South America > Argentina > Patagonia (Argentina) > San Carlos de Bariloche
San Carlos de Bariloche is a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated on the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by lakes (Nahuel Huapi, Gutiérrez Lake, Moreno Lake and Mascardi Lake) and mountains (Tronador, Cerro Catedral, Cerro López). Arguably the most visited city in Argentinian Patagonia, it is famous for skiing and is great for sightseeing, water sports, trekking and climbing. Despite being an undeniable tourist magnet, Bariloche is set amidst incredible landscapes which should not be missed by nature-loving travelers. Another claim to fame is its Swiss-like atmosphere and its chocolate boutiques and breweries, and look for the St Bernard dogs on display for tourists.
|San Carlos de Bariloche|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
San Carlos de Bariloche weather is transitional between the wet climate of the Andes to the west and the dry climate of Patagonia to the east. Areas to the west such as the city centre receive more precipitation than areas to the east such as the airport. Summers are characterized by long stretches sunny, dry, and windy weather with pleasant afternoons and cold nights, occasionally dropping below freezing. The strong winds make the temperatures feel colder than it should be. Spring and fall are variable with some days being pleasant while other days being cold. Snowfall is common in these seasons. Winters are cool to cold with frequent precipitation, bringing stormy weather with mixed precipitation (snow, rain, sleet), occasional snowstorms. Temperatures during the day are usually above freezing and nights are cold. The city receives abundant snowfall during this season, averaging 23-42 cm (9.0-16.4 in), making it an excellent destination for skiing.
There is a local bus #72 that serves the airport. It will drop you at the central bus station and from there you can catch another bus or walk to El Centro. Minibus service is AR$250 and will drop you at your hotel. Remis from El Centro to the airport are AR$550. (Nov 2019).
The once-weekly El Tren Patagónico slowly winds along the vast open plains on an 19-hour journey from Viedma on the Atlantic coast stopping by in San Antonio Oeste and several remote outposts along the route. The train offers Pullman seats and sleepers and it's also possible to bring along vehicles. Departures are Fridays at 18:00 from Viedma, arriving just after 12:00 the next day.
- 2 San Carlos de Bariloche railway station (Estación San Carlos de Bariloche) (2 km west of city centre).
To go by car to Bariloche from Buenos Aires takes about 22 hours. One of the best alternatives is to go to Neuquen on the first day (a distance of about 1200 km) and then to continue the second day driving about 450 km.
There is more than one route to get to Bariloche by car from Buenos Aires:
- Short route: Take “Ruta Nacional Nº 5”, then take “Ruta Provincial Nº 1” nearby Lonquimay. Then, take “Ruta Provincial Nº 18” nearby “Macachin”. Take “Ruta Nacional Nº 35” south for 22 km, and then turn right and follow “Ruta Nacional Nº 152” through General Acha and until the “Casa de Piedra” where the route name changes to “ruta provincial Nº 6”. You must follow this until the intersection with “Ruta Nacional Nº 22”, where you must turn right again through Cipolletti – Neuquen. These big cities are connected by a bridge with an AR$0.65 toll. Follow through the "million" traffic lights until you exit the city. Approximately 32 km later, stop in Arroyito and sleep deeply. Continue driving south using “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”, which will lead you to Bariloche.
- Long route: take “Ruta Nacional Nº 3” south. Rest in Azul for 15 minutes, follow south until Bahia Blanca, rest for some time. Follow south; take “Ruta Nacional Nº 22”, set the air conditioner on and turn on your CD player; don’t travel too slowly, or you might fall asleep! Rest in Choele Choel. Drive through lots of tiny cities and through Cipolletti – Neuquen, big cities which are connected by a bridge with an AR$0.65 toll. Follow through the million traffic lights until you exit the city. Approximately 32 km later, stop in Arroyito and sleep deeply. Continue driving South using “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”, which will lead you to Bariloche.
