Things to Do in Bariloche: The Best Activities

Internationally recognized for its beautiful landscapes dominated by the Andes Mountains and the Nahuel Huapi Lake, discover everything you have to do in Bariloche with these essential activities for your visit.

Shall I tell you something? Juan was born in Bariloche. But after 2 months they moved to Pergamino, where he has lived until he was 21 years old. So we were really looking forward to going back, especially with Benji, to the place where his dad was born.

Map of things to do in Bariloche

1) Strolling around downtown Bariloche.

The city of Bariloche extends along the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It is several kilometers to either side of what is considered the center of the city, which is the Civic Center. When I say “each side” I mean east and west, but you’ll be surprised to see how much the city has spread south.

The Civic Center is the main place to see in Bariloche. It is a beautiful stone-floored plaza overlooking Lake Nahuel Huapi. The surrounding buildings are also built in the same stone, the most important of which are the City Hall and the Bariloche Regional Museum.

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Through two arches, you access Mitre Street, which is the pedestrian street of the city (although sometimes a car passes by). In it, there are many businesses and, sorry for them, but I only saw chocolate shops. At first glance it seems harmless but… It is the street of temptation!

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During our stay we went in some of them to buy chocolate to take away. We only entered Rapa Nui to eat inside, because we saw some games that kept Benji entertained, and it also has a great skating rink inside that works all year round and that you might be interested in if you are traveling with children to Bariloche.

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馃摳 Book your excursion here to learn about Bariloche’s regional products: chocolate, rosehip, ceramics and much more.

Turning to the lake side, we arrive at the Cathedral of Bariloche, another must-see in Bariloche. In the square in front of it, there was a man with a St. Bernard dog for the photo with which I must say I was tempted because Benji loves dogs. But he liked more to run around the square and continue to be responsible travelers.

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The center of the city of Bariloche as such, has no more. But its surroundings are ideal for enjoying nature, the outdoors and beautiful landscapes.

馃摳 Tour the city of Bariloche in this excursion through the Balcones Panor谩micos.

During the First and Second World War, Patagonia and especially Bariloche received a large influx of German immigrants, and legend has it that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide but came to Argentina. That is why Bariloche has a great influence of this country in its gastronomy, craft beers and architecture.

馃摲 Check here the Nazism tour in Bariloche and reserve your place.

Check the GoPatagonic website for more details on things to do in Bariloche’s Civic Center.

2) Small circuit

There is a Circuito Chico and a Circuito Grande, but we will talk about the Chico, which is the most popular (and the one we did). The Circuito Chico is one of the essential activities to do in Bariloche.

It is a panoramic tour of about 60 kilometers that includes several viewpoints to the Llao Llao Llao hotel, trails for a nice hike, beaches on Lake Nahuel Huapi and even a detour to Colonia Suiza. For us it is another of the must-see places in Bariloche.

Check in more detail the excursions we recommend you to do from Bariloche.

a) Hotel Llao Llao

One of the must-sees in Bariloche is to visit the Llao Llao Llao hotel, located in an unparalleled setting. It is a Canadian style building , built in stone and wood, and designed by architect Alejandro Bustillo. It is located inside the Nahuel Huapi National Park, which at the time was managed by Exequiel Bustillo, the architect’s brother. The Bustillo brothers have contributed greatly to the growth of tourism and infrastructure in the area.

The hotel was inaugurated at the end of 1938, having periods of splendor and periods of decline and abandonment. Since 1993, it has been operating indefinitely thanks to its privatization and is a must-see icon in Bariloche.

Do you know how much it costs to stay at Hotel Llao Llao Llao? From 300 euros per night. Not much when compared to other luxury hotels in the world. Are you up for it?

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If you want to visit the inside of the Llao Llao Llao hotel, you can, and for free!

However, there are two ways. One is with anexcursion that is organized within the hotel, but it is not always done but only in high season (and it is paid). Another is to walk through the main gallery or shopping mall and, if you feel like feeling cool for a while, have a drink at the coffee bar.

We still asked for permission just in case to visit it and they told us about the authorized areas. You can use the parking lot if you go by car or arrive by bus 20 from the city center.

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b) Viewpoints

There are several viewpoints to see the Llao Llao from all angles.

