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Located in the scenic Patagonia region of Argentina, Bariloche is a charming destination celebrated for its breathtaking alpine scenery and unspoiled lakes. Often called the "Switzerland of South America", Bariloche enchants visitors with its European-inspired architecture and wide range of activities, from delving into museums to embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures like hiking, horseback riding, and kayaking.
With its breathtaking vistas of the Andes, crystal-clear lakes like Nahuel Huapi and Moreno, and a thriving culinary scene featuring local delicacies such as chocolate and artisanal beer, Bariloche is a haven for those seeking unforgettable experiences in the heart of Patagonia. In this guide, we'll explore the top 10 things to do in Bariloche, where natural beauty and adventure merge to create a dream destination for all types of travelers.
- Jan Sands
Hiking through Bariloche's picturesque landscapes is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bariloche during summer. This region offers a vast network of meticulously maintained hiking trails, establishing it as a haven for hikers. Regardless of whether you're an experienced trekker or a beginner, there are pathways accommodating all levels of expertise. The allure of hiking in Bariloche lies in its diverse landscapes. You can meander through lush forests of native lenga and coihue trees, cross crystal-clear streams, and ascend to majestic viewpoints that reveal panoramic vistas of the Andes Mountains and pristine lakes. Some trails even lead to hidden waterfalls and serene alpine lakes, offering hikers a tranquil escape into nature.
- Circuito Chico is an approximately 65-kilometer loop that takes you through enchanting forests and along the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. Come across famous landmarks on the trail, such as the charming Llao Llao Hotel. The loop can be completed on foot, on a bike, by car, or a mix!
- At under an hour of walking time, the hike up Cerro Campanario is a relatively short but rewarding hike. After a chairlift ride to the summit, you'll be greeted by awe-inspiring 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and the Llao Llao Peninsula.
- A short-ish hike suitable for most, Cerro Llao Llao leads you to the summit of Cerro Llao Llao, where you can relish in breathtaking vistas of Nahuel Huapi Lake, Perito Moreno Lake, and the Andes Mountains.
- For a somewhat more challenging adventure, consider trekking the 4+ hours to Refugio Frey in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The trail leads you to a mountain hut located on the shores of Laguna Toncek, surrounded by granite peaks—a paradise for rock climbers.
Best time: The summer season, from December to March, offers the most favorable conditions for hiking with milder temperatures and clear trails. However, some trails may be accessible during the shoulder seasons with proper gear and preparation.
Bariloche is renowned as the skiing capital of Argentina, and for good reason. Skiing and snowboarding are among the most sought-after things to do in Bariloche in winter. The city boasts world-class ski resorts with well-groomed slopes, modern amenities, and stunning views. Skiers and snowboarders flock to Bariloche for its powdery snow and varied terrain. No matter your level of expertise, there are snowy Andes slopes to accommodate both beginners and experts alike. Plus, après-ski options in Bariloche are plentiful, with cozy lodges and charming restaurants where you can warm up and savor delicious Argentine cuisine.
- Known as South America's largest ski resort, Cerro Catedral offers a wide variety of slopes for all skill levels. You can enjoy excellent skiing and snowboarding here while surrounded by the Andes' rugged beauty.
- Located in nearby San Martín de los Andes, Cerro Chapelco is another top-notch ski resort with diverse terrain. The resort features excellent facilities and stunning views of Lanín Volcano.
- While smaller than Cerro Catedral, Cerro Otto is an excellent choice for families and beginners. It's known for its panoramic revolving restaurant, offering 360-degree views of the Andes and Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Best time: The ski season in Bariloche typically extends from June to September, with the optimal snow conditions generally occurring during the months of July and August.
Exploring the Nahuel Huapi National Park is a year-round delight and ranks among the top things to do in Bariloche. This UNESCO-listed natural wonder presents a wide array of landscapes, encompassing verdant forests, tranquil lakes, and rugged mountains. Visitors to Nahuel Huapi National Park can embark on a multitude of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and birdwatching. You can also witness the park's rich biodiversity, including condors, foxes, and deer. The park's centerpiece is Lake Nahuel Huapi, a glacial lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks, making it a stunning location for water-based activities like boating and fishing.
Best time: Nahuel Huapi National Park is open year-round, and the best season to visit depends on your interests. For hiking and outdoor activities, summer (December to March) is ideal. Winter (June to September) transforms the region into a snowy wonderland, perfect for those who relish snow sports.
