About an hour and a half north of Bariloche is Villa La Angostura, a cute little mountain town where all of the buildings on the one-road settlement are designed in typical Alpine fashion. Chunky wooden posts and pitched roofs are the order of the day, and once you’ve wandered around the chocolate shops and gift stores, head to one of the local restaurants and try some of the area’s famous trout.
Further north from Villa La Angostura is San Martin de los Andes, a town right on the banks of Lake Lacar and at the entrance to the Lanin National Park. If you head to San Martin in winter, you can hit the slopes on the local ski resort of Chapelco within the national park. In the summer, there are plenty of activities, from lying out on the string of lakeside beaches close to the town, to mountain biking through the park or kayaking on the lake itself.
This hippy enclave lies about an hour and a half from Bariloche. The drive itself is stunning, as you take the famous Route 40 all the way until you reach El Bolson. Famous for its Shire-like constructions, El Bolson is also home to many incredible rivers, mountains and lakes, and has a wealth of popular hikes. It is also the birthplace of well known ice-cream Jau Ja, so make sure you queue up with the throngs of locals and tourists who are just itching to get a taste of that creamy local dessert.
Be transported to Switzerland by visiting this tiny cluster of Alpine buildings located off the Circuito Chico in Bariloche. Set along either side of a dusty road, Colonia Suiza has restaurants, shops, ice-cream parlours, waffles huts, chocolateries and bric-a-brac shacks so you can snack as you pick up some local souvenirs.
A great option for families with kids is Laberinto Patagonia, a labyrinth on the outskirts of El Bolson. Situated on a plateau surrounded by impressive Patagonian peaks, the labyrinth is a tricky mistress, as you can spend hours in there trying to find your way around. There is also a great cafe on site which serves sandwiches and tasty treats, and provides some shelter if you happen to plan your trip to the labyrinth on a rainy day.
Located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park, Victoria Island is one of the best day trips that you can take from Bariloche. It has it all: a boat ride across the lake, a stroll through some incredible myrtle forests (the only place in the world where the bush transforms into a tree), native paintings on Playa del Toro and some amazing birds and wildlife native to the area.
Cross the Andes on this cruise of the Patagonian lake district. Bariloche is known for its stunning views of the lakes, but being actually on the lakes themselves entirely changes your perspective. The tour takes you on the water, past waterfalls and mountains, before docking in Puerto Blest to hop on a bus until you reach another lake, where you embark on a boat once more. Once you reach Puerto Frias, you will cross into Chile and take a 4×4 to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, one of the most spectacular places in Chile. If you want, you can choose to stay the night, or cross back into Argentina in the same day.