If you decide to travel by bus you can choose between different companies, such as "Via Bariloche", "El Crucero del Norte", "Andesmar", etc. The first 2 companies offer different services, where the main variable is comfort and price. You can take "supercama", which has wide and large seats. "Cama" has wide seats. "Semi-cama" has the normal distribution of 4 seats per row. From Buenos Aires, "supercama" and "cama" take as long as 19 hours (summer); "semi-cama" makes several stops and takes as long as 22 hours for AR$1,100 (summer). There are also direct buses to and from Chile (6 to 8 hours ride), going to Osorno or Puerto Montt.
Different routes to get to Bariloche by bus from Buenos Aires are:
- Non-stop: “Ruta Nacional Nº 5” – “Ruta Provincial Nº 1” (la Pampa) – “Ruta Provincial Nº 18” (la Pampa) – “Ruta Nacional Nº 35” – “Ruta Nacional Nº 152” – “Ruta Provincial Nº 6” (Río Negro) - “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – Neuquen – “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” - “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”
- Stopping: “Ruta Nacional Nº 3” - “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – Neuquen - “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” - “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”
You can arrive or depart Bariloche by taking a series of ferries that wind through several lakes and connect by short bus rides from the Pacific at Puerto Montt, Chile. It's a one day trip unless you opt to stay overnight at Hotel Peulla near the pass.
It is actually possible to hike from Cochamó, Chile, which is close to Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, to Bariloche, passing by the famous and picturesque 1 La Junta. There is a small police checkpoint at 1 Paso El León where you will receive a small note with which you have to head to the police station once you arrive in the next big city to complete your registration and entrance into the country.
Excellent public bus service, served by just one company (since 2017): My Bus. The only exception is if you want to visit Dinahuapi, then you should catch a bus of "Las grutas". If you are planning on using the buses more than a few times, buy a magnetic card—otherwise tickets will suffice. The magnetic card is the same "Sube" system used in Buenos Aires so your can reuse the card if you already have one. As in Buenos Aires, the same card can be shared by more than one person. Alternatively, you can buy the one for the My Bus company on arrival in the bus terminal for AR$11 plus a minimum first credit of AR$29 (subsequent top-ups have a minimum of AR$10) to get into town (AR$35). If you don't have the card, you can ask a passenger to exchange a trip in return for money. Further top-ups are possible in kiosks; the tourism office in the Centro Cívico has a full list, and complete information on bus lines. The trip from downtown Bariloche to Llao Llao is AR$35 (Nov 2019).
Confusingly, there is also another IC card in use in Bariloche, e.g. to go by bus to Dina Huapi northeast of Bariloche. This one is called Solución. However, you might find someone helpful on these buses to share his card with you if you give the related money in exchange.
- 2 Museo de la Patagonia (Museum of Patagonia), Centro Cívico s/n (At main plaza, near the Tourist Info center), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-17:00. "Stuffed" native wildlife, pictures, and a great section covering the indigenous pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the region. Entrance on voluntary donation.
- 3 Huemul Project Site (on Huemul Island, just outside San Carlos de Bariloche). In the early 1950s, an Austrian scientist named Ronald Richter attempted to build the world's first fusion power plant on an island in a lake in the Andes, the undertaking being known as the Huemul Project. A couple of years and an equivalent of several hundred million US dollars later it came into light that Richter never had got any proof of his design actually functioning in the first place. As the patron of the project, President Juan Perón, was ousted in 1955, Richter was arrested for fraud. Today the ruins of the project can be visited on the island, and the city itself remains a center of Argentinian nuclear research.
There are many trekking trails close to Bariloche. You can get more information on Trek Bariloche which provides a comprehensive guide to the trekking routes in the National Park.
- 1 Cerro Campanario. Beautiful view of the lakes and mountains around - hike it (30 min, departs near the bottom of the lift) or take the ski-lift (AR$40). Get in with bus #20, 21, 10 from the center and get off at km 17.8. After the Campanario you can go on with the Circuito Chico during the same day.