Get down to Calle Mitre and get ready for a chocolate rush. Eating chocolate in the form of tarts, bonbons, mousse, or from fountains, is one of the most delicious things to do in Bariloche, and this is the street to do it on. Pair your chocolate choice with a coffee. Feel grateful to the European settlers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria who brought over their chocolate making trade in the mid 1900s.
- Good to know: The Fenoglio Museo del Chocolate can give you all the nitty gritty information on the history of chocolate and how it came to be part of this city's culture.
Bariloche's cultural scene is enriched by its many museums, making museum exploration one of the best things to do in Bariloche, regardless of the season. These institutions offer captivating glimpses into the city's history, culture, and natural heritage. Visitors can immerse themselves in the narratives of the original Mapuche inhabitants and the European settlers who left their mark on the region or delve into the natural history of the Patagonian region, offering insights into its unique flora and fauna. These museums provide a deeper understanding of Bariloche's identity and its connection to the surrounding landscapes.
- Named after the renowned explorer Francisco Moreno, Francisco Moreno Museum exhibits a fascinating collection of artifacts and documents related to the history and natural sciences of the region.
- Dive into the prehistoric past of Patagonia through the impressive collection of fossils at Bariloche Paleontological Museum. Marvel at dinosaur skeletons, and ancient marine life, and learn about the Earth's distant history.
- Visit Museo del Chocolate Havanna and satisfy your sweet tooth while learning about the history of chocolate production in the region. You may even partake in delectable sampling and watch the production of chocolate.
Best time: Museums in Bariloche are open throughout the year, making them accessible in any season.
Explore the breathtaking landscapes of Bariloche in a truly unique way by embarking on a horseback riding adventure, one of the most fun things to do in Bariloche. Roam through rolling hills, pastures, and enchanting forests while guided by experienced equestrians. The gentle rhythm of horseback riding allows you to savor the sights, sounds, and scents of the Argentine Patagonia. You'll have the chance to witness local wildlife, take in panoramic views, and forge a deeper connection with the natural beauty that surrounds Bariloche.
Best time: Horseback riding is best enjoyed during the summer months, from December to March when the weather is pleasant and the landscapes are lush.
Get your paddle on for a day trip on this giant lake and see waterfalls, beaches, and mountains all in a one or two-day trip. You can paddle to Centinela Island or go further to the beautiful Tristeza branch of the lake. You'll see Mount Capilla and Lopez, both peaks over 6000ft — what a stunning vantage point from a kayak!
Best time: Kayaking on Lake Nahuel Huapi is ideal during the warmer months, from December to March.
Bariloche has its own ale trail, where dozens of independent breweries produce all sorts of ale, with the crisp mountain water being the star ingredient. There are twists from beer producers from all over the world, blended with traditional methods, drawing connoisseurs from around the world to revel in the beer culture. In many of the pubs, the food stands out too — think cheesy bacon fries and other gastro-pub fare pairing perfectly with the hoppy beverages.
Best time: Craft beer tasting can be enjoyed year-round, but some breweries may close during the low season.
Take a cruise to Patagonian lakes and try your luck at fishing for all kinds of trout - brown, brook, and rainbow. Spend an easy day floating on the rivers Limay or Manso located in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Whether you're a professional fisherman or a rookie, this experience in the Patagonian wilderness will be remembered forever.
Best time: The fishing season in Patagonia typically spans from November to April.
Bariloche is dotted with natural thermal springs, and several establishments offer spa facilities where visitors can soak in the rejuvenating waters. Most of these thermal spas are nestled amidst stunning natural settings, often overlooking lakes or nestled in lush forests. For a truly rejuvenating experience, consider visiting renowned spots like Termas de Puyehue and Termas de Chalhuaco. These tranquil oases feature warm, mineral-rich waters that are believed to possess therapeutic properties, making them the perfect retreat to ease sore muscles and bask in the serenity of the surroundings. It's a serene and revitalizing experience that beautifully complements the active adventures that Bariloche has to offer.
Best time: Thermal spas are open year-round, but they are particularly inviting during the colder months (fall and winter) when the warm waters provide a comforting contrast to the chilly weather.
From sampling regional chocolates to tasting dynamic craft beers for the foodies, to getting much more adventurous with the outgoing travelers, there are plenty of things to do in Bariloche that are fit for everyone. On your next trip to Argentina, find your thing to do and then find some more.
Get in touch with our local travel experts in Argentina for a customized tour of Argentina to explore Bariloche. If you are looking to explore more, there are other destinations in Argentina with abundant opportunities to venture out. You can check our guide on things to do in Argentina to find activities that best suit you. You can create a tailored tour based on how many days you want to spend in Argentina or read our guide on the best time to visit Argentina for a seasonal insight.