They say your either a beach person or a mountain person. Well I’m a beach girl through and through – I love the heat, I love tanning for hours on end, I love swimming in the ocean (as long as there isn’t too many big fish!), I love cocktails in the sun. Being from Scotland I should really have spent more time in the mountains but I haven’t – however Bariloche revealed a whole knew side of me that I didn’t know existed – turns out I’m also a mountain girl! I LOVED Bariloche. Like seriously fell in love with the place. It was SO cold, but I didn’t mind at all. I loved being surrounded by snowcapped mountains, getting wrapped up and hiking up another trail to admire the views from the top – I became one of those outdoorsy types! We planned to stay for 3 nights and ended up there for a week, but with endless treks, lakes and glaciers to visit plus a load of other outdoor activities we could have happily stayed another! So what is it about Bariloche that captured my heart?
The Town – San Carlos De Bariloche is a town at the northern part of Patagonia in the Argentinian Lake District, close to the border of Chile. It’s what I imagine a town in the Swiss Alps to look like – full of wooden ‘alpine chalet’ style architecture, skiers, snowboarders and chocolate stores. Even through it was the middle of winter when the ski season is in full swing and Bariloche was full of Argentinian and international tourists, I didn’t feel like the town was over crowded. It’s full of cosy cafes selling the best coffees and hot chocolates – try Friends cafe, – shops selling souvenirs and plenty warm clothes if you didn’t pack properly for the weather, and endless ice cream parlours – which bizarrely are always busy, even though its utterly freezing outside!
The Chocolate – Bariloche is famous for its chocolate and there is certainly no shortage of places to get your hands (and mouths) on some! The streets are lined with chocolate stores selling hundreds of different flavours, as well as other sweets and liquors, and many of them have huge chocolate fondues inside too! Its literally a chocoholics heaven (or hell if your thinking of their waistline). We sampled a few pieces and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
The Views – On our drive here from Puerto Madryn I woke up about and hour before we arrived in Bariloche and was well and truly gob smacked at the views from the bus. We were properly in the mountains! Like literally driving through snow covered mountains, it was insane! When we arrived we were even more blown away, every where you looked there were huge mountains towering above you, I cannot stress how beautiful it is!
The best view in the city is from Cerro Campanario. The hostel owner told us it was voted one of the best lookouts in the world by national geographic and I can see why. You can take the cable car to the top or you can walk up – its pretty steep but it’s only about a 30 minute walk (well it took us about 45 as there was a bit of snow towards the top and I kept sliding back down!) where you are rewarded with a 360° view of the surrounding mountains and it is so so so beautiful!
The Micro Breweries – Bariloche is filled with cervecerias producing many different flavours of beer. Our favourites were;
Kunstmann – Even though it was a little more out of town it had a buzzing atmosphere. As it was right across from the hostel we were staying in so we visited a few times, the beer was good, the service was perfect and the food was delicious!
Manush – Situated in the centre of town, a local recommended this place to us and we loved it. It has the feeling of a local pub with lovely cosy decor and a great variety of different flavoured beers.
The Treks – There are endless hikes and treks to take in and around in Baroiloche no matter your fitness or skill level. We tackled the Circuito Chico which is a 25km trail encompassing mountains, lakes and forest. Most people cycle it but we wanted to hike the Llao Llao mountain as well so we decided to do it on foot. The hike was pretty easy, but its was a very long walk and there is nowhere to stop for food/drinks/toilets, so make sure you take supplies!! Towards the end of the trail is the Patagonia cervecaria which we were told was one of the nicest bars in Argentina, so they whole way around the 5 hour walk we were dreaming of reaching it and getting a big juicy burger and a well earned drink but when we arrived it was closed to our utter devastation!
Catedral – This mountain is home to the biggest ski resort in the southern hemisphere! Its about 20km outside of town and there are regular busses to take you there (but only one per hour back to town from the mountain). Unfortunately ski-ing wasn’t in our budget but you can pay for a lift pass that allows you to go up to the look out points on the mountain which we planned to do, however we arrived to late in the day so they wouldn’t let us up. Instead we enjoyed the best part of the day and visited the apres ski! There are loads of bars and restaurants in the ski resort and its a really fun place to let off some steam after a long day of exploring!
The Great Outdoors – Even if your aren’t into hiking you are still able to admire the views from the top by taking a cable car up into the clouds. I recomemnd Cerro Otto which costs $400 (around £17), as the views are stunning and they have a revolving restaurant at the top, so you don’t even need to bare the cold to enjoy them!
Being situated on the deep blue Nahuel Huapì lake there is also plenty of opportunity for walks that don’t involve going uphill. You can also take a car (or a guided tour) to the seven lakes, which we didn’t do but heard was one of the highlights of the area.
Bariloche will always hold a special place in my heart and gave us a little taster of what Patagonia has to offer. After visiting here we were dying to go further south but it just wasn’t the right time of year for it, but its definitely added a few more places to our ever growing bucket list! I highly recommend you visit this beautiful place in Argentina – just remember your thermals and sense of adventure!