Internationally recognised for its natural beauties and nicknamed “Mini Switzerland”, San Carlos de Bariloche is one of the main tourist destinations in Argentina.
In this article you will find suggestions for activities, tours, accommodation and cuisine, as well as practical tips on how to plan your trip and make the most of everything Bariloche has to offer.
Who is this trip for?
For athletes, adventurers or anyone who loves being surrounded by nature, Bariloche is ideal. In winter, go skiing. In the summer, trails, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing… You will only be limited by your imagination or physical fitness.
For those looking for rest, good food and incredible views, the centre of Bariloche, with its breweries, chocolate shops and restaurants serving typical cuisine, will not disappoint.
Ideal for couples seeking the romantic atmosphere of the mountains, families seeking more time together in nature, or a group of friends seeking adrenaline and good beer.
Who would we not recommend Bariloche to?
For those who prefer the bustle of big cities, museums, art galleries, shows, clubbing and other pleasures and conveniences of urban jungles.
When to visit Bariloche?
If your focus is on skiing, the season starts in July and ends in October. Prices and availability fluctuate weekly, so good planning will help you save on transfers, accommodations and equipment hire and ensure a productive, fun and stress-free trip.
For those who don’t like the cold or prefer a beautiful view at the end of a challenging trail, the best option is to visit Bariloche during the summer. With an average temperature of 22°C and long days (13 to 15 hours between sunrise and sunset), this time of year is perfect for making the most of your day outdoors.
Late autumn and early winter are quite rainy so if staying dry is a priority, avoid visiting Bariloche between May and June.
How to get to Bariloche?
The best way to get to Bariloche by plane is to stop in Buenos Aires.
Bariloche is about 1600 kilometres from Argentina’s capital. Flights are frequent and last an average of 2 hours.
From the airport to the centre of Bariloche, it is just 15 km. In approximately thirty minutes by car, you can start enjoying the beauty that only natural reserves like Bariloche have to offer.
Where to change money in Bariloche?
The tip is trivial but effective. Look for the exchange rates in the parallel currency exchange market. Look for rates at travel agencies, hotels and established exchange shops as they usually offer more favourable rates than banks and credit cards.
In addition to the Argentine peso (the official currency), the US dollar is also widely accepted.
Travel cards and digital banks with integrated exchange services are excellent options for those who don’t like to travel with cash.
What to do in Bariloche?
One of the most popular ski resorts in Bariloche. Cerro Catedral has complete facilities with slopes for all levels, cable cars, restaurants and the historic Lynch refuge which has been recently renovated.
Play Park is ideal for beginners, with 35,000 square metres of slopes at the base of the mountain.
Cerro Catedral has more than 60 slopes with different levels of difficulty, but it also offers the option of off-track and Nordic skiing.
For lovers of snowboarding and ski freestyle, in addition to the slopes already mentioned, visit Catedral Snow Park with its 50,000 square metres of slopes with jumps and obstacles.
During the summer, Cerro Catedral is transformed. The white of the snow gives way to the green of the forest, ideal for trekking.
Take a cable car to the Punta Princesa stop and enjoy a hearty meal with panoramic views at 1936 metres above sea level.
Another excellent option for winter sports. The Cerro Otto ski centre, the Piedras Blancas Cable Car Complex and the Nordic ski centre have different slopes for athletes of all levels.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, in Cerro Otto you can slide on a sleigh or ride snowmobiles.
In summer it is possible to explore trails, walk on top of trees in Euca Park, glide on zip lines or do a photo safari in Piedras Blancas.
For those looking for more relaxation and less physical activity, how about taking a cable car with panoramic gondolas to the top of the mountain? There, you can enjoy some regional delicacies in the only revolving bakery in Argentina.
The most visited of the six beaches of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Playa Bonita, is 8 km from downtown Bariloche. In addition to the crystal clear waters, Playa Bonita has a good tourist infrastructure with bars and restaurants as well as lifeguards, kayak, and diving equipment rentals.
The intense blue of the crystal clear water of Lake Nahuel Huapi comes from its glacial origin, which means the water temperature varies between 10 and 15℃ during the summer.
The other five beaches on Lake Nahuel Huapi are:
- Centro Beach
- Melipal Beach
- Centenario Beach
- Serene Beach
- Tacul Beach
Excursions and Tours
There are several options for excursions, also known as circuits, in Bariloche. Ideal for first-time tourists, these excursions allow you to visit several tourist attractions in one day.
The most popular circuit is called Circuito Chico which includes Villa Llao Llao, Escondido Lake, and López Bay with its rocky walls. With 60 km in length, this circuit lasts, on average, 4 hours.
For those who enjoy cycling, it is also possible to complete the Circuito Chico by bicycle.
Circuito Chico promises to be
“a charming walk where the city, the woods, the lakes and the mountains are merged into a single landscape.”
Other popular tours are:
- Circuito Grande
- Siete Lagos
- Rio Manso
- El Bolsón
Other attractions and activities
For athletes, in addition to the activities mentioned above, there are:
- Stand-up Paddle
How about exploring Bariloche by boat? There are at least four tours to choose from:
- Cruce Andino
- Ilha Victoria e Bosque de Arrayanes
- Porto Blest e Cachoeira dos Cántaros
- Brazo Tristeza e Cachoeira do Arroio Frey
There are so many options for activities and tourist attractions that it would be impossible to visit them all, at least as a tourist, but here are some that you might want to look into:
- Centro Cívico
- Museu da Patagônia
- Colonia Suiza
- Catedral de San Carlos de Bariloche
- Cerro Campanario
What to eat in Bariloche?
Bariloche is Argentina’s chocolate hub, so our first recommendation is to visit some of the local chocolatiers. You can see how chocolate is produced and taste the final product.
There are a large number of chocolatiers in the centre of Bariloche, so you can visit different establishments in just one short walk and decide for yourself who produces the best chocolate.
Another artisanal delight you’ll find in abundance in Bariloche is beer. There are dozens of craft breweries, one next to the other and just like the chocolatiers, you can taste several options in just one stroll.
Argentine parrilla (barbecue) is world-famous. For non-vegetarians or vegans, we recommend visiting at least one steakhouse.
Lamb, trout and smoked meats are also local specialties and an excellent alternative to barbecue.
For vegetarians and vegans, the options are somewhat limited but several restaurants offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. We recommend researching in advance so you won’t waste time visiting restaurants that don’t have an appropriate menu.
The last recommendation is to go to a teahouse. At this point, you can probably guess that the options are numerous. A more European than South American tradition, the tea houses offer a variety of cakes, bread and pastries as well as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and other delicacies.
Where to stay in Bariloche?
With more than 600 establishments available, you will find accommodations for all budgets, comfort levels and desired services.
In addition to budget and availability, it is worth considering the activities you are planning for your stay in Bariloche before booking accommodation.
If you plan to visit all the breweries, experience Bariloche’s nightlife or simply visit the city centre frequently, looking for accommodation closer to downtown makes more sense than staying at a lakeside resort 25 kilometres away.
However, if you plan to relax in a 5-star spa, play golf and prefer to wake up with a beautiful view of the lake, the resort 25 km away from the centre makes more sense.
During the winter, hotel occupancy in Bariloche reaches 90% of available beds. Therefore we recommend that you book your accommodation as far in advance as possible.