- 2 Los Arrayanes National Park. A forest of rare, orange-colored trees that only grow on a local island (and one in Japan) near Villa la Angostura. There are several cruise boats; the newest (luxurious) ship is called the "Cau Cau". Take the circuit bus out of Bariloche and catch a boat (near the Hotel Llao Llao) and have lunch, hike or bike, and enjoy the afternoon in the forest.
- 3 Camino de los Siete Lagos (Road of the Seven Lakes). All-day tour by bus to see the seven picturesque lakes between Bariloche and San Martín de Los Andes, with lunch at SMdLA, followed by a return trip through the arid Pampas where you can see much of the local fauna along the way.
- 4 Sendero de los Arrayanes. Nice 3 km hike starting close to the Lao Lao golf course. Beautiful views to Lago Moreno.
- 5 Cerro Catedral. It has the biggest ski centre in South America, with a skiable area of 2 km² (0.77 sq mi), over 100 km (62 miles) of ski runs, and a lift capacity of 22,200 skiers per hour. It is located 19 km (12 miles) from Bariloche. If you enjoy hiking, there is trail to the Frey refugio which takes about 6½ hours (4 up, 2½ down). Look for the trailhead in the far corner of the parking lot.
- 6 Circuito Chico. This beautiful 25-km route can be biked or hiked. You can also do it by bus during summer (line 10). If you hike it, take bus 20 towards Llao Llao till "El Muelle". See map above for track.
- 7 Cerro Otto. Viewpoint over the area of Bariloche. Transport there includes in the price of the cable car which cost AR$70 both ways (bus+cable car) or less one way while the other way you can hike or take a mountain bike(9 km from the city, about 2½ hours when hiking down). The rotating restaurant at the top has some impressive vistas of the region (average meal costs about AR$25) and there are some nice hiking trails behind the restaurant.
- 8 Cerro Frey trek. Considered by many as the best 1-3 days trekking in Bariloche. When it's cold enough you can skate in the lake near the refuge. When there's not too much snow you can climb the granite "agujas" (needles) near the refuge which have ways for all levels, or head to Lago Jakob. There are two ways to get in and out: the main one is from Villa Cathedral (bus #52, every hour), another (a bit longer) one starts from Los Cohiues and goes along the Gutierrez lake (bus #50).
- 9 Cerro López (Take the #10 bus to get there and back). In late spring/summer/early autumn there's a trekking trail to the mountain shelter (not as easy as Otto's). It takes about 3 hours to get there and can be quite tiring, but the views from the shelter are impressive. Be sure to bring along water and some fruit to keep your energy. Colonia Suiza, a Swiss-like borough, is nearby.
- 10 Cerro Tronador. Visit the black glacier (ventisquero negro), see the Cerro Tronador and a waterfall over an overhanging cliff named Saltillo de las Nalcas, near the village of Pampa Linda. The busride takes about two hours, and costs AR$90 return or AR$45 one-way (Transitando, 20 de Febrero 300, Bariloche). There is an additional entrance fee to the national park of AR$50 (foreigners). With this bus, you have to hike the last 7 km to the glacier, which is a beautiful experience as there is a hiking trail and the road shows amazing landscape. Some tourist buses take you right to the sights. Near the lookout there is confiteria which sells overpriced food although location is remote and the place astonishing.
- 11 Isla Victoria.
- Club Andino, San Martín y Independencia (one block south of the Tourism Office in the Centro Cívico), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. The Club Andino is where you can get information on treks and activities around Bariloche and in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. They provide maps and descriptions of the trails.
If you're interested in going to the lakes and islands:
- Turisur. Mitre 219 - Bariloche, - Boat excursions from Bariloche (Puerto Panuelo) to Bosque Arrayanes (about AR$160) & Puerto Blest, they also do the trip across to Chile (Cruce de Lagos) (about US$230).
- Cruce de Lagos. All-day cruise of Lake Nahuel Huapi and the National Park. Numerous stops allow you to wander in Andean rain forest, eat at the Hotel Puerto Blest and enjoy the stunning scenery from the turquoise waters of the lake. Buy the pass for a one hour cruise on Lago Frias which brings you near the snow covered volcano, Tronador. Lago Frias is milky jade green in color and the ride includes a short stop at the Chilean frontier. US$230 per person - also known as Cruce Andino.
