Bariloche is one of the most touristic mountain towns in Argentina, both in summer and winter. It is located in Patagonia, on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, near the Andes Mountains. It offers a wide variety of activities for all tastes, either to enjoy outdoor activities in summer or to practice winter sports in the snow. This guide focuses mainly on summer activities.
How to get to Bariloche?
Bariloche has an airport that connects with several provinces in Argentina. From Buenos Aires, there are flights of only 2 hours and several low cost airlines operate. It is also possible to arrive by car, although it is a long trip from Buenos Aires, but it can be a good option since it is ideal to have your own vehicle in Bariloche to be able to travel around easily. Another option is long distance bus transportation, with several lines connecting from different points of the country.
What to do in Bariloche and surroundings?
The Circuito Chico is one of the most traditional tours in Bariloche. It is a circular route that begins and ends in the city of Bariloche, with approximately 60 kilometers long. On this tour you can enjoy some of the best views of the area, where you can see the city, lakes and mountains. This tour can be done by car, bicycle or on a tour.
Here is a list of places to visit during this circuit:
It is located at kilometer 17.5 of Bustillo Avenue. You can go up the hill by cable car (at a cost of ARS$1600 year 2022) or take a short 45-minute walk.
From the top you get a 360 degree view of Bariloche, where you can see Nahuel Huapi, Moreno Lake, Cerro Lopez, Cerro Catedral, Cerro Otto, El Trébol Lagoon, San Pedro Peninsula and Victoria Island. At the top, there is a cafeteria where you can enjoy a hot chocolate with an incredible view.
San Pedro Peninsula
It is located turning right at kilometer 20.3 of Bustillo Avenue. It has an extension of 7 km where you can find some incredible beaches to spend the afternoon.
Most of the excursions to Puerto Blest, Victoria Island and the Arrayanes Forest leave from here.
Llao Llao Municipal Park
Behind the famous Llao Llao hotel is this municipal park made up of several low-difficulty trails, ideal for children. At the entrance to the park there is a free parking lot.
- Arrayanes and Lago Moreno Trail: The trail is 2.85 km long and takes approximately 1 hour (each section). First you reach the Arrayanes Forest (10 minutes), then Moreno Beach (20 minutes) and finally the Moreno Lake Viewpoint (50 minutes). Low difficulty.
- Lago escondido - Bahía Los Troncos: The trip takes 1 hour round trip from the municipal park ranger's house and is of low difficulty.
- Cerrito Llao Llao: It starts 300 meters from the Information Center. The trail is 3 km long in sections and takes 45 minutes to climb. From the top you have an incredible view of the lakes and the mountains, low difficulty.
- Tacul Beach: The trail is the same as the one to Llao Llao Llao hill, only that in the middle it divides into a path that goes up (to Llao Llao Llao hill) and another one that goes down to Tacul Beach. From the beginning of the trail to the beach is approximately 45 minutes. Low difficulty.
- Puente Romano - Tacul Viewpoint Trail: From the Park Ranger's house it is 1 hour and a half round trip. From the viewpoint you can return to the starting point or continue 1 km more to Villa Tacul where there are different beaches on the coast of the Nahuel Huapi. Low difficulty.
The entrance is located 2 km from the entrance to the Llao Llao Municipal Park on the right hand side. It is a series of bays on the coast of the Nahuel Huapi with several small beaches repaired from the wind.
Cerro Capilla Viewpoint
This viewpoint is located 2.5km from the entrance to Villa Tacul. It is a 100 meter walkway that offers a beautiful view of Cerro Capilla.
Bahia Lopez Viewpoint
A few meters ahead of the Cerro Capilla viewpoint is the Bahia Lopez viewpoint.
A little further on is the Angostura Stream. At this point it connects the Nahuel Huapi lake with the Moreno lake. From both shores of the stream you can enjoy the beach.
Continuing across the Angostura Creek bridge, you arrive at Bahía López. This beach of small stones is wide and its access is through the Hotel Atún Nehuén, but it is open to the public.
Mirador Brazo Tristeza
Next to the entrance to the beach of Bahia Lopez, is the beginning of the trail to the Mirador Brazo Tristeza. It is a low-difficulty trail that lasts approximately 40 minutes per section, ideal for watching the sunset. It is important to note that the trail continues after the first viewpoint to the left. Many people think that the trail ends at this viewpoint, but if you are with children or older adults, it is recommended not to continue because after the viewpoint there are parts with dangerous cliffs for them.
At the panoramic point you can see one of the best views of the small circuit. It is a great viewpoint on Bustillo Avenue from where you can see Moreno Lake, the Llao Llao Peninsula, and the Nahuel Huapi.
To visit Colonia Suiza you have to turn off the paved road and drive 3 km on an unpaved road. Inside the colony there are restaurants that specialize in the traditional food of the colony called Curanto, as well as a craft fair and the Berlina factory. We recommend avoiding weekends as it gets very crowded.