I) The viewpoint that is before the traffic circle that takes you to Llao Llao, to continue with the Circuito Chico or to go to Puerto Pa帽uelo. If it is July, August or September, it is usually full of groups of students taking the typical souvenir photo. And if you are lucky you will have it just for you.

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II) From the San Eduardo Parish, which can be reached on foot from the viewpoint mentioned above. Also built by Alejandro Bustillo, you have to climb a few steps to reach it, but it is not very difficult. It is built in wood and stone and has stained glass windows by Ra煤l Soldi, an Argentine plastic artist who was a contemporary of the Bustillo brothers and very well known in his time. The church can be visited inside, but you do not enter from the front but through a door on the left. The viewpoint is located to the right of the parish.

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III) From the viewpoint in front of Moreno Lake, after going almost all the way around the Circuito Chico. It is one of the most beautiful viewpoints to see in Bariloche, it is a dream. You can see all of Lake Moreno from above, the peninsula where the Llao Llao is, Lake Nahuel Huapi behind and the Andes Mountains in the background.

If you go along the route, it is easy to find the viewpoint because it is signposted. However, there are two points where you can stop. One is an open area, a sort of large balcony wherethere are stalls selling handicrafts or street food. And, a little further up, there is a small cafeteria to enjoy a warm drink with an incredible panoramic view.

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c) Trails

We hiked the trail to Puente Romano, Lago Escondido and Bah铆a de los Troncos. This trail extended beyond the Roman Bridge, you could reach the village of Villa Tacul, but we did not.

We arrived first at the Roman Bridge and yes, we found a stone bridge full of green moss very similar to any of the bridges that we could find in Galicia for example. We felt like we were walking the Camino de Santiago. It is worth mentioning that it was built in 1937 and is inspired by the typical bridges that we can find in Europe that still survive the passage of time.

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We continued walking until we found Escondido Lake, which has a viewpoint over the pier and as we entered it, there was a beautiful mirrored lake.

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We continued on our way to Bah铆a de los Troncos, a bay formed in one of the branches of Lake Nahuel Huapi, whose stone beach had some branches and trunks scattered around. Very nice too.

馃摳 Check here the excursion to do Circuito Chico and make a reservation.

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3) Swiss Cologne

The Circuito Chico includes a detour to visit Colonia Suiza, which is far from any town in that country, but was originally founded by people of that nationality. Today it is a village of artisans who make a living from tourism, and there are also food stalls and restaurants. The town is one of the “magical” places to see in Bariloche.

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The most famous thing to eat in Colonia Suiza is Curanto, which is actually not a food but a form of cooking. And it is not Argentine either, but a tradition brought from Chile by Swiss families.

The curanto consists of cooking different varieties of meats and vegetables on a hot stone, all covered by branches, cloth and earth. It takes 1 hour 15 minutes to cook and whatever you put in the preparation, it will cook evenly, without overcooking. An incredible method!

If you travel to Bariloche, you cannot miss Colonia Suiza to try it. But be aware that they only take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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In Colonia Suiza there are two places that prepare them. The first one is a restaurant located in front of the bus stop coming from Bariloche, in what is the food court of Colonia Suiza. This one costs 2500 pesos for 2 people (12 dollars) and they give you two trays with various things to try.

The other is the restaurant “Los Curantos” of Victor Goye, one of the original inhabitants of the village, where the menu is by “steps” and they bring you everything they have cooked, giving you the possibility of repeating (if you have space left). In this restaurant, the Curanto costs 3,200 pesos per person (August 2022) with drink included, including dessert and live folkloric show.

We went on a rainy Wednesday so we decided to go for the most expensive option to ensure a place in the warm restaurant to eat and the truth is that the luxury we had was worth it. It was spectacular!

We ate:

  1. Chorizo con papa (the best chorizo I’ve ever eaten in my life)
  2. Chicken with baked apple
  3. Pumpkin puree, with cream cheese, peas and corn (I appropriated the recipe, but with a different cooking, of course).
  4. Meat with vegetables
  5. Lamb with sweet potato puree

The dessert was a little weak, a casatta, and the show, nothing out of this world, but entertaining.

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Colonia Suiza is located on the shores of Lake Moreno and there are a few small beaches around. The nearest one is 200 meters from the bus stop and is accessed by a small road next to the campsite.