Other activities include:
- Paragliding, Av. de los Pioneros 5000, ☏ . Tandem flights by Cerro Otto or Cerro Cathedral.
- Rafting - Several agents offers rafting on the grade I Rio Limay or the grade III/IV Rio Manso. There are several outfitters that organize full day tours with lunch included.
- Kayak, Pura Vida - Half-day tours in the Gutierrez Lake.
- Horseriding - Horseriding tours to the Nahuel Huapi National Park from Bariloche in English and Spanish are provided by Carol Jones. Also try Tom Wesley Cabalgatas, their 3-hour lake ride is amazing.
- Historical Steam Train. A full-day journey into the steppe, riding a 1912 railway, which has been rebuilt keeping its original features.
- Pampa Linda & Mount Tronador. Up to 4 days of hiking with nice tails, and a hostel, to and from Bariloche. Consult with the local national park office.
- Brittania School of English and Spanish. Housed in a Swiss/Bavarian style store front, the school is part of Argentina's COINED Spanish school system.
- La Montaña Spanish School. Spanish courses and more in Bariloche.
- Chocolate, the city hosts an amazing number of shops where they produce and sell all sorts of varieties of chocolate. Local fruits and licor make some of the fillings. The most renowned ones are Mamuschka, , Benroth, Fenoglio, Rapa Nui, Del Turista, Bonifacio & Tante Frida.
Bariloche offers an excellent array of restaurants, with cuisines from all around the world, serving quality food.
- El Boliche de Alberto. Has, according to some, the best meat in Argentina. There are two restaurants in town, and one located about 8 km out of town. Ask a taxi driver to take you there. Be aware that if you arrive after 20:00, you may have to wait in line for 30 min or more, especially if you are a party of 6 or more. El boliche de Alberto has a meat version of the restaurant which specialises in meats such as beef, chicken or pork etc. and there is a pasta version which serves a variety of different pastas.
- Parrilla El Refugio del montañes...de Julian (La Parrilla de Julian), San Martín 590. Also called "El Refugio Del Montañes", this family-owned restaurant has a homey atmosphere (especially compared to the tourist-trap feel of El Boliche de Alberto) that adds to the experience. The meat is very good, you don't have to wait 2 hr to enjoy it, and the location is conveniently on one of the main avenues in Bariloche. However serving sizes are quite small and pricey (AR$200 for a modest 2-person dinner with desert and no wine)
- Taberna Breogan Celta (also on San Martín, one of the main avenues). This local restaurant features the local smoked wild game. Especially recommended is the meat-n-cheese plate featuring venison, wild boar, salmon, and two kinds of cheese.
- Casita Suiza. One of the best regional restaurants in Bariloche. You also can ask Swiss specialties like fondues, raclettes and pierrades.
- Cassis Restaurant (Peñón de Arelauquen, Ruta 82, Lago Gutiérrez), ☏ .
- Friends, Bartolome Mitre. Special, great salads and sandwiches—especially good pasta.
- Morfy's (behind the Museum of Patagonia). Small sandwich shop that serves delicious food in massive portions. Offers many types of sandwiches and just about any type of topping for them that you can think of for low prices. The owner is very friendly and speaks Spanish, Hebrew, and a little English.
- Antares Brewery, Ada M. Elflein 47. Nice variety of food and great beer. The barley wine is especially potent. Two-for-one pints during happy hour, every day 18:00-20:00.
- Wilkenny, San Martín 435. Irish-themed bar popular with tourists. There are better choices.
- South Bar, Juramento. Popular local bar.
Teens from all over Argentina arrive on a school trip to Bariloche to celebrate their last year of high school with their classmates. That is why Bariloche features a lot of sophisticated dance clubs.
- Bypass. Offers a very elegant environment with lots of laser effects and nice music.
- Cerebro. One of the oldest dance clubs in Bariloche. It is quite nice and it offers laser effects but not as colorful as other dance clubs.
