Time to Head Down South: Bariloche, Argentina

This week for Travel Tuesday we are going a little further afield in our adventures. You will still need a European language so pack your Spanish phrasebook, and get yourself ready for a visit to Bariloche in Argentina.

San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known as Bariloche, is a city in the province of Rio Negro in Argentina, located on the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.

The city has been a tourism hub since around the 1930s, with a focus on skiing, trekking and mountaineering activities, and a destination for the 'viaje de egresados' (high school senior trip) since the 1980s. There are a wealth of restaurants and cafes, and chocolate shops are growing in number to satisfy the some 108,205 inhabitants as well as the multitude of tourists visiting each year.

Getting what we came for…

Photo via Wikipedia

Bariloche is, for many, a top skiing destination, and the most well-known ski resort in Argentina - Cerro Catedral - is based a mere 20km from here. The ski season runs from around mid-June to early October, and websites enticing skiers always guarantee snow in their advertisements due to a snow-making system that creates ‘real’ snowflakes whether it is snowing weather or not.

All ski disciplines are available for visitors to try, including off-piste, free-styling and snowboarding. There are 53 well-marked trails of various difficulties to tackle covering an area of 600 hectares and reaching around two kilometres above sea level. Cerro Catedral plays host to many important international events and snow festivals year round, and the night time downhill torch parade is a must see.

Finally, for the non-skiers, as well as the ski school and all the slopes a skier can handle at Cerro Catedral, there are first-class restaurants, souvenir shops, a kids nursery, a shopping mall, and nightclubs.

To see and do…

Photo via Wikimedia

But where to begin?

Let’s start with nature, because after all this talk of skiing we are feeling outdoorsy. The Nahuel Huapi National Park is an absolute must, being the oldest national park in Argentina that was established in 1934. Cerro Tronador is an extinct volcano with beautiful trails and views along the border between Argentina and Chile. Puerto Blest y Cascada de los Cantaro has the most breathtaking views, with steps and viewing points all the way up the waterfall until you reach an incredible lake. Isla Victoria is a tiny island located on Lake Nahuel Huapi, with beautiful flora and fauna for you to photograph. Lastly, Playa Bonita, or Beautiful Beach, is the destination for you if you need to relax after all that walking.

Once you have soaked up enough of the local environment, head to Centro Civico for some history, culture and architecture. Colonia Suiza is a small village and municipality, with buildings made almost entirely of wood, fantastic craft markets, and if dressing up in local attire is your thing you should definitely visit on a Wednesday or Sunday, which are days of celebration. And if you need a little prehistory on your trip, look no further than Parque Nahuelito, where you can pose alongside replica dinosaurs.

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Food and drink

If sampling cuisine is more your kind of thing when you travel, then this is the section for you. Alto el Fuego is a famous steakhouse, Butterfly an elegant, luxurious restaurant for those who want something special. La Salamandra Pulperia is a small restaurant close to the Centro Cívico with an excellent personal service and even better food and wine. Bellevue Salon de Ta & Queso Pan y Vino is something in between a cafe and a teahouse, with delicious homemade food and the most incredible views for you to look at whilst you eat.

Since we mentioned chocolate shops earlier, it would be remiss not to include a couple of the best you can find in Bariloche. Mamuschka is a well-established shop that opened in 1989, and boasts of marzipan and praline to rival that found in Germany. Rapa Nui is heaven for those with a sweet tooth. On top of an incredible range of chocolate that speaks of a heritage in Europe, there is also an ice cream shop and a cake shop where you can indulge yourself.

Nightlife

Once you have over-indulged in all the chocolate and sweet treats you can handle, perhaps it is time to head out to dance it all off again ready to start all over again tomorrow. South Bar can be found in one of the main commercial areas of Bariloche, and is perhaps a perfect place to start your evening out because it is a little less lively than some of the more popular places. Antares is both a restaurant and microbrewery, with nine beers on tap, a vibrant atmosphere, and good music. Los Vikingos is the place to head if you want to hear some live music. It is a laid-back kind of place with unique decorations including a miniature Viking longship on the porch!

Finally, if there’s still energy left in your legs, head to one of Bariloche’s favourite nightclubs. Roket is huge, with a 2000 person capacity. The sound system is one of the best, and the laser lighting impressive. Expect a late night: Roket doesn’t even open until midnight. Cerebro is another excellent choice, also with a large crowd capacity and a number of bars, VIP lounges and laser displays that will keep you occupied long into the night.

Photo via Wikipedia

We don’t know about you, but we are more than ready to pack our suitcases and head to Bariloche. We have barely skimmed the surface of things to do in this beautiful location. Maybe we will see you there to discover some more!