The Argentinian Lakes region or Los Lagos is a beautiful area of rolling mountains and lush, green valleys, punctuated by deep blue, frigid lakes. It’s synonymous with the outdoors – and apparently Argentina’s chocolate capital. There are so many things to do in Bariloche (as known as San Carlos de Bariloche) that could keep you busy for more than a week such as hiking, biking, rafting or camping to name just a few.
It’s a destination for every season. There’s fantastic skiing in winter and in the summer you can spend many days hiking, driving and relaxing by the lake shores.
Bariloche is surrounded by the immense Nahuel Huapi National Park which is best and more comfortably explored by car. A car will cost you about $50 a day but it’s well worth it if you have a limited amount of time. (I only had 3 days in Bariloche and hiring a car was a
Bariloche has its own airport with flights in and out of Buenos Aires and other major Argentinian and international cities. If you are in Chile, you can easily cross the border from Osorno.
THINGS TO DO IN BARILOCHE
DRIVE THE SEVEN LAKES ROAD
This drive is a classic in the area and it’s well worth your car rental. The road winds around gorgeous, pristine lakes,- seven of them- that are flanked by pine forests and waterfalls. Everywhere you look, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful mountains and volcanos of the area. The drive can take about 3 or 4 hours depending on how many times you stop for photos. In San Martin de Los Andes, a pleasant mountain village you get lunch and stroll around before heading back.
VISIT SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
Located at the end of the Seven Lakes Road, San Martin de Los Andes is a pleasant mountain village with lovely german style chalets, beautiful shop fronts and cosy, kitsch cafes. Wander around and savour the atmosphere and have lunch before heading back on the Seven Lakes Road.
DRIVE OR RIDE THE CIRCUITO CHICO
This small circuit takes you West of Bariloche around some peninsulas on the Perito Moreno lake and through Llao Llao. Llao Llao is famous for its hotel and resort of the same name and it’s well worth seeing the famous hotel and its beautiful surroundings. You can stop as you please to admire the views on the way as well as relax by the shores of the lakes. Along the roads there some parking spaces and little pathways in the forest. These pathways will often lead you to the shores of the lake for some even more spectacular views.
If you’re feeling brave the Circuito C
CERRO CAMPANERIO & CHAIRLIFT RIDE
Take the chairlift to the top of Mount Campanario where 360-degree views of the National Park are nothing short of spectacular. Up here you can get a sense of the size and shape of the area, the snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, the deep blue lakes and pine forests. It’s simply stunning.
VISIT ISLA VICTORIA
This is a small island in the middle of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Even though no one lives there now, the island was once home to indigenous people who have left some wonderful cave drawings scattered across the island. You can get there by boat and enjoy the peaceful surroundings through not so strenuous walks in the forest.
Boats to Isla Victoria depart from Puerto Pañuelo, on the Llao Llao peninsula just outside the entrance to the Llao Llao Hotel and resort. Check locally for departure times.
EXPLORE THE CENTRE OF BARILOCHE
The town of Bariloche itself is famous for its pretty Alpine-style architecture and log and stone buildings now home to boutiques, cafes, souvenir shops and restaurants. The centre of small enough for a quick stroll and don’t miss the lovely stone cathedral right by the lake.
This is a tiny village just off of the Circuito Chico. As the name suggests it was a Swiss colony in its time with many people emigrating from Switzerland. Here you can find lovely Swiss style cafes as well as lovely boutique stores and a souvenir market. It’s really relaxed and has a bit of a hippy vibe.
Even though I didn’t do any organised tours here there are plenty of adventure tours offered by hotels and agencies. Tours include activities such as lake kayaking, trout fishing trips, volcano climbing and horse riding.
HIKE BAHIA LOPEZ
Bahia Lopez is a small bay on the Circuito Chico and while there are many hikes you can do in the Bariloche area, this one is one of the prettiest. Start from the car park just over the bridge and follow the trailhead that leads down the beach. It’s a very short hike but takes you up into the treetops with the most amazing views of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
There aren’t many vegan or vegetarian places in Bariloche, however, the best ones are Ren Vegetariano and El Vegetariano. Both are quite similar in what they offer, a mix of soups, salads, and main dishes including pasta and stews. El Vegetariano also has a fish option that you can add to your meal making it a great option if you’re with a non-vegan. Quite honestly though, plant-based options in Argentina outside of Buenos Aires, don’t often impress.
Cerveceria Patagonia – This giant pub can be found along the Circuito Chico and it’s a must-visit. The building is a glorious mountain style cabin and they had a roaring fire going even in the summer. The food is heavy on the meat and gets rave reviews but the highlight here is the beer and the view. They have every Patagonia beer on tap as well as some guest ales. Order a pint, grab a seat outside on the terrace and look out over the lakes. This is probably one of the most beautiful views to ever accompany a beer.
Cerveceria Manoush. This pub is on the outskirts of Bariloche. They sell good pub grub and have a huge list of local ales and beers that will make any beer fan screech with delight.
I’d love to hear your opinion on Bariloche and please leave a comment if you have anything else to add.
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