- Grisu. This is a must-visit place. It has wood-like walls and it is designed in such a way that it is easy to get lost if you don't know your way around. It has a very quite place with a huge window showing the Nahuel Huapi lake. There are no laser effects but the bartenders are experts and it is worth watching them doing all sorts of tricks.
- Rocket. Four floors dance club full of light, colors and sounds. Good laser show and nice atmosphere.
- Genux. Futurist-looking disco. Open since 1993.
Prices vary with the season, being the highest during ski season (July-August) and very high during summer (December-February). The accommodation is varied, from renting bungalows and cottages to five-star hotels with the best views.
Bariloches budget accommodation quickly gets fully booked, so make your reservations in advance, particularly during high season.
- La Justina, Quaglia 726, ☏ . Just a Few blocks from the City Center. Big, spacious rooms, cozy common spaces for relaxing,watching TV or DVDs, listening to music or playing games. Free internet and breakfast, a well stocked kitchen, and very friendly owners. They can help you with any tourist info you need, and rent bikes. Minihostels.com members get 10% off.
- Camping Hostel Los Coihues, Lihuel Calel 156, Villa Los Coihues, ☏ , . Well-priced for the experience. Located in a quiet area, you can easily travel in and out of town on Bus 50 while enjoying the true natural beauty of Patagonia. The campsite is located on a huge, lush yard complete with trees, large outside grills, a crystal clear Patagonian river available for kayaking, 24/7 hot water, Wi-Fi, clean bathrooms with showers, and kitchen use. The owning family, who also live on the property, address any touristic questions or concerns. Kayaks are also available for guests to use on the river passing through the yard or on the nearby Lake Guiterrez. Hostel AR$50, camping AR$30.
- Costa Azul Apart, Av. Bustillo 4200, ☏ . Costa Azul Apart offers 21 cozy apartments that feature standard amenities like cable TV and a private toilet and bath. Some of its amenities include Wi-Fi access, car rental and tour assistance, and room service. Best rates on official website start at AR$180.
- Periko's, Morales 555, ☏ . Named after the owner's dog.
- Hospedaje Penthouse 1004, San Martín 127, Edificio Bariloche Centre 10th floor, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Offers an amazing panoramic view. Excellent public areas, especially the kitchen. Free breakfast, Wi-Fi internet and has a computer for use but it is very busy and hard to get access to. Won't make reservations if you arrive after 14:00. Bed in 4- or 6-person dorm: AR$260 or AR$220, double with private bath AR$700.
- Hostel Refugio Patagonia, Mitre 1338, ☏ . You can feel at home with Tato and Sandra, who are building a big "quincho"/barbecue saloon.
- Marcopoloinn Hostel, Salta 422, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Modern, clean hostel. Free breakfast and dinner, fast internet, Wi-Fi. Lots of party folk. Good value. Dorms from AR$75 (HI members), AR$70 (nonmembers).
- Tango Inn Downtown Hostel, Salta 514, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern, clean hostel. Free breakfast, fast internet, Wi-Fi. Very good free breakfast buffet for guests. Very quiet. Dorms from AR$40 (YHA members), AR$47 (nonmembers).
- Ruca Hueney Youth Hostel, Ada María Elflein 396, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Free breakfast, internet. 6- and 8-bed dorms, one double room and two quad rooms. Dorms from AR$30.
- Hostel Achalay, Morales 564, ☏ .
- Hosteria Bello Horizonte, Salta 394, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kospi Boutique Guesthouse, Mitre 1361 (one block and a half east from Diagonal Capraro on Mitre), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Despite having all the charm, cosiness, cleanliness of the "Boutique Guesthouse" in its name, and with a homey feeling to top, the price could definitely put it in the Budget section if you are not looking for a dorm. The hosts Juan and Lucia are warm, friendly, welcoming and helpful. Good kitchen, Wi-Fi, free (homemade!) breakfast. The rooms are cozy, however you will not get views of the lake (except in the upstairs communal area) and the bathrooms are definitely small. Nevertheless, the place is perfect to have a relaxed stay away from the party crowds. Double with private bathroom AR$320.
