panoramic scenery of Bariloche

Is Bariloche Worth Visiting? 12 Must Do’s In North Patagonia

Bariloche, located in the Argentine Andes, is a must-visit destination for many reasons. Its breathtaking landscapes are filled with snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests. Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, while nature lovers will love its stunning national parks. Here are 12 great reasons why Bariloche is well worth visiting.

Contents

Is Bariloche Worth Visiting?

Bariloche is well worth a visit for several reasons:

 

  • Stunning natural beauty: Nestled amidst the Andes mountains and by Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche offers breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities.
  • Array of outdoor adventures: The region boasts skiing, hiking, and water sports, making it an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts.
  • Chocolate capital: Known for its delectable chocolates, Bariloche is a haven for sweet-toothed travelers, with numerous chocolate shops and factories to explore.

Keep reading for all 12 reasons!

lakes and islands in Bariloche

12 Great Reasons To Visit Bariloche

1. Argentina's Lake District Is Insanely Beautiful

Nestled amongst the picturesque Andes Mountains and surrounded by crystal blue lakes, Bariloche is one of the most beautiful places in Argentina. 

 

The northern part of Patagonia, (also referred to as the Lake District) is a feast for the eyes and everywhere you go looks like a postcard.

 

The highlights include:

 

  • Nahuel Huapi National Park – a vast protected area brimming with diverse flora and fauna.
  • Nahuel Huapi Lake – the huge lake next to the town that stretches off into the distance 
  • Los Arrayanes Forest – a beautiful forest on Isla Victoria with several trails and nature walks
  • Refugio Frey – one of the best hikes in the region that takes you to a beautiful lake in the mountains (next on this list!)

Visiting Patagonia is one of the highlights of a trip to Argentina. But there’s so much more to see in this incredible country.

 

To see how to combine Patagonia into a three-week or one-month itinerary that covers the entire country, head to one of the posts below:

 

 

lakes in Bariloche

Sign up for a...

FREE Argentina Travel Guide Sample

2. Refugio Frey Hike

  • Cost: Free (you just need to take public transport to the start of the trail)
  • Duration: Full day (3-4 hours one way) 

Bariloche has an abundance of incredible hiking trails in the area from relaxing forest walks to steep mountain climbs.

 

One of my favourite hikes is to Refugio Frey.

 

This 3-4 hour trek starts at the base of Villa Catedral and winds around the mountain, giving you panoramic views of Bariloche and it’s lakes. 

 

The path eventually moves into green forests before a steep final ascent up to Refugio Frey.

 

You’ll be treated with views of the dramatic granite spires that surround Laguna Toncek. 

Refugio Frey is one of the best single-day hikes in Argentina, as well as South America. For the full list, head to the post below:

 

 

Joe From Shall We Go Home Travel at Refugio Frey (Bariloche)

3. Cerro Tronador

  • Cost: Guided tours start from $45 or you’ll need to pay for public transport and overnight accommodation if you want to do this self-guided
  • Duration: Full day (3-4 hours one way) 

For more experienced hikers seeking a challenging adventure, the hike to Cerro Tronador is a must.

 

This iconic mountain stands tall at 3,491 meters (11,453 feet) above sea level.

 

The mountain straddles the border between Argentina and Chile, and is popular for its dramatic landscapes, glacial lakes, and stunning views.

 

The journey to the summit is challenging but incredibly rewarding, offering panoramic vistas of icy blue glaciers cascading down the mountainside.

 

You also have the option to stay the night and camp under a star-studded sky at Refugio Otto Meiling.

How To Get To Cerro Tronador From bariloche

You’ll need to get to the town of Pampa Linda before starting any treks around Cerro Tronador.

 

You have three options to get to Cerro Tranador: Public transport, rent a car or a guided tour

 

 

  • Rent a car (self-guided) – I recommend renting a car in Bariloche anyway as it’s a big town and the easiest way to get around. The drive should take around 2 hours. This blog has much more detail on the journey.

 

  • Bus (self-guided) – Public buses also run from Bariloche to Pampa Linda. Check schedules at the Bariloche bus station or online in advance. I recommend staying overnight if you want to complete one of the longer trails.

 

  • Guided tour – the tour below includes pick-up and drop-off at your accommodation in Bariloche. The transport will take you to the National Park and then you’re free to explore but if you want to complete the full hike you’ll need to stay overnight.

4. The Llao Llao Hotel / Peninsula

The Llao Llao Hotel is one of the most famous buildings in Bariloche. 

