Bariloche With Kids – Andean Adventure New For 2024

Bariloche is the gateway to the Argentine Lake District and, for many, the first stop on a voyage deeper into the heart of Patagonia. This picturesque town has much to offer families and it is a great base to explore the surrounding serene landscapes, glacial lakes, and the stunning backdrop of snow-capped, extinct volcanoes. Within a short drive are swathes of untaimed, ancient forests and breathtaking views that are as magnificent as any we have seen. If you plan to explore Bariloche with kids, you are in for fantastic adventures you will never forget.

Visits to Bariloche bookended our 7000 km road trip around Patagonia as we collected our hire car from there and returned it (a little battered!) seven weeks later. In total we spent a very happy nine days exploring the town and surrounding areas with our daughters Eva and Georgia, and it was an unforgettable experience. We had spent the previous month in the bustling urbanity of the big northern cities like Rio and Buenos Aires, and the change of pace was a welcome one. Coming from hot, crowded streets and humid city air to a cool, crisp climate and dramatic Andean vistas felt like coming home.

We had a great time here as a family, and whether you are visiting for a family holiday or as part of a longer trip, we hope you do the same. Read on for our guide to Bariloche with kids.

Exploring Bariloche with kids is great fun!
The obligatory photo when you arrive!

All prices are stated in GBP and USD but not Argentine Pesos. When we visited, Argentina was enduring horrendous inflation and any prices we give in the local currency will be out of date within weeks.

Our Map For Exploring Bariloche With Kids

Getting To San Carlos de Bariloche

As you would expect for such a popular destination, Bariloche is well-connected and easy to get to.

If you choose to fly in, the airport is surprisingly quaint; in fact, the bus station in Buenos Aires is substantially bigger! Bariloche Airport was designed to (sort of) resemble a Swiss ski lodge, and It was quite novel being so close to the plane as the luggage was unloaded and handed to the passengers.

The airport is about a 25-minute drive from the town, costing us £5/USD 7 in an Uber. At the moment, there does seem to be some disagreement between taxi and Uber drivers about servicing the airport, so getting a taxi might be easier even if it is more expensive.

Alternatively, the number 72 bus runs from the airport into town.

The other option to get to Bariloche is by an epic coach journey (check out our guide to surviving them here!). The main bus station is just outside the town centre, and it is a short taxi ride from there to the centre.

When we travelled to Bariloche from Buenos Aires, we had a choice between a 2-hour flight or a 25-hour coach trip. Given that the flight was only about £40 more expensive for the four of us, it was not a hard decision! 

Bariloche’s Climate

“Four seasons in one day” might be a cliche, but it is true in Bariloche! Even in the summer months, you can have big swings in temperature and experience scorching heat and pouring rain in just a few hours.

The wind can also be savage. In the town centre, you are reasonably well sheltered, but step onto the lakefront, and it can cut through you like a knife.

We visited in early December; it was 8°C the day we arrived and 24°C the next day.

If you are planning a family vacation to Bariloche, then be ready for anything.

Where To Stay In Bariloche

The tourist part of the town runs along the lake.

Bariloche pulls an interesting trick; it can best be described as an inner-city ski resort. Swiss alpine lodges nestle next to graffiti-laden buildings. The wide promenade with its wooden fronted bars and restaurants rattle to the sounds of badly customised Subaru exhausts.

The Swiss would never stand for this.

Truth be told, the actual town is not the prettiest of places. The tourist part of the city, including the main high street and down by the lake, is pleasant enough, with its views of snow-capped mountains, but as soon as you head up the hill, it resembles many other Argentine towns.

The main road for accommodation is San Martin, which leads into Fransisco Pascasio Moreno. If you stay here, just about everything you need will be within easy walking distance. We stayed in Hostel Los Troncos on both our visits, which was incredibly family-friendly and very welcoming. However, if you want your own place, there is no shortage of hotels or apartments on Airbnb.

If you need some laundry, we used Lavadero de Ropa La Casita. They did a large wash for us for £3.50/USD 5, and they offer same-day service if dropped off before 10 am.

Where To Eat In San Carlos de Bariloche

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in town, so you will find somewhere for even the pickiest kids. As chance would have it, the best meals we had in town were right next door to each other!  La Parrilla de Tony is a classic Argentine BBQ place where they will keep bringing you exquisitely grilled meat until you can no longer walk. Nearby is Brooklyn Birrazzería, where we had our best pizza in South America so far.

