The gorgeous Lake Nahuel Huapi, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and alpine forest.

Bariloche Guide

Tailor-made Itineraries by Local Experts
The gorgeous Lake Nahuel Huapi, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and alpine forest.

Bariloche Guide

Tailor-made Itineraries by Local Experts

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Overview

With some of the most visually-stunning Patagonian landscapes as its backdrop, the town of San Carlos de Bariloche is the ideal location to enjoy the natural wonders of Argentina. This rugged but beautiful town in Patagonia is the perfect base to visit all of the region's top destinations.

The Andes Mountains overlooking Bariloche, an Argentinian town known for its Swiss alpine style

Bariloche sits at the foothills of the Andes that lie to the west of the town. With the plains of the Patagonian Steppe to the east and vast Nahuel Huapi Lake right in the center, Bariloche is an adventurer’s dream vacation spot. The natural landscape is perfect for trekking, skiing, various water sports and climbing, among other thrilling activities.

As part of the province of Rio Negro, this city for the adventure seeker and nature aficionados. Here you’ll get the chance to come up close and personal with distinct wildlife that Patagonia is known for, such as parakeets and condors. Travelers can escape to gorgeous Bariloche for a change of scenery will be happy to know that this tourist hub serves visitors with quaint shopping boutiques, famous chocolate shops (this city is known for them) and first-class restaurants dishing up the best in Argentinian food, as well as international cuisine.

Whatever your Patagonia vacation style may be, a stay in this modern and developing city nestled within the Argentine wilderness is the perfect way to enjoy the rugged but beautiful landscape. Here you’ll experience it all while retaining the comforts and conveniences of contemporary life.

Best Time to Visit and Climate

It can get very chilly in this Patagonia city. Since it’s right next to the cold Lake Nahuel Huapi, the temperature often actually feels colder than predicted. With a continental cold climate dominating the area, packing warmly is a must as even during the summer season.

Summer normally features warm and sunny days, but can be generally nippy and sometimes rainy at night. Autumn days are comparable to the crisp, foliage-rich fall months of New York, but unlike the capital city, Bariloche sees a lot of rain during this season. Frosty days and dream-like snowfalls characterize the winter season in this Argentine city known for its wonderful variety of winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and trekking.

The fall season, spring in this charming city is a mix of sunshine and rain, as the weather is transitioning to another extreme season. Finally, summer in Bariloche is warm with lots of sunshine. During this season, the beaches at this Patagonia tourist hub start filling with sunbathers and fishermen.

bariloche weather guide

Bariloche Winter

Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are flipped around from the north. Therefore, a winter in Bariloche occurs from June through to August. Temperatures range from 14ºF (-10ºC ) to 46ºF(7.7ºC).

Bariloche Summer

Bariloche summers are very pleasant but can also get very chilly past night fall with average temperatures falling between 48ºF (8.8 ºC) to 84ºF (28 ºC).

Bariloche Spring/Fall:

Fall in this city surrounded by natural wonders is cool but comfortable with temperatures ranging from 39ºF (3.8ºC) to 55ºF (12.7ºC), while the spring season is just as nice, though slightly warmer with temperatures starting at 45ºF (7.2 ºC) and peaking around 68ºF.

Bariloche rainfall:

The rainy season is mainly concentrated during the autumn and winter months, with the Patagonian city seeing an average rainfall of about 500 mm. Depending on what season you arrive, it is always recommended that travelers packs warm clothes, with summer nights still reaching brisk temperatures that make it feel more like a fall evening. Warm jackets or coats, scarves and gloves should be wardrobe staples for a trip to this region of Argentina. However, if visitors are going to brave the much cooler but snow-covered winter months, polar windbreakers and thermally insulated coats, shirts and trousers should be worn, especially if participating in winter sports.

Winter days are still very sunny; it is also recommended that travelers bring UV-protected sunglasses and sunblock to protect themselves. Bathing suits, t-shirts and shorts are perfect for warm summer days, while the transitioning fall and spring seasons see bouts of rain that would be more enjoyable if wearing rain slickers.