 

The hotel was designed by architect Alejandro Bustillo and was built in 1938.

 

Bustillo was inspired by the stunning natural surroundings of the Llao Llao Peninsula, and aimed to create a hotel that harmonized with its environment. 

 

You can stay here for the night for around $180 or you can visit for the day and eat at their gourmet restaurant. 

 

Or simply head to area and explore by yourself.

 

The Cerro Llao Llao trek is a accessible hiking experience that offers breathtaking views of Nahuel Huapi and Moreno Lake. 

Llao Llao Hotel, Bariloche (Argentina)

5. Panoramic Viewpoints Everywhere

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: You can choose to take a chairlift or hike to the summit. The short trail (30 minutes) rewards you with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the region. This is where you’ll get the best photo of Bariloche that you’ve probably seen on blogs and travel websites (see below).
  • Cerro Otto – Cerro Otto is another hill overlooking the town. This one is only a short distance from the city centre. The cable car takes you up to 1400m and at the top, you can explore the only revolving restaurant in Argentina. 

The beauty of Argentina’s Lake District is one of the many reasons why this country is worth visiting. For the full list, check out the post below:

 

 

 

The Cable Car To Cerro Otto (Bariloche)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

Is This The Best Backpack For South America?

I love the Osprey Farpoint 50-70L.

 

It’s reasonably priced and perfect for first timers visiting South America.

 

Read more here about why it’s so great or head to the official site below:

6. World-Class Chocolate Shops

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

 

The tradition of chocolate-making in Bariloche came from the large Swiss and European immigrants who came to the country in after WW2 and brought their confectionery expertise with them.

 

The European settlers introduced their chocolate-making techniques, and over time, it’s evolved into one of the town’s main industries.

 

Here are some of the best chocolate shops in Bariloche to check out:

 

 

  • Rapa Nui Chocolates: Rapa Nui is an iconic chocolate brand in Argentina, and is one of the best chocolate shops in the country. You can also find stores in Buenos Aires. 

 

  • Mamuschka Chocolates: Mamuschka is another top-notch chocolatería in Bariloche. When you visit, don’t miss their famous “Bariloche en Rama” chocolate, a specialty only found at Mamuschka.

TOP TIP:  The free walking tour will take you to Rapa Nui and you'll get a free tasting. Make sure you go next door to the cafe too. The food is incredible but their ice cream is also unreal. I had a triple dulce de leche cone and I still think about it to this day.

Bariloche and Mendoza are two popular places in Argentina, and travellers can often deliberate between visiting one or the other. If you want to see a detailed comparison along with my personal opinion of which is better, head to the post below:

 

 

Llao Llao Hotel, Bariloche (Argentina)

7. Adventure Sports For Every Season

For adrenaline junkies, Bariloche offers a playground of adventure activities.

 

From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to mountain biking, hiking, and paragliding in the warmer months, the options are endless. 

 

  • Skiing and Snowboarding: During the winter months (June to September), Bariloche transforms into a winter wonderland, making it an ideal destination for skiing and snowboarding. The nearby Cerro Catedral is one of the largest ski resorts in South America, offering a variety of slopes for all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can enjoy the powder-covered slopes and breathtaking mountain views.
  • Mountain Biking: Bariloche boasts numerous mountain biking trails that cater to different levels of expertise. You can explore the surrounding mountains and forests on two wheels, taking in the stunning landscapes and enjoying the thrill of downhill rides. Some popular biking trails include Cerro Catedral trails and the Circuito Chico route.
  • Rafting and Kayaking: The rivers and lakes in the Bariloche area provide excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking. The Manso River and Limay River are popular spots for thrilling rafting adventures, with varying levels of difficulty to suit both beginners and experienced paddlers. For a more tranquil experience, kayaking on the pristine lakes like Nahuel Huapi is a great option.

The adventure to be had in Patagonia is endless and can also be carried on over the border in Chile. With even more protected national parks, epic mountain ranges and fun activities, visiting Chile is worth considering and only a border crossing away.

 

To see how it can be done, check out the itinerary below that has all the information you need:

 

 

Cerro Campanario Ski Resort in Bariloche (Argentina)

6. Scenic Road Trips Along The 'Route of 7 Lakes'

Argentina is a great country for planning an epic road trip as it has some of the most picturesque roads in all of South America.

 

Route 40 is the most famous highway that spans the entire country from north to south.

 

The route from Bariloche on this road is know as the Route of the Seven Lakes.

