Bariloche, Argentina | Gringo’s Guide to Patagonia
Bariloche, Argentina was the first stop on my Patagonia trip.
I had no clue what to expect. All I knew of the region were pretty pictures online, glaciers, and great hiking.
Stepping off the plane in Bariloche…
That first breath of fresh Patagonia air filled my lungs and I started getting excited about the adventures to be had.
Luckily, the city didn’t disappoint.
Bariloche was a ‘modern’ city filled with stunning views, amazing hiking, great food, and way too many chocolate shops.
Seriously, if you ever want to buy artesian chocolate every single day and night, just come to Bariloche. There’s legit hundreds of these shops throughout the center.
No clue, but I’d surmise it’s because Bariloche is more like a mountain town in the Swiss Alps than a city of 150,000 people in Latin America.
Which makes Bariloche is the perfect introduction to Patagonia for many a traveler.
From world-class hiking in the summer to amazing skiing in the winters, there’s a whole hell of a lot to do here. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll breakdown damn near everything you’d ever need to know about Bariloche, Argentina.
Including things like:
- How to Get to Bariloche, Argentina
- Understanding Bariloche Weather & Seasons
- Where to Stay in Bariloche
- Best Bariloche Hotels
- Best Hostels in Bariloche, Argentina
- Restaurants in Bariloche
- Things to Do in Bariloche, Argentina | Summer Edition
- Speaking Spanish in Bariloche?
- Bariloche Nightlife
- Do You Need to Rent a Car in Bariloche, Argentina?
- Is Bariloche Safe?
- Bariloche for Digital Nomads
If any of those specific links are what you need to succeed, aka the information you’re looking for, simply click the link above and you’ll be taken to that chapter of the guide.
For the rest of y’all…
Everything you need to know about Bariloche can be found below. Once we’re done here, you’ll know exactly how to spend your time in this Patagonian city.
How to Get to Bariloche, Argentina
I won’t lie to ya…
Bariloche is located in the middle of nowhere. This is not the easiest city in the world to get to. Far from it in fact.
As such, it’ll take a little bit of effort and a lot of planning to get to Bariloche.
The absolute easiest, cheapest way to get to Bariloche?
Flights from Buenos Aires.
Punto. Blanco. Periodo.
We can talk about taking buses from here and there, international flights, and all that jazz…but the reality of the situation is all those options either suck or are more expensive when compared with a flight from Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
My one-way flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche took a little over two hours and cost me a whooping $73 USD, including my luggage.
That’s cheaper than taking the bus from Buenos Aires!
Why people insist on taking buses when flights are so cheap? I’ll never know ;(
Now, this is pretty easy if you’re in Buenos Aires already. Catch a quick flight and you’ll be in Bariloche in no time.
However, many will be traveling to Bariloche from other places. There are direct international flights to Bariloche from Brazil and Santiago, Chile as of writing. To my knowledge, no other international flights fly into this small Patagonian city.
The main airline that flies into Bariloche is Aerolíneas Argentinas, but you can find a few other carriers too.
You can catch a direct flight from a few other Argentinian cities, including:
- El Calafate
- Puerto Madryn
- Mar del Plata
Most of these flights within Argentina will cost anywhere from $50-150 USD one-way…whereas a bus ride to Bariloche from any other decent size city in the country will take at least 8+ hours – if not 12-24+ hours!
Not how I prefer to spend a full day of my life. Cramped up in a bus just sitting around eating junk food and trying to get an hour or two of shuteye.
But if you’re into that sort of thing…
You can take a bus to Bariloche from Buenos Aires, El Calafate, and Santiago on the Chile side – via Osorno.
All long, miserable bus rides winding through the mountains.
You’d think mountain views during a bus ride might not be too bad, but then little “Maria” sitting behind you starts getting motion sickness and throwing up all over the floor.
Throw up which you’ll be smelling for the next 12+ hours of your wonderful bus journey.
~Tl:DR• Take a flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, fam! ~
Understanding Bariloche Weather & Seasons
Before we go any further, I must make one thing clear…
I visited Bariloche during the “summer” months.
