9 must-do things to do in Bariloche

Visiting Bariloche: what are the best things to do and see in this city nicknamed « Switzerland Argentina » by Argentines?

At the southernmost tip of the American continent lies a region 3,000 km long, covering a third of Argentina and almost as much of Chile : Patagonia. A literary myth and a land of exception, the last land inhabited by man offers breathtaking landscapes: mountains, glaciers, islands, archipelagos… Set off to discover this unspoilt region of the world, and more specifically San Carlos de Bariloche (commonly known as Bariloche).

This town of around 150,000 inhabitants lies 1,650 km south-west of Buenos Aires, at the foot of the Andes, on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, in the national park of the same name. Known for its lake and mountain scenery, its Swiss Alpine architecture and its chocolate (hence the nickname « Switzerland Argentina »), it’s an ideal base for hiking and skiing enthusiasts. Wondering what to do in Bariloche? Discover the must-do activities for your stay.

Also read on the Bariloche guide :

1. The city of Bariloche

Centre historique, Bariloche

Photo credit: Flickr – chris atto

If you’re visiting Bariloche, the first thing to do is explore the town. You’ll fall under the spell of this Swiss-style town and its small historic center lined with old stone and wooden houses.

Don’t miss a visit to the magnificent Nuestra Señora de Nahuel Huapi cathedral, the civic center with its museum and library, or the San Eduardo chapel. Other sites such as the Patagonia Museum, the Mapuche Crafts House, the Rosenda Pascual Geological and Paleontological Museum and the Cerro Otto Art Gallery are also worth a visit if you’re wondering what to do in Bariloche!

2. the Seven Lakes circuit

Lac Villarino, Bariloche

Photo credit: Flickr – velodenz

This is the « must » if you’re visiting Bariloche! This 200 km trail crosses forests and rivers to take you along the shores of some of Argentina’s most beautiful lakes. It starts in Bariloche and ends in San Martin de los Andes, and can be done by bus, car or bike for the bravest! You’ll discover sublime views of these famous lakes: Lago Espejo, Correntoso, Villarino, Falkner, Hermoso, Machonico and Lacar.

3. Cerro Catedral

Built on the slopes of Cerro Catedral (2,405 m), this is one of the oldest and most extensive ski areas in South America, and therefore a must-see if you’re looking for something to do in Bariloche. The area boasts over 120 kilometers of ski runs, 34 lifts and 14 restaurants. Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or snowmobiling… you name it!

4. Frey refuge

Refuge Frey, Bariloche

Photo credit: Flickr – Paolo

Wondering what to do in Bariloche? The hike to the Frey refuge (Refugio Frey) is a must! This refuge sits on the shore of the Toncek lagoon, a lake 1,700m above sea level whose incredibly clear water you’ll appreciate.

5. Isla Victoria

Enjoy a breathtaking view from the boat as you cross Lake Nahuel Huapi towards the Quetrihue peninsula. From here, you’ll reach the arrayane forest, a very rare species of tree found only in Japan and Bariloche.

6. Local gastronomy

Restaurant à Bariloche

Photo credit: Flickr – Casal Partiu

If you’re visiting Bariloche, you should know that the city is considered the « National Chocolate Capital ». Swiss immigration has enabled the region to become a benchmark in this field. The city even boasts a chocolate museum, the Havanna Museo del Chocolate.

German immigration has also made beer very popular! So don’t hesitate to try a local beer in one of the city’s many traditional beer bars. And don’t forget to try Patagonian trout and lamb.

7. Nahuel Huapi National Park

Lac Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche

What else can you do in Bariloche during your stay? Discover its most beautiful national park, of course! You’ll be stunned by the extremely rich flora and fauna of Nahuel Huapi National Park, which is also Argentina’s oldest national park!

8. The best views of Bariloche

What to do in Bariloche A number of tours from Bariloche or the surrounding area will take you to breathtaking views! Cerro Campanario offers unforgettable views and is easy to get to. Take the cable car up to the summit and enjoy the view, or take a 30-40 minute hike.

For Cerro Otto, another cable car will take you in less than 15 minutes (or a 1.5-hour hike) to an altitude of over 1,400 metres, for superb views of Lago Gutierrez and Cerro Catedral.

Much further afield (around 2h30 by car from Bariloche), Cerro Tronador is well worth a visit, as it is a record-breaking resting volcano at 3,478 metres, with breathtaking views. Enjoy a unique experience as you witness the incredible spectacle of blocks of ice breaking off the seven suspended glaciers.

9. Hiking and trekking

You can’t visit Bariloche without planning a hike! Its location between lakes and mountains makes it a truly exceptional setting for all hiking enthusiasts. In addition to the above-mentioned circuits, there are numerous signposted hikes on site, or along the road that will take you to the viewpoints. The Circuito Chico is a short trail that starts from the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi, along which you can stop off at one of the many beaches and enjoy views of the lakes, islands and mountains of the region.

How do I get to Bariloche?

From France, there are several flights to Bariloche, but all of them usually include two stopovers (or even airport changes), particularly in Buenos Aires. On average, you can expect to spend around 20 hours travelling to Bariloche. To anticipate your trip and compare prices, which fluctuate according to the season, visit our partner Ulysse’ s website, which lists flights at the best prices, whatever the airline (or period) of your choice.

As Bariloche airport is around 15 kilometers from the city center, you’ll need to opt for a shuttle transfer or – if you want to enjoy Bariloche and its surroundings on your own – rent a car on arrival at the airport.

Where to stay in Bariloche?

Accommodation in Bariloche is very simple, as the city is a tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation at prices to suit all budgets. So, whatever type of adventure you’re looking for, you can opt for an all-inclusive stay in a hotel, or set out to meet the local culture by choosing to sleep with local people. From the Airbnb platform to this hotel comparator, you’ll find what you’re looking for. In fact, our article  » Where to stay in Bariloche  » will help you do just that.

Map of hotels and accommodation – San Carlos de Bariloche