 

You’ll wind through stunning landscapes, with beautiful lakes on one side and towering mountains on the other.

 

If you are a road trip lover then this is a must-do experience.

How To Visit The 'Route of 7 Lakes' From bariloche

Rent a car or join a tour to explore the breathtaking scenery at your own pace.

 

You can rent a car in town or from the airport and most places will range from $40-60 a day depending on the size of the car.

Or if you are interested in a tour, check out this one below: 

Starting an epic road trip along Route 40 can be done at so many different points in the country. Another great place is in the north-west wine region between towns like Salta and Cafayate. If you are interested in seeing more of Argentina, then check out this post:

 

 

the highway in Bariloche

8. Biking Circuito Chico

  • Cost: $20 for mountain bike rental or $40 for an electric bike
  • Duration: Full day

Circuito Chico was my favourite day out in Barliloche.

 

What’s better than 24 kilometer bike loop with multiple stops along the way at beaches, lakes and panoramic viewpoints.

 

You can rent bikes at the start of the circuit and then spend the day stopping off wherever takes your fancy. Here are some places I recommend:

 

  •  Llao Llao Hotel – a historic landmark that offers stunning views of the lake and mountains. 
  • Cerro Llao Llao – stop of for a short 2-hour round trip hike to get to the highest point in the circuit.
  • Villa Tacul – you can ride down to the lake edge and spend some time at the beach. Take a dip if you want but its freezing all year round!
  • Cerveceria Patagonia – visit the brewery and enjoy one of the best beers of your life
  • Restaurant Punto Panoramico the best viewpoint on the circuit and a great place to eat too. Try to plan your day so you arrive at here for dinner and sunset.

TOP TIPS:  Rent your bike from Circuito Chico Adventure which is right at the beginning of the loop.

Go anti-clockwise so you end at the Patagonia brewery.

If you aren't the strongest or best of riders, get an electric one! There are some tough hills along Circuito Chico. It will make your day much more enjoyable as you can enjoy the scenery rather than getting a workout in.

Biking Circuito Chico fits in perfectly with a 3 or 5 day itinerary for Bariloche. To see these two itineraries fully planned out, head to the post below:

 

 

Map of Circuito Chico and Where to Stop, Bariloche (Argentina)

9. Isla Victoria

A boat trip to Isla Victoria is an fantastic adventure that allows you to see even more of Bariloche’s natural beauty.

 

Departing from Puerto Pañuelo, the cruise takes you across Nahuel Huapi Lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

 

Then on Isla Victoria, you can explore pristine nature trails and encounter ancient cave paintings, witnessing the island’s rich indigenous history firsthand.

 

The tour then proceeds to Bosque de los Arrayanes, a unique forest of cinnamon-colored trees. Walking along the boardwalks through this fairy-tale-like forest is a magical experience.

 

I went with Cau Cau as they had the best reviews and provide both English and Spanish guides. 

If you want to combine a trip to Chile alongside Argentina, then there are several ways to do this with a simple border crossing. The three itineraries in the post below can help you cross the borders a 3 different points in Argentina to see Chile:

 

 

Los Arrayanes Forest, Bariloche (Argentina)

10. The European Charm Of Colonia Suiza

Bariloche’s unique architecture reflects its European influence, especially from Switzerland and Germany.

 

The charming alpine-style buildings adorned with wooden balconies and sloped roofs create an enchanting ambiance that sets this town apart from any other in Argentina.

 

Just a short drive from Bariloche lies the charming Swiss-inspired colony of Colonia Suiza. Here, you can immerse yourself in traditional Swiss customs, indulge in authentic fondue, and enjoy the weekend artisanal fair offering local crafts and food.

 

Be sure to check out Casa Abuela Goye here for another amazing chocolate shop.

Are you struggling to work out how many days you need in Argentina overall? Head to the post below to see a selection of itineraries that can help you:

 

 

11. Cerveceria Patagonia

This place deserved its own spot on the list.

Cervecería Patagonia  is one of the best places in Bariloche to enjoy a beer.

 

The brewpub has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with rustic wooden interiors. But the best part is the balcony with stunning views of Lake Nahuel Huapi.

 

The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly the craft beer selection, brewed on-site with high-quality ingredients sourced in Bariloche.

 

What better place to stop and enjoy a beer after a hard day of trekking or biking the Circuito Chico!

