Bariloche or Mendoza trips?

Which Is Better – Bariloche or Mendoza?

If you’re not sure whether to choose between Bariloche or Mendoza, here’s a side-by-side comparison and breakdown to help you decide.

Contents

Should I Visit Bariloche Or Mendoza?

For me personally, if I could only choose one place to visit between Bariloche or Mendoza, I would choose Bariloche.

 

 

  • Bariloche – Overall, Bariloche is a more vibrant and exciting area with lots of activities to keep travellers busy. Bariloche is set in the middle of the lake district of Argentina – one of the most beautiful regions on the country. You can choose from hiking, skiing, kayaking, mountain biking and a whole other host of activities, all alongside pristine lakes, snow-capped mountains, and alpine forests.

 

  • Mendoza – Mendoza is a fun city, but nothing compared to Bariloche. There aren’t as many activities for travellers but the main draw is that it’s the number one wine producing region in the country. Some of the best wines in the world come from Mendoza and you can spend a couple of days visiting bodegas and vineyards to sample them.

 

In summary, Bariloche is the best place to visit for adventure activities.

 

However, if you are a wine enthusiast with little interest in adrenaline fuelled activities, then head to Mendoza.

How Many Days Do You Need In Bariloche

Bariloche Or Mendoza: Activities

Both places have things to do to keep you entertained but Bariloche has more adventure focussed activities among the mountains and lakes whereas Mendoza is geared more towards wine tasting in the countryside.

 

Most of the fun activities in Mendoza are a 2-3 hour journey outside of the city which is also something to consider.

The Best Activities To Do In bariloche

Surrounded by the Patagonian Andes, Bariloche has some of the best adventure activities in Argentina.

 

Its beautiful lakes and alpine landscapes provide so many options outdoor activities.

 

Here are some of my favourite activities to do in Bariloche:

 

 

  • Circuito Chico – You can rent bikes and ride around Circuito Chico – a circular 27km loop road that takes you to some of the best sights in the area.

 

  • Kayaking – The lakes in the Bariloche region provide excellent opportunities for kayaking. See the tour below for a great day out.

 

  • Skiing – If visiting in the winter months (June-August), you can go skiing on the slopes of the mountains behind the town.

Not sure how long you want or need to spend in Bariloche? Head to the post below to get 3 expertly curated itineraries for 3, 5 and 7 days:

 

 

The Best Activities To Do In Mendoza

Mendoza lures travellers with its beautiful vineyards that yield some of Argentina’s finest wines.

 

Here are some of the best activities to do in Mendoza:

 

 

  • Maipu Wine Route – Wine enthusiasts can indulge in tastings among the many vineyards and bodegas just outside of the city.

 

  • Lake Potrerillos is a man-made lake on the outskirts of Mendoza and a popular spot for outdoor adventure activities.  One of the best activities in this region is white water rafting and there are options for Grade III and IV rapids. Check out this tour if you are interested.

 

  • Horseback Riding -Escape Mendoza’s hustle for an idyllic day in the Andean mountains. This tour is run by the hospitable owners of the ranch. You’ll saddle up with them for an unforgettable horseback riding adventure. You’ll spend the day winding through picturesque trails, pausing at sunset in the mountains to soak in panoramic views. After the ride, you return to the ranch to indulge in a traditional Argentine barbecue.

You can read more on how to visit Aconcagua National Park over 2-3 days with the guide below:

 

 

panoramic image of the lakes in Bariloche (Argentina)

Bariloche or Mendoza: Hiking

Both places have some great options for hiking. 

 

Bariloche has lots of options close to town, such as Refugio Frey.

 

Whereas Mendoza has Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the southern hemisphere. However, the mountain is far out from the city and requires 1-2 days of planning

The Best Hikes In Bariloche

Bariloche has some of the best hiking trails in the country.

 

A full day hike to Refugio Frey is the most popular and will provide panoramic views of the lakes and mountains surrounding Bariloche.

 

This trail is around 18km and takes 6-7 hours to complete. 