There was no snow on the ground when I was here. I didn’t go skiing. Didn’t have to deal with any of those type issues. But I did run my mouth with a few locals and taxi drivers to ensure I understand a little bit about Bariloche weather, especially with regards to tourist high- and low-seasons.
Here’s what I learned:
Late November through early April is “mid” high-season.
It’s not insanely packed like during the winter ski months in Bariloche, but there’s more than enough tourism during these months to keep locals busy.
Then there’s about a 75 day low-season from early April until mid-June. During this time, you won’t find many tourists in Bariloche.
That does NOT make it a great time to visit.
Because Bariloche weather at the time is too cold and windy to truly enjoy many of the summertime tourist activities, hikes, and such.
Yet it’s not ideal conditions for skiing and snow sports just yet. But once the snow gets just right by mid-June, the town becomes a madhouse.
As what many consider the premier skiing destination in all of South America, the town of 150,000 people balloons to nearly 450,000 during high-season for skiers…that figure includes tourists.
This high-season tends to last for nearly three months, where Bariloche is poppin’ day in and day out. Then once September rolls around, the town dies back down again.
Bariloche weather is trash from September until late November, early December.
Then the summertime tourists start showing up again in droves. ready and willing to trek, fish, and enjoy all the sights *and chocolate* Bariloche has to offer.
For more information on Bariloche weather, here’s a graphic I found (Source):
Where to Stay in Bariloche
I didn’t realize how much of a “city” the town of Bariloche was until I arrived.
Looking on the map, the place looked small enough to walk from one end to the other in about 20 minutes. That was a mistake.
Bariloche is larger than you think.
Sure, the center offers that quaint mountain town vibe you’re looking for through and through…but getting to that area can take a little bit longer than you’d imagine. Getting from one end of town to the other on foot can take well over 45 minutes…
As such, you’ll want to pay close attention to any Airbnb rentals or hotels you’re booking.
Unless coming to Bariloche and planning to stay on a ski resort, I’d highly recommend staying as close to the city center as humanly possible.
The closer you are to the center, the easier life will be. Bariloche center is filled with restaurants, tour agencies, hotels, cafes, and chocolate shops galore. Chocolate shops everywhere!
You can walk all over the place in this area and will make life so much easier as a tourist.
If you can find an Airbnb in this area that meets your needs, I’d suggest you take it.
Options are slim in Bariloche, but there’s a few decent rentals around the center.
Best Bariloche Hotels
I booked an Airbnb on the outskirts of Bariloche for my full week in town. However, the host was absolutely clueless and I ended up having to cancel due to his ineptitude…
“No, it’s not acceptable that there wasn’t sheets on my bed and cases on the pillows. Or that you showed up 4+ hours late to check in and I stood outside with my luggage!”
Luckily, I got my money back and had absolutely zero issue finding a solid Bariloche hotel in the city center.
In fact, there were dozens of Bariloche hotels available at moments’ notice.
I stayed here during my trip:
Hotel Bariloche City
The place wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but I payed around $45 USD per night and that included an *average at best* breakfast.
Oh, and the Internet was also *average at best* at Hotel Bariloche City.
While that might not sound like a ringing endorsement, I’d definitely stay here again if I ever return to Bariloche.
Because of the location.
This Bariloche hotel is in the perfect location. Right on the outskirts of the city center, the place was a 30-second walk to dozens of restaurants and cafes.
But it was also quiet!
I slept like a baby here and didn’t have a single noise complaint during my time in Bariloche, even thought I was in town during Carnival.
The rooms aren’t fancy, but they’re large. The beds are seemingly brand new and comfortable as hell:
The hot water works well. There’s a large lock box to ensure your valuables stay safe while you’re off enjoying tourism.
Hotel Bariloche City is an ideal budget hotel in the city center. It’s not fancy, but it is clean, comfortable, and more than well-located.
That hotel right there is pretty ideal for budget travelers.
