Here’s how to spend 2 days in Bariloche. This itinerary is the perfect weekend introduction to the city!
What can you do with 2 days in Bariloche? We’ve crafted an action-packed travel itinerary that includes some city highlights, a scenic road trip, and an island boat excursion, so you can get a taste of Bariloche in 48 hours.
Bariloche, officially known as San Carlos de Bariloche, is a beautiful city set on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi and it is known for its alpine-style architecture and stunning natural surroundings.
The best way to experience Bariloche is to spend as much time outdoors as possible enjoying the mountain views, kayaking the lakes, and dining at the local brewpubs.
I’ve been to Bariloche many times (this is the gateway to northern Patagonia and I’m kind of obsessed with this corner of Argentina!), so I’ve hand-picked what I think are some of the most iconic experiences this destination has to offer.
So if you’re thinking of visiting over a weekend, this 2-day Bariloche travel guide is just what you need!
2 Days in Bariloche Itinerary
So you’ve just flown into Bariloche from Buenos Aires and you want to hit the ground running! My tip would be to arrive the night before and choose a centrally-located hotel, so you can start your exploration bright and early.
Day 1 in Bariloche
Breakfast at Rapa Nui
Start the morning with breakfast at Rapa Nui. This is a famous chocolate shop, ice cream parlour and cafe that also features a skating rink. Yes, that’s a lot under one roof but it’s an iconic spot and the cafe has a beautiful art nouveau interior with colourful stained glass windows.
You probably won’t want to start the morning off with chocolate and ice cream (though you can since you’re on vacation), but rest assured that you can find normal breakfast items.
For a local breakfast, try ordering a classic café con leche y medialunas – that’s coffee with milk and sweet croissants.
They also offer a continental breakfast, plus you can order an assortment of teas, fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, sandwiches, cakes and more.
Explore downtown Bariloche on foot
Spend your first morning exploring the downtown area on foot – you can even join a Bariloche walking tour if you want to dive into the local history.
Centro Cívico is the heart of Bariloche, so this is the place to start. Here you’ll find the main square and town hall featuring the alpine-style architecture this part of Patagonia is known for.
You can visit the Patagonia Museum, which traces the natural & cultural history of Patagonia with a range of dioramas & artifacts. Or you can browse Calle Mitre, which is lined with shops and sometimes turns into a pedestrian street.
Quick Lunch at El Garage Food Court
Today’s lunch is going to be a quick bite since you have a boat to catch! I would suggest an early lunch at El Garage, a food court featuring a variety of food trucks that opens at 11:30 am.
You have lots of options to choose from including hamburgers, pizzas, pastas, gourmet sandwiches, shawarmas and more.
Isla Victoria Boat Tour
Isla Victoria is an island located in Nahuel Huapi Lake within Nahuel Huapi National Park and it’s one of the most popular day trips from Bariloche.
The island is characterized by a diverse landscape that includes lush forests, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches, so a boat trip is the perfect way to enjoy it!
The boat tour to Isla Victoria also makes a stop at the Arrayanes Forest, located on the Quetrihué Peninsula. This forest is known for its rare and beautiful cinnamon-coloured Arrayanes trees. The landscapes of the Arrayanes Forest are said to have inspired Disney’s Bambi.
If you choose to book your boat tour to Isla Victoria independently, you’ll need to make your own way to Puerto Pañuelo, the port the boat tour departs from. You can catch bus Bus #20 which takes about 1 hour, or take a taxi. You’ll then purchase your tickets at Cau Cau, though if you’re visiting during high season, I would recommend buying them online in advance since this is a very popular trip!
Alternatively, you can book an Isla Victoria and Arrayanes Forest boat tour, and select the option that includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. It does cost a bit more, but it’s a hassle-free option if you don’t feel too confident in your Spanish language skills.
Tip: Aside from the cost of the boat tour, once you arrive in Puerto Pañuelo, you’ll need cash to pay for the National Park entrance fee and the boarding fee. You need to pay this small fee whether you go with a tour or independently.
Have dinner in town
You’ll be back in town right in time for dinner. If you’re in the mood to try a brewpub, I would recommend Cerveza Manush at their Centro location. Their food and beers are amazing, plus they open early (most Argentine restaurants don’t open for dinner until 8:00 pm!)
The hamburgers here are fabulous. Their Manush Burger features two patties, beer-caramelized onions, double cheddar, aioli and lettuce on a brioche bun. It also comes with a side of fries.
Aside from burgers, you can get gourmet salads, pizzas, and a variety of traditional Argentine dishes.
Day 2 in Bariloche
Have breakfast at your hotel
We’ll keep things easy and start the morning with breakfast at your hotel because today you’re going on a road trip!
Drive Circuito Chico and enjoy the views from Cerro Campanario
Circuito Chico is one of the most popular and scenic tourist routes in Bariloche and it’s a short enough route that you can do it in half a day.
The name Circuito Cuico translates to ‘Short Circuit’ and it’s a 60-kilometer (37-mile) loop that can be traversed by car, bicycle, bus or as part of a guided tour.
The journey starts in the center of Bariloche and you’ll take Avenida Exequiel Bustillo to leave the city. This road winds through some of the most picturesque parts of the region, including dense forests, turquoise lakes, and snow-capped mountains.
As you leave the city, you’ll go past Cerro Campanario, a hill that offers some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the region.
You can hike to the top (if you’re visiting independently), which is what I did, but it’s not an amazing hike, so save your legs and take the chairlift to the top.
The views from the peak are where Cerro Campanario really shines! In fact, National Geographic voted Cerro Campanario one of the best panoramic views in the world.