Something distinct about Bariloche is that due to the city’s low latitude daylight hours during the summertime begin around 6 a.m. and can extend until almost 10 p.m. This allows residents and tourists plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities. During the winter months, daylight hours return to the more common range: from 9 a.m until 7 p.m.

Geography & Map

San Carlos de Bariloche, usually known as Bariloche, is a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. It is located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park.


Elevation
893 m (2930ft)


City Population
122,700

map of buenos aires

Transportation

Getting to Bariloche

If you’re flying, you’ll likely land at the town’s airport, Teniente Luis Candelaria International Airport, is the fourth largest in Argentina in terms of traffic. Named after the first person to fly over the Andes Mountain range in 1918, the airport is about 8 miles (13 km) from downtown Bariloche and a taxi to and from costs around $10.

Bariloche’s Bus Station (Terminal de Omnibus) features more than a dozen bus companies that travel not only throughout Argentina but to Chile as well. The station is situated at Avenida 12 de Octubre 2400. When deciding which bus to take, remember that “coche-cama” and “supercama” rides provide chairs that fold out wide to become beds. This is an important thing to keep in mind if taking a long ride.

Getting Around Bariloche

By Foot

Bariloche is small and can easily be navigated on foot. The town serves as a base for exploring the region and most travelers only need a few hours of touring the city to get to know it. Shopping and tourist areas are concentrated on San Martín/Moreno and Mitre street, near the town’s Civic Center where Bariloche’s municipal buildings and tourist centers are mostly focused.

Car

If staying near the city center, a car isn’t absolutely necessary. However, if your accommodations sit on the outskirts of town, renting an car to make your exploration of the Bariloche region more convenient is recommended. There are many rental agencies available in the area. This method of travel is perfect if you are adventurous and savvy enough to take on unknown roads in a rugged area. For those who are not, Latin America for Less will make sure transport is provided for every sight-seeing tour and destination visited during your Bariloche vacation.

Bus

The public bus system is cheap and very efficient, taking you not only around town but to the region's top destinations such as Cerro Catedral and the Circuito Chico route. Rides costs around $1.


History

Bariloche’s name comes from the indigenous Argentine word “Vuriloche” which means people from behind the mountain. The city was used as a passageway across the Andes by the ancient indigenous civilizations - such as the Tehuelches, Puelches, and later the more powerful Chilean tribe the Araucan – who were able to keep it secret from Europeans for a long period of time.

The Spanish finally did arrive in Bariloche in the 1650s when Spanish Captain Juan Fernández arrived on the Lake Nahuel Huapi while on his search for Indian slaves and the fantastical treasure located at the City of Caesars. During this time, Spanish Jesuits started a mission on the island to evangelize the peoples living there and established one at Chiloé Island in 1672 which ran until 1717.

Scenic lake surrounded by the forests and mountains in the countryside near the town of Bariloche

The late 1800s saw the arrival of more conquistadors, with Argentine authorities sending expeditions to this remote area of the world. Finally, in 1892, Bariloche saw the arrival of the first white settlers, primarily American and German settlers.

One of these settlers was German trader Carlos Wietherholdt who constructed a home and shop exactly where the city of Bariloche would later be formed. This marked the beginning of commercial activity in the area. He exported leather, wool, cheese, butter, potatoes and other goods with Puerto Montt in Chile. Settlers started arriving in large groups, setting up sawmill, blacksmith shops and milk farms, thus continuing the development of the small community.

The “alpine town” look that characterizes this charming city started with the construction of the city center in the 1930s. This “Little Switzerland” notion transformed the city-center into buildings made of wood and stone. By 1909 nearly 1,250 residents lived in the city. It quickly developed and constructed a post office, telegraph and interconnecting road to the city of Neuquén. Commerce in the city still depended on Chile, until a railroad system was constructed in 1934. This was the result of a visit by president Theodore Roosevelt in 1913.

