Think of Bariloche as the Colorado of Argentina. In the winter months, the ski slopes are lined with tourists from all over the world. In the summer, those same slopes become beautiful hiking trails. Thus, it's no surprise that it has become a popular backpacking destination. Although you can easily spend many months exploring this gorgeous area of Patagonia, here's how we think you should spend a few days there.
Where to stay:
You will probably want to stay in the center of San Carlos de Bariloche. Here you can find buses that will take you to the hiking trails and ski lifts. The town is very small and there are hostels all over, so you have a bunch of options to choose from. Most rooms should have views of the lake. We suggest that you stay at Penthouse 1004, which is a lot nicer than most hostels and has pretty lake views in every room.
What to eat:
Bariloche is unlike the rest of Argentina because of the large Swiss and German population that settled there during the twentieth century. This resulted in amazing chocolate that rivals that of Europe. The most famous chocolate store is Mamushka. It's a huge, overly crowded chocolate store with an incredible selection of chocolate and high prices to match. Be sure to walk around and explore some of the smaller chocolate shops which offer treats that are just as delicious, but are much cheaper. A good choice is Abuela Goye, located just a few doors down from Mamushka.
The best parrilla, a beloved local dish, is offered at Alto del Fuego. If you ask your hotel about it, they should be able to direct you there. We suggest making a reservation. Bariloche is also known for lamb, and the lamb and mashed potato dish at Alto del Fuego does not dissapoint. The portions are also enormous and can easily be shared.
Manush is a fun Irish pub that also serves delicious food and beer. Come here after a long day of hiking for a really good burger and a fun crowd.
Refugio Frey- this hiking trail takes somewhere between 4 and 7 hours to complete. While guides will tell you that it only takes 3-4 hours and is an easy hike, be prepared that it can definitely take longer. The hike goes through all of the biospheres and is absolutely incredible. You will start off hiking through bushes, then you will make your way through rocks, then a forest, and finally a snowy mountain range. Along the way, you can enjoy incredible lake and mountain views. Be prepared with water, good hiking boots and snacks.
Llao Llao is one of the fanciest hotels in the area. The rumor is that Bill Clinton came here to play golf and refused to leave for two weeks. If you ask the concierge (even if you aren't staying here), he or she will give you a map with hiking trails. All of them lead to gorgeous views of the many surrounding lakes. Bring snacks and have a nice picnic at the top of whatever trail you choose. These trails are some of the easier ones and will take you a few hours. Stop at the hotel when you're done for a little snack and a nice view of the lake.
Cerro Campenario- this hike is by far the easiest and will only take you about 30-40 minutes. If you take the bus from Bariloche, it will drop you off right outside of the entrance to the trail. If you're not in the mood to hike, you can take the chairlift up and down and enjoy views the entire way.