- Hostel Hormiga Negra, 12 de Octubre 971.
- Edelweiss Hotel, Av. San Martín 536, ☏ .
- Nido del Condor, Av. Bustillo Km. 6.9, ☏ .
- La Farola - Lago Gutierrez, ☏ .
- Hotel Tirol Bariloche, Libertad 175, ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. The 3-star Hotel Tirol Bariloche is in the city´s heart, 100 meters from the main street and has spectacular views over Lake Nahuel Huapi. It has private parking inside the hotel and free Wi-Fi throughout the building.
- Grand Hotel Bariloche, Mitre 408 (On the main street, half way down the commercial route of Mitre avenue, 100m. from the Nahuel Huapi lake.), ☏ . Grand Hotel Bariloche is a 9-story hotel (3,000 m².) They offer 75 rooms organized in singles, doubles, triples and apartments. Room rates start at USD37.
- Rochester Hotel Bariloche, Av. Bustillo 6700 (Next to Nahuel Huapi Lake), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel offers Super King beds, dry heat and steam saunas, Finnish bath, Scottish shower, fitness center, and a heated interconnecting indoor and outdoor pool.
- 1 Galileo Boutique Hotel, Av. Antartida Argentina, s/n, Base Cerro Catedral, ☏ . Galileo Boutique Hotel is located along the base of Cerro Catedral in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. Major landmarks, such as the Nahuel Huapi Lake and the city’s Civic Center, are within proximate distance from the hotel. Feel as if you’re in the Swiss Alps when relaxing in Galileo Boutique Hotel’s luxurious Rooms, Suites, and Apartments, each adorned with quaint cypress wood frames and geometric roofs. They have great early bird discounts. In winter is right next to the slopes and in summer you can trek to Refugio Frey from the hotel´s parking lot. from USD130.
- 2 Hotel Llao Llao. Beautiful alpine style hotel, built in 1939 (and renovated sincr), adds to the dramatic backdrop of the mountains. A classic resort: there's a golf course, boating, and much for the wealthy to see and do. Nightly rates were around USD300 in Dec 2004, so the AR$8 coffee might be the way to go in order to enjoy the view, the ambiance, etc, without paying an arm/leg to stay there overnight. Excellent service, slightly OTT decor. About 25 km from the city centre and about 35 km from Cerro Catedral.
- Design Suites Hotel, Av. Exequiel Bustillo 2500 Km2.5, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Modern hotel (not all suites as the name might imply), with all the benefits (spacious rooms, free Wi-Fi, stunning panorama views, clever design touches) and drawbacks you expect from a boutique hotel. The suites themselves are not traditional suites, rather larger rooms with a couch and a balcony. 3 km from the city center. From US$180.
Because of the high tourist presence, petty crime is a reality but there tend to be a large number of police in force and the smaller and relatively affluent nature of the city makes crime less likely than in Buenos Aires. Still, exercise caution and keep valuables within sight. Never hike alone on the trails which touch the city, particularly up to Piedras Blancas. There have been many reported robberies of tourists on these paths.
If you decide to change money with the street changers, be very careful of fake notes, check every bill and count them properly.
- El Bolsón – A small hippie town (founded in the 1970s) in a mountainous valley about 120 km (75 mi) south of Bariloche. There's a twice weekly outdoor flea market (get there in the morning, it closes down around 15:00). Transportation on the El Valle bus line is AR$24 one way from Bariloche and is worth it for the scenery alone.
- Villa la Angostura – A small town about an hours drive from Bariloche, very picturesque, you can also hike a 12-km trail to the famous Bosque Arrayanes. Buses regularly go there from the bus terminal (1½ hrs, AR$52), and the journey along the lake is fantastic.
- Chile – It is actually possible to hike to Chile, namely Cochamó, which is close to Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, passing by the famous and picturesque La Junta. There is a small police checkpoint at Paso El León where you will receive a small note with which you have to head to the police station once you arrive in the next big city to complete your registration and entrance into the country.