What to Do in Bariloche Argentina Including Self-Drive Day Trips

View of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Llao Llao Hotel beyond on the Circuito Chico in Bariloche Argentina
Bariloche Argentina is the gateway to Patagonia and flights to Bariloche run regularly from Buenos Aires. We traveled to Bariloche in November (South Hemisphere Spring) as part of an extended trip to South America (#DrJSabbatical). Read on to learn about what to do in Bariloche including some day trip options if you hire a car.

Where to Stay in Bariloche

We stayed at Alma del Lagos Suites and Spa, a hotel nestled right up against Bariloche's main attraction: Nahuel Huapi Lake. We splurged on a room with a lake view that cost about 115 EUR per night at the time of writing. One of my favorite things to do in Bariloche was to leave the window blinds open a crack so we'd wake up as the sun came up. The sunrises over Nahuel Huapi Lake were simply breathtaking. We didn't even have to get dressed to experience the Argentinian Lake District sunrise in all its glory.
Sunrise over Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche ArgentinaSunrise over Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche Argentina

Alma del Lagos Suites and Spa was situated about a 15 minute walk from the center of Bariloche and was positioned right on the road that led to all the awesome day trips nearby. We were definitely pleased with our choice of hotel.

Explore San Carlos de Bariloche on Foot

Take a Walk in Bariloche and Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Man preparing an ice cream cone at Helados Jauja in Bariloche Argentina
We took a walk to get our bearings when we arrived. What is there to do in Bariloche? The first order of business was to satisfy our sweet tooth. We passed Helados Jauja and stopped in for a refreshing ice cream cone. There were dozens of flavors to choose from.
El Reino de los Chocolates (the king of chocolates) in Bariloche Argentina
Bariloche is known as the Switzerland of Argentina. I could immediately see why since there were chocolate shops on nearly every corner. We stopped into El Reino de los Chocolates (The King of Chocolates), an ideal place to pick up some souvenirs to take home for friends and family. Because there was so much competition between different chocolate shops, the staff was giving out plenty of free samples.

Where to Eat in Bariloche

Dinner at Manush Beer Pub

Pot pie at Manush Beer Pub in Bariloche Argentina
Manush Beer Pub is a good choice for craft beer and comfort food. There were a surprising number of craft beer pubs in Bariloche including Cervecería Bachmann, Antares, and Wesley Brewery. All the local beer places were crowded so expect to wait for a table if you don't go early. 

La Parrilla de Tony 

Steaks at La Parrilla de Tony in Bariloche Argentina
Of course, Argentina is known for parrillas grilling up juicy steaks and other meat dishes. In Bariloche, you absolutely must go to La Parrilla de Tony. You can see all the action happening at the grill from the tables from seasoning the meat to cooking it to perfection. At one point, a large, jolly-looking man walked into the restaurant and I thought: "could that be Tony?!". Sure enough, he went up to the parrilla and started prepping steaks. I went up to get a closer look and perhaps take a picture. One of the waiters motioned for me to hand him my camera and handed me a giant knife. Next thing you know, I was posing for a photo with Tony himself at the parrilla! 
Tony poses by the grill at La Parrilla de Tony in Bariloche Argentina
The portions at Tony's were huge but the steak went down well with Lagarde Malbec, a bottle of Argentina's signature varietal. Tony's was so good we ate there twice. Tony himself was only there the first time though.

Day Trips from Bariloche

There are a variety of day trips from Bariloche that are worth including on your itinerary if you have a car. In fact, I do strongly recommend getting a car since it makes getting around to see the amazing scenery of Argentina's Lake District that much easier and faster.

Circuito Chico Road Trip

We took a self-drive around Circuito Chico near Bariloche. This road trip takes about a half day to complete.
Views over Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche Argentina
It was so windy at first when we stopped at various viewpoints along the route that I thought we'd get blown away. Circuito Chico features some great photo spots alongside and above Nahuel Huapi Lake. Pull over wherever the view catches your fancy.
What to do in Bariloche: Collage of pictures of the hike to Mirador Braza Tristeza along the Circuito Chico near Bariloche Argentina
We picked up a map of various drives that you can take from the tourist office in Bariloche. We spotted Mirador Braza Tristeza on the map and decided that it looked like a promising spot to stop for amazing views over the lake. Mirador Braza Tristeza turned out to be incredibly hard to find. We had to pull onto the road for Hotel Alún Nehuén (not obvious from the tourist map). There is a public parking lot here for access to the lake.

