By Annie Shustrin
If you’ve ever dreamed of skiing in Patagonia or or sipping red wine in an alpine cafe, San Carlos de Bariloche is a dream destination for you. It sits in foothills of the Argentinian Andes, and the surrounding mountains make it a stunning place to enjoy either a winter ski trip or summer hiking. The town itself is a quirky mix of Argentinian culture and Swiss style which sets it apart from other South American towns.
Outside the town center lies the main attraction on a trip to Bariloche: the mountains. It’s no wonder it has become such a major hub for outdoor activities as its got everything you could want in a mountain town, regardless of season.
In the summertime hiking is the main draw. Mountains extend in all directions. If you aren’t the active type, there are a few beaches that are popular for sunbathing, though the lake’s water is always quite cold. For a panoramic Patagonian view, take the cable car up to Cerro Otto, which isn’t too far out of town.
In the wintertime, you’ll be spending your days at Bariloche’s most popular ski resort, Cerro Catedral. The resort is fairly spread out and has plenty of terrain for skiers of all skill levels. For an unforgettable lunch or afternoon coffee, head to the cafe at the top of the resort. The view from here is one of the most stunning in all of South America.
Back in town, Bariloche has a plethora of restaurants, bars, shops, and a lot of quirkiness. You’ll find restaurants serving all types of international cuisine, though its parrillas (Argentinian grills, serving all cuts of beef, sausages, and sides) serve the best of Argentinian cuisine. Check out El Boliche de Alberto for enormous steaks and a fantastic domestic wine selection.
When you aren’t on the slopes, hiking along the lake, or enjoying a filet mignon, make sure to head down to the main square to make friends with Bariloche’s friendliest residents – the Alpine rescue Saint Bernards. Everyday a troupe of Saint Bernards hang out in the square to pose for photos with tourists and are irresistibly cute. (Sounds odd, but it’s totally worth the trip!) After you’ve gotten your photo taken, be sure to step into one of Bariloche’s many chocolate shops, which sell Swiss-style confections of all types and flavors.
These bits of Europe, coupled with some amazing alpine terrain, bring a quirky personality to Bariloche to make it more than just another ski town.
Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now. She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels, and is now based in New York City. She writes for her blog TravelShus.com, as well contributing articles to other online travel publications. Though Indonesia and New Zealand are amongst her favorite destinations, her favorite travel memory was in China, where she got to hold a baby panda on her very own lap.