Argentine Lake District#1 in Best Things To Do in Argentine Patagonia
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Stretching across northwestern tip of Argentine Patagonia sits the picturesque Lake District. Sandwiched between the Andes mountains with Chilean Patagonia to the west and Atlantic Patagonia to the east, the Lake District contains breathtaking vistas from nearly every angle. San Carlos de Bariloche, known simply as Bariloche, serves as the region's major hub. Towering over the immense Nahuel Huapi Lake and the surrounding national park, Bariloche provides a tranquil setting for lounging outdoors, savoring local cuisine, and admiring the picturesque scenery. But Bariloche boasts more than natural beauty. Venture into Bustillo, the heart of the city, and you'll discover European architecture infused with local hardwood accents, which create a lofty urban setting. During July and August, you'll find idyllic skiing conditions, and, in January, you'll relish prime hiking and river rafting weather. We suggest visiting during November or March, when you can soak up the fresh air, marvel at postcard-perfect views of the Andes, and relax at a tucked away mountain retreat without heavy crowds.
From Bariloche, it's easy to travel to Cerro Catedral's luxurious ski retreat. It's also worth checking out Villa La Angostura (a lakeside village 50 miles north of Bariloche) and San Martín de los Andes (a scenic town 112 miles north of Bariloche). Both feature local craft markets and panoramic views.
You can reach the Lake District via plane, bus, or car. Aerolíneas Argentinas and LADE airlines offer direct flights to and from Buenos Aires to Bariloche as well as other lakeside cities. A variety of bus services offer rides from Bariloche to Atlantic Patagonia's Puerto Madryn and Trelew (located about 14 hours away) and Southern Patagonia's El Chaltén and El Calafate (located about 21 hours away). For further details, consult our guide to Getting Around Argentine Patagonia.
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#2 Atlantic Patagonia
This beautiful Patagonian region (which skirts the Atlantic Ocean and sits just east of the Lake District and above Southern Patagonia) consists of wildlife havens and quaint Welsh villages. Here, you'll spot tea connoisseurs flocking to towns like Trelew and Gaiman in search of the perfect brew and throngs of visitors congregating to Peninsula Valdés during whale-watching season. The easiest way to reach Peninsula Valdés is via bus or car from Puerto Madryn or Trelew, Atlantic Patagonia's main cities. Mar y Valle, a reputable bus service, offers transportation to Peninsula Valdés from Puerto Madryn for about $16.50 ARS (roughly $3.75) each direction.
Punta Tombo wildlife sanctuary, located about 154 miles south of Puerto Madryn, is also worth a trip. Here you'll find dozens of charming Magellanic penguins mingling along the shores. To reach Punta Tombo, drive southbound on RP 1, which leads to the sanctuary.
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