It is worth noting that “kids meals” are not really a thing in Argentina, and those places that do offer them charge the same price as adults and provide huge portion sizes. I suppose it’s a ‘kid-friendly choice’ rather than a ‘kids meal’. We ordered one main for Georgia and Eva and asked them to split it into two plates. Everywhere we ate was happy to do this; the hard part was getting the girls to agree on what they wanted to eat!

Another option for good food with great beer is Brothers BRC, which has a large selection of local ales.

For an easy road lunch, there is also a great bakery called Trevisán with amazing sandwiches and cakes; lunch for the four of us here rarely cost us more than £5/USD 7.

There are also several decent-sized supermarkets in town where you can pick up magnificent steaks and bottles of the great Argentinian red wine unbelievably cheap! However, be warned the queues are always horrendous so don’t think you can just nip in and grab something!

Seeing The Sights and Getting Around Bariloche

The views are out of this world.

Getting around in town is easy; it is very walkable and laid out in blocks, so it is straightforward to navigate.

Where things are trickier is getting out of town to see some of the amazing local scenery and attractions. Most of the places you will want to visit are a 30-minute drive or more away.

As mentioned above, unlike everywhere else we have been in Argentina, taxis and Uber are expensive options to get around here. To make things worse, if you do take a taxi out of town, you may struggle to get one back from the more remote places. There are a few Ubers in the town centre and none out in the mountains.

Fortunately, regular, inexpensive bus services throughout the day will get you to all the major sights. The number 20 runs from town up to Hotel Llao Llao (more on that later), the number 10 visits Colonia Suiza, and line 55 goes to Cerro Catedral. Timings of the bus vary by day of the week and the time of the year, so check before you set out.

The final option is to do what we did, and hire a car.

Hiring a Car and Driving In Bariloche

Compared to other places we have been in South America where driving is a type of extreme contact sport, in Bariloche, it is surprisingly refined and gracious especially when you get out of the town centre.

We hired through Hertz, although there is no shortage of car hire companies available. We took the car for 6 weeks, paid upfront, and got a great deal at £33/USD 42 per day for a family-sized SUV.  You can pay nearly that much for two taxi journeys around town. Hertz also had a sensible insurance excess on the car.

Theft from vehicles is a known problem in Bariloche, especially hire cars, as tourists almost exclusively use them. They are often targeted at beauty spots when people park to go for a walk, as the thieves know they have time to look through bags.

We followed a simple rule of never leaving anything in our car and leaving the boot cover unrolled so any would-be thieves could see it was empty. This seemed to work, and we had no problems.

Picking up the car was an absolute saga. Despite the fact we had paid upfront and provided all our address, licence and passport information online, it still took nearly an hour to get through the paperwork. It was painfully slow, and we have absolutely no idea why.

If you are planning to take the car over the border to Chile, then you need to let the car hire company know a few days in advance so they can draw up the special permission documents. There was a small cost for this of £18/USD 22.

You see some incredible sights on the open road.

Having a car does give you maximum flexibility and freedom. The cheap vehicle hire rate, coupled with the unbelievably low petrol prices in Argentina (Arg$ 250 per litre, that is 25 pence! 1/8th of the cost of petrol in the UK!), makes it a great option.

Driving in Bariloche is a little strange at first. Being from the UK, we are driving on the opposite side of the road that we are used to, but the hardest part is the lack of road markings or clear right of way at the junctions. Also, most of the town is one way, but it is not always obvious which way is the one way. We just followed the person in front who most looked like they knew what they were doing.

Finally, it seems that any gap in the traffic is a lane if you are man enough, so I found that I needed to check my mirrors way more than in the UK, as cars and bikes can sneak up where you do not expect them.

Things To Do In Bariloche With Kids

Bariloche is a great base for a family vacation. While the city centre itself may not be the most enticing of places, it has everything you would expect from a popular tourist destination.  It is awash with every type of souvenir shop imaginable, including numerous specialist chocolate shops offering tasty samples. 

On top of that, there is so much to do here with kids! From beautiful hiking trails, wild swimming, trips up cable cars, incredible views, and lots of delicious chocolate! Below, we explore the highlights of our visit.

Cerro Viejo

Just outside of Bariloche, Cerro Viejo is the first stop for most visitors to the town, and the view from the top is iconic. Georgia and Eva loved the chair lift-up, but the real highlight is how you get down! Rather than simply walking down the Cerro, you can ride the “tobogan gigante” all the way to the bottom, which we have to say is a lot more fun!

