Travel Destination: Bariloche

If you’re looking for an Argentine vacation destination that offers plenty to do year-round, look no further than Bariloche.  Perhaps best known for its winter ski slopes, Bariloche is situated in the heart of Argentina’s lake region, and also serves as a great summer destination.

Overview: If you want to pick a good starting point from which to explore Patagonia, Bariloche is it.  The town itself is quite beautiful and sits perched on a rather steep bank down to the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi.  Options for outdoor sports include hiking, biking, climbing, rafting, and of course, skiing.

When to Go: Bariloche is a destination that attracts travelers year-round and for many different reasons.  Just about everything that you’ll do in Patagonia will be outside so plan accordingly.  It can get to be downright freezing in the winter but summer temperatures are pleasant and warm. Essentially, what you want to do in Bariloche will dictate when you should go.  It’s a fantastic place no matter what time of year you go.

How to Get There: It’s very easy to arrange for transportation from Buenos Aires to Bariloche.  Most people who study abroad in Buenos Aires make their way down South at some point.   Overnight buses from Buenos Aires leave about every half hour in the evenings.  The ride is quite long, however, clocking in at around 22 hours.  From the bus terminal in Bariloche, you can catch local buses (10,20,21) into the center of town or hop in a taxi to your destination.

If time is short, consider flying LAN or Aerolineas Argentinas.  There are several daily flights by both companies though prices will run you roughly double what the bus costs.

Recommended Trip Duration: Because of its distance from Buenos Aires, it makes sense to spend at least 5-7 days in Bariloche when you go.  If you’re going to ski, then you’ll have no trouble spending 4-5 days on the mountain and then doing a day or two of other activities.  During the Spring and Summer, a week will allow you to also visit nearby towns like El Bolsón and Junín de los Andes which are both highly recommended.

What to See and Do:

Winter Sports: Every year, skiers and snowboarders flock to Bariloche to ski Cerro Catedral, one of the biggest ski resorts in Argentina.  There are many hostels in Bariloche that cater to skiers and it’s very easy to rent equipment and arrange for transport up to the mountain.  I recommend Marco Polo Inn because of its helpful staff and free dinner.

Outdoor Activites: The Bariloche area contains some of Argentina’s best hiking, rafting, horseback riding, and fishing.  There are many tour operators, but a good guidebook and decent Spanish will allow you to do many of the activities at a much cheaper price.

Lake District Tours: While there are scores of different tour options, I personally recommend renting a car in Bariloche for 3-5 days if you are not there to ski.  There are many different rental places and if you split the cost amongst a few friends, it becomes pretty economical.   This allows you to see what you want to see at your own pace and makes the experience more enjoyable.  Make sure to spend a day doing the “Ruta de los Siete Lagos”.

Neighboring Towns to Visit:
El Bolsón:  This sleepy (read: hippy) little town is located about 2.5 hours south of Buenos Aires and is one of the beer centers of Argentina due to the fact that most of Argentina’s hops are grown in the vicinity.  There are some nice hikes, rafting on the Rio Azul, and a great market known for exquisite homemade jams.

Villa Langostura:  Widely regarded as one of the prettiest towns in Argentina, Villa Langostura begs for a short visit at the least.

San Martin de los Andes:  San Martin is home to a smaller ski resort and also boasts a casino and some hiking.  It’s nice for a stop, but not necessarily the most economical or exciting place to stay in the Bariloche Area.

Junín de los Andes:  Located near the base of Volcan Lanín, Junín is probably best known for its trout fishing.  The season runs from mid-November through May.  Check out the “Via Christi Park Walk” in the hills surrounding Junín to see a mix of Christian beliefs and Mapuche culture in the form of provocative sculptures.

Sign up for volunteer work in Junín de los Andes through the Road2Argentina website!

Useful Links:

Bus Schedules and Tickets
Airlines: LAN, Aerolineas Argentinas
Cerro Catedral Ski Resort
Car Rentals

All Photos by Nick Hadsel-Mares