle board. You can rent SUPs here for just $10 and hour.

Fishing is also a big activity here with anglers coming from far and wide to net the local varieties. If that’s your bag, this full day fishing trip takes you to some of the region’s best fishing waters with experienced guides.

Where to Stay in Bariloche Argentina

Bariloche is a surprisingly large town and there is a vast range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Whether you’re a luxury globetrotter or a bargain backpacker, you’ll find something you love.

The first choice you need to make is on the location you want to be in. The centre of town is packed full of restaurants, bars, clubs, and fun things to see and do. It’s right on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi but has excellent transport links to the surrounding attractions. It’s a great choice if you like to be in the thick of it and don’t mind the buzz of city life.

On the outskirts and further along the banks of Nahuel Huapi’s shores you’ll find even more accommodation. These places tend to be far more secluded and peaceful. If this is what you enjoy and don’t mind being a bus ride or taxi journey away from the town then look at places away from the centre.

Finally, the most famous place to stay in the region is the luxurious Hotel Llao Llao. This 5* hotel has all the trappings you’d expect including a golf course, spa, and selection of high class restaurants. It’s also got some serious history behind it as the first hotel in the area giving it true character:

Getting to Bariloche Argentina

There are two main ways of getting to Bariloche, by bus or by plane. Which one you choose will depend on your budget, desired comfort levels, and also where you’re arriving from.

There are numerous airlines that operate flights to and from Bariloche from various airports across the country. If you’re coming from Buenos Aires then this is definitely the quickest way to get here.

If you’re coming from within Patagonia it may be easier to get a coach. The coach networks are generally well run and comfortable in Argentina and they’re a relatively cheap way to get around.

How to Get Around in Bariloche

Within Bariloche you have three main options to get around the town, public bus, taxis, or remises.

Buses

Bariloche has a great public bus system with buses running routes to most of the main attractions and destinations. However, it’s not possible to pay for bus tickets using cash meaning you can’t just jump on and be on your way.

The buses work using the prepaid SUBE card system found in many other cities in Argentina, including Buenos Aires. You have to purchase a card, load it with credit and then scan it as you get on a bus.

If you’ve already got a SUBE card that you bought somewhere else then you can use that. If you don’t already have one there are a few places in Bariloche where you can purchase them.

number 55 bus from Bariloche to Catedral

Lots of the small convenience shops sell SUBEs and have the machines needed to put credit on them. Look out for the blue SUBE logo in window fronts or search this interactive map for locations of all local card sellers.

To find which bus you need you can simply put your destination into Google Maps and select the public transport icon. This will then tell you the buses that run there as well as how frequent they are. For further details and precise times you can then check the Mi Bus website run by Bariloche’s bus company.

Taxis & Remises

Taxis are ten a penny in Bariloche so you’ll have no problem finding one. There are a number of taxi ranks around town or you can flag them down on the street. Look out for their distinctive blue and white colours. They’re reasonably priced and work on a meter system.

Taxis in Bariloche Argentina

A cheaper alternative to the taxis are remises. Essentially they’re a minicab that you must prebook and you get the price upfront. If you’re at all concerned about the taxis then these are a brilliant option as they take out the worry and guesswork. There are various remise office throughout town and they have the prices to their most popular destinations in the window.

Packing List Essentials for Bariloche Activies

The weather in Bariloche ranges from bloody freezing to shorts and tshirt temps. This can be in the same day depending on what activities you’re doing.

For this reason it’s best to take clothes that will allow you to dress in layers and err on the side of caution, even in the summer. Take a warm jacket and a windbreaker and wear stuff that you can take off and add on as appropriate.

Other items to take are:

Don’t Forget Your Insurance

Bariloche is an adventurer’s paradise and it’s vital that you’re properly insured no matter what activities you’re planning on undertaking.

Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach to policy wording & are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a no obligation quote here:

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View from Cerro Llao Llao with text overlay Best Things To Do In Bariloche Argentina
Refugio Otto Meiling hike with text overlay Argentina Travel Guide Bariloche