Bariloche is a small city in Argentina’s Patagonia region, twenty-two hours South West of Buenos Aires.
The perfect escape from the bustling capital, Bariloche offers the freshest of alpine air which carries with it the faint scent of chocolate as an added delight. Follow your nose and you’ll soon find the centre of town where the streets are lined with chocolate shops and chocolate cafés, each a wonderland in its own right. Like an Aladdin’s cave of edible treasures, there’s an overwhelming choice of chocolate truffles, chocolates fountains, chocolate flakes and chocolate cakes. Some lie hidden within shiny packaging whilst others are left bare to entice your tastebuds. The best part is that there are so many of these shops competing for your custom that they all serve free samples to capture your interests.
But you don’t need to be a complete chocoholic to appreciate the true beauty of Bariloche. Situated at the footfall of the Andes and on the shore of the Nahuel Huapi lake, Bariloche’s scenic views are simply breathtaking. Like an enormous mirror, the still, serene lake water reflects the world so perfectly that it’s entirely indistinguishable from the scene itself. The quaint wooden huts and log cabins which decorate the hilltops look as though they’ve been plucked straight from Switzerland, particularly against the skyline of snow-capped mountains.
In the winter months, Bariloche transforms, serving as a popular gateway to the Cerro Catedral ski resort.
In the winter Bariloche is a great place to hit the slopes
Places to Stay:
Salta Road is no more than a couple of minutes walk away from from the main street, San Martin, and is home to a number of good, affordable hostels for backpackers. Alternatively, Tronador offers quiet and relaxed accommodation by the beach which is far enough away from town to avoid the hustle and bustle but still easily accessible by bus.
Things to Do:
- Hire a mountain bike and cycle the Circuito Chico for some fresh air, exercise and incredible views around the lakes. The entire circuit takes around four hours to complete and there are plenty of good places to stop along the way including waterfalls, beaches and the famous Hotel Llao Llao.
- For the very best views of Bariloche catch the bus to Campanario and take the cable car to the top of the mountain. It’s beautiful at any time of day but sunset is particularly spectacular.
- Steak restaurant chain, El Boliche, is so popular that they’ve had to open several in Bariloche, all within close proximity of one another. The meat can be quite pricey but the side dishes are so large that you can easily share one between a table of four to keep the overall costs down.
- Take a stroll down Mitre Street and visit as many chocolate shops as your sweet tooth desires. Then take a well deserved break at a chocolate cafe where you can try authentic hot chocolate or a chocolate fondue!
Treat yourself, the chocolate here is amazing!
- Get a closer look at the lakes by getting involved in some water sports. You can try anything from kayaking to white water rafting, depending on your budget.
- Pick up souvenirs from the local crafts market near the Main Square. There are hundreds of bargains to be had on knitted clothing, wooden ornaments and much more.
- By Bus: Plenty of companies run sleeper coaches from surrounding cities to Bariloche bus station. Shop around for the best deals as fares vary quite considerably.
- By Train: The Train Patagonico runs from Viedma to Bariloche train station which is next to the bus station.
- By Plane: San Carlos de Bariloche airport caters for both domestic and international flights. Particularly during high season, there are several flights a day coming into this airport from various cities around South America.
Where to go Next?
- El Calafate: Further South in Patagonia, this city is used as a base to see the Perito Moreno ice glacier.
- Torres del Paine: Over the border in Chilean Patagonia, Puerto Natales is a National Park with astonishingly beautiful mountains, lakes and glaciers.
- Mendoza: North of Bariloche, Argentina’s wine region is known for its endless vineyards and world-famous wine.
- Buenos Aires: The Argentinian capital, can be reached in two hours by plane or twenty-two hours by bus and offers great shopping, crazy nightlife and an array of cultural hotspots.
Written by: Chiara Pelizzari is an English Graduate turned Advertising Executive who has taken a year out to travel the world. Check out her travel blog for more great info and inspiration for you South America adventure.