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Ringed by massive lakes and majestic mountains, the town of Bariloche in Argentina is a stunner. If you’re planning a trip to the country, put this gorgeous mountain town on your itinerary right now. Not only is it a favorite vacation spot for Argentines – and hey, if they keep coming back despite being able to go anywhere in the country, that says something – it also draws international visitors year-round. Here’s seven reasons why.
If you’re looking for nature, look no further than Refugio Frey, a mountain hut situated 1,700 meters above sea level overlooking a lagoon. To get there, you hike (you don’t have to be a “serious” hiker, the trails range from easy to medium-hard). You can stay in the hut overnight (reserve a spot ahead of time, as there is only room for 40) or just do the trek up Mount Cathedral and be back in Bariloche in about six hours. The hut, one of many refugios dotting the mountains of Patagonia, is equipped with beds, heating and electricity. Luxury! It can be reached by a variety of mountain trails – more information here. To reserve a spot in the hut, see the website. But if a mountain hut isn’t really your thing, maybe try sleeping in other unusual places in Argentina.
Welcome to Nahuel Huapi National Park, home to nothing less than two million acres of fabulous nature. The immense national park, which spans several provinces, comes with its own dormant volcano, private glacier and natural reserve. The park literally surrounds Bariloche, so you can’t miss it. Some of the most popular activities in Nahuel Huapi National Park include Victoria Island, the “Los Cántaros” waterfall, the aforementioned extinct volcano Tronador, the black glacier, and the seven lakes spread out throughout the region (which together form the famous “seven lakes” drive, another popular activity).
Visiting Mount Cerro is a must-do while in Bariloche, because not only is it really fun but it also gives you some amazing photos. To get there, take a little cable car 6,890-feet up the mountain, at the top of which is a restaurant that rotates 360 degrees while you can sit and honor the Argentine afternoon tea tradition of merienda, should you so desire. There are also places to explore outside, and even a little museum. More information here.
No matter what time of year you’re there, Bariloche’s got something to offer. During winter months, Mount Cathedral offers some of the best skiing in the nation, while during the warmer seasons the area’s many lakes and rivers offer numerous rafting and other outdoor activities, including horseback riding, paragliding, zip-lining, kayaking, and more.
Colonia Suiza, a Swiss-German community founded in the 19th century, is a quaint example of Argentina’s immigrant past, being one of the earliest European settlements in the country. The houses are built Swiss-style, and a walk through the community, located about 15 miles outside of Bariloche proper, gives you a little artist’s market, shops and numerous restaurants. If you can, go on a Sunday to watch the ritual preparation of curanto, a delicious meal cooked in a hole in the ground. More information for visitors can be found here.