 

If you aren’t a fan of full day hikes then not to worry, there are so many more accessible walks with incredible viewpoints in Bariloche.

 

Two of the best are: 

 

  • Cerro Campanario: The short trail (30 minutes) rewards you with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the region. 
  • Cerro Otto – Cerro Otto is another hill overlooking the town.  You can walk or take the cable car which takes you up to 1400m and at the top, you can explore the only revolving restaurant in Argentina. 

Another option for avid hikers is Cerro Tronador which is a 2-3 hour journey outside of Bariloche, close to the town of El Bolson.

The Best Hikes In Mendoza

The majority of hiking in Mendoza will be done in Aconcagua National Park.

 

The park is home to Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in the southern hemisphere) which stands at 6960 m (22,835 ft) above sea level.

 

However, this national park is 3 hours away from Mendoza and requires some planning an effort to get to.

Hiking to Refugio Frey and in Aconcagua National Park are 2 of the best single-day hikes to experience in South America. For the full list, check out the post below:

 

 

Aconcagua National Park, Mendoza (Argentina)

Bariloche Or Mendoza: When To VIsit

Argentina has four seasons like America and Europe; however, they are reversed as it’s in the southern hemisphere.

 

The seasons will be more distinct in Bariloche with a cold snowy winter for snowing and a warm summer for hiking, whereas in Mendoza the temperature and weather are more stable throughout the year.

When's The Best Month To Visit Bariloche?

Celebrated for its ever-shifting seasons, Bariloche transforms from a snowy wonderland for winter sports enthusiasts to a vibrant summer playground.

 

The ideal time to visit depends on what you prefer:

 

  • Visit in the winter Dec-Feb) for the best weather, but be aware this is also the busiest time.
  • Visit in spring (September to November) for milder weather and blooming landscapes perfect for hiking. This is also a shoulder season so there will be less crowds.
  • Visit in winter (June to August) for snowy escapades and skiing

When's The Best Month To Visit Mendoza?

Basking in the glow of over 300 days of sunshine, Mendoza flourishes in spring (September to November) and fall (March to May). 

 

These seasons offer warm climates with little rain, perfect for vineyard exploration.

 

The summer (December to February) is much hotter and it will be busier. Mendoza is a popular destination for Argentinians, and they will flock here from Buenos Aires to enjoy the countryside.

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America
Mendoza mountains and vineyard

Bariloche Or Mendoza: Food & Drink

Food and drink won’t differ greatly between this two regions. Of course, you can find great steak and wine almost anywhere in Argentina. The two big differences here will be whether you are a chocolate connoisseur or a wine aficionada.

Food And Drink In bariloche

Bariloche is often hailed as the “Chocolate Capital” of Argentina, and for a good reason.

 

With a plethora of chocolaterías, visitors can indulge in an array of mouthwatering chocolates, including artisanal truffles, chocolate-covered fruits, and hot cocoa.

 

Here are some of the best chocolate shops in Bariloche:

 

  • Rapa Nui Chocolates: Rapa Nui is an iconic chocolate brand in Bariloche, and it consistently ranks among the best chocolate shops in the town. Rapa Nui is also known for its excellent hot chocolate, which is a must-try during your visit.
  • Mamuschka Chocolates: Mamuschka is another top-notch chocolatería in Bariloche. It has a long-standing tradition of producing exquisite chocolates, and their shop is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. When you visit, don’t miss their famous “Bariloche en Rama” chocolate, a specialty only found at Mamuschka.

Food And Drink In Mendoza

Mendoza is Argentina’s number one wine producing region with over 1,200 wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area.

 

The region is particularly known for its Malbec, which is considered to be some of the best in the world.

 

One of the best activities in Mendoza is the ‘wine bike route’.

 

On the outskirts of Mendoza city centre, you will find several of the best wineries all along the same road. Here you can find bike rental shops offering to rent cheap bikes and provide a map to the best wineries.

 

This is such an enjoyable day, riding in between the different vineyards surrounded by lush green fields and mountain views in the distance.

