panoramic scenery of Bariloche

Is Bariloche Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit Argentina’s Lake District

Bariloche, located in the Argentine Andes, is a must-visit destination for many reasons. Its breathtaking landscapes offer a mesmerizing blend of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests. The town's European-style charm, with Swiss-inspired architecture and delectable chocolate shops, adds to its allure. Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, while nature lovers will revel in its stunning national parks. Whether seeking adventure or relaxation, Bariloche promises an unforgettable and diverse experience. Here are 10 great reasons why Bariloche is well worth visiting.

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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 10 reasons!

lakes and islands in Bariloche

1. Breathtaking Natural Beauty

Nestled amidst the picturesque Andes Mountains, Bariloche offers a stunning display of natural beauty. From snow-capped peaks to crystal-clear lakes and lush forests, the landscape is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

 

Surrounding the town are several must-visit spots that provide panoramic views of the region’s mountains, lake and forests, making it a favourite among photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

 

Bariloche serves as a gateway to the Nahuel Huapi National Park, a vast protected area brimming with diverse flora and fauna. The park is perfect for trekking, birdwatching, and exploring the pristine wilderness. Don’t miss the chance to visit the array of islands within the Nahuel Huapi Lake, accessible by boat excursions.

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

2. Epic Andean Hiking

Bariloche has an abundance of incredible trails in the area from flat forest jaunts to steep mountain climbs. There’s something for every hiker here whether you are looking for a walk-in nature or a challenge.

 

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

 

 

  • Refugio Frey: For more experienced hikers seeking a challenging adventure, the hike to Refugio Frey is an excellent choice. Starting from Villa Catedral, the trail takes you through dense forests, rugged terrain, and glacial valleys. After a demanding ascent, you’ll arrive at the Refugio Frey, a mountain hut nestled beside the pristine Laguna Toncek. The dramatic granite spires that surround the lake create a breathtaking backdrop for this trek.

 

  • Cerro Tronador – Cerro Tronador, located in the Patagonian Andes near Bariloche, Argentina, is a majestic and iconic mountain that stands tall at 3,491 meters (11,453 feet) above sea level. The mountain straddles the border between Argentina and Chile, with several large glaciers adorning its slopes. Cerro Tronador is renowned for its dramatic landscapes, glacial lakes, and stunning views, making it a dream destination for hikers, hikers looking for more of a challenge. 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.

 

  • Cerro Llao Llao – The Cerro Llao Llao trek is a delightful and accessible hiking experience that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Patagonian wilderness. This moderate trek begins at the iconic Llao Llao Hotel and meanders through lush forests, enchanting valleys, and along the shores of crystalline lakes Nahuel Huapi and Moreno. The trail gradually ascends to the Cerro Llao Llao viewpoint, rewarding hikers with a panoramic vista of the shimmering lakes and snow-capped mountains.

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:

 

 

cable cars in Bariloche

3. Panoramic Vistas

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

 

  • Cerro Campanario: Although not a long hike, Cerro Campanario is an essential experience for any visitor to Bariloche. You can choose to take a chairlift or hike to the summit. The relatively short trail (30 minutes) rewards you with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the region. From the top, you’ll be able to admire the stunning landscapes, including the deep blue waters of Nahuel Huapi Lake, snow-capped mountains, and the surrounding forests.

 

  • Cerro Otto – Cerro Otto is another prominent hill overlooking the town that offers a diverse range of attractions for both nature lovers and adventure seekers. This easily accessible summit can be reached by a short chairlift ride or a pleasant hike, providing stunning views of the surrounding Nahuel Huapi Lake and the majestic Andes mountains. At the top, visitors can explore the charming revolving restaurant, which offers panoramic views and delicious local cuisine.

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 gondola in Bariloche

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4. World-Class Chocolate

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. The tradition of chocolate-making in Bariloche has its roots in Swiss and European confectionery expertise. The early settlers introduced chocolate-making techniques, and over time, it evolved into one of the town’s main industries.

