Bariloche is rightly beloved by Argentines and international tourists: here’s what to do in this beautiful city! Bariloche is located in northern Patagonia, on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Despite being a real city (population exceeds one hundred thousand), Bariloche is a very pleasant and touristically rich place.
In fact, Bariloche is a trekking and biking paradise in the summer season and a favorite ski resort in the winter. This post, however, is dedicated to what to do in Bariloche in the summer season!
The trek to the Otto Meiling Refuge is definitely one of the most beautiful in the Bariloche area. The starting point of the trek is Pampa Linda, which can only be reached by a private service that can be booked in one of the tour operators in Bariloche. The transfer leaves at 8 a.m. from Bariloche and reaches Pampa Linda around 11 a.m.: the cost is about 25 euros, round trip.
The trek begins in a simple way: for three kilometers you walk on a dirt mountain road. After three kilometers a few shortcuts begin, easily recognized by signs reminding us of local wildlife. At the seventh kilometer it is possible to find a water source, the last on the path: after this begins a stretch called ‘caracoles’, marked by about forty hairpin bends.
Once the caracoles are finished, the panoramic views of Cerro Tronador, a fantastic glacier, begin! Some viewpoints allow you to see the waterfalls rising from the glacier: splendid! A final, fairly steep climb leads to the Otto Meiling Hut. I slept in the camping area, paying about seven euros: the shelter costs about 30 euros, and it is possible to order dinner. The trail of the climb is available here.
The Otto Meiling Refuge is truly splendid! Its location is fantastic, surrounded by the glacier (VIDEO). In addition, the interior of the shelter is very well maintained and there is a kind of cold-water ‘pool’ where the brave can cool off.
On the way back I recommend the detour (after 10 kilometers) that leads to the viewpoint
Castano Overa: from here you can admire the falls from below (VIDEO)!
The detour is two kilometers long, four kilometers round trip, so about an hour’s walk. This is the track of the descent, including the detour to Castano Overa.
To return to Bariloche, I took the private bus at 5 p.m. from Pampa Linda: I had booked it in Bariloche before going. In Pampa Linda there are campgrounds, restaurants and bars to refresh yourself.
Certainly the Otto Meiling refuge is one of the most beautiful treks in Bariloche: it also connects with the Agustino Rocca refuge and the Five Lagoons trek.
Trekking lovers have so many possibilities in the Bariloche area! Definitely the four shelters are one of the goals for hiking enthusiasts!
The four shelters are the Lopez, Laguna Negra, Jakob and Frey. All four shelters can be visited in a day’s trek. It is possible, however, to sleep in all four shelters with prior reservation. In addition, it is possible to join the four shelters: the crossing is epic!
I elaborate on the four refuges in this post
: here I will simply say that all four are fantastic, and if I have to pick one with difficulty I choose Refugio Lopez!
Bariloche is a paradise for bike lovers. The best known ride is called the Chico Circuit. The easiest way to undertake this circuit is to take bus 20 and get off at kilometer 17, stopping just after Cerro Campanario.
Once you get off the bus, you can rent a bike: the cost is about 15 euros for a full day. Pedaling along the Circuito Chico you can see breathtaking views of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Perito Moreno, ride through beautiful forests, swim in crystal-clear waters such as those at Playa sin viento, visit the famous Llao Llao hotel, and drink excellent craft beer at Cerveceria Patagonia (wonderful place!) and Cerveceria Gilbert.
The ride is about 30 km long, with an elevation gain not far from 1000 meters: there are many climbs! I did the Chico Circuit by bike in 2016 and it was a wonderful experience. For those who do not like biking, I recommend renting a car, or booking a tour at a downtown tourist agency. Cycling takes up the whole day, while driving or touring takes only half a day.
Also in the Circuito Chico area is Colonia Suiza. This small town was founded by two Swiss brothers, from the Goye family. To this day, downtown streets are reminiscent of Swiss cities, and there is no shortage of buildings reminiscent of Switzerland. Colonia Suiza is loved by Argentine tourists: no shortage of places to eat and drink! I ate very well at Aire Sur and at a food truck: at the latter I had an excellent guiso, which is a mix of lentils and meat served in a loaf of bread. In Colonia Suiza I slept in a nice campground called Camping Ser.
Colonia Suiza is the base for climbing to the Laguna Negra refuge, as we will see in one of the next sections.
One of the most popular tours of Bariloche is the seven lakes tour.
The tour lasts a full day and allows you to learn about the seven lakes
that are located between San Martin de Los Andes and Villa La Angostura. In 2016, I rode these 120 kilometers by bicycle-a fantastic daily tour, described in this post!
Bariloche offers many things even to those who do not like to walk! Two vantage points, for example, can be reached comfortably and effortlessly.
To reach Teleferico Cerro Otto, the best thing to do is to go to the official vendors between Moreno and Morales or between Mitre and Villegas and take a package, at a cost of about 15 euros, includes the bus to the teleferico, the ascent and descent to Cerro Otto, and the return to Bariloche. The views from Cerro Otto are spectacular, as you can see Lake Nahuel Huapi in its grandeur. Not only that, you can also admire Cerro Tronador! At the top there is a bakery, a cafe, and various children’s entertainment. Here is the view from the top!
The second viewpoint worth visiting is Cerro Campanario. In this case, the easiest way to reach the Cerro Campanario chairlift is to take bus number 20 and get off at 17 kilometer Avenida Bustillo. The cost of the chairlift is about 6 euros.
The viewpoint of Cerro Campanario is different from that of Cerro Otto. In fact, Cerro Campanario offers a less extensive view than Lago Nahuel Haupi but, on the other hand, offers views of Lago Perito Moreno, Colonia Suiza, and the four refuges area.
The center of Bariloche is worth a walk. The main street is called Mitre, and it is full of chocolate stores. Among the best ones are Rapa Nui and Mamuska.
The Cathedral of Our Lady Nahuel Huapi is worth a visit: the city’s patron saint is St. Charles Borromeo. Finally, the most beautiful beaches in Bariloche are Playa Melipal, Playa Serena, and especially Playa Sin Viento, which is located in the Circuito Chico area.