When I decided to visit Bariloche, I had no intention of hiking. Shameful, I know. At the time of my visit, I had yet to discover my love for hiking. I will probably be forever kicking myself for missing out on Patagonia’s world-renowned hiking.
Still, I think it says a lot about the area that I was able to enjoy it and soak in beautiful views without a pair of hiking boots. If you can’t hike for whatever reason, you can still enjoy all Patagonia has to offer:
National Geographic ranked Cerro Campanario as one of the winners of the magazine’s 2014 photo contest. If National Geographic says it’s good, you know it’s good! Best of all, no hiking is necessary to enjoy the panoramic views! For 160 Pesos you take a chairlift 3,445 to the top of the summit.
If you’re feeling ambitious, the trek to the top only takes about 35 minutes but is very steep. Once you make it up, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Andes, and Nahuel Huapi Lake. There’s also a cozy cafe with coffee, and desserts that lets you enjoy the view while keeping warm.
Cerro Otto boasts impressive views and is accessible via cable-car. While it’s slightly underwhelming compared to Cerro Campanario, the scenery is still breathtaking. Once at the top, there is a tubing area for children and paragliding tours!
Exploring via Bariloche’s Bus System
After realizing I wouldn’t be able to beat Cerro Campanario’s views, I decided to enjoy nature via kayaking. However my poor Spanish skills caused a misunderstanding between me and the bus driver, which resulted in me getting quite lost, despite the fact that Bariloche actually has a pretty decent bus network that will take you to most of the major sights.
I found myself stranded at an absolutely beautiful lake-front beach, where I spent the day lounging around with a book and sipping on mate. Along the way, I saw a lot of things I would have liked to check out, including markets, gorgeous bridges, and restaurants offering an amazing backdrop. In retrospect, I would have rented a car and suggest you consider doing the same.
Nahuel Haupi National Park
Before heading back to Buenos Aires, I wanted to check out the Nahuel Haupi National Park. I was a bit hungover from enjoying some wine the night before with newly made hostel friends, so I was looking for an excursion that was a bit more low-key.
My hostel recommended a horseback riding tour complete with an Asado and Malbec. The horse back riding tour was great, and made me feel like an honorary gaucho. We rode deep into the forest, passed grazing cattle, trotted through the lake, and took in lovely mountain views. My only complaint was that the horses seemed a bit worn out from their earlier ride that morning. I was advised not to bring my camera on the ride, so unfortunately I was not able to document the experience.
The park has offers well-marked trails for hikers of all experience levels. There’s also opportunities within the park for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, camping, dining, boat tours, and traditional Argentine Asado.
The region may be most famous for it’s hiking, but it’s also well-known for its chocolate. While strolling around the small downtown area, you’ll come across a wide variety of chocolate shops. My favorite was Rapa Nui.
Upon entering the store, there’s a heavenly chocolate scent and a wide assortment of hand crafted chocolates. The gelato in Argentina is amazing, and I found the gelato from Rapa Nui to be some of the best I tried in the country!
Mamushka, and Chocolate del Turista are two other popular chocolate stores in the central area that are worth checking out. If you’re interested in finding out more about the region’s chocolate history, or production methods, the Fenoglio Chocolate Museum is a thirty minute walk from the city center.
Green House Hostel
The real highlight of my time in Bariloche was being able to come home to Green House Hostel. The hostel is in a remodeled single family home, and is a clean and cozy backpacker’s retreat. The atmosphere was perfect, and I was able to meet several other backpackers over the hostel’s delicious nightly dinners. The location a bit far from the main town area, but is close to the bus stop, a public beach, and a grocery store.
From the dorm window, I had a nice view of the lake and mountains. There were a few days where I found it hard to leave the hostel’s garden, and ended up just reading by the hammock or hanging with new friends over a bottle of Malbec.
Should you find yourself in Bariloche, I hope you will be able to enjoy the world-renowned trekking! But if that’s not your thing, rest assured that you can still have a wonderful time sans hiking boots! If you’ve visited Bariloche, what were you favorite things to do?