I would have prefer to find something a little nicer for my stay, but when you’re booking last-minute…beggars can’t be choosers. Luckily, it ended up working out and the hotel was a solid spot overall.
There are some other options when looking for a hotel in Bariloche, including:
- Hotel Concorde: Just over $50 USD a night, the place features modern decor and the perfect location in Bariloche. Many of the rooms also feature stunning lakes views and breakfast is included. One of the best value options you’ll find in Patagonia.
- Hotel Triol: Lakefront hotel that runs about $80 USD in Bariloche. Included breakfast, stunning views, and a two-minute walk to the city center. Another great value when talking Bariloche hotels. Highly recommended.
- Llao Llao Resort & Hotel: When President Obama visited Argentina years back, this was the hotel they put him up at in Patagonia. A world-class establishment and golf course, Llao Llao Resort is the nicest hotel I encountered in Bariloche. Costs between $200-300 USD a night, but many say the views more than make up for the cost…although this hotel is far from the city center.
Best Hostels in Bariloche, Argentina
I’m no hostel guy, and if we’re being frank, I wouldn’t say Bariloche is a backpacker paradise. It’s hard to get to and while I wouldn’t say it’s expensive, I can’t say Bariloche is a cheap spot, either.
However, I know some people prefer hostels due to the ‘social’ atmosphere, lower costs, and all that good stuff.
So I wanted to give out a few recommendations for the backpackers out there too. As such, here’s the best hostels in Bariloche, Argentina:
- Hostel Inn Bariloche: When talking about the best hostels in Bariloche, this spot has to be number one. Featuring an absolutely stunning deck overlooking the lake, you won’t find a better view near the city center. With glowing reviews, an included breakfast, and a communal kitchen…this is the ideal hostel in the center.
- Tango Inn Hostel: With solid views, a great common area with pool table, and a communal kitchen…there’s a lot to love about Tango Inn Hostel in Bariloche. Breakfast comes included and many reviews rave about the friendliness of the staff. Ideal location too.
Restaurants in Bariloche | My Favorites…
The food in Bariloche wasn’t bad.
I wouldn’t call the place a ‘foodie’ paradise unless you *really* love chocolate, although I could be wrong as I’m far from a ‘foodie’ or whatever you want to call them.
Alas, I never went hungry in Bariloche.
Hell, I was more than pleased with most of my meals in the small Patagonian city…except for the service.
The waiters in Bariloche were a bit odd – to put it nicely.
Here’s a few of the restaurants in Bariloche I enjoyed:
- Huacho: I ate here 3-4 times during my stay in Bariloche. Why? Because the steak was damn good. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a good steak in the city, which you should be because you’re in Argentina. Just a block or so away from the city center.
- I’Italiano Trattoria: Italian restaurant in Bariloche. The food was pretty good, but I wouldn’t say great. However, the 3-course dinner special or whatever it was for like $9 USD was a great deal. Located in the center.
- El Mexicano: The only decent Mexican restaurant in Bariloche. The food was actually pretty great for Mexican food in Argentina, but the service was absolutely horrific. Bafflingly bad. Still recommend for decent Mexican food.
Things to Do in Bariloche, Argentina | Summer Edition
There’s a whole hell of a lot of things to do in Bariloche, Argentina…both in the summertime and winter months.
However, I didn’t spend a lick of time here during the winter months.
I’m sure the skiing is dope. There’s a reason Bariloche is a well-known ski spot in South America, but I can’t comment on all that. So this list is all about “summer” in Bariloche, which feels more like spring to me.
Here’s some of the top things to do in Bariloche during the summer months:
Yes, I know Bariloche is in Patagonia and the whole point of coming to the region is to spend time in nature.
I get it.
But sometimes you want to do something fun at night that doesn’t involve getting white gurl wasted…
In these times, escape rooms are fun as can be.
Surprisingly, I found multiple different escape room companies in Bariloche. I ended up doing a couple of the rooms at ‘Escape Room Bariloche’ during my trip.
