10 Top Things to Do in Bariloche, Argentina

Bariloche landscape in Argentina

saiko3p / Getty Images

Bariloche is an all-season town in the Patagonia region of Argentina. It sits in a stunning location next to the glacial lake Nahuel Huapi, surrounded by the Andes Mountains. The town formally known as San Carlos de Bariloche has been called the "Switzerland of South America" because of its scenic beauty, chalet-style architecture, and penchant for good chocolate.

Tourists come for sports and adventures like skiing, hiking, biking, ziplining, and additional recreational activities. Bariloche offers quiet, out-of-the-way retreats and views galore. With so much to offer, this alpine hamlet is an ideal place from which to enjoy Argentina's Lake District.

01 of 10

Admire the Cathedral of Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi

High-angle shot of Bariloche Cathedral with snowy mountains in background

Alex Joukowski / Getty Images

Vice Almte. O'Connor 500, San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 294 443-4084

Although Bariloche is known for its Swiss chalet-style architectural style, its cathedral is pure Gothic Revival with French influences. With a spire rising above the snow-capped Andes, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi rounds out the Euro-feel of this South American city.

The Roman Catholic cathedral was constructed in the mid-1940s and features an impressive dome surrounded by Byzantine stained-glass windows. The well-groomed grounds, nestled amid stately pine trees, are all the more reason to visit.

02 of 10

Drink Craft Beer

People cheersing beers with South American food in bar
DircinhaSW / Getty Images

No mountain town would be complete with a few microbreweries to partake in a bit of après-ski post-adventuring. In Bariloche, the drinking scene is relaxed and sometimes accompanied by empanadas. There are dozens of craft beer spots to choose from in the city, but you can find some of the best local-made brews at Manush, a gastropub that serves regional dishes; Kunstmann, a Chilean brewery with a top-floor beer museum; and Berlina, a national chain headquartered in Bariloche.

03 of 10

Venture in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi

Cerro Tronador, Nahuel Huapi national park (Argentina)

AlbertoLoyo / Getty Images

Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 294 442-3111

Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, one of Argentina's most popular parks, is nearly 2 million acres and spans both Neuquén and Río Negro provinces. This park surrounding Bariloche boasts the spectacular glacial lake known as Lago Nahuel Huapi and offers views of mountain peaks, rushing rivers, and verdant forests with trees like the Chilean cedar and winter’s bark. You'll see wildlife ranging from river otters to ducks to cougars and foxes, and enjoy all-year recreational activities such as hiking, rafting, and kayaking.

04 of 10

Ski and Savor Mountain Views

Red cable-cars on the Teleferico Cerro Otto

Tim Makins / Getty Images

Cerro Catedral, Río Negro, Argentina

Cerro Otto offers not only skiing and snowboarding, among other snow activities, but also short-distance trails for mountain biking or hiking. The mountain's base is just three miles (five kilometers) from Bariloche, and visitors may enjoy taking the cable car up to the country's only revolving restaurant with an amazing view of Gutiérrez Lake and Nahuel Huapi Lake, Mount Leones, and other mountains.

Cerro Catedral, located 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Bariloche, is the biggest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere and international tourists visit for its range of activities. Onsite are more than 30 ski lifts, a shopping center, internet cafes, diverse restaurants, and a bike park with trails for everyone from beginners to experts.

Cerro Campanario, about 22 miles (35 kilometers) from downtown Bariloche, is where you'll find spectacular panoramic views of the Andes and nearby lakes, hiking opportunities, and a mountain-top cafeteria. Hike or take the chairlift up for some great vistas.

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05 of 10

Divulge in Some Famous Chocolate

Frantom Chocolates

Frantom Chocolates

Mitre 298, San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 294 442-3294

Bariloche has a reputation for being the chocolate hub of Argentina. After World War II, European immigrants moved to the town and would warm up with homemade hot chocolates. Argentinian chocolate became popular, and the plentiful shops and cafes in town offer enough variety to please any chocoholic.

