Our trip through Patagonia took us to a magical town at the foot of the Andes Mountains. We show you everything there is to do in El Bolsón in one day.
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Where El Bolsón is located
El Bolsón is located in the south and west of the province of Río Negro, right on the border with the province of Chubut and about 120 kilometers south of Bariloche on Route 40. In fact, one of the main places to see in El Bolsón is Lago Puelo and it is in this other province.
It is a small town that has been growing a lot on both sides of Route 40, which crosses it in a north-south direction. We only spent one day there and we still have some trails, viewpoints and beaches to enjoy. But if you’re just passing through, this guide will help.
Things to do in El Bolsón in one day
1. Downtown El Bolsón City Center
El Bolsón is a small city and the Pagano square is the liveliest place, since it is the main square and the place where people who live there and those who are out for a stroll gather.
It covers several blocks and has a small lake in the center. Nearby there are breweries, restaurants and souvenir stores, as well as the handicrafts market, although it is not open every day. In front of it we find the Nuestra Señora del Luján Church. We found Pagano square under construction, but that did not prevent us from enjoying some games for Benji, in the photo, the classic drum. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those.
2. Cabeza del Indio and Cajón del Azul viewpoint.
Continuing our visit to El Bolsón, we went to one of its main viewpoints, Cabeza del Indio.
It can be accessed by car or by a hike of perhaps a couple of hours. It is very easy to reach both ways and is well signposted. From the viewpoint you can see the entire valley through which the Azul River flows and on beautiful days you can see Lake Puelo in the distance.
Inside the enclosure, there are two viewpoints to climb and the person in charge of the entrance explains very well how to get there. From one of the viewpoints you can see the entire landscape of the valley, but at the same time you can see the profile of a person carved into the mountain, which is what gives the site its name. Then you can also access to see the valley from another point.
If you don’t want to pay the entrance fee to see the Cabeza del Indio and its two viewpoints, before reaching the viewpoint you can see more or less the same, but more from below.
✏️General admission to visit the Cabeza del Indio lookout point cost about 300 pesos per person in 2022.
3. Puelo Lake
Lago Puelo is a beautiful and quiet lake within the National Park of the same name. It can be accessed by car, although a bus from El Bolsón also leaves you there and then you will have to walk no more than 1 kilometer to the shore.
It has an extensive stone beach where picnics are allowed, so that’s what we did, having lunch there before continuing our trip to Esquel. There are viewpoints, campsites and also a port from which you can take a lake excursion.
The general entrance fee to visit Lago Puelo National Park for Argentine residents is 500 pesos per person (updated price 2022). The ticket was valid for that day and the following day.
4. Enjoy trekking in El Bolsón.
If you are staying longer than us, one of the activities to do in El Bolsón in 2 or 3 days is trekking. There are countless trails, viewpoints, waterfalls and beautiful landscapes to see in El Bolsón.
For example, Cascada escondida ( you can access by car and you have to pay an entrance fee), Machín Ahogado Waterfall, Nacimiento Waterfall ( where the Río Azul is born), Los Hitos trail, El Mallín viewpoint, Cerro Amigo viewpoint (you can access by car) and much more. Some of the trails are guarded by the Mapuche Community, so you may be asked to pay a fee to gain access.
At the same time, since we entered Patagonia, dinosaurs have a strong presence on Route 40, and there are theme parks all the time where you can take the kids. An ideal plan if you are traveling with children.
El Bolsón has perhaps one of the least known ski centers, Cerro Perito Moreno. So if you come in the middle of winter and there is a lot of snow, you have the possibility of skiing. The track is small, but quiet.
Further south, on the way to Esquel, already in the province of Chubut, is the town of Epuyén, which also has a beautiful lake. You don’t have to go far from Route 40.
Practical information for traveling to El Bolsón
An itinerary that includes El Bolsón
If you want to tour Patagonia Argentina, the itinerary we made through the Andean Patagonian Corridor will surely interest you. A route that goes from San Martín de los Andes to Esquel, along Route 40 and the Route of the 7 Lakes.
Where to stay in El Bolsón?
El Bolsón is small and there is a good hotel offer. It is best to stay not far from Plaza Pagano or Route 40, downtown or the best accesses. Our three recommendations for lodging in El Bolsón are:
- Resting Place: very nice and comfortable cabins with swimming pool and very good WIFI, a bit far from the center. It is run by a young family. We stayed here and highly recommend it.
- Cumbres Hotel: just one block from Route 40 and in the center of the city, it is a hotel with spacious rooms and an excellent breakfast with mountain views.
- Tunquelen Cabins: 400 mts from Pagano square are fully equipped cabins. It is run by the owner herself, who leaves no detail to chance.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in El Bolsón.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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- Train Tickets with OMIO
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- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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