The rooms were tough, well thought out, and my buddies and I failed both times.
You can hike here, but I’m not sure how long it would take to reach the top.
Or you can take a ski lift to the top and enjoy the view, which is what I did.
But no matter what you do…
Make sure you visit Cerro Campanario while in Bariloche.
While the city offers tons of tours and fun stuff, this is one *must* when talking things to do in Bariloche. Seriously, the views here are absolutely amazing.
But you need to get here early in the day. If you don’t, you’ll find the viewpoints more than crowded…which is never fun. The taxi from Bariloche is about 20-30 minutes depending.
Here’s the view from the top:
Hike Refugio Fray
I’d never been a “real” hike before hitting Refugio Fray. Never hiked 7+ hours up a mountain in a single day.
Sure, I’d done some 2-4+ hour hikes in a couple other countries, but nothing legit.
Nothing serious like the Refugio Fray hike.
Suffice to say, I didn’t come prepared or correct. The nearly 8 hours it took me to hike up and down damn near killed me. I was huffing and puffing. My legs were sore the next couple days.
It was worth it.
At the top of this hike, there’s a small “refugio” area with a lake and stunning views. Once you see the stunning nature and the small lake at the top, you’ll quickly realize it was definitely worth the time and effort to make it to the top.
To start the hike, have a taxi driver drop you at the bottom of the mountain. The drive takes about 20 minutes and should cost 500 Pesos one-way.
The trail is well marked and you shouldn’t have an issue getting lost, as there’s also a good amount of other hikers. No need for a guide.
However, you should have good hiking shoes and one more thing…hiking poles.
Hiking poles are a Godsend when hitting Refugio Fray for the first time.
Te lo juro.
Llao Llao Trail Hike
Around Cerro Llao Llao there is a small trail that takes about an hour to walk.
It’s flat and relaxing, but offers some stunning views of the surrounding nature. If a long hike isn’t up your alley, then I highly recommend this short trek.
You can take a combined tour and check out Cerro Campinario, this Llao Llao trail, and the Cervecería Patagonia all in one….among a few other stops.
Usually takes about a full day and should costs maybe $100 USD. Or you can take a taxi out here and have the driver wait for you as you walk the trail. That might cost $1,500 Pesos round-trip.
Either way, this trail is definitely worth it for the stunning lake views. I’m talking great views like this bad boy…
Visit an Ice Bar
Won’t lie, this is probably the most *basic* thing to do in Bariloche…but I went and had a damn good time drinking at the ice bar.
Ice Bariloche is the only ice bar in town. It’s located in the center of the city and is exactly what the name implies, a bar made of ice.
It costs about $10 USD to enter Ice Bariloche and that includes one mixed drink with your ticket.
It’s more of an experience to visit the place, put on all the ice “gear” they require – then have a drink or two and bounce.
Not a place to spend the whole evening drinking.
Located in the mountains with a great view, Cervecería Patagonia is the most famous place to have a beer in all of Patagonia.
Sadly, I didn’t get to go here.
We went on a Sunday and there was a 45-minute wait just to get inside…much less get your hands on some brews and food.
I was way too hungry to wait for over an hour to get some grub.
That being said…
Cervecería Patagonia is well worth a visit while in Bariloche, and is often include in the all-day tour I talked about above.
The place offers stunning views, great beer, and decent food too. My buddy checked it out and said it was a great place to watch the sunset and grab dinner.
Lago Nahuel Huapí
Last, but certainly not least we have…
Lago Nahuel Huapí.
If the weather is nice, this stunningly beautiful lake offers a handful of great activities to do.
Kayaking. Fishing. Swimming. Cruises.
There’s tons of stuff to do here, and the views from Bariloche of Lago Nahuel Huapí can be spectacular. That being said…
The waves and wind on this lake can be rough. Like ‘ocean-esque’ rough. Waves that could topple a smaller boat or kayak.
So make sure to look at the weather for the lake before booking any activities here. There were a few days during my time in Bariloche, Argentina where the waves looked pretty dangerous from afar.