Finding the trail to Mirador Braza Tristeza was difficult as well. It turns out that you have to head from the parking lot toward the forest and then you'll encounter a small sign pointing the way. Cross a rickety bridge to access the trail. We walked for about half an hour, fording a couple of small streams along the way. We ended up bailing out of the hike early before we got to the viewpoint. At one point, the signage on the trail pointed up a steep hill away from the lake. We opted to take the low trail along the lake and were rewarded with stunning views of the crystal clear water and mountains beyond. That was enough for us.
Collage of pictures from the Llao Llao Hotel near Bariloche Argentina
Continuing our day trip from Bariloche along Circuito Chico, we stopped for lunch at the famous Llao Llao Hotel. The hotel is gated and a little snooty if I'm honest. We pulled up to the security gate and told them we wanted to have lunch. They actually had to call the restaurant to confirm if they had room before allowing us in to park the car. We secured a reservation at Cafe Patagonia which was nearly empty when we walked inside. As you can imagine, they don't get very much foot traffic. The food at Cafe Patagonia was really good and the views were fantastic but the meal was quite expensive.
What to do in Bariloche Argentina: enjoy a two course lunch in Cafe Patagonia at the Llao Llao Hotel

Telerifico Cerro Otto

Returning from our day trip on Circuito Chico, we made a detour to Telerifico Cerro Otto. There are a number of hills surrounding Bariloche with cable cars or chairlifts leading to the top. The ride to the top in the cable car is quite expensive at 450 Argentinian pesos (about $22 USD at the time of writing). We figured that you only live once though, forked over the money, and boarded the cable car. 
What to do in Bariloche: Ride Telerifico Cerro Otto
I'm a bit afraid of heights and I can tell you that the ride on Telerifico Cerro Otto was mildly terrifying. The ride lasts less than 10 minutes but it's incredibly steep and you'll be buffeted about by the wind on occasion. 
Cable car at Telerifico Cerro Otto with view of Lake Nahuel Huapi below in Bariloche Argentina
The ride was totally worth it in the end for the sweeping views that we got over Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi Lake.
View of Lake Nahuel Huapi and mountains from Cerro Otto above Bariloche Argentina
We discovered a bird of prey sitting at a Christian shrine which had been set up near the upper entrance to the cable car. I can see how you might want to say a prayer if you are so inclined before boarding the slightly sketchy cable car for the ride back to sea level.
Crested caracara next to a Christian shrine on Cerro Otto in Bariloche Argentina

Ruta de Siete Lagos

Ruta de Siete Lagos is another great drive that you can do from Bariloche. It's a little far to do an entire round trip in a day without feeling rushed. We drove straight through from Bariloche to Villa La Angostura which took about an hour and a half. We spent about an hour in Villa La Angostura and left wishing we'd had more time in this quaint Argentinian town. Highlights include some awesome chocolate shops like Mamuschka. You can also get Mamuschka chocolates in Bariloche but that location is generally overrun with tourists while the Villa La Angostura outlet is much quieter. 
Mamuschka Chocolate store in Villa La Angostura along the Ruta de Siete Lagos near Bariloche
We also sampled some creamy slabs of Argentinian chocolate from La Campiña Del Sur in Villa La Angostura.
Chocolate slabs in a box from La Campiña Del Sur in Villa La Angostura Argentina
Public service announcement: Make sure you take time to use the bathroom somewhere in Villa La Angostura. We did not see any public restrooms or even anyplace you could stop and buy something in order to use the loo anywhere along the Seven Lakes Drive. Even in Villa La Angostura, it's difficult to find a toilet. We stopped in Cafe Antibes for a light bite in both directions on our drive. Their ham and cheese medialunas are yummy. Cafe Antibes has a nice toilet facility that customers can use.
Day trip from Bariloche: Interior of Cafe Antibes in Villa La Angostura along the Ruta de Siete Lagos
The landscape gets even more picturesque as you continue along Ruta de Siete Lagos. We drove to waterfall Vullignanco and then decided to turn around and head back to Bariloche to ensure that we completed the trip before dark. We saw tons of scenic spots along the way. There are small parking lots near many of the most beautiful places but even if there isn't one near a point of interest, just pull off at the side of the road to check out the views. The traffic was really light when we drove the Ruta de Siete Lagos. Now, Ruta de Siete Lagos translates to Seven Lakes Route. There were really about 10 lakes along the route. We saw about seven before turning around.
Day trip from Bariloche: collage of lake views along the Ruta de Siete Lagos

