Escape to San Carlos de Bariloche in February
Feb. 8, 2019
Lago Espejo Chico, Villa La Angostura, Argentina
February in New York is usually cold and snowy. February in Argentina is warm and sunny. If you would like to put a little pause on winter, Argentina makes a great destination for a brief escape from cold weather season in New York. Not only is the season there summer when it is winter in New York, the time in Argentina is only two hours ahead of the U.S. eastern time zone, so you don't have to worry about jetlag!
Argentina’s diverse climate makes it a naturally beautiful country. And Argentinian culture tends to embrace outdoor activities in order to enjoy their naturally beautiful country. Nowhere does this seem to be truer than in Patagonia, the large, mostly rural region shared by Argentina and Chile.
San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known as Bariloche, is the tourist center of the Argentine Patagonia region. The town is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Andes mountains, just a stone’s throw from the Chilean border. During the Argentinian winter, this area is a popular ski destination for South Americans. During the summer months, the town is a popular summer getaway, known for its mountain views, beautiful lakes, dense forests, and numerous cevecerías (beer breweries).
How to get there?
The best way to get to Bariloche from the U.S. is to fly to Buenos Aires and then connect from there to Bariloche on Aerolineas Argentina
. Aerolineas Argentina is a partner airline for Delta Airlines, so you may be able to buy the ticket on delta.com
as well. Also, if this is your first time in Argentina, I would highly recommend that you plan to spend at a couple of days in Buenos Aires before or after visiting Patagonia.
What is it known for?
Bariloche and neighboring towns, such as Villa la Angostura, share many architectural and cultural characteristics with the European Alps region. For instance, skiing and breweries were already mentioned, but chocolatarías (chocolatiers) are also plentiful in the town centers. The popular cuisines tend to be German and Italian influenced.
Where to stay?
There are many nice hotels and hostels in the town center. If you are traveling alone or in a pair then this is probably the way to go. If you are traveling in a larger group, then try renting a cottage or a cabin on one of the hills overlooking the lake. There are many available on sites like Airbnb. If you do rent a cottage/cabin, be sure to also rent a car as the cabins can be quite a trek from the town center.
What to do there?
The lakes around Bariloche are pristine and great for swimming during the summer months. (February is the equivalent of August in the northern hemisphere, so it will be the perfect weather.) Although it is not in Bariloche, Lago Espejo Chico is the best lake that I encountered. It is a little secluded and located just outside of Villa La Angostura, about 5 miles from the Chilean border.
Whether or not you make it to Lago Espejo Chico, I would highly recommend renting a kayak or small boat to see one of the many beautiful lakes in the area. One other fun thing that we did while I was there was "camping," which means something different than it does in American English. In Argentina, "camping" is more like a picnic or barbecue, usually done in an outdoors area with a scenic backdrop. There are many "camping" sites, in which you pay a fee to use a space to lounge and grill for the day like you might do at a state or national park in the U.S.
The forests are also great for hiking. You can find a ton of information online about the different hiking trails, which will have timing estimates and difficulty level provided. These trails are also usually accessible by fee and maintained by local conservancy groups.
The beer breweries in are fantastic. My favorite was Cerveza Patagonia
, which has a spectacular outdoor space overlooking the lake. If you only have time for one then this should be it! If you have time for two, another that I liked was Cervecería Berlina
at Colonia Suiza (Swiss Colony). It was not as scenic as Patagonia, but the bartenders were extremely nice and it wasn’t too crowded.
Speaking of which, Colonia Suiza
is a small village just outside of Bariloche that was settled by pioneers from Switzerland, as the name suggests. It is one of the oldest European settlements in the area, but now it mostly serves as a shopping district for tourists. It is a way to spend a few hours learning about the history, but don’t schedule too much time around it as it is mostly a tourist trap.
Have you been to Bariloche? Got some recommendations of your own? Drop them in the comments!
Stephon Owens is the Founder and CEO of Vezpuchi.