Speaking Spanish in Bariloche?
While Bariloche is a popular tourist destination, most visiting the area are from Argentina. You’ll also find a few Brazilians around and some Chinese.
What you won’t find a ton of?
As such, English is not *that* common in Bariloche. That being said…
The people that spoke English in Bariloche seemed to be far more conversational with the language than those in other tourist places, which was a bit odd.
Still, you should learn a little Spanish before you visit Bariloche – or anywhere in Patagonia. You’ll find the experience far more enjoyable and the people friendlier if you do.
Outside of having a drink or two at the ice bar, I didn’t enjoy a big night out in Bariloche. So I’m not the foremost expert on nightlife in Bariloche.
But I will say that I saw a couple large clubs in the city while walking around, so I’d have to assume there’s some rumba here from time to time.
There’s also dozens upon dozens of cervecerías in the city if you’re just looking to have a beer. For the big clubs, these are three spots I walked by during the day and went, “Damn! That looks like a massive place to party.”
No idea if they’re any good, but here’s some of the more popular places to enjoy Bariloche nightlife:
All three of these clubs were located near the lake to the west of the city center. All walkable for people staying anywhere in the center.
Do You Need to Rent a Car in Bariloche, Argentina?
There’s no need to rent a car in Bariloche, Argentina.
Could it be beneficial to have a car here?
But it’s absolutely not necessary. You can still enjoy your time in the Patagonian city without a car. Most of the fun things to do in Bariloche are only a short taxi ride outside of town.
However, if you’re interested in renting a car here…
I did see a number of companies in the city center that had them available. I’d probably recommend just walking around the center your first day and getting quotes if that’s something you’re interested in.
Is Bariloche Safe?
Bariloche is one of the safest cities I’ve been to in Latin America. Hell, it might be the *safest* period…not just one of them.
People walk openly and freely around the city center. Smartphones used in public and at all tourist spots. This isn’t Colombia where your phone can get snatched from someone on a moto while snapping a photo.
I didn’t notice any menacing looking people in the city during my whole week.
Here’s how I’ll put it, as I can’t find any reliable crime stats…
While there many be a few bad apples here, crime in Bariloche is far from prevalent. If you’re concerned about safety in Bariloche, you’d be better off not visiting anywhere in Latin America.
Bariloche for Digital Nomads
I’ll be real here…
Patagonia is NOT a digital nomad hotspot for a reason.
Hell, for a lot of reasons.
Mainly because the region is somewhat expensive and the Internet is spotty at best.
Now, you can find a decent connection in the center of Bariloche. This is especially true if you use a local Movistar SIM card on a mobile hotspot like this.
I was able to pull 23 Mbps download speed from the Movistar SIM card on my hotspot at times, which was the fastest connection I found in Bariloche.
There is a coworking space, but I didn’t check it out.
If I was to check out Bariloche again, I’d make sure to check out:
I wouldn’t say many of the coffee shops in Bariloche, Argentina are ideal for working from.
The only one I tried out was El Molinito.
The WiFi was fine, coffee great, but the chairs sucked arse. Not comfortable at all.
Overall, a decent place to work for a few hours, but I wouldn’t stay all day.
~ Gringo’s Guide to Bariloche, Argentina ~
¡Ayyy Dios Miooo!
That’s about all I’ve got to say. Damn near 4K+ words on everything you need to know when visiting Bariloche, Argentina in the summertime.
I’d highly recommend this city as a starting point for a trip to Argentinian Patagonia. Flights are easy, the city is modern, Internet works, and there’s a whole hell of a lot to do. If you get bored in Bariloche, that’s on you!
Enjoy the Lago Nahuel Huapi.
Hike Refugio Fray.
Take a few tours outside the city.
Enjoy the stunning nature.
Oh, and don’t forget to eat some chocolate…it shouldn’t be hard to find 😉
If you have any questions about Bariloche, feel free to post a comment below. While I was only in the city for a week or so, I’ll do my best to get back to you with accurate information.
Que te vaya bien,