Cau Cau Boat Cruise on Bariloche's Nahuel Huapi Lake

Bariloche anchors Argentina's Lake District and we highly recommend getting out on the water. We signed up for a Cau Cau boat cruise on Nahuel Huapi Lake. We visited Bariloche in Austral Spring which is considered the low season so we got a discounted rate on the half-day lake cruise ($1060 ARS per person which was about $50 USD at the time of writing). Visitors also need to pay an additional $250 ARS (foreigner price; about $12 USD) for entry into the national park. In addition, we splurged on the VIP package for an extra $440 ARS (about $20 USD) which included wine, beer, sandwiches, and sweets. The package included a private cabin for VIP guests on the upper deck of the boat but the outdoor area was shared with the guests from below.
Ham and cheese croissants served on the Cau Cau boat cruise in Bariloche Argentina
The passengers had a grand old time feeding the hungry flock of gulls that seemed to follow our boat along the way. Some of the birds were even eating out of people's hands. No wonder there were so many, they associate the daily passage of the boat as providing an easy meal. We didn't partake in those shenanigans. You can read more about places to see the birds of Patagonia in a more natural setting here.
              Cau Cau cruise boat and trailing seagulls near Bariloche Argentina
Out of the hundred or so people on our Cau Cau cruise, there were only five English speakers. We took a tour of Isla Victoria with Sebastian at our first port of call. Our second stop was Parque Nacional Arrayanes. Sebastian advised that we should wait for the crowd to clear on the boardwalk through the forest before setting out on the loop trail. 

We decided to do the opposite and rushed off the boat when it docked to get a head start on the crowd. I'm glad we did because another boat rocked up soon after we did so the trail never really did quiet down. A German couple (2 of the 5 English speakers who I mentioned previously) took Sebastian's advice and ended up missing out on the hike. Follow your instincts when it comes to crowd avoidance!
What to do in Bariloche: Collage of forest pictures from Parque Nacional Arrayanes

A Word on Driving in Bariloche

We found that it was essential to hire a car in Bariloche. Bariloche is lovely but many of the scenic attractions are outside the town limits. We found that figuring out the speed limits on roads in Argentina was difficult. There are signs when the speed limit decreases but not when the limit goes back up again. 100 kph seemed like a reasonable speed in the absence of signage. Also, when driving in Argentina, turn your lights on at all times, even at high noon when the sun is shining. We encountered a couple of police checkpoints on our drives where they were checking for lights.

Is Bariloche Worth Visiting on a Trip to Argentina?

So, is Bariloche worth visiting? If you like amazing scenery and gorgeous vistas, Bariloche is a must-see stop on a trip to Argentinian Patagonia. You simply can't beat the stunning blue water; bluer than anything I've seen before in my life. Combine that with great Argentinian steaks, wine, chocolate, and craft beer and you've got the makings of a great trip.

Bariloche Argentina: Map of Points of Interest in Town Plus Day Trips

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Sidewalk Safari: What to Do in Bariloche Argentina Including Self-Drive Day Trips
What to Do in Bariloche Argentina Including Self-Drive Day Trips
Read about what to do in Bariloche Argentina and map out some self-drive day trips. Find out about things to do near Bariloche by car.
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