The city made international press headlines in 1995 when it was found that former Nazi war criminals such as high-ranking official SS 'Hauptsturmführer' Erich Priebke had been hiding away there for decades. Despite this notoriety, the Patagonian town has seen a vast number of tourists who are looking for a winter getaway in breathtaking Bariloche.


Attractions and Activities

The town of Bariloche is a tourist hub. Here you’ll find the most modern conveniences such as first-rate hotels and restaurants, as well as points of historical and cultural interest localized within walking distance of each other. The Civic Center, which was architecturally inspired by the structural design of the Swiss city of Bern, is home to many municipal and tourism offices which include the national park headquarters, police station, town hall and information center, to name but a few.

Aerial view of Bariloche city and the lake.

Located near the Tourist Information Center, lies the Museum of Patagonia: a fantastic place to learn about the indigenous inhabitants of Bariloche and the surrounding area. Inaugurated in 1940, the museum is divided into four sections – natural science, pre-historic, ethnographic and regional history – that outline the historical and cultural eras the Patagonia region experienced. Its excellent section of the pre-Hispanic civilizations features in great detail the history of the first peoples of the Patagonia, making this Bariloche attraction a highly recommended spot.

Old style building Museum of Patagonia in Argentina

Just a few blocks from the Civic Center is the beautiful Nuestra Señora del Nahuel Huapi (Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi) Cathedral. Built in 1946 and belonging to the National Parks Administration, the Cathedral sits right adjacent the majestic Nahuel Huapi Lake and hosts a festive annual Christmas concert, performed by the Bariloche Children and Young People's Choir. It has now been declared a National Historic Monument.

The Nuestra Señora del Nahuel Huapi Cathedral, with a lake and mountains as a backdrop

For those interested in viewing fossilized creatures that once roamed the Bariloche area, the Palaeontology Museum situated right on the coast of beautiful Nahuel Huapi Lake houses a wonderful collection of deposits from millions of years ago. On view is a reconstructed shark jaw that is more than 22 million years old, along with amphibian and insect-life that inhabited the area.

Large Museum of Paleontonolgy resting in the town of Bariloche, Argentina

Attractions around Bariloche

Said to have inspired Walt Disney in creating the scenery for the classic cartoon “Bambi”, the magical Arrayane Forest (Bosque de Arrayanes) lies within the beautiful Nahuel Huapi National Park and is a must see when visiting the Bariloche area. The orange-colored Arrayane (Myrtle) trees are unique to this region of the world which bloom white flowers and purple fruits if seen during the correct season. These trees, that seem to twist in all directions, lead visitors to a cabin built in 1933 that welcomes travelers with a delicious piece of cake and cup of hot chocolate to warm them up during their respite from walking the beautiful trails of the forest. Situated about two hours by boat on Victoria Island – where travelers can also visit and view interesting plant-life such as eucalyptus and giant sequoias, as well wild boars and deer - the forest is recommended to be viewed during the spring season which occurs from November to April. Be sure to book our Bariloche tour package which includes a 2-hour tour that visits these Patagonian natural wonders.

Cable car overlooking the city of Bariloche, Argentina

For what is arguably the best lookout point in the Bariloche area, travelers should make the trip to Campanario Hill that is located 11 miles outside the city center of Bariloche. To get to the point, visitors need to take a 7-minute cable car ride that boasts breathtaking panoramic views on the way up.

Campanario Hill is on the popular 37-mile (65 KM) drive known as Circuito Chico, a water line route where travelers can enjoy amazing views of the merging of Nahuel Huapi and Perito Moreno lakes, as well as the Snow-capped peaks Cerro Catedral. Argentina For Less can arrange for a bus tour that begins about 11 miles from Bariloche on Avenida Bustillo and travels this scenic route. However for those who wish for a more intimate experience, bike tours are also available on the drive that stops along famous Argentina luxury hotel Llao Llao, as well as many parrilla (grill) and fondue restaurants.

