Bariloche: a taste of Patagonia for non-hikers

It’s been five years since my first overseas solo trip to the south of South America. But my mind still goes back to those special travel memories. One of my favourite stops on the trip was definitely San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina. After 19 hours on overnight bus I was greeted to Patagonia with an incredible view of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.

The lake views did help a bit when I was walking uphill towards my hostel, as the city lies on a hill, descending towards the lake beach. I am quite sure that the map showed me the wrong location of the main bus station, as I thought I will walk for 15 minutes, instead of hour and a half I did at the end. With one giant backpack and one smaller one. After all night on the bus. So if you arrive to the city via main bus station, do take local bus to the city center.

San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

As you can tell I was not a hiker back then. I still am not today, but now I can handle a few short hikes. But back then I still wanted to get a taste of the beautiful nature of Patagonia and Bariloche is a perfect place for non-hikers to experience this mountain landscape. The city is located along stunning Nahuel Huapi Lake with snowy mountain peaks in the distance. Due to alpine like architecture of the buildings in the city, you get a feeling you arrived to Switzerland. Not just because it’s a paradise for mountain lovers, but also because in winter time it’s a popular skiing destination. And they have some amazing restaurants and are known for their delicious chocolate.

Cerro Otto San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America Vanja Vodenik

So, without further ado, I am sharing my favourite things to do (and must see) in Bariloche.

Stop at Bariloche’s Centro Civico

City’s heart is at its main and largest square Centro Civico, which is situated on the shore of Nahuel Huapi Lake. The square gives you a total alpine feel with stoned buildings with wooden windows that were built in 1940. It is also the home of the tourist information center and the Francisco Moreno Museum of Patagonia. From here you can take a stroll along the Mitre Street, where you can find many restaurants, bars, shops and cafes. You can also walk to the majestic Cathedral Our Lady of Nahuel Huapi.

Centro Civico San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Centro Civico San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Centro Civico San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

Take cable car to Cerro Otto

Of course you can also walk to the top of Cerro Otto, but a cable car is a totally perfect way to reach it summit which lies on 1405 meter above sea level. Cerro Otto is an amazing place for breathtaking views of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, surrounding forests and the Andes in the distance. Up on the hill there are many hiking and biking trails, which lead you to new and new viewpoints. You can also see Lake Gutiérrez.

Cerro Otto San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Lake Gutierrez Cerro Otto San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Nahuel Huapi Lake Cerro Otto San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

Chill on the beaches of Nahuel Huapi Lake

Nahuel Huapi lake has a surface of 530 km2, amazing crystal clear water and many kilometers of beach, calling you to sit down and relax. I am thinking back on my time there and am kind of disappointed, I didn’t have at least one picnic on its shores. But I did walk around some of the corners of the lake and enjoyed the amazing mountain views.

Nahuel Huapi Lake beach San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Nahuel Huapi Lake San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Nahuel Huapi Lake San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

Visit Llao Llao Hotel

One of the most iconic buildings in the area is majestic Llao Llao Hotel, located just 25 kilometers from the downtown Bariloche. This five starts hotel offers many exclusive services, which are just an addition to its 15-hectare park, golf club and marina. What I like about it though it’s its stunning location on a hill between Moreno and Nahuel Huapi lakes with amazing views of the Cerro Lopez and Tronador mountain peaks. Of course I had to visit the hotel and tried to see how it looks inside.  Although they let me know that to enter you have to be a guest of the hotel, they were kind enough to let me have a coffee on their terrace. Their nice waiter even took a picture of me. And while walking to the terrace I took in all the interesting details of hotel’s interior design.

Llao Llao Hotel San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Llao Llao Hotel San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

Eat all the chocolate

Bariloche’s nickname of “Little Switzerland” comes also due to the fact, that it’s the South America’s Chocolate Capital. Beside many chocolate shops in the city center, you can visit Havanna Museum of Chocolate to learn all about the history of chocolate making in South America. Here chocolate was first already used by Mayans and Aztecs, then after World War II European immigrants brought chocolate-making techniques to Argentina. In the museum you can also see the process of making chocolate and the history and products of Havanna chocolate company. So Barlicohe it’s a perfect place to dich your diet and eat all the chocolate.

Hvanna Chocolate Museum Hotel San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Chocolate San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America
Chocolate San Carlos de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina South America

Visited: March 2016

2 Replies to “Bariloche: a taste of Patagonia for non-hikers”

  1. Marko Vodenik says: Reply

    Everything you wrote is true. The beauty of Bariloche and it surrounding in hard to describe. The view on the hotel Llao Llao is like “Wow”, unreal and also high above our budget. But like you said: they treat you like every guest, even if you only come on a coffe, or sandwich, or stay in for few days. Beautifull pictures, but they can’t show the feeling beein there.

    1. I absolutely agree, the pictures can’t show the real beauty of the place and the incredible view of LLao LLao Hotel. 🙂

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