There are numerous balconies at the top offering 360-degree views. From Cerro Campanario you can see the Nahuel Huapi Lake, Moreno Lake, El Trébol Lagoon, San Pedro Peninsula, Isla Victoria, Cerro Otto, Cerro López, Cerro Goye, Cerro Bellavista, Cerro Catedral and the Llao Llao Hotel.
As you drive the Circuito Chico, you’ll come across various panoramic points where you’ll definitely want to pull over and take pictures, you’ll go past breweries, cute little villages and even the iconic Llao Llao Hotel.
Colonia Suiza, a small Swiss-style village, is a short detour off this route, so you can easily tack it on if you’re driving a rental vehicle. And if you’re up for a hike, you can consider Cerro Llao Llao via Villa Tacul, which is 5.6-km out-and-back and takes just under 2 hours to complete.
The beauty of driving the Circuito Chico is in the landscapes and the possibilities along the way, so enjoy the journey.
This 4-hour Circuito Chico tour stops at Cerro Campanario and at Punto Panoramico for views of the Llao Llao peninsula.
Have lunch at a local brewery
Since you’ll be spending the morning on the Circuito Chico, I would recommend having lunch at one of the local breweries.
If this is your first time visiting Bariloche, I would suggest going to Cervecería Patagonia. This is Patagonia’s most famous brewery and they have a beautiful location overlooking Lago Moreno. The views are postcard-perfect and there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy the scenery.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more low-key and with fewer crowds, my personal favourite is Cervecería Gilbert. This little brewery and restaurant serves up traditional Patagonian dishes featuring wild boar and trout, or lentil and pumpkin dishes if you’re vegetarian. Cervecería Gilbert doesn’t have the views, but it looks like a little storybook house in the forest.
Kayaking on Lake Moreno
You may as well spend the whole day soaking in the beauty of Bariloche’s Circuito Chico, so for your afternoon activity consider a kayaking trip on Lake Moreno.
Morenito Kayak offers kayak and standup paddle board rentals and they are located on Playa del Moreno Sin Viento. ‘Sin viento’ means ‘without wind’ and this is very important in Patagonia! Thankfully, this beach is shielded from the wind, so you can generally expect calmer waters than elsewhere.
You can rent kayaks and SUPs by the hour, or if you prefer, you can arrange a guided kayaking tour ahead of time.
Dinner at the Llao Llao Hotel
End your final day in Bariloche with a fancy dinner at the Llao Llao Hotel.
There are several bars and restaurants to choose from at this hotel, but I would recommend Restaurante Patagonia. This restaurant looks like you’re inside a log cabin and it has a super warm and cozy feel.
We opted for fondue when we had dinner there and it was a really fun meal.
You can even go down to the cava or cellar to select your own bottle of wine.
Where to go after Bariloche
Maybe you only have 2 days in Bariloche because you’re planning a bigger northern Patagonia road trip. If that’s the case, here are some towns to consider adding to your itinerary.
- Villa La Angostura: This town is nicknamed ‘the Garden of Patagonia’. It has two beautiful bays, tea houses galore, and you can also take a boat ride out to the Arrayanes Forest and hike back.
- San Martín de Los Andes: This is one of the starting points of the Seven Lakes Route. You can also enjoy a boat ride on Lake Lacar, hike the local trails, and visit the town’s many chocolate shops.
- El Bolsón: This hippie town is carved between two mountain ranges. You can visit the Sculpture Forest, shop at the hippie fair for souvenirs, and hike Cerro Piltriquitrón which means ‘hanging from the clouds’.
- Lago Puelo: This lakeside town is set next to Lago Puelo National Park. This destination is all about hiking and going on boat trips.
- Esquel: This mountain town is home to the Old Patagonian Express train also known as La Trochita. You can kayak Laguna La Zeta or hike up to Cerro La Cruz for town views.
Travel tips for 2 days in Bariloche
- Be flexible with your schedule. The weather in Patagonia can be quite unpredictable – even in northern Patagonia! – so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast and rearrange activities if need be. If the winds are out of control, swap your outdoor activities for a visit to Museo del Chocolate Havanna, an afternoon tea at Mamuschka or some indoor ice skating at Rapa Nui.
- Dress in layers. Because the weather in Patagonia is everchanging and you’ll be exploring the mountains, it’s best to dress in layers. You might be okay in a t-shirt at noon when you’re standing next to the lake, but you’ll probably want a fleece and a windbreaker when you’re enjoying the views on a mountaintop.
- Rent a car for greater flexibility. If you feel up to driving in Argentina, you may want to rent a car at the airport and use it to explore Bariloche and the surrounding area. This will give you greater mobility than taking the bus or joining a tour. However, keep in mind that most cars in Argentina are manual, so if you can only drive automatic, you’ll need to reserve in advance as these vehicles are few and far between.
- Be mindful of restaurant hours. Most restaurants in Argentina close in the afternoon and open quite late for dinner. If you really want to eat at a particular spot, be sure to check their hours of operation, because you can’t randomly show up for a late lunch.
- Save some attractions for next time! It’s hard to pack all the highlights into 2 days in Bariloche, so don’t fret and save some things for your next visit. Bariloche is a year-round destination so you can come back in any season and still have a great time.
GROUP TOURS – If you’d rather join a group tour to travel in Argentina, check out Gadventures.
CAR RENTAL – To explore Argentina beyond the cities, the best way to do so is by renting a car. Discover Cars offers rentals across the country.
BUS TICKETS – Bus travel is a great way to see Argentina. BusBud offers numerous routes.
TRAVEL INSURANCE – Don’t leave on your trip without booking travel insurance. You can get a quote on SafetyWing.
HOTELS – Booking.com offers accommodations to suit all budgets and travel styles.
TOURS – For a variety of tours and activities, have a look at Viator.