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Another of the things to see in Cologne Switzerland, very interesting if you are traveling with children is the Aldea Duende theme park. There are guides who accompany the children on the hike.

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How to get to Colonia Suiza?

If you don’t have your own car or a rental car, you can easily reach it by public transportation. There are two ways. One is to take bus number 10 in downtown Bariloche, which is direct. The other way is to take the 20, get off at the intersection of routes and then take the 13. We recommend going direct on the outward journey and making the combination on the return, due to the infrequency of line 10 and because there are more people on the return trip.

4) Lake excursion to Victoria Island and Arrayanes Forest.

One of the most typical excursions in Bariloche is the one to Victoria Island and the Arrayanes Forest in the Quetrihue Peninsula. It is done on a boat that departs from Puerto Pa帽uelo, right in front of the entrance to the Llao Llao Llao Hotel.

As we had seen the Bosques de Arrayanes from Villa La Angostura, we did not do the excursion that also goes through Isla Victoria. But without a doubt, getting up close to these cinnamon-colored trees, so typical of the area, is one of the must-do tours in Bariloche.

You can see the Bosque de Arrayanes in our article on things to do in Villa La Angostura.

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馃摳 Check here the Isla Victoria and Bosque de Arrayanes excursion and make a reservation. Includes: transfers, guide and navigation in Nahuel Huapi Lake. Not included: Arrayanes National Park entrance fee, boarding fee, food and beverages.

5) Navigate the different branches of the Nahuel Huapi.

Lake Nahuel Huapi is huge and has a rather irregular shape. So much so that it has 7 arms through which you can navigate on excursions. Some of these are more popular than others, such as the Brazo Blest excursion, which almost reaches the Chilean border. Undoubtedly one of the most rugged excursions to do in Bariloche, where the scenery between high snow-capped mountains is spectacular.

馃摳 Book here the lake excursion on the Nahuel Huapi that includes navigation through Brazo Blest.

The other branches are the Tristeza, the Huemul (which we bordered on our way between Villa La Angostura and Bariloche), Machete, the Rinc贸n, 脷ltima Esperanza and Campanario, right in front of the Cerro.

6) Cerro Campanario

Going to Circuito Chico, there is a nice and simple visit to make that can not be left out of our list of things to see in Bariloche and which can be easily reached by bus line 20 from downtown.

At kilometer 19 of Exequiel Bustillo Avenue, there is a booth where you can pay for tickets to go up Cerro Campanario by chairlift. For the occasion, we were prepared with the carrier backpack in order to have Benji well secured and safe (and thank goodness!).

The characteristic of Campanario Hill is that it has beautiful panoramic views of the Nahuel Huapi Lake and the mountain range. It is a spectacular landscape.

As a tip, I think the best time to climb Cerro Campanario is in the morning.In the afternoon it can happen to them as it happened to us that we had the sun a little against us. Upstairs there is a small pathIt is easy enough to do even with children, through which you can access different viewpoints. The most sought after is the one above the cafeteria/bar.

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Another of the hills that can be climbed from the city of Bariloche and that also has incredible views is Cerro Otto. It also has trails for hiking, although a little longer than the Campanario.

7) Skiing in Cerro Catedral

Cerro Catedral is one of the most important ski centers in Argentina. It is one of the activities you have to do if you travel to Bariloche in winter and you like to ride the snow at full speed.

Cerro Catedral is very well prepared with everything you need to practice your favorite sport in the snow, either schools to learn your favorite winter sport and places to rent the equipment you need.

馃摳 Excursions to practice winter sports at Cerro Catedral:
Ski lessons.
Snowboard lessons.
Go skiing or snowboarding without lessons.

If skiing is not your thing, you can also visit Cerro Catedral to simply go up the chairlift or do some teekking. Many will have the possibility to go there by car, but if that is not your case, I leave you several excursions and transfers so you do not miss its spectacular scenery:

馃摳 Excursions without skiing at Cerro Catedral:
Transfers and 4 hours free.
Trekking through Cerro Catedral to Refugio Frey.

8) Lake Guti茅rrez and Lake Mascardi

These aretwo lakes south of Bariloche, for which you have to take route 40 towards El Bols贸n. They are very popular with locals who want to escape a little of the Nahuel Huapi’s turmoil.

馃摳 Check here the excursion to Cerro Tronador where you can also visit the Gutierrez and Mascardi lakes.