 

Here are some 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. Their chocolates are handcrafted using high-quality cocoa, and they offer a wide range of flavours and fillings, including nuts, fruits, and creamy centres. Rapa Nui is also known for its excellent hot chocolate, which is a must-try during your visit. The shop has multiple locations in Bariloche, making it easily accessible for visitors.

 

  • 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. Mamuschka offers a vast selection of chocolates, from classic truffles to innovative flavours. Their packaging is beautiful and makes for great souvenirs. When you visit, don’t miss their famous “Bariloche en Rama” chocolate, a specialty only found at Mamuschka.

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:

 

 

Bariloche mountains

5. 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. The scenic surroundings also add an extra layer of excitement to these outdoor pursuits.

 

 

  • 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:

 

 

the ski resort in Bariloche

6. Scenic Road Trips

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.

 

Driving along Route 40 near the town of Bariloche, is like entering a mesmerizing painting that comes to life. As you cruise through this scenic highway, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes that unfold around every twist and turn. The snow-capped peaks of the Andes tower majestically on one side, while the deep blue waters of pristine lakes shimmer on the other.

 

The famous Route of the Seven Lakes, which winds through stunning landscapes, is a must-do experience. Rent a car or join a tour to explore the breathtaking scenery at your own pace.

 

The route takes you on a picturesque drive through the Andes, passing by seven breathtaking glacial lakes, each adorned with its unique charm and color.

 

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

7. Biking Circuito Chico

The Circuito Chico is a spectacular 65-kilometer bike ride that offers an immersive experience of the region’s breathtaking beauty. To start the journey, head to the outskirts of the city, where you can easily rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops available in Bariloche.

 

One of the best is Circuito Chico Adventure which is right at the beginning of the loop.

 

As you begin your adventure, be prepared to be mesmerized by the stunning scenery. The route takes you past magnificent sights such as the azure waters of Lago Nahuel Huapi, the enchanting landscapes of the Llao Llao Peninsula, and several other majestic mountains and lakes. Each turn offers a new postcard-worthy view, making the ride one of the most memorable you’ll ever experience.

 

Along the way, there are several delightful stop-off points and photo opportunities that you won’t want to miss. One such stop is the Llao Llao Hotel, a historic landmark that offers stunning views of the lake and mountains.

 

Towards the end of the circuit, you have to must-stop places. The first is Cerveceria Patagonia for a beer (but this deserves its own post). The second is Restaurant Punto Panoramico where you’ll be treated to delicious food and more great views. Try to plan your day so you arrive at here for dinner and sunset.

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:

 

 

a walkway into the forests of Bariloche

8. Ancient Cave Paintings On Isla Victoria

A boat trip to Isla Victoria is an fantastic half-day adventure that allows you to see even more of Bariloche’s natural beauty whilst also learning more about its cultural heritage.

 

Departing from Puerto Pañuelo, the cruise takes you across Nahuel Huapi Lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Upon reaching Isla Victoria, you’ll explore pristine 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.

 

Check out the tour here

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:

 

 

man on the docks in Bariloche

9. The European Charm

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 delicacies.

 

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:

 

 

10. Cerveceria Patagonia

At Cervecería Patagonia in Bariloche, enjoying a beer is a delightful experience that captures the essence of the region’s craft beer culture.

 

The brewpub’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, rustic wooden interiors, and stunning views of Lake Nahuel Huapi and the surrounding mountains create a convivial ambiance perfect for unwinding and savouring the moment.

 

The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly the craft beer selection, brewed on-site with high-quality ingredients. From pale ales and IPAs to stouts and seasonal brews, Cervecería Patagonia offers a diverse range of flavours that reflect the essence of Patagonia. For those eager to explore different tastes, the beer flight option allows patrons to sample multiple brews, each accompanied by a description of its characteristics.

 

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:

 

 

11. Rich History

A walking tour will take you on a wander through its charming streets where you can sample local cuisine, admire the Swiss-style architecture, and learn more about the history of the town.

 

Historias Bariloche runs five 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. Some of these immigrants found their way to Bariloche and the surrounding areas.

 

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:

 

 

a beer in front of the lakes in Bariloche

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. 

 

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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:

 

 

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