Bariloche in Patagonia is to Argentina what Salzburg is to Austria – an exquisite mountain town prized by locals and sought-after by international visitors year-round. Here’s our insider’s guide to the dos and don’ts of visiting this breathtaking destination.
Surrounded by the immense Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche – also reputed as the chocolate capital of Argentina, complete with its very own annual festival – offers a wealth of activities no matter what the weather. It’s snowing? Great, the skiing is awesome. Sun’s out? Perfect, you can lounge on the shores of one of the district’s many glittering lakes, or go hiking, kayaking, rafting, or camping. It’s raining? That’s okay, you can take a cable car up a mountain and admire the view from inside a restaurant that revolves atop the mountain peak, giving you a 360-degree view.
Basically, Bariloche’s a crowd-pleaser. It’s hard to go there and not have a good time, but there are ways to make the most of your trip with these dos and don’ts.
Do: Go to Cerveceria Patagonia. Why? The view is incredible. Good view + good beer = a good time. Cerveceria Patagonia’s beer may be available elsewhere in the country, but the view is not. However, if you’re looking for some unusual specialty beers made exclusively in Bariloche, check out Manush – they offer things like Milk Chocolate Stout, Belgian Dark, Honey Beer, and other fun, locally-made varieties. Also, get the cheese plate.
Don’t: Go to Antares. Not that the beer is bad – it’s actually pretty okay – but you can get it pretty much anywhere, and besides, Antares isn’t even from Bariloche, it’s from the city of Mar del Plata. And there is no view. When in Bariloche, it’s all about the view. (When in heavily urban environments like Buenos Aires, on the other hand, it’s all about the beer, pure and simple – here are the best spots to get it in the capital).
Do: Eat the chocolate-covered raspberries at artisanal chocolatier Rapanui.
Don’t: Eat whatever random chocolate made in Bariloche and expect it to blow your mind. Because, quite frankly, most of it won’t. But the chocolate-covered raspberries are quite tasty – as is the hot chocolate at Frantom.
Do: Go to the Almazen De Sabores. The intimate (dinner only) restaurant in the suburb of Dina Huapi serves up the region’s flavors in beautiful and surprising ways. Their taster menu is a perennial favorite, and with good reason. If you’re looking for humbler grub, locals love La Fonda de Tío, known for their milanesas, thinly-sliced cuts of meat that are breaded and then baked or fried. Along with empanadas, milanesas are a classic Argentine dish that you definitely need to have during your trip.
Don’t: Forget to try trout! Bariloche is famous for the freshwater fish, and it is offered in a variety of ways, from smoked to fried to roasted over an open fire. Even if you’re not a fish person, give it a go – it may win you over.
Do: Explore the environs. Bariloche offers a wide array of outdoor activities, from horseback riding, to hiking, skiing, zip-lining, and more. Even if you don’t consider yourself much of an outdoors person, you’re bound to find some way to breathe in the mountain air. For example, you could go explore Victoria Island and see a magical myrtle grove, go on this easy hike that offers incredible views over Lake Nahuel Haupi, ride up Cerro Campanario (which some say offers views superior to that of Cerro Otto), or drive around the seven lakes. Yes, driving counts.
Don’t: Be afraid to hitch-hike. Public transit in Bariloche is neither cheap (by Argentine standards) nor frequent, so most drivers are used to picking people up, making it a safer practice here than elsewhere. Chances are you’ll end up having a nice chat with a local on the way – who knows what other insider tips you’ll learn!