Many chocolatiers are located on Avenida Miter, known by locals as “The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams.” Frantom will whet your appetite for more treats, and you'll find plenty to savor at Mamuschka, Rapa Nui (which has an indoor ice-skating rink), and Chocolates Tante Frida. The town even has a museum called Museo de Chocolate, which offers guided tours and exhibits about the history of chocolate, along with a gift shop and cafe.

06 of 10

Get Into Outdoor Recreational Activities

People paragliding over mountains and sea against blue sky
Beyond Studio / EyeEm / Getty Images
Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 9 294 416-8583

The Bariloche area has a wealth of outdoor activities providing scenic views. Visitors may choose to ride a horse, mountain bike, or hike. Adventurers can zipline through the woods on one of South America's longest trails or paraglide on a 5,000-foot descent through the forested hills, among other activities.

Another option is to hike in a lovely local spot such as Refugio Frey, which features lakes, mountains, and lush forests. Cerro Leones Park is where to see ancient caves and rock art, and Cerro Lopez has a great panoramic view of Lake Nahuel Huapi and its surroundings.

07 of 10

Cross the Lakes Between Argentina and Chile

The waterfall of the lake Todos los Santos close view during the Andean Lake Crossing

Fotografías Jorge León Cabello / Getty Images

The lakes have a number of water sport possibilities. One of the more popular excursions is the Cruce de Lagos, the lake crossing between Chile and Argentina, which also involves road crossings and usually takes two days. On this multi-day trip, you'll have a chance to glimpse at waterfalls at Saltos de Petrohué, Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes, and wildlife. Take this photographic tour in reverse for the crossing from Bariloche to Puerto Montt, Chile.

08 of 10

Explore the Classic Llao Llao Golf-Spa

Llao Llao Resort, Golf - Spa

Llao Llao Resort, Golf - Spa

Av. Ezequiel Bustillo Km. 25, R8401 San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 294 444-8530

If you feel like splurging, the renovated and luxurious Llao Llao Golf-Spa is a classic resort that first opened in 1938. There's a highly ranked 18-hole, par-70 golf course with a free shuttle, boating, restaurants, and much to see in this luxurious, lodgelike setting that boasts stone fireplaces and views of the lakes and Andes Mountains. Enter the spa for a massage or aromatherapy, or take fitness classes such as pilates and yoga.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Bike the Circuito Chico

Circuito Chico - Mountain bike

Emprotur - Bariloche Argentina / Flickr

RP77, Río Negro, Argentina
Phone +54 294 442-9850

Bike the half-day, 37-mile (60-kilometer) Circuito Chico mostly-paved route around the lakes to get a special view of the woods, mountains, and city. At Villa Llao Llao, a wonderful viewpoint includes the Llao Llao Resort, and you can take a peaceful walk in the woods at the Parque Municipal Llao Llao. If cycling isn't for you, you can usually see most of the tour by bus and enjoy similar views.

The longer Circuito Grande, which spans 150 miles (240 kilometers) and is also partially paved, features even more natural beauty, like waterfalls coming from the Coacó and Blanco streams, rock formations at Valle Encantado, rivers, and more.

10 of 10

Tour El Bolsón

Panoramic view of small town including houses and mountains

Javier Ghersi / Getty Images

El Bolsón, Río Negro, Argentina

Located 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of Bariloche in Argentina's Patagonia, the town of El Bolsón has not only the Quemquemtreu River running through it but is situated at the base of Mount Piltriquitrón. The area's bounty offers mountain scenery, sports, fishing, and a peaceful, restful vacation. The town also has one of South America's best craft fairs downtown at Plaza Pagano on Thursdays and Saturdays. Experience artists creating everything from pottery to stained glass to jewelry and metal pieces while you drink a craft beer and listen to live music.

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10 Top Things to Do in Bariloche, Argentina