The girls loved it!

There is not much room at the top, but they manage the rate at which people go up on the chair lift so it doesn’t get too crowded.

Our only complaint is that is that it is very popular with coach tours. If you time it wrong, you will find yourself behind a huge crowd waiting to go up. It took us four attempts to visit until we managed to arrive without 50 people waiting at the bottom and just managed to beat two coach loads to the top!

The trip up cost us £16/USD 20 for the four of us, and we spent a little over 30 mins here. In truth, there are far better views to be had nearby, but the toboggan makes the trip!

Museo del Chocolate Havanna

Right next door to Cerro Viejo, Museo del Chocolate Havanna is an entertaining diversion. It explores the history of Kirsty’s favourite thing in the world – chocolate!

Although the museum is all in Spanish, Google Translate helped us learn much from the experience. It covers its history all the way from the Mayan Empire to the modern day and doesn’t shy away from the unsavoury bits with Hernán Cortés.

As a family of four, we walked around happily on our own, although we have heard that you may be asked to wait for a tour. The best bit, about halfway around, you get some delicious hot chocolate!

A delicious treat!

The tour about the history of chocolate costs £1.80/USD 2.50 for adults and £0.90/USD 1.20 for kids. Little ones seven and under are free; the tour takes around 20 minutes. There are a number of very creative chocolate animals to admire in between watching the workers in action. You finish in a delicious but probably most overpriced café and chocolate shop in Barlichche.

Cerro Otto

This is an honourable mention as when we visited, the cable cars were shut for an entire month for maintenance. To make matters worse, they had not updated their Google Maps listing to reflect this (fairly common in South America) or told tourist information, so when we were dropped off by taxi, we were a little stranded.

Having spoken to several of the local people where we were staying, the general consensus is the views are great, and there are a few things up the top for kids, but the restaurant is overpriced even by Bariloche’s standards!

If you do get to visit, please let us know in the comments below, as we would love to share a first-hand account.  

Villa Cerro Catedral

About a half-hour drive from Bariloche, Villa Cerro Catedral is one of Argentina’s most popular ski resorts. We visited outside of the skiing season, and even during the summer months it has much to offer in the way of outdoor activities for a day trip.  

The prettiest car park in Argentina?

You can get here on the 55 bus or by taxi, but as mentioned above, they are expensive.

The town lets itself down on its first impressions with massive advertising boards for banks and cheap beer jostling with amazing mountain views. Despite this, the town has some charm, and its setting is undeniably pretty.

The town is awash with cafes and bars. Also, there are countless outdoor shops and ski hire places, including ones that specialise in children. If you do need anything, this would be a great, if pricy, place to pick it up.

We visited at the start of the summer as the town transitioned from a ski town to its summer roll as a hiking base. As chance would have it, the day of our visit coincided with “El Cruce” or “The Crossing” – a gruelling 100km endurance race that takes 3 days to complete. We did our bit by applauding the super-fit runners as we tucked into our second ice cream.

While the ski lifts were not operating due to it being Sunday, we have been told some of them will take you up to the top in the summer, allowing you to take a short hike around the mountain top.

Short Walks With Kids From Villa Cerro Catedral

Don’t forget the sunblock!

We did find a couple of great short walks from the main town that are suitable for children to enjoy. This one has great views over Lake Nahuel Huapi:

And this one takes in Gutiérrez Lake; we didn’t manage all of this one but turned back after an hour:

While it is very much a winter destination, Villa Cerro Catedral it is certainly worth a day trip in the summer for a hike and to enjoy the views.

Walk To Cascada de Los Duendes and Mirador Lago Gutierrez

Eva taking in the view at Mirador Lago Gutierrez

This great walk starts just a 20-minute drive out of Bariloche and is a very accessible way to get close to the natural beauty so abundant in the area.

You can get to the nearby village of Villa Los Coihues on the 50c bus, and the entrance to Parque Nacional is a 15-minute walk down this road. One word of advice: This road gets terribly dusty in the summer, and anyone walking on it will get coated by passing cars.

We drove, and there was a free car park at the start of the trail here.

Once you arrive at the national park entrance, there are a number of walks. We combined two of the shorter ones to see the waterfall and the panoramic viewpoint – the kids loved it! The trails are very easy to follow, and they are well-signposted.