Returning to the asphalt road we cross the bridge over the Moreno Lake. Here you will find the windy beach on one side and the windless beach on the other. The beaches are calm, with stony sand.
All along the short circuit there are restaurants and tea rooms. Our recommended places to eat are Cervecería Patagonia (book in advance) and Punto Panorámico restaurant. Our favorite place for tea is Bellevue (we recommend you check the opening days and hours as it is not open every day).
2. Victoria Island and Arrayanes Forest
Victoria Island is the largest island in Lake Nahuel Huapi and offers a beautiful 1-hour trail to observe the fauna and flora.
Near the island is the Quetrihue peninsula, in Villa La Angostura, where the famous myrtle forest is located. It is said that this forest inspired Walt Disney for the movie Bambi. The myrtle tree is characteristic for its brick red bark, which is smooth and silky to the touch, with lighter spots left by the old bark when it peels off. To access the myrtle forest, you can take a boat or walk a 12 km trail from Villa La Angostura. We went by boat and walked back.
From Bariloche depart excursions from Puerto Pañuelo that take you first to the Bosque de Arrayanes and then to Victoria Island.
3. Otto Hill and Habsburg Stone
Cerro Otto is located 5 km from Avenida de los Pioneros. It can be climbed by car, walking (10km) or by cable car. At the top is the famous revolving cafeteria with 360º view. From here you can make an easy 1 hour trek to the Habsburg Stone where you get an incredible view!
4. Enjoy the incredible beaches of Patagonia
Bariloche has an infinite number of beautiful beaches to visit and enjoy. Here is a list of some of them. We leave you the links with the locations in Google Maps.
- Tacul Beach in Villa Tacul
- Lopez Bay Beach
- Serena Bay
- La Playa Bonita
- Perito Moreno Beach
- Moreno Lake Beach
- Windless and Windy Beach
- Arroyo Angostura Beach
- Los Coihues Beaches
- Lago Gutierrez Sectional Beaches
- Muñoz Beach (on Gutiérrez Lake, access is through a low difficulty trail of 14km round trip, approx 4 hours in total, it is paradisiacal).
- Mascardi Lake Beaches
- Black Beach
- Guillelmo Lake Beach
- Los Leones Beach (The trail starts at the Relmu Lafquen Camping and it takes 3 hours to go there and back).
Many of these beaches offer the possibility of renting kayaks and paddle boards.
5. La Buitrera
La Buitrera is a hill with impressive rock formations that have been shaped by the action of water and wind, creating small natural caves where condors take refuge and rest. It is located about 30 km from Bariloche. To get there you have to put in Google Maps the location of "Estancia La Lucha". From Bustillo Avenue, take Esandi Street to Route 40, where the map directs you down a dirt road. After a 50-minute drive, you will arrive at the estancia. As of 2022, entrance to visit Las Buitreras is restricted to certain days and hours: Thursday through Sunday, from 9 am to 4 pm. In addition, an entrance fee is charged, as it is on private property; in January 2022 we paid $650.
From the estancia it is a 1 hour trek to La Buitrera, the trail is mostly uphill and there is no shade. Bring plenty of water for hydration. We recommend not to wear shorts as the trail is full of bugs.
Once at the top you will find this incredible landscape! You will probably see a condor resting in the buitrera.
6. Pampa Linda - Cerro Tronador
This is the area where Cerro Tronador is located, 2.5 hours from Bariloche. There are excursions that take you around this area, also buses or you can go in your own car. If you go in your own car, keep in mind that when you arrive at the entrance of Nahuel Huapi NP the road has only one lane and therefore is governed by schedules. From 10:30 to 14:00 in the direction of Pampa Linda, from 16:00 to 19:30 the return and from 19:30 to 10:30 it is double lane. Most of the road is unpaved.
To enter this area you have to pay an entrance fee to Nahuel Huapi NP ARS $220 per person (January 2022). There are many treks to do from here, we recommend you to wear comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing. Also, from here you can access trails that lead to the Otto Mailing, Agostino Rocca and Laguna Illion refuges.
In the area there are some inns, 2 camping sites and 3 restaurants. We think it is a good option to stay here for one night to enjoy the contact with nature. In this post we leave you the information about everything you can do in Pampa Linda.
If you don't have your own vehicle, you can hire a full day excursion.
For those who enjoy hiking, camping and the mountains, Bariloche is ideal because it has several circuits of shelters, and we remind you that to spend the night or camp in most of the shelters it is necessary to make reservations in advance. Here is a list of some of them.
Lopez Refuge This refuge offers an incredible view of the Nahuel Huapi Lake. The trail to the refuge starts from Lopez Bay (kilometer 22.5 of the Circuito Chico). The round trip distance is 11km and is done in 3 hours each way, medium-low difficulty. From this refuge you can go to the Laguna Negra Refuge (it is recommended to check the condition of the trail that connects both refuges because sometimes there is a lot of snow and it makes it difficult).
