Located in the foothills of the Andes in the northern part of Patagonia, San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche for short, is the centerpiece of Argentina’s Lake District and is one of the most beautiful destinations in the country.
When planning a trip to Bariloche you will indeed be looking forward to soaking up some of the greatest mountain vistas Argentina has to offer.
From Buenos Aires it is a 24-hour coach journey south to Bariloche. Argentina is blessed with a very comfortable and efficient bus service and we would highly recommend selecting the Super-Cama option which comes with a fully extendable chair that becomes a bed whenever you please. Believe us, the further you glide down towards Patagonia and the colder the weather gets outside, the more you will appreciate the luxury of Argentine bus travel. Observe Argentina’s stunning countryside, clutching a glass of fine wine and float your way to Patagonia. A journey in Super- Cama will cost around AR$ 1000 by bus.
Another option to travel to Bariloche is by plane. Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN Argentina both have numerous flights a week that leave from and return to Buenos Aires. Usually, there are two daily flights earlier in the week, then three a day for the rest of the week. One of these round trip tickets will cost up to around $2000AR. From the capital, you can also fly to El Calafate and then hop another plane to San Carlos de Bariloche International Airport.
This town, surrounded by a number of lakes and found within the Nahuel Huapi National Park, offers excellent opportunities for skiing, kayaking, trekking and mountaineering, many of which can be done as day trips. If you are planning to visit Bariloche, check out the following list of Bariloche day trips.
Bariloche Day Trips: Cerro Campanario
Cerro Campanario is known to bless us with some of the best views available, not only in Bariloche, but Argentina in its entirety. And if you still don’t believe us that this peak is fully worth a visit then perhaps you’ll be convinced by the fact that the National Geographic has named Cerro Campanario as one of its Top Ten 360º views in the world.
It is only 7 minutes by chairlift which costs around AR$ 40. Alternatively make your own way up by embarking on the 30-minute hike to the top. Either way, make sure you get up there to see this unique perspective of the surrounding panorama for yourself. The selection of striking views include the Nahuel Huapi and Perito Moreno lakes, El Trebol Lagoon, the San Pedro and Llao Llao peninsulas, Isla Victoria, and the Otto, Lopez, Goye and Catedral Hills.
Interesting also is the variety of flowers you can see as you trek up the mountain or drift up in a chairlift. The spring and summer are of course the best time to see this floral haven which includes Quintrals, Amancays, Anemones and Green Lilies.
There is also a fantastic café at the top of Cerro Campanario providing you with plenty of things to quench your hunger as you gorge on the views around you from the café’s enormous glass windows.
Bariloche Day Trips: Cerro Otto
Another great excursion to keep in mind is to take the gondolas up to Cerro Otto’s summit. It is located just 5 kilometers from the city center and you can take the legendary cable car to get to either the Lower or the Upper Station.
The view from the top of Cerro Otto is extraordinary: to the north you can see the city of Bariloche and Lake Nahuel Huapi. To the east you can see the Leones and Villegas hills, and part of the Patagonian steppe. To the south you can see Lake Gutiérrez and other nearby hills; and to the west are Cerro Catedral, Lake Moreno and the Andes mountain range.
Here you can find the Garden of Prayer, so-called for its beautiful panoramic oratory. There are also a few wide terraces to enjoy the surrounding landscape. And if the weather isn’t ideal, you can enjoy the view in the Rotating Café, which, if you hadn’t guessed, rotates permanently with the smoothness and synchronization of a wristwatch allowing you to admire a 360 degree panoramic view from inside.
Bariloche Day Trips: Mount Cathedral
Mount Cathedral is a place to discover all year round. Every year both skiers and tourists are delighted with what the mountain has to offer, whether it be activities, views, hotels, restaurants or shops. There is fun to be had here whatever you choose to do.
The mountain in the summer provides the opportunity to enjoy the unique natural landscapes that are so typical to Bariloche. The lush greenery and spectacular views can be enjoyed through trekking, hikes and mountain-biking.
Yet when winter arrives and the snow begins to fall, Mount Cathedral becomes the biggest ski resort in the southern hemisphere. Millions flock to this snow-capped peak to escape the confinement of the city and entertain themselves on their skis, snowboards and sleds. An ample and varied range of services and facilities are on offer to practice winter sports and indulge in the magnificent winter landscapes.
Terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels is available; with over half the resort designed for intermediates. Mount Cathedral is also a paradise for advanced skiers who can choose from cruisers, moguls or off-piste skiing. It has 21 Mountain Restaurants and Bars, spread all over the mountain. At 1030 meters over sea level, Cathedral is a pioneer among South American ski resorts, being the most complete, and it continues updating its facilities to offer visitors the most advanced infrastructure.