Adventure child!

You reach the cascade in just a few minutes; the walk up to the viewpoint does involve a reasonable climb. It took us half an hour to get there, with a couple of breaks and a little complaining from the girls.

The walk down is much quicker! At the bottom is a small shop selling water and other snacks. Also, we couldn’t resist cooling our feet by having a quick paddle in the pristine waters of Lago Gutierrez.

I promise the water is actually that colour!

The full walk took us two hours, including a paddle at the end.

On our drive back to Bariloche, there were plenty of other small beach areas with plenty of people paddling, swimming and kayaking in the lake.

Exploring the Chico Circuito

Chico Circuito is the absolute highlight of a trip to Bariloche with kids. This 27km/17 Mile circuit with Lago Perito Moreno on one side and Nahuel Huapi Lake on the other takes in some of the most beautiful landscapes we have ever seen, and the views rank alongside the best we have witnessed in Norway or New Zealand. Dare we say it? In places, the views are more spectacular than in Iguazu.

There are dozens of potential stop-off points on the way around, and you can easily spend two or more days having an amazing experience exploring it all.

Travelling Around Chico Circuito With Kids

There are a number of options to travel the circuit around Lake Moreno.

The number 20 bus takes in the top half of the loop and gets you as far as LLao LLao. We had read that the number 11 bus can take you all the way around, but it does not seem to be running at the time of writing.

You can also hire a bike and pedal around. As much as we would have loved to have done this, there is no way Georgia and Eva are up to doing it yet! I would imagine a reasonably fit 15/16-year-old is the youngest that could tackle it.

We tackled it in our hire car and made it a road trip, which was a great way to do it as we had a lot of flexibility.

The final option is a private tour. We were quoted Arg$ 150,000 for all four of us by an Uber driver and have seen tours online for as much as $200 USD per person. Given that car hire is so cheap and the circuito so accessible, this seems ridiculous.

Viewpoint at Aerosilla Cerro Campanario

This first stop is shortly before the loop of the circuit starts and is a must-see. It has the most incredible panoramic views we have seen in the area, if not ever.

You take a chair lift up to the viewpoint, where there are several places to take in the vista of snow-draped peaks and the crystal-clear Lake Nahuel Huapi. 

We spent nearly an hour here simply soaking in the beauty of Patagonia.

You can also walk up to the viewpoint. We met some ladies who did it, and they said it was short but very steep. It’s not recommended with young children!

As we arrived at the top, we were greeted by “El Gringo”, who took our picture just before we dismounted the chair lift. They cost a surprisingly reasonable £2.50/USD 3 each and were really good! We were happy to get photos of an excursion for less than £50.

The trip up costs £5/USD 6.50 for adults and £2.50/USD 3.25 for kids under 10, and the time we spent enjoying these stunning views was some of the best we spent in Bariloche.

Church Parroquia San Eduardo

Another attraction that we couldn’t explore fully as it was under renovation!

We did stop and walk up to this quaint little church, but access was blocked off with tape so it looked more like a crime scene than anything else. We would not classify it as a “must-see” on the circuit, but due to the ongoing work, we did not see the interior.

High Tea at Hotel Llao Llao

Now, this was a treat!

Hotel Llao Llao (pronounced Shao Shao) is one of the most famous hotels in Argentina, and its list of former guests reads like a who’s who of global figures over the last 50 years. Past visitors include Eisenhower, The Clintons, Che Guevara, the Shah of Persia, and Fidel Castro. Now, that is a bunch of people who would make for quite a dinner party! When you enter the hotel, you can see photos of all these visitors going up the stairs on the right-hand side.

We couldn’t resist visiting for High Tea to see what had brought them all here, and from the moment you walked in, you could see the hotel deserves its reputation. It manages to blend opulent luxury and country living, but most of all, it has breathtaking views in nearly every direction.

We had spent the day hiking with Georgia and Eva up Cerro Llao Llao, and when we arrived, we were worried our dirty shoes and backpacks would not be appreciated, but everyone was incredibly welcoming. They know many people visit the area to hike its trails and were clearly quite used to a few dusty footprints in the lobby!

Georgia and Eva, as the sugar starts to kick in!

The High Tea itself was a delicious offering, with a never-ending selection of delicate sandwiches, dainty cakes, and delightful tea blends – don’t worry, they can also provide a devilish hot chocolate for the children!