 

All the wineries allow you to visit and enjoy a tasting from somewhere between $5-10

Enjoying high quality steak and wine whilst in Argentina is one of the many reasons why it’s such a great country to visit. For more reasons, click the link below:

 

 

a beer in front of the lakes in Bariloche

Bariloche Or Mendoza: How To Get There

Getting around Argentina often requires a flight due to the long distances, but they are usually cheap. 

 

Buses are also an option but are often cost as much or more than a flight and take much longer. An overnight bus to Bariloche takes 24 hours so best to try and fly.

 

Both Bariloche and Mendoza are easily accesible from Buenos Airea and can be seen with a week-long itinerary, 

How To Get To Bariloche

The best way to get to Bariloche from Buenos Aires is to fly. 

 

The flight takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes and should cost between $100-200 return.

How To Get To Mendoza

Flights from Buenos Aires to Mendoza generally take around 1.5 to 2 hours.

 

The relatively short flight duration is often complemented by competitive pricing, making Mendoza an accessible destination for travellers.

 

Due to the shorter distance, return flights start at around $60.

 

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Argentina Flag

Bariloche Or Mendoza: Access To Chile

Both towns are close to the Chilean border. If you are planning an extended trip in South America then combining Argentina and Chile is always a good shout. 

How To Get From Bariloche To Pucon

Bariloche presents an easy access point to Chile, connecting to Puerto Montt or Pucon.

 

This route provides a picturesque passage across the Andes, offering travellers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of Chile’s southern landscapes on the way.

 

The drive to Pucon is 4 hours and 30 minutes and 5 hours to Puerto Montt.

 

This might be appealing to travellers who are looking at planning an extended itinerary that includes Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. 

How To Get From Mendoza To Santiago

The Andes Mountains serve as a natural gateway from Mendoza to Chile, allowing travellers to journey to Santiago seamlessly.

 

This convenient passage opens the door to exploring two captivating countries in one remarkable trip.

 

The journey from Mendoza to Santiago takes roughly 6 hours in total.

Combining Argentina and Chile into a long itinerary is a great idea as travelling between the two is easy. To see how to do this with, check out the fully planned extended itineraries in the post below:

 

 

dry vineyards in Mendoza

Bariloche Or Mendoza: Do You Need A Car?

Both cities can be enjoyed without a car, as public transport and guided tours can get you to most places. However, I think both places are more enjoyable with your own transport.

 

In Bariloche, you can drive the beautiful roads and visit places on your own terms rather than relying on tours.

 

Aconcagua is 2-3 hours outside of Mendoza, so visiting the park is so much easier with your own transport.

Do I Need A Car In Bariloche?

Having a car in Bariloche will make your life a lot easier.

 

As you can see from the picture below, the airport, town and activities are spread out. For example, Circuito Chico is a 30 minute drive from town, and the trail to Refugio Frey is also a 20 minute drive from town.

 

Me and my 3 friends rented a car for our 5-day stay in Bariloche and it made everything so much easier!

 

However, if you’re only there for a short stay (2-3 days) you’ll be able to survive using public transport, taxis and tours.

 

If you want to stay longer (5-7 days) and really see Bariloche and the surrounding region, then rent a car.

Do I Need A Car In Mendoza?

If you’re only staying in Mendoza for 2-3 days and are happy to stay in the city then you probably don’t need a car.

 

You can take the bus out to Maipu to visit the wineries and you can book guided tours to any other places you wish to visit.

 

However, if you’re planning to do an extended stay in Mendoza (5-7 days), then I would recommend getting a car.

 

Many of the best things to do are outside the city and require driving. For example:

 

  • Uspallata/Aconcagua – 120km / 1h 20m drive 
  • Potrerillos Lake – 70km / 1h drive 
  • Termas Chaceuta Spa – 40km / 50m drive

Renting a car gives you the freedom and flexibility to visit all these places on your own schedule. 

 

I always use Discover Cars when looking to rent a car in South America.

dry vineyards in Mendoza

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