Another fantastic place in Argentina to enjoy beautiful scenery alongside alcohol (this time wine!) is Mendoza – Argentina’s number one wine producing region. It’s well worth checking out if you are on an extended trip through Argentina. For more:

 

 

a beer in front of the lakes in Bariloche

Sign up for a...

FREE Argentina Travel Guide Sample

12. Bariloche's Rich History

Bariloche has a fascinating history.

 

The best way to learn more is on a walking tour that will take you on a wander through its charming streets.

 

Historias Bariloche run several unique walking tours all for a small fee.

 

The 10 Secrets Tour will give you the best run down of the city whereas the German Footprint Tour (see below) provides an insight into the unique history of German immigration to Bariloche.

 

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Argentina saw a wave of European immigration, with many settlers coming from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. 

 

They brought with them their cultural traditions, architecture, and way of life, which have since become an integral part of the region’s identity.

Check out these week long itineraries for Argentina to see how you can see Buenos Aires and Bariloche with ease:

 

 

Argentina Flag

How To Get To Bariloche

How To Get To Bariloche From Buenos Aires

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.

I used WayAway Plus to book all my flights whilst travelling around Argentina. 

 

With the WayAway Plus membership plan, you can get access to premium travel support, travel content prepared by locals, and cashback on flights, hotels,

How To Get To Bariloche From El Calafate

If you’re already in Patagonia, you may want to visit Bariloche on your way up north through Argentina. 

 

You have two options:

 

  • Bus – You can get an overnight bus which takes 24 hours. However, I don’t recommend taking buses in Argentina. Flights are quicker and cheaper.

 

  • Fly – this is a 1 hour 45 minute flight and should cost between $100-200 for a single. I recommend booking well in advance as there aren’t as many flights along this route so it can get expensive

Bariloche is the starting point for most trips into Patagonia.

 

The next stop on the way south is usually El Calafate where you can see the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier. From here, you can then travel to the hiking town of El Chalten to see Mount Fitzroy. 

 

To see how to combine this 7-day itinerary with the rest of Patagonia, use the post below:

 

 

Do You Need A Car For 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.

Diagram: Should You Rent A Car In Bariloche?

Bariloche FAQ’s

Should I Go To Bariloche Before Or After El Calafate?

Doesn’t really matter to be honest! 

 

You can fly from Buenos Aires To El Calafate, and then fly up to Bariloche from there, or do it the other way round. 

 

If you are on a backpacker budget then it’s best to start with Bariloche as you can take an overnight bus there from Buenos Aires. You can then take an overnight bus from Bariloche to El Calafate.

I recommend 5 days in Bariloche as there’s so much to do!

 

But the amount of days to spend depends on what you want to achieve:

 

 

  • 3 Days – you can explore the town, hike to Refugio Frey and bike Circuito Chico with 3 days in Bariloche. These are the 3 best things to do in my opinion.

 

  • 5 days– with 5 days in Bariloche you can enjoy more activities such as a day tour to Isla Victoria and kayaking on Lake Nahuel Huapi.

 

  • 7 days – this is the perfect amount of time if you want to incorporate some rest days or explore outside of the city to places like Cerro Tronador or El Bolson.

Yes, Bariloche is a safe place to visit!

 

With its stunning landscapes and welcoming community, you can explore this beautiful destination without any worries.

 

Argentina is a safe country to visit in general and Bariloche is such a huge tourist destination so he local authorities take great measures to ensure the safety of residents and tourists alike. 

3 days is a good amount of time to see the highlights in Bariloche. 

 

You can spend one day exploring the historical centre and taking the cable cars up to Cerro Otto.

 

On the second you can hike to Refugio Frey. Then on the third you can bike around Circuito Chico and stop off at all the great sights along the way.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of three days – with proper planning and a positive attitude, you can make the most out of your trip to Bariloche!

Bariloche is a popular tourist destination in Argentina so it will be more expensive compared to Buenos Aires. 

 

It also helps to rent a car as its such a big town so this can add to your spend.

 

However, Argentina is still relatively cheap compared to somewhere like Brazil or Chile. The country’s economy is in constant turmoil due to high inflation meaning the peso is weak.

 

Overall, a trip to Argentina and Bariloche is still a bargain in 2024.

Bariloche is better for adventure sports such as hiking and kayaking in the summer. It’s also better for winter sports such as skiing from June-August.

 

Mendoza is the better choice for travellers who want to visit vineyards and go wine tasting. 

 

Read this post for the full comparison of the two cities.

Travel South America With Ease

Sign up to my weekly newsletter for the latest itineraries, guides and deals for South America.