Explore Patagonian Beauty in Bariloche
Article by Nora Wallenius.
Bariloche is one of those places everyone says you have to go to while in Argentina, yet no one is ever fully prepared for its beauty upon arrival. Sure, you can look at the pictures, imagine the terrain filled with lakes and mountains, and listen to the stories of Nahuelito the lake monster. It’s not until you see Bariloche with your own eyes, however, that you’ll begin to fully understand the depth and richness of the beautiful landscape. If you’re looking to discover new destinations, Bariloche should be put at the top of your list. Based on my recent trip, I’ve compiled suggestions for sights and activities to make the most of your time in Bariloche.
1. Viewpoint atop Cerro Campanario
Bariloche is famous for its spectacular views. Lakes, snow-capped mountains, and colorful wildflowers create amazing snapshots, which all change depending on location and altitude. My favorite viewpoint was at Cerro Campanario, a pleasant chairlift ride to a 360 degree view of the area. There are multiple viewing stations, plenty of picture opportunities, and an adorable cafe with a priceless view of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Bring a jacket though, as high altitude and winds make for a chilly visit!
Unknown to many travellers is the strong German and Swiss influence in Patagonia, which is evident in the small Swiss colony in the mountains, about 25 km outside of Bariloche center. Every Sunday, artisans gather to display and sell their hand-made crafts, from jewelry to local souvenirs. Enjoy curanto (variety of food cooked over fire pits in the ground) or have a relaxing cup of tea at one of the tea houses.
3. Mountain Biking
Among the varied outdoors sports offered in Bariloche, mountain biking is a great way to immerse yourself in the nature while seeing some of the best viewing spots in the region. I recommend the Circuit Chico, a 27 km trail that covers Lake Nahuel Huapi, Lake Gutierrez, and a gorgeous panorama stopping point along the way. You can rent bikes from Circuito Chico Bike Rental and follow the easy trail map from the rental office.
4. Visit a Chocolate Factory
Chocolate “branches”, alfajores, dulce de leche bars, and more are abundantly available in Bariloche. Take a walk through downtown on Mitre Avenue and stop in any of the chocolate factories, grab a sample and decide what you’re in the mood for. Check out Chocolates Del Turista, basically a chocolate department store for all things chocolate!
5. Snow sports at Cerro Catedral
Often called the best skiing in South America, Cerro Catedral Mountain Resort offers skiers and snowboarders fresh powder, long runs, and varied difficulty levels. Skiers can take in the views while attacking the infamous Andes Mountains. In non-winter months, visitors can still ride the chairlifts to the top and scope the views.
6. Enjoy Local Culinary Classics
Discovering in Bariloche the one thing I’ve been missing terribly in Buenos Aires was a heaven-sent surprise. What can this sacred object be? High. Quality. Artisenal. Beer. Have a beer at a local micro brewery and your long deprived taste buds will thank you. My favorite, Berlina Patagonia Cervezeria has two locations in Bariloche and is served throughout the city. During summer months, visit Berlina’s large restaurant and beer garden in Colonia Suiza. Throughout the year, you can visit a smaller restaurant and beer garden along the lake with spectacular views of the cow pastures and mountains. I’m not ashamed to admit I spent a whole afternoon at Berlina outside in the beer garden, soaking in Bariloche’s beauty and enjoying the “2 for 1” Happy Hour special.
After all of that beer, you might be craving something hearty to eat. Not to worry, Bariloche’s most famous parrilla El Boliche De Alberto (http://www.elbolichedealberto.com/) is the perfect solution. Dig into a steak feast with all of your favorite asado essentials. I have to admit: best pollo asado I’ve ever had in my entire life. El Boliche De Alberto definitely lives up to the hype.
7. Day Trip to El Bolson
Looking to see a little more of the surrounding area? Look no further than El Bolson, a certified hippie town in the mountains with great vibes. Indulge in local German specialities such as smoked trout (trucha), artisanal beer, cheeses, and chocolates. Check out outdoor activities such as trekking, river rafting, rock climbing, and fly fishing.