El Bolson is a small town in Patagonia just a couple hours from Bariloche Argentina. Even though it’s relatively unknown to international travelers, this is a premier vacation spot for Argentinians on holiday. Blessed with amazing mountains, lakes, national parks, and the Rio Azul, El Bolson makes for an awesome destination for nature lovers! Travel with us as we explore the El Bolson market, hike above the city on the Cerro Amigo Trail, and take in all this unique town has to offer!
Patagonia Travel Inspiration
- Perito Moreno Glacier Tour: Breaking Ice and Boat Adventures
- Conquering the Mount Fitz Roy Hike in El Chalten Argentina
- The Best Hiking in El Chalten: Our Guide to the Top Day Treks
- Cruising the Magical Seven Lakes Drive on Argentina’s Route 40
- Mendoza Argentina Wine Tour: Cycling and Sipping Malbec
History of El Bolson Argentina
Like the nearby town of Bariloche, El Bolson had an influx of Europeans towards the end of the 19th century. Yet, in the 1960’s it took on quite a different migration with the hippie movement coming alive.
Pieces of both generations can still be seen in El Bolson from the Alpine architecture to the new craft beer breweries. This once laid back town is now quickly changing with the addition of new roads and stores.
In our opinion, the best part of the area can be found outside of town and in the nature surrounding it. Like much of Patagonia the mountains of El Bolson are waiting to be explored!
What to Expect in El Bolson
The main street of Av. San Martin runs directly through town and sits under Piltriquitron Mountain. From how small El Bolson truly is we were surprised to see so many restaurants, clothing stores, and cars bustling through.
Just like with chocolate stores in Bariloche, it was also shocking how many breweries there were here! Our favorite was Patio Cervecero as it has an upper deck with a picturesque view of the mountains. If you love hiking and craft beer you’ve come to the right place!
El Bolson Market
The El Bolson market has been up and running for years now and has fully entrenched itself as one of the best in Patagonia. It takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the weekends being the biggest days.
Here you can find everything from clothing, food, and art, to the many yerba mate gourds which are essential to Argentinian culture. We visited the local El Bolson market on a quiet Thursday but it still seemed like the colorful stands went on forever!
Cerro Amigo Trails
The Cerro Amigo hiking trails are short, but have amazing views of El Bolson town and the mountains in the distance. Just coming from El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy, this small hike seemed like a piece of cake to us.
However, the Cerro Amigo trail was also our favorite in El Bolson! If you do plan to hike make sure to bring cash as there is an $80 Peso fee to enter the trails.
Cerro Amigo Viewpoints
Norte: 1000m – This is the longest of the trails, but it also has the best view. What separates it from the Cruz and Sur trails is that you can see the valley in the distance and not just the town below. It should only take you 30-45 minutes round trip to complete this.
Cruz: 500m – This is the steepest of the trails at Cerro Amigo yet it’s super quick. If you’re looking from town you will see the huge white cross standing at the top of this hike. It should take you 10 minutes or so to get up to the viewpoint here.
Sur: 150m – This is the shortest of the trails, but Sur is still worth seeing! It will only take you 10 minutes to get to the long rocks at the top, and it offers an incredible view of El Bolson and the mountains to the west near Lago Puelo National Park.
Hiking in the National Park
Surrounding the town there are almost 20 different trails offering something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a short hike along the Rio Azul in El Bolson or to trek all the way to Chile, there’s endless outdoor activities to enjoy.
When you get to town one of the first things you should do is stop at the Tourist Information Center. Here you can learn about the area of El Bolson Argentina and the different hiking options.
They will also help you book accommodation at the Refugio’s if you plan to do an over night or multi-day hike. It’s important to know that you must register with the Tourist Center and also return to let them know when you’re done hiking.
Rio Azul El Bolson & the Wharton Hike
While in El Bolson we spent the day hiking Wharton. If you don’t have a car you can hire a taxi to drop you off like we did. We arranged for our driver to meet us at a certain time on return so we wouldn’t get stuck there.
What we didn’t know is that there is actually a small restaurant at the start of the hike where you can ask the owner to call you a taxi, and grab a drink while you wait for your ride back. The hike is gorgeous with one of the best parts being the section along the Rio Azul El Bolson.
Where To Stay In El Bolson Argentina
Ultra Luxury – Morada del Sol – Set just outside of town in the mountains of El Bolson, Morada has everything you need for a relaxing stay! All rooms come with incredible views and you can enjoy the swimming pool as well.
Fun Vacation – Cabañas Willy – The unique cabin designs here are an awesome stay and close by to all the best restaurants in town. If you’re not feeling up for going out, most units include a kitchen as well.
Hostel Life – Earthship Patagonia – Looking for something a little different on your trip to Patagonia? These Mongolian style yurts near the Rio Azul El Bolson will be the perfect switch up! Featuring both bunks and private yurts, Earthship is an eco-friendly option just a few minutes walking distance from town.
Have any questions about the Rio Azul or want to share your own tips for El Bolson Argentina? Please leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Argentina Travel Planning
Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Remember that a lot of the time it’s cheaper to fly between cities in Argentina than driving or taking the bus!
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling in Argentina. It is especially fun to have a car in scenic regions like Patagonia.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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