From slopes to scenic views, Bariloche offers the ultimate skiing getaway

The Herald’s insider tips for making the most of your weekend away

Bariloche is the ultimate getaway for skiers. Credit: Pxfuel.

The stunning mountain ranges, glittering lakes, and breathtaking views of Patagonia have always captivated me. As a retired competitive freestyle skier, I explored North America’s famous and obscure ski resorts during childhood and adolescence. Fellow competitors who journeyed to South America fueled my dream of visiting the fabled Patagonia region. So when I planned my summer break in Argentina (South American winter), I knew one thing for certain: I wanted to ski in Patagonia.

After thorough research, I focused on Bariloche, an iconic ski town in Río Negro province located on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi with a striking backdrop of the Andes mountains. 

With its proximity to the ski resort and abundant summer activities, Bariloche attracts tourists year-round from Argentina and abroad. The ski season typically starts in mid-June or early July, depending on snowfall, and lasts until October. We arrived on the morning of July 5 and stayed until July 10. Here’s my guide to navigating Bariloche and Cerro Catedral. 

Ski slopes in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Ski slopes in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

How to get there

There are three main ways to get to Bariloche.

  • Take an overnight bus: These take 22-24 hours from Buenos Aires and range from around ARS$ 19,000-30,000.
  • Rent a car and drive: At around 19 hours, it is slightly faster than the overnight bus. 
  • Take a flight: As a popular tourist destination, the San Carlos de Bariloche airport is served by Argentine carriers like Flybondi, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and JetSmart. Flights take around two hours from Ezeiza (EZE) and Jorge Newbery (AEP) airports. Flight costs were ARS$ 30,000-50,000 return at the time of writing. 

All prices are current at the time of this writing, but with inflation running at over 115% annually, keep in mind they change a lot. 

Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
The “cable carril” in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

Where To Stay

Adventurers can choose between staying in the town itself or the small village at the base of Cerro Catedral. Those focused on the slopes are best staying at the mountain’s base. Staying in the town, a half-hour drive away, is recommended for those eager to explore Bariloche’s culinary delights and attractions. 

Accommodations in town range from budget-friendly hostels like Rodinia Hostel at ARS$6,500 per night to boutique hotels like NBH Nativo Boutique Hotels, around ARS $80,000 a night. We chose a comfortable Airbnb in the Jardín Botánico neighborhood. Splitting the cost of approximately ARS$30,000 per night between two people, it was both economical and well-equipped. 

Skiers in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Skiers in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

Ski Passes

For skiing enthusiasts, passes can be purchased online via the Cerro Catedral website or at the ticket office. A full-day pass costs approximately ARS$31,000, while a two-day pass offers savings at ARS$56,625 (averaging around ARS$ 28,000 a day) with even greater savings for additional days. Buying online provides a discount of about ARS$ 3,000. Pick up your keycard from the ticket office to access the slopes. The ski resort offers an afternoon pass for about ARS$25,000, granting access to the mountain from 1 p.m. until closing at 5 p.m. 

Lake Nahuel Huapi in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Lake Nahuel Huapi in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

Ski Gear

The base offers a wide range of rental options to meet all your needs. We rented skis, ski boots, poles, jackets, pants, gloves, helmets, and goggles for two people over three days, costing approximately ARS$ 270,000. Some shops provide a 20% cash discount, so bringing cash is advisable. Also, note that some don’t accept foreign credit cards; fortunately, they do accept payment services like PayPal. 

The shop we chose had a variety of gear options, from basic to premium. We selected our ski attire from the available options, and the staff was amenable to any changes we requested. The ski selection was limited but still adequate for the average vacationer. 

Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

The Mountain

Being a first-timer, my companion started on the beginner area known as the “bunny hill” to familiarize themselves with skiing. We eventually moved to the 6-pack Ciprés, which services intermediate terrain. On another day, I ventured to the Ñire lift for more challenging slopes. Beware of your surroundings, or you could end up creekside as I did.

Ski lessons are available and worth considering for those not confident navigating the mountain alone. Don’t forget to take the “Cable Carril,” the Argentine gondola equivalent, for panoramic views. 

Snowy peaks in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Snowy peaks in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

Getting Around

Ubers don’t exist in Bariloche, so the only reliable form of transportation is a remis. The most reliable companies in terms of response and approximate wait times were AutoJet, Centro Remises Bariloche, and Remises One Bariloche. It’s important to note that most only accept Argentine pesos. If you’re comfortable driving a manual car and navigating Bariloche’s mountain roads, renting a car might be the best option for those on a tight schedule. 

Civic Center in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen
Civic Center in Bariloche. Credit: Ella Jansen

Key Takeaways

After my long weekend skiing in Bariloche, I highly recommend a visit. However, there are a few things I would’ve done differently to make the trip smoother: 

  • For tight timelines, plan your remises or be prepared to wait. We coordinated with Remise One Bariloche for our flight home from Patagonia. The process was seamless, with the driver confirming the time and destination on the morning of our departure. 
  • Download the AutoJet Patagonia App. Calling a remise at short notice, but availability depends on drivers. 
  • Cash is king. The most significant change I would’ve made was ensuring I had enough cash for the trip. From discounted gear rentals to being the primary and sometimes sole payment method in many places, adequate cash is crucial.


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