One of the largest ski centers in Latin America is situated in the Bariloche area. Cerro Catedral is easily accessible from Bariloche city center – a mere 12 miles (19 km) – and has a ski area of around 2 km² (0.77 sq mi), with over 62 miles (100 km) of ski runs, ideal for any ski-lover. The lift is able to transport 22,2000 skiers per hour, however if you’re not a fan of the slopes, the excellent view of Nahuel Huapi Lake is still worth the trip to the top.

A snowy mountain landscape with blue skies at the Cerro Catedral in Argentina


Shopping

Visitors to this Andean town who also happen to be chocolate fans are in luck: Bariloche is the chocolate capital of all Latin America as it houses some of the finest chocolate shops in the entire region. The origins of this industry began after World War II as European expats who found shelter in Argentina began created some of their hometown recipes in their new home. Some local flavors include chocolate with lemon, berry chocolate and, of course, dulce de leche chocolate. A few recommended shops include Fenaglio which also serves a delicious chocolate ice cream; El Turista where guests can see chocolates being handmade; and Mamushka, which is considered the best chocolate shop in town.

Travelers to Bariloche should visit the outdoor Artisan Market situated behind the Centro Civico held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, from noon to 8PM. Another market to check is the indoor Handicraft Market situated between Quaglia and Villegas, which is open daily from 11AM to 8PM. For those interested in all-natural wood products, it is recommended that they check out the small Artisan Shop on Morena which is actually run by a local Mapuche indigenous group. For local handicrafts predominantly made of wood and wool, stroll the Outdoor Artisan Market behind the Centro Civico, held each afternoon except Tuesdays and Wednesday, from noon to 8pm (depending on the time of the year).

The ideal place to shop for souvenirs and famous Argentine products such as leather goods and mate (an herbal tea) is on Mitre Street. And if you’re looking for some of the Patagonia’s delicious smoked meats and cheese or specialties such as trout pate, try the shop Familia Weiss.
Familia Weiss, Corner of Palacios and V.A. O'Connor, $5-$12, Tel: +54 (2944) 435-789 Mamushka, Mitre 298, Tel: +54 (2944) 423-294


Nightlife

Bariloche’s nightlife came to being when the town started to become a hot destination for Argentina’s high school students who made the journey to celebrate their final year of secondary school with a skiing vacation in this beautiful region of their home country. Since then, many night clubs have popped up around town, each catering to a particular style of music and crowd.

A few places to check out include the posh Bypass situated on Rolando 157 in Bariloche which plays a variety of techno dance music in an elegant setting that features large roman-style pillars. One of the oldest night clubs in the town is Cerebro. Another large discotheque that caters to the young and hip, it features interesting laser effects and a large dance floor that remains jam-packed on weekends.

Roket and Genux are two other dance clubs that fall under the techno-heavy, laser show category when it comes to night clubs and also come recommended by party-goers. However, if travelers are looking for a more laidback place to have a drink, a visit to Grisu is advised. The wood-panel walls and large window that show a panoramic view of Nahuel Huapi Lake make for a great setting and the bartenders are excellently trained in preparing delicious cocktails.

Cerebro nightclub packed full of people dancing with coloured lights in the town of Bariloche, Argentina


Cultural Calendar

Two tango dancers dancing with spectators in the background

May - International Patagonia and Tango Festival

Argentina is the country that gave the world it’s most sensuous dance, the Tango. Every May in Bariloche, tango dancers, singers and musicians congregate in the city for the International Patagonia and Tango Festival to the delight of Tango lovers in the area. Along with Tango shows to view, the festival also includes local art shows and a display of regional cuisine. The festivities culminate on May 3, which is the anniversary of the foundation the Patagonia city.

June - August: National Snow Festival

Bariloche is well-known for its annual National Snow Festival that occurs every winter season between the June and August. The festivities are inaugurated with a ski spectacular, where fireworks light up the Cerro Cathedral hill side, while Argentina’s best skiers slide down the famed ski slope. Other festival activities include the choosing of the National Snow Queen who will represent the city of Bariloche both nationally and internationally; an axe man contest where spectators gather to watch participants cut through a 60cm diameter log with an axe that weighs less than 3 kg; and a cultural mini-festival that celebrates with food and music the European and Latin American communities that make up the Bariloche population.

