As the vibrant capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires is the most visited city in Argentina. While the capital city is pretty much my boyfriend abroad (if cities could be significant others), there’s another Argentinian city in that I also hold very near and dear to my heart – Bariloche.
Neighboring the Chilean border along the shore of Lake Nahel Huapi, Bariloche is Buenos Aires’ lesser-known little brother, but still very much worth knowing. The city’s mouthwatering meat, and chocolate selection is its claim to fame, but there’s more to Bariloche than just deliciousness. Take my hand, and together, let’s make like Robert Frost and take the Argentinian road less traveled by.
Ride a Trusty Steed
Quit waiting on a knight in shining armor to pick you up on his white horse. Find your own horse, and trot through the countryside of Bariloche together instead. We booked our tour through Sebastian’s Horses, a local horse farm is that highly recommended by Israelis backpacking through South America.
Sebastian is a boisterous local who guides you through the forest to his home, where you’ll enjoy lunch in his garden as a group, in addition to a cute personal photoshoot (see the unreal, peaceful views in the photos above). Horseback riding with Sebastian is not for the weak-hearted; his horses gallop at full-speed with high energy, quite literally running for the hills. If horseback riding was an extreme sport, this would be it.
Bike Circuito Chico
Biking through Bariloche’s Circuito Chico with the warm, Argentinian sun on your face and the breeze running your hair is such a dreamy day activity. Take a local bus to the bike trail, rent a bike, and start riding. With all the uphill roads, Circuito Chico is quite the workout.
As someone who joined two super fit backpackers on their 25km biking journey, I would know. They breezed through the entire trail, while I was huffing and puffing behind them, constantly having to get off my bike and walk the uphills, looking forward to the downhills and plateaus instead. The hills were alive with the sounds of my heavy breathing that day. Nonetheless, there’s something new and beautiful to see every couple of kilometers that you’re sweating through.
The best part? All that strenuous activity is rewarded bountifully at the end. A cold, refreshing beer and a side of fries await at Patagonia Brewery, a social meeting point for bikers on the road. There are plenty of other breweries along the road, but Patagonia Brewery is the most mainstream. A bike trail that doubles as a beer trail? Revolutionary.
Hike Cerro Campanario
The mountaintop views of Cerro Campanario are possibly the most stunning views I’ve experienced in Argentina. Then again, travel guides have described it as “the best views in the world,” so I’m not exactly surprised. The hike is steep but quick (35-40 minutes) – an easy hike for an immense reward. If you’re feeling lazy that day, you can also take the chairlift for $7.
My travel buddy and I decided to go on our last day in Bariloche, and quickly realized that the day we chose happened to be the same day the city was hosting a marathon. Unfortunately for us, that meant buses were not running until later. Because it was our last day, we made an adventure out of it, and hiked from our hostel to Cerro Campanario, public transit be damned!
It took us about three and a half hours, so we were pretty winded once we got to the actual hike. We considered taking the chairlift, but it wasn’t running either. Having made it this far, we kept fighting that good fight. We were pleasantly surprised to find a cafe, where we could relax and re-energize ourselves at the top of the mountain. Because there was no public transit, we were the only tourists around, so the hike was peaceful and special. Turns out there was a silver lining to no public transit!
Our journey to Cerro Campanario was much longer than we anticipated, but it was a small price to pay to experience “the best views in the world.”
Drive through the Seven Lakes
The Seven Lakes provide for such a serene, scenic drive. We drove through the Seven Lakes at the end of our twelve-day road-trip on Chile’s Carretera Austral highway, but if you’re short on time, it’s a great mini day-trip. You’ll wind through flourishing forests and pristine lakes, stopping the car constantly because so many of the sights are worth the wait.
Signs along the winding roads explain which fauna and flora reside in the area, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot a couple in action. Don’t forget to prep the perfect playlist to accompany you as you take in the scenery. “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” anyone?
Feast on the City Cuisine
I know I said there’s more to Bariloche than just food, but the food’s pretty damn good. Wander through the main roads, peek through the shop windows, and take in the mouth-watering aromas. Rapanui was our go-to brunch place, where you could eat everything from chocolate to ice cream to waffles. It’s essentially a fast-food cafe for delicious dairy desserts (featured in the photo above).
As a Nice Jewish Girl who keeps it kosher, I couldn’t enjoy any of the Argentinian meat the city had to offer. However, my non-observant friends could indulge in the meat, and they’re here to share their culinary adventures! They highly recommend El Boliche de Alberto and Alto el Fuego as their barbecue restaurants of choice for authentic Argentinian grilled meat at affordable prices. Alto el Fuego is recommended by the locals because it’s considered to be less touristy than El Boliche, but if you’re more a “carbivore” than a carnivore, El Boliche offers pasta as their second specialty.
If your Hebrew skills are up to par, a local guide named Jorge (pronounced Horhay, FYI) who speaks fluent Hebrew offers the ultimate Bariloche tour for Israeli backpackers: a van tour of the Seven Lakes, followed by a legendary meat spread that Israelis can’t stop raving about. Because it’s in Hebrew, the tour is less well-known, so ask Israelis at your hostel where you can find the famous Jorge. Finding Israelis won’t be a problem – you will soon discover that they are literally everywhere in South America.
Visit the Local Chabad
If you keep it kosher like me, mark my word when I say that Chabad Bariloche will be a haven during your stay in Bariloche. They offer kosher steak, burgers, hot dogs, and of course, the classic Israeli hummus dish. They also offer weekly Friday night and Shabbat day meals if you’re looking to wind down for a bit and connect to your spiritual side.
Aside from the food, the Chabadniks who run the show are super sweet, down-to-earth Israelis who are open to answering any of your questions about Bariloche, and will happily hook you up with local guides and activities. They even lent us camping gear for free for an upcoming road-trip. In short, Chabad is the place to be and the perfect meeting point to connect with your fellow Jews in Bariloche.