Bariloche Day Trips: Mount Tronador and Alerces Waterfall
As you pass into Lake Frias, the staggering Mount Tronador will loom into view. Hovering approximately 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) above sea level, the extinct volcano is the Lake District’s highest mountain. With 9 glaciers dotted around its summit, the mountain peers out of the lush vegetation of the Cordillera de los Andes beside its equally impressive neighbours, the volcanoes of Osorno and Puntiagudo.
Amazement is granted on this full-day tour, not only for the striking views but also for the unique natural expressions that there are to witness from this mountain. You will be able to see Ventisquero Negro, the Black Glacier, which descends from the immaculately white peak of Mount Tronador, a stunning juxtaposition of shades. From the glacier the River Manso originates flowing eastwards to begin with but changing course a couple of times as it makes its way to Chile before eventually draining into the Pacific Ocean. On this tour you can find the sign that says ‘Divisoria de aguas’ between lakes Gutierrez and Mascardi signifying this point of natural watershed in the area and displaying a great example of the curious effects of nature.
As the river zigzags down the mountain, differences in height in the terrain give birth to stunning rapids and cascading waterfalls and binding in its wake a variety of beautiful lakes. One of the biggest of these waterfalls is the Alerces waterfall that is well worth finding and trying your hand in a mountain dip in the rushing water.
Bariloche Day Trips: Circuito Chico
This tour involves an intrepid adventure of the length of about half a day, covering 41 miles or so. Stunning panoramas are aplenty throughout Circuito Chico but this tour stands out more for the opportunities available to eat delicious meals unique to Bariloche.
Several natural viewpoints make for fantastic pit stops along the way on the Circuito Chico. Bahia Lopez and Punto Panoramico serve as tasters for some of the greatest vistas the country has to offer. But they don’t quite match Cerro Campanario, known as the “centre of panorama”. It is from this peak that the incredible landscapes can be truly viewed in all their glory.
On the way there are several tea houses and restaurants where it is highly recommended to sample some of the local food. Opposite Puerto Panuelo, Llao Llao hotel and the Chapel of Saint Edward add magnificent architectural pieces to the natural beauty – even if you don’t go inside, make sure you take a good look at the exteriors of these wonderful buildings.
In Colonia Suiza (Swiss colony) you can find elements of the European influence in the area. Enjoy the elegant swiss architecture with the tradition of wood construction maintained in most buildings and try the wide variety of fruits and vegetables, homemade cheese and sweets. There is also a chance to buy local products such as woollen sweaters, candles and all kinds of handicrafts.
Bariloche Day Trips: San Martin, 7 Lakes
In true Bariloche fashion, a tour of San Martin offers a myriad of wondrous landscapes to feast your eyes on. But the thing that stands unique to San Martin is the variety of panoramas available for viewing in this area. This usually makes for a full-day tour and covers around 225 miles. Be prepared for a fascinating voyage around no less than 7 lakes served with a dose of all varying natural landscapes that line these lakes.
Roads meander through some luscious forests and cross over sparkling turquoise lakes, rivers and brooks (such as lakes Nahuel Huapi, Correntoso, Espejo, Escondido, Villarino, Falkner and Machonico) with many natural beaches providing fantastic retreats to stop, relax and soak up the scenery.
San Martin de los Andes is on the shore of Lacar Lake, a delightful place to enjoy some lunch and explore the town with its elegant, Swiss-style architecture. The way back via Paso Cordoba proves to be a different adventure. After skirting Meliquina Lake, the thick forest makes way for unusual images etched into the rocky terrain by centuries of Aeolian erosion. And when you approach Confluencia you can spot the deep blue waters of Limay river which form the Enchanted Valley and the Amphitheatre. The drive continues through the magical valley alongside the Limay River to Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Bariloche Day Trip: Go kayaking
If you have had enough walking, take to the water and try your hand in kayaking. If you’ve never kayaked before there are always guides on hand to run you through the basics before you set off on an unforgettable journey and navigate some of the most pristine and scenic lakes in Argentina. Make a day of it by taking a picnic lunch and stopping off on one of the banks of the lake to bask in the sun and have a swim. And don’t forget to try some of the delicious locally-made chocolates when you get back to the Swiss-influenced town plaza.
For more information about Bariloche day trips or for ideas of other things to do in Bariloche see our blog post Top 6 Attractions in Bariloche. To find out how we can help you start planning your trip to Bariloche visit Say Hueque!