Visit Colonia Suiza, a small mellow town that is one of the main attractions to see around Bariloche. Founded in the late 19th century, it’s the first European settlement in the area, which currently continues to maintain its traditions.
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History of Colonia Suiza in Bariloche
Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there was an important movement of Swiss people who emigrated to Chile and Argentina. Families coming from the Valais canton of Switzerland such as the Goye, Mermoud, Cretton, Felley, Jackard, Fotthoff, Lojda and Neu were the first to settle at the foot of Cerro López. They found this place very similar to their country of origin.
These families were farmers and cultivated wheat (whose grains they ground by hand) and fruits such as apples, plums, cherries, peaches and pears (with which they prepared jams and other sweets). The houses, the chapel and the school were built using local wood.
Colonia Suiza has been gaining popularity thanks to the high quality of its crops, the rural and wild environment that still remains and the descendants of those families that have kept their traditions. All its history is exhibited in the Museum «Los Viejos Colonos» which is located in Marcelo Goye’s house, built in 1937.
One of the traditions, although not brought from their country of origin, is the Curanto. The Goye family was first in Chile and it was there that they learned about curanto with seafood, which in Argentina they began to make with meat and vegetables. Today it is one of the main attractions of Colonia Suiza and nobody who visits this town leaves without trying it.
How to get to Colonia Suiza from Bariloche
Colonia Suiza is located about 25 km from Bariloche.
To visit Colonia Suiza from Bariloche there are two main options:
- By car (own or rented): Take Avenida Exequiel Bustillo, which borders Lago Nahuel Huapi (it’s the same route if you’re doing Circuito Chico Panoramic Tour), and then take the detour at the Perito Moreno lake bridge.
- Bus from Bariloche to Colonia Suiza: visit Colonia Suiza by taking bus line 10 from Bariloche (direct line), or take line 20 until the intersection of routes and then take line 13 to Colonia Suiza. We recommend going straight on line 10, and on the way back do the combination between both bus lines 20 and 13, due to the lack of frecquencies and because there are more people on the way back.
What to see in Colonia Suiza
These are the attractions in and around Colonia Suiza in Bariloche:
- Colonia Suiza Market (Artisan’s Fair): On Wednesdays and Sundays the fair is held in the main building, selling local handicrafts, jams made with fruits from the region, and the preparation of the famous Curanto, typical food of Colonia Suiza.
- Enjoy the small beach on the shores of Lake Moreno: The place is accessed by a small path between trees next to the campsite. During the summer, you can bathe in the waters of the lake.
- Aldea Duende: It is a theme park aimed at children, with guided tours through the native forest. Its central theme is the fantasy life of the goblins, there are miniature outdoor statues scattered throughout the complex. For more information, go to the official page of Aldea Duende.
- Stroll through its dirt streets: Enjoy the forest environment, small wooden houses to buy crafts or sit down to eat a Patagonian dish in one of the restaurants.
- Visit the Berlina brewery: it is located about five blocks from the entrance to Colonia Suiza. In the place you can taste craft beers of own production and try typical dishes of the region.
- Museum Los Viejos Colonos: is located in Marcelo Goye’s house and it exhibits from family trees and photographs of the families, to ancient utensils, elements they used to work the land and various objects such as car and toy patents. It opens only on Wednesday and Sundays.
Try the Curanto, the typical dish of Colonia Suiza
Imported from Chile by Swiss families, curanto is the cooking of different varieties of meat and vegetables in hot stones. To cook it, a hole is made in the earth, hot stones and food are placed, and then covered with branches, cloth and earth. In one hour and 15 minutes everything is cooked without removing anything.
Where to eat the curanto in Colonia Suiza?
There are two places that prepare Curanto:
- There is a cheap option in the main fair. They give you a tray with a variety of meats and vegetables. The procedure to buy a dish is as follows: you buy a ticket at the ticket office while the curanto is being prepared (you can see the curanto’s preparation just in front of the ticket office) and then they give you the tray with a little of every preparation. Then you can sit down at the available tables, that are large to share them with more people.
Price: AR$ 700.
- Restaurant «Los Curantos» by Víctor Goye, one of the original inhabitants of the town, where himself is the one who explains all the curanto’s preparation. The menu is by «steps», since they are bringing you little by little everything they have cooked, giving you then the possibility of repeating. In addition, it includes dessert and live folkloric show.
Price: AR$ 1100
Due to the high inflation in Argentina, prices can suffer constant increases. It is recommended to check the updated prices in the official websites. To consult how much it costs in dollars or euros, we leave an online converter (you can also check in your home currency):
Where to stay in Colonia Suiza?
There are no hotels in Colonia Suiza, so it is best to look for comfortable accommodation in Bariloche. There are campsites with cabins, bungalows and space for camping. The campsites only work in the summer season.
Is it necessary to book in advance to visit Colonia Suiza?
No, it’s a town like any other and you don’t need to book to visit it. In case you want to eat at Los Curantos restaurant, by Victor Goye, and it is high season, it is convenient to book in advance.