The selection of cakes, pastries, scones, muffins and macrons was incredible.

The chef delighted in advising us what was on offer, and the waiters were quick to top up our drinks and clear dirty plates away, ready for the next round.

Booking in advance is advised as High Tea is very popular in the busy season. You can’t book online and need to call the hotel to make a reservation. The contact number is on their website here. We booked for 16.30 and were welcome to remain and graze until 18.15. The food is served in the Winter Garden, which has stunning views over Parque Nacional and Lago Nahuel Huapi.

The view from The Winter Garden

High Tea for adults is £40/USD 50 and £29/USD 35 for children.  We initially thought that this was a bit overpriced, especially for the children, however we definitely got our monies worth!

Georgia back for her fifth visit, after all she had to check all the puddings!

We went on our second visit to Bariloche, and it marked the end of our 8 weeks in Patagonia. It was the perfect way to bring the incredible part of our journey to a close.

If you don’t fancy the High Tea, unfortunately, you can’t just wander around the grounds as there is security at the gate, but you can visit for a drink. There is a minimum spend of £5/USD 7 per person.

Walk to Sendero de los Arrayanes

This is a great short-ish walk that is perfect for kids. The walk takes you through gently undulating woodland with beautiful views and is perfect to burn off some excess energy.

The forests here are primal.

You park here (look out for the Green Christ!), and the walk takes you to Moreno Beach and Mirador Lago Moreno – a great picnic spot where you can dip your feet in the water.

The car park at the start has a small van with overpriced coffee and a toilet. It took us about 1hr 30 mins to complete, and we covered 5 km.

Walk to Cerro Llao Llao vía Playa Villa Tacul

Fancy a walk with a stop-off at a beach and an optional hill climb to a stunning viewpoint? Then this is the one for you!

This route starts at the same car park as the Sendero de los Arrayanes, and you head up the road for a few hundred meters before turning off onto a well-signed path. After a few kilometres, you reach a junction where you can go straight onto the beach or turn left and climb up the hill to the viewpoint.

The junction is well signposted.

We chose to make the walk up and did not regret it. It is quite steep but short and the views are just wonderful:

Well worth the walk!

When you reach the beach at Villa Tacul, there are no bathrooms nor anywhere to buy water or snacks, so be sure to take plenty with you. The full route for the walk is here:

If you don’t fancy the walk, Playa Villa Tacul is still worth a visit and it is considered something of a hidden gem. You can drive to the beach and park close to here.

View Point Bahía Lopez

It is a beautiful stop-off with a great view over the lake. Just a short walk further up, there is a boardwalk with another great view.

Patagonia Brewery

One for the parents! We first encountered Patagonia Brewery up in Puerto Iguazu, where they had just opened up a new bar, and we were delighted to try the craft beers again at source!

As you walk in, you pass the hops they are growing for the beer, and there is quite a nice gift shop as well.

The brewery has two main sections: a restaurant and a beer garden. We didn’t try the restaurant, but the beer garden is the perfect place to relax with a cold beer and soak up the views. They even have fussball tables to keep the kids entertained.

Food is available here, mainly burgers, but they taste good, especially after a walk.

Our only complaint is that they use the “double queue” system for ordering food and drinks. The double queue system, which Adrian finds unspeakably infuriating, is common in much of Argentina and Brazil. This is where you queue up to order and pay and then queue again to give your receipt to someone who then makes you what you ordered. Seriously, don’t get Adrian started on this, or he will rant for a half-hour.

Also, they seem to have built the bar in a greenhouse, which was unpleasantly hot to queue in when we visited on a sunny day. It must be unbearable for the staff.

Viewpoint Punto Panorámico

The last viewpoint of the circuit is well worth a stop. Be warned, many tour buses stop here, so it gets busy.

Alternatively, there is the small Restaurant Punto Panorámico, a hundred meters away. It lives up to its name and is great for an overpriced drink and to take in the view.

Have We Missed Anything To Do In Bariloche With Kids?

We hope you find our guide to Bariloche with kids useful. We all had such a great experience exploring the rugged landscapes around Bariloche as a family, and we hope you do, too.

If there is anything you think we have missed or any of the information is outdated, please let us know in the comments below.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Thanks.

About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

We hate intrusive adverts as much as you do, so we keep our site ad-free. If you enjoy the blog or have found something helpful, you can say "thanks" by buying us a coffee! Just click the button below.

Leave a comment