9) Excursions in Bariloche to see the surrounding area

  • Circuito Grande: another classic. There are many more kilometers and it is an excursion from Bariloche or a full day trip, passing through Villa Traful and its lake, Villa La Angostura and part of the Seven Lakes Route.

馃摳 Check here the Circuito Grande panoramic tour and make a reservation.

  • El Bols贸n and Lake Puelo: it is a small and picturesque town south of Bariloche. It stands out for its various viewpoints, for the Lago Pueblo National Park and for being a typical“hippie” town. In our blog we have an article about things to do in El Bols贸n.

馃摳 Check here the excursion to El Bols贸n and Lago Puelo from Bariloche and book.

  • Andean Crossing: being so close to the border, many people take the opportunity to cross into Chile to spend a few days. It can be crossed by car along the route that leaves from Villa la Angostura or also on a lake excursion that goes from Puerto Pa帽uelo in Bariloche through the Nahuel Huapi and Frias lakes on the Argentine side, and Lake Todos los Santos on the Chilean side. The excursion ends in Puerto Varas where you can decide whether to go further into the neighboring country or return to Argentina.

馃摳 Check here the Andean Crossing excursion from Bariloche to Puerto Varas in Chile and book.

Check in more detail the excursions we recommend you to do from Bariloche.

Useful information for traveling to Bariloche

Buy your travel insurance and travel safe!

馃殤 Take a look at these tips for choosing the best travel insurance (updated to 2023 and with juicy discounts) for the type of traveller you are, and they will also help you clear up the most common doubts. Travel safe!

Discounts on your Travel Insurance

– Best places to stay in Bariloche

Bariloche is a small city in constant growth and the hotel offer can be found in many places. But what is the best place to sleep in Bariloche? The answer is “it depends”, the main conditioning factor being mobility (if you have a car or not), the second your budget and the third what you want to do in Bariloche.

To simplify, in our opinion, if you are not traveling by car in Bariloche and the area, the best option is to stay in the center of the city, and the closer to the Civic Center, the better. Keep in mind that if your hotel is 4 blocks from the Civic Center towards the mountain side, it is on the mountainside and you have to climb up.

Two options for lodging in downtown Bariloche are:

  • Hotel Tres Reyes: facing the lake and a few meters from the Civic Center, it has large windows in the living room and rooms overlooking the lake.
  • Nahuel Huapi Hotel: in the heart of the city, modern rooms and an excellent breakfast. It has parking to leave the car.

If you have a car, everything is relatively easier. Downtown Bariloche is a mess for parking and driving and it is best to stay in the surrounding area.

Dina Huapi is one of the quietest areas to stay, although there are fewer dining and leisure options. It is also closer to everything if you don’t have your own car or a rental car to move around.

Find here the best hotels in Dina Huapi.

On the route that runs through Circuito Chico, there are dream cabins, small beaches on the lake, agencies to hire excursions and activities, nice restaurants and there are also a couple of supermarkets.

Two options for lodging in Circuito Chico are:

  • Buena Vista Bungalows: patagonian style cabins and high comfort for those who demand quality. Stunning lake and mountain views and heated pool. A real dream.
  • Los Robles Apart & Spa: located five kilometers from downtown, these are apartments with lake views, kitchen, heated swimming pool, sauna and spa.

There are many activities to do in Bariloche in summer, and among the accommodations is the possibility of camping in Bariloche in the middle of nature, a nice option if you are traveling with children. In winter, you can stay at Villa Catedral, close to the ski resort.

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Do you want more the best for hotels in Bariloche? Check out this article.

– How to get around Bariloche if you don’t have a car

In Bariloche, as in many other cities in Argentina, the SUBE card is used to travel on public transportation, which must be purchased and recharged. The amount of the cost of getting to a certain place will be deducted from this balance. When you get on the bus, you have to tell the driver where you are going so that he will give you the correct amount for the section, otherwise the machine will charge you the full fare, which can be almost double.

Practically everywhere can be reached by public transportation, only the lake excursions would be what you have to include in the budget of “excursions to hire if I don’t want to miss it”.

There is also the possibility of renting a car. Both in the city and at the airport there are some of the best known agencies and other “local” agencies to hire and be mobilized.

馃殫 Search here for car rentals in Bariloche.

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