View of Lago Gutiérrez from the Refugio Frey trail.

It has been on my bucket list for quite some time to visit Patagonia. I’ve heard many amazing things about the area, but I wanted only to go if I could do it properly. In 2023, I was finally able to visit the way I had wanted, and what better place to start than in Bariloche?

I often questioned if Bariloche was worth visiting. I’m not much for large crowds and extremely touristy places but I thought this town was worth the risk. And I was right!

Keep reading to find out why you should visit Bariloche for your next adventure.

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A picture of Refugio Frey in Bariloche on a cloudless day.

Is Bariloche Worth Visiting?

I was questioning this at first myself. I knew the area was stunning and that I wouldn’t regret the views. But I heard it’s extremely touristy and there’s a lot of people.

While there are a lot of people in Bariloche, visiting the many restaurants and chocolate shops, it’s much quieter on the trails.

Even with the large crowds, I truly think Bariloche is worth visiting, and I’m so glad I did!

Reasons Why You Should Visit Bariloche

1. The Beautiful Scenery

Some consider Bariloche to be the entry point to Patagonia in Argentina, and I can see why! There are stunning mountain ridges for you to gaze upon immediately after arriving in town.

Right across the water of the Rio Negro, are picturesque snowcapped mountains. There’s even a skate park right on the water!

There are plenty of hiking opportunities as well for all levels of fitness.

2. Amazing Restaurants and Famous Chocolate Shops

There’s nothing better than coming back from a hike and indulging in some of the best food you can eat. While we were visiting, we ate Mexican, steak, and even fondue!

Every day was filled with joy, knowing I was going to go on a hike during the day and have a fantastic meal for dinner. You truly can’t beat that.

3. Night Life

There’s a huge nightlife scene here, along with breweries and brewpubs. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting down after a long hike, drinking a beer, and having a burger.

If you’re looking for a great brewpub, then I suggest checking out Belek. Or you could walk up Calle Mitre and choose whatever sticks out to you!

As far as clubs go, there’s Roket, which is located along the water. I’m not much of a clubber, so I prefer bars and breweries.

Drinking a beer on Calle Mitre in Bariloche.

Best Hikes in Bariloche

Like a lot of people, the hikes were the main reason we wanted to visit this town. That plus the accessibility to them by public transport and, of course, the food.

What’s great about Bariloche is the wide range of hikes of all difficulty levels. No matter where you are, there’s a hike for you to do.

Below are some of my favorites in the region.

Cerro Campanario

Cerro Campanario is a great hike that offers 360 views of the area in breathtaking style. What’s great about this hike is that the bus ride is easy and the hike is short.

If you don’t want to do the hike at all, you have the option to take a chair lift up. Even I was interested in taking this lift up to the top because I knew the views would be amazing.

cerro campanario bariloche

Cerro Llao Llao

Another great hike that offers similar views is Cerro Llao Llao. You can access this hike on the same bus number that you took to get to Cerro Campanario.

There are options for making this hike as short or long as you want. Only the last 20 to 30 minutes of the hike is uphill, and the rest is flat.

I suggest packing a great lunch for this one and enjoying it at the peak.

View point at the top of Cerro Llao Llao in Bariloche.

Refugio Frey

Refugio Frey is a longer hike but can be done in either one or two days. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the region, and for good reason!

This hike is over 11 miles long if you do it all in one day. The trail takes you along Lago Gutiérrez and then up to a stunning refugio.

It’s possible to stay the night here, watch the sunrise/sunset, and hike back in the morning.

The prices to stay here are fairly priced, and you can also purchase food from here if you’d like. The prices are as follows (as of February, 5th 2024):

  • One Night Stay: $24,000 Pesos
  • Full Board (Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Overnight): $60,000 Pesos
  • Breakfast: $9,000 Pesos
  • Simple Dinner: $13,500 Pesos
  • Full Dinner: $20,300 Pesos
refugio frey bariloche

Other Things to do in Bariloche

Things to Know Before Visiting Bariloche

Before you make your final decision on whether you should visit Bariloche or not, there are some extra things I think you should know.

This includes the best time to visit, whether it is safe, and how to use the bus system here.

How Many Days in Bariloche

How many days you visit all depends on the type of activities you enjoy doing. For most people, I’d say between 3 – 5 days.

Staying here for five days allows you to do a couple of hikes while enjoying everything else Bariloche has to offer without feeling rushed.

My least favorite thing about travel is feeling rushed, and it can really wear me down.

Is Bariloche Safe?

From what I have experienced, Bariloche is really safe, especially if you stick to touristy activities. Just like every city, there are places you shouldn’t visit, but I didn’t run into any of those.

There have been reported instances where cars are getting broken into at the trailhead of hikes but this isn’t that uncommon throughout many hikes in the world.

Bring everything you don’t want stolen with you or don’t bring it in the car at all.

Best Time to Visit Bariloche

The best time to visit depends on the activities you’re looking to do. If you want to ski, then you’ll likely want to show up during the winter months, which are June through October.

November is when it starts to warm up, and it stays warm through March. We visited in December, and the weather was perfect!

The Bus System in Bariloche

What I loved most about Bariloche was how accessible everything was by public transport. It was very affordable but might be confusing to some on how to use their bus system.

You can’t simply get on the bus and pay the driver. We had to go to a store, purchase a SUBE card, and add money to it.

In order to purchase a SUBE card, go to a Kiosco or anywhere where you see a sticker on the window.

Once you get on the bus, scan the pass and look for your stop. For example, if you’re looking to hike Cerro Campanario, look out for bus number 20.

I like to download the offline map on Mapsme and watch where I’m going, just in case. Mapsme and Google Maps will have bus stop symbols.

You can click that bus stop symbol on Google Maps and the bus schedule will come up. It’s super helpful!

A picture of my SUBE card at the top of Cerro Llao Llao.

Best Places to Stay in Bariloche

  • Portales de la Patagonia Apartments: Looking for a place that feels like home? This apartment complex has everything you need to make your trip to Bariloche great.
  • Charming Luxury Lodge & Private Spa: If you want to make your trip to Argentina special, there’s no better place than this charming luxury spa!
  • Cinerama Hostel: If you need a cheap but nice hostel in Bariloche, I highly recommend Cinerama. It’s right in the city center and comes with free breakfast!

Final Thoughts

I’m so glad I did more research and chose to visit Bariloche. It was one of my favorite cities in Argentina because it has everything. You can get away from the craziness to go on a hike or kayak. You can eat a great steak, have a thirst-quenching beer, or even eat some fondue! The possibilities are endless and I’ll be making a trip back here as soon as possible!