Laguna Negra Refuge (Manfredo Segre)The trail starts in Colonia Suiza from the Goye stream. The total distance is 10.5km and it takes approximately 4 hours per section. In summer the difficulty is medium. It is possible to sleep in the refuge or to camp.
Frey RefugeYou can get to the refuge by 3 different trails, the main and easiest one is the one that starts next to the parking lot of Cerro Catedral. From here the ascent takes 4 hours, 10 km, with a low difficulty. The other trail starts from the park ranger station of Gutierrez Lake, through this trail it is possible to turn off to go to Muñoz Beach. It is estimated to take about 5 hours of ascent and it is recommended to be in good physical condition. The last way to ascend is through the Filo del Catedral (only in summer) and it begins where the elevation means end (from the princess point or Lynch refuge). It is approximately 3 and a half hours over rocky terrain, of medium difficulty. This refuge connects with Refugio Jakob.
Jakob Refuge: The trailhead is over the Casa de Piedra Creek, and has a total distance of 18km, approximately 5-6 hours of walking per section. It is of low difficulty. From this refuge you can visit several places such as Laguna Témpanos, Paso Schweitzer, Cerro Cella, Los Césares, among others. It may be necessary to go to some of them with a guide from the refuge.
Otto Meiling Refuge: This refuge is located on Cerro Tronador between the Castaño Overa and Alerce glaciers. The trail begins in Pampa Linda, approximately 2 and a half hours from Bariloche. If you do not have a car, the refuge offers transportation. The distance of the trail is 13 km and it is estimated approximately 5 hours of ascent. From the refuge it is possible to make several excursions on the glaciers of Cerro Tronador! It is possible to connect this refuge with the Agostini Rocca Refuge (in excursion crossing the glacier or walking along the conventional path).
Agostino Rocca Refuge: This trail also starts from Pampa Linda, from the same point as Otto Meiling. It has a distance of 14 kilometers and is approximately 4-6 hours of walking. Medium-low difficulty. From the refuge it is possible to do different hikes such as the waterfall walk, crossing the Alerce glacier or ascending the constitution hill. It is possible to return from the refuge by the Frías Lake, going along a 12km trail to the side where you can take a boat back to Puerto Pañuelo. It is also possible to join the refuge with Laguna Ilón.
Laguna Ilón RefugeThe beginning of this trail is the same as the previous two. It has a distance of 8km and takes approximately 4 hours. From Laguna Ilón you can go to Mirada del Doctor, the trail takes 1 hour. This refuge connects with the Agostini Rocca Refuge.
8. Manso River and Piletones del Manso
El Manso is a hidden paradise along Route 40, between Bariloche and El Bolsón. This rural spot is surrounded by lakes and rivers of crystalline waters, being the Manso River its main tourist attraction. In this river you can find the famous piletones, besides offering the possibility of practicing rafting and camping in its surroundings.
To get to the Manso pools, you must leave Route 40 at the Cohuin Camping Site and follow the dirt road to the parking lot. From there, it is necessary to walk about 2 km: first to the lake and then along a path that goes to the right of the river. In recent years, the pools have become very popular and are usually full of people during the summer months.
Camping las Pasarelas del MansoWe camped at this campsite on the banks of the Manso, it has a super family atmosphere. If you don't want to camp you can spend the day here and enjoy the beach and the river to swim, fish or join a rafting excursion.
9. White Waterfall
It is a hidden waterfall that can only be accessed by boat. To get there you can go on the excursion that goes to Puerto Blest or hire a private boat. Nearby you can also visit the Cantaros Waterfall that to get there you have to climb a wooden staircase 600 steps along the river cantaros.
Here we leave you a excursion to Puerto Blest and the waterfalls.
10. Heart Island Viewpoint
The trail starts at the Relmu Lafquen camp and is 20km in total, it takes approximately 7 hours. It is of medium-high difficulty. Before doing this trekking it is mandatory to register at www.nahuelhuap.gov.ar.
12. Enchanted Valley
The Enchanted Valley is located on the banks of the Limay River 62 km from Bariloche. It is a combination of steppe and Andean forest with a variety of vegetation surrounded by mountains and rock formations that generate a unique landscape. In addition to the view in this area it is possible to go on fly fishing, kayaking, stand up, among others. rafting among others.
It is also possible to make an Villa Llaquin excursion on the Limay River to get to know this beautiful area.
13. Villa Traful, Villa La Angostura and the route of the 7 lakes.
From Bariloche it is also possible to visit Villa Traful, Villa La Angostura and take the famous route of the 7 lakes that joins San Martín de los Andes with Villa La Angostura.
When hiking in nature it is advisable not to go out alone and always check the forecast beforehand. It is also important to let someone know where you are going to be. Also remember that you are visiting natural places where all the garbage you carry has to come back with you, it helps to maintain nature.