San Carlos de Bariloche is a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated on the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by lakes (Nahuel Huapi, Gutiérrez Lake, Moreno Lake and Mascardi Lake) and mountains (Tronador, Cerro Catedral, Cerro López). It is famous for skiing but also great for sight-seeing, water sports, trekking and climbing. Another claim to fame is its Swiss-like atmosphere and its chocolate boutiques and breweries. Look for the St. Bernard dogs on display for tourists.
San Carlos de Bariloche International Airport (IATA: BRC)
- Lade flies from El Calafate. and also from MAR del PLATA during summer season
- Aerolineas Argentinas flies from Buenos Aires, from Mendoza and from Calafate, Cordoba
- LAN Argentina flies from Buenos Aires.
Only handful of airlines fly into Bariloche so fares could get very high if you try to book a ticket closer to your travel date. i.e. book well in advance.
This is a very quiet airport so bring sufficient cash (preferably AR$s or US$s) with you as you may not be able to get money from an ATM or change at the airport.
A taxi into town from the counter in the arrivals hall would set you back AR$ 120 (Feb 2014) however, you may be able to share a cab with another party and pay AR$ 60 each, especially during busy times.
Mini buses run very infrequently or not at all, depending on the day but are not legally registered, so it´s better to get public transportaton or book ahead with a registered travel agency to pick you up.
Public bus no 72 to town runs at 0710, 0910, 1110, 1310, 1510, 1610, 1810 and 2210 and cost about AR$ 12 (Nov 2015). It is not possible to pay with cash, only with special card that is not available for sale at the airport. Try asking someone local taking the bus to pay for you with their card in exchange for the cash.
To go by car to Bariloche from Buenos Aires takes about 22 hours. One of the best alternatives is to go to Neuquen on the first day (a distance of about 1200 km) and then to continue the second day driving about 450 kilometers.
There is more than one route to get to Bariloche by car from Buenos Aires:
- Short route: Take “Ruta Nacional Nº 5”, then take “Ruta Provincial Nº 1” nearby Lonquimay. Then, take “Ruta Provincial Nº 18” nearby “Macachin”. Take “Ruta Nacional Nº 35” south for 22 km, and then turn right and follow “Ruta Nacional Nº 152” through General Acha and until the “Casa de Piedra” where the route name changes to “ruta provincial Nº 6”. You must follow this until the intersection with “Ruta Nacional Nº 22”, where you must turn right again through Cipolletti – Neuquen. These big cities are connected by a bridge with an Ar $0.65 toll. Follow through the “million” traffic lights until you exit the city. Approximately 32 km later, stop in Arroyito and sleep deeply. Continue driving South using “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”, which will lead you to Bariloche.
- Long route: take “Ruta Nacional Nº 3” South. Rest in Azul for 15 minutes, follow South until Bahia Blanca, rest for some time. Follow South; take “Ruta Nacional Nº 22”, set the air conditioner on and turn on your CD player; don’t travel too slowly, or you might fall asleep! Rest in Choele Choel. Drive through lots of tiny cities and through Cipolletti – Neuquen, big cities which are connected by a bridge with an A$R0.65 toll. Follow through the million traffic lights until you exit the city. Approximately 32 km later, stop in Arroyito and sleep deeply. Continue driving South using “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”, which will lead you to Bariloche.
By bus you can choose between different companies, such as “Via Bariloche”, “El Crucero del Norte”, “Andesmar”, etc. The first 2 companies offer different services, where the main variable is comfort and price. You can take “super cama”, which has wide and large seats. “Cama” has wide seats. “Semi-cama” has the normal distribution of 4 seats per row. “Supercama” and “cama” take as long as 19 hours (summer); “semi-cama” makes several stops and takes as long as 22 hours (summer). There are also direct buses to and from Chile (6 to 8 hours ride).
The long distance buses will have the AC on all the time in the summer so it could get chilly on-board. Unlike on a plane, you won’t get a blanket (unless you are travelling cama or super cama) so take a jumper and a pair of socks!
The services will include one or two basic (non vegetarian) meals depending on the duration of the journey and fizzy drinks (not the diet / light variety) with meals plus coffee (available at all times). Some cama and super cama main meals come with wine. However, it’s best to stock up with snacks, sandwiches and drinks before you get on a bus.
The Bus Terminal in Bariloche is about 3km / 2mi from the main city area and a taxi there would cost around AR$ 25 (city center: around AR$ 40 in metered cab).
Different routes to get to Bariloche by Bus from Buenos Aires are:
• The express buses by Via Bariloche & El Valle buses form Buenos Aires Retio to Bariloche departs at 1330 (semi cama & cama), 1400 (cama), 1440 (cama), 1500 (cama & super cama), 1530 (semi cama & cama), 1920 (cama), 1930 (cama) and 2000 (cama & semi cama) and take just over 23 hours plus any delays. Costs are AR$ 868 for semi cama, AR$ 989 for cama and AR$ 1,145 for super cama (as of Jan 2013).
• Non Stop: “Ruta Nacional Nº 5” – “Ruta Provincial Nº 1” (la Pampa) – “Ruta Provincial Nº 18” (la Pampa) – “Ruta Nacional Nº 35” – “Ruta Nacional Nº 152” – “Ruta Provincial Nº 6” (Río Negro) – “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – NEUQUEN – “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”.
• Stopping: “Ruta Nacional Nº 3” – “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – NEUQUEN – “Ruta Nacional Nº 22” – “Ruta Nacional Nº 237”. • • There are also buses to and from El Bolson (2 hr and 15 mins), Puelo (2 hr 45 min) and Esquel (5 hrs) and La Plata (21 hrs).
Buses from Osorno, Chile:
• There are Buses leave Osorno at 0730, arriving at 1215 and 1400, getting to Bariloche by 2115. The cost of a semi cama seat is AR$ 140 [Jan 2013 price and possibly summer timetable].
There is a train from Viedma (via San Antonio, Valcheta, Sierra Colorada, Los Menhucos, Maquinchao, Jacobacci, Cte. Onneli, Comallo and Pilcaniye). It leaves Viedma only on a Friday at 1800; just one train a week! A bed in a (two-berth bunk) room would cost AR$ 350 or AR$ 180 for a reclining seat, each way (as of Jan 2013 – confirmation required). The journey time is 19 hours. The train service is operated by the Tren Patagonico company.
You can arrive or depart Bariloche by taking a series of ferries that wind through several lakes and connect by short bus rides from the Pacific at Puerto Montt, Chile. It’s a one day trip unless you opt to stay overnight at Hotel Peulla near the pass.