Argentine Lake District travel essentials

  • Fly from Buenos Aires into Bariloche, with a smaller number of connections to San Martín de los Andes.
  • High season flights from El Calafate connect the Lake District with Los Glaciares National Park.
  • Take a boat over the Andes on the cross-border Cruce Andino route to the Chilean Lake Lake District.
  • Follow the Route of the Seven Lakes highway for one of the most beautiful roads in Argentina.

Getting to and around the Argentine Lake District

Illustrated Guide

Getting to the Argentine Lake District by air

View of Bariloche in Argentina's Lake District from the air

View of Bariloche from the air

The Argentine Lake District is served by two main airports at Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes.

San Carlos de Bariloche Airport (BRC) is the main hub for the region. It has up to 15 daily flights to Buenos Aires (two hours). The majority go to the domestic hub of Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP),with a small number of flights to Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) for international connections.

During the high season months of December to February there are three flights a week from Bariloche to El Calafate (FTE), taking 1¾hrs to connect the Lake District to Los Glaciares National Park. There are no direct flights from Bariloche to Ushuaia or Peninsula Valdés, but for northern Argentina there are seasonal connections to Mendoza (MDZ), Salta (SLA) and Rosario (ROS).

San Martín's Chapelco Airport (CPC) is less busy, but there are up to four flights a week to Buenos Aires (EZE), taking around two hours.

Getting to the Argentine Lake District by road

Road trip through Argentina's Lake District

Road trip through Argentina's Lake District

Argentina is big, but it's still possible to get to the Lake District by road. Buses take an epic 22 hours to reach either Bariloche or San Martín from Buenos Aires. You can opt for either semi-cama (reclining seat) or cama (sleeper), but not that the road route is not significantly cheaper than a domestic flight.

The only way to reach the Lake District from Peninsula Valdés is by road. Overnight buses take around 15 hours from the gateway town of Puerto Madryn – a long trip but an oddly hypnotic one as you pass through the steppe looking out for guanacos and rheas. The final approach to Bariloche through the Andean foothills is spectacular.

To the south, Esquel (for Los Alerces National Park) is 485km from Bariloche, or just under 4½ hours drive. The north, Neuquen (for Argentina's wine country) is 438km (5hrs) from Bariloche and an almost identical distance from San Martín. 

Travelling to/from the Chilean Lake District

Ferry across Lake Nahuel Huapi on the Cruce Andino route between Argentina and Chile

Ferry across Lake Nahuel Huapi on the Cruce Andino cross-border route

Several options exist to travel between the Argentine and Chilean Lake Districts, of which the most interesting by far is the scenic Cruce Andino route (also called the Cruce de Lagos), which combines ferries and buses to travel in around 12 hours between Bariloche and Puerto Varas.

An early morning shuttle bus takes you from Bariloche to Puerto Pañuelo, from where you catch a ferry along the western finger of Lake Nahuel Huapi to Puerto Blest. A bus then takes you a short ride to another ferry on Lake Frías, with great views of Cerro Tronador to the Chilean border at Puerto Frías, and on to Peulla on the shores of Lake Todos los Santos in Vicente Pérez National Park. A final boat trip, under the gaze of the Puntaguido and Osorno Volcanoes takes you to Petrohué, from where it's a short ride to Puerto Varas. The scenery on this trip is never less than breathtaking.

An alternative (if less organised) lake-and-road route runs between San Martín and Pucón in the north of the Chilean District. From San Martín, buses run to the border at Hua Hum Pas and on to Pirihuelco, from where you can take a ferry along Lake Pirihuelco to Puerto Fuy, and then a bus on to Pucón. The trip takes a full day. 

There are also direct buses between Bariloche and Puerto Varas (7 hours) and between San Martín and Pucón (5 hours). 

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Railway lovers looking for something different can take the overnight Tren Patagonico sleeper than runs weekly from Viedma in Río Negro across the steppe to Bariloche. The train departs Viedma every Friday, and Bariloche every Sunday.

Getting around the Argentine Lake District

Bariloche bike

Picnic stop whilst biking the Circuito Chico, Bariloche

Argentina's Lake District is large by easy to get around. The road that links Bariloche to San Martín de los Andes can be driven in a long day but given that it's one of the most scenic roads in the country (with half of it through a national park) it would a shame not to linger. The first half of the trip, from Bariloche to Villa la Angostura hugs the shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It's a beautiful setting, but one that almost pales in comparison with the stretch to San Martín – the famous Route of the Seven Lakes, that winds its way through a series of fantastical mountain and lakeside views. 

Discover the Argentine Lake District



On the shores of the vast, blue Lake Nahuel Huapi, the alpine town of Bariloche is surrounded by forests, mountains, and lakes in the heart of the Argentine Lake District.

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Lanín National Park

Lanín National Park

Wild and rugged and overlooked by the snowy peak of a dormant volcano, Lanín National Park offers some of the best hiking in the Argentine Lake District. 

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