October - Llao Llao Musical Week

Music aficionados will be pleased to know that during the spring month of October the city hosts Llao Llao Musical Week, a cultural event where excellent musicians gather to share their gifts with not just Bariloche residents but with Argentines and journalists who travel to the Patagonia to attend this one of a kind event that blends art and nature.

November - 1000 Miles Sports Car Event in Argentina

Created by the Club de Automóviles Sport (Sports Car Club), this international event congregates classic car fans and takes place around different Patagonian towns, but focuses around the city of Bariloche.


Sports

Bariloche is a nature-lover’s paradise with the majestic Nahuel Huapi Lake acting as its coastline and the ravenous snow-white Andes Mountains as its breathtaking backdrop. Its winter season provides the best range in winter sports to participate, while the warmer summer and spring periods provide an enticing place for sunbathing and hiking. With so many activities to choose from during any season, travelers will not be with anything to do in this Patagonia region.

Snowy mountain landscape at the Cerro Catedral with blue skies

Bariloche Skiing

The surround ski resorts of Bariloche provide ski aficionados with a first-rate slope adventure, and a stop at the town’s most famous mountain – Cerro Catedral – is a must if travelers make the journey to this southern Argentine town. This ski resort is one of the best worldwide, but even if visiting during the summer months, guests can enjoy a range of sports and recreational activities that the center holds.


Looking down into the Argentinian Andes from a high-lying pass

Bariloche Hiking and Horseback riding

With so many natural wonders abound – Lake Gutierrez, the Arrayane Forest, Victoria Island – the best and most intimate way to view them all is by taking a hike or delightful horse ride that can last for a few hours or even a few days. Argentina for Less will be more than happy to arrange a guided hiking or horse riding tour that meets our client’s ability level while still visiting the key points of interest in the Bariloche region.


A wide shot landscape of Bariloche forest and surrounding lakes.

Bariloche Rafting, Kayaking and Cruises

For those who wish for a wilder and wetter Bariloche vacation experience, rafting and kayaking services can be arranged during your visit. Depending on the client’s ability level, they can ride the tamer Rio Limay or take on the more intense Rio Manso. Kayaking is also available on Lake Nahuel Huapi. For those who prefer a more tranquil way of enjoying Bariloche’s various bodies of water, sailboats, motor boats or larger cruises can be rented to take on day tours or a fishing trip.

Other popular activities available in Bariloche include trekking, paragliding and fishing. Contact your Argentina For Less travel agent to help you arrange your activities during your Bariloche vacation.


Health and Safety

The beautiful town of Bariloche is a generally safe area, however, tourists should practice caution to avoid being targeted for pick pocketing or mugging that can occur with any outsiders in a new city. Extra caution is to be practiced in touristy areas such as the Civic Center, and especially after dark in isolated areas.

The extreme cold conditions in the Patagonia also make unknowing travelers susceptible to health issues should they not take guard. Bring warm clothing no matter the season you visit Bariloche; when the sun sets, temperatures drop, even during the summer, so protect yourself from hypothermia. Bathers should take note that the beautiful crystal clear Nahuel Huapi Lake has an average surface temperature of only 45 °F (7 °C), and should exercise caution if wishing to swim these waters.

Proper sunblock protection should also be practiced at all times, but especially if skiing or enjoying any activity where snow blankets the ground – sun that reflects off snow becomes more potent and can cause a sunburn more quickly.

Skiing is a popular activity in Bariloche what with one of the best ski centers in all South America – Cerro Catedral – available for travelers to utilize. However, tourists are advised to only attempt ski runs that meet their ability level. It is also recommended that advanced skiers alert the proper channels when they wish to go off-slope, that way someone will be aware if they don’t return.

It is best to drink bottled water while traveling in Bariloche as anywhere through South America, especially in rural areas, to prevent contracting any harmful parasites or water-borne illnesses. If no bottled water is available, be sure to travel with water purification tablets or boil water for 15 minutes to eliminate any harmful bacteria.

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