Chile is a country like none other. The driest desert of the world, intriguing street art and azure beaches, deep-blue lakes and white rivers, lush national parks, clusters of legendary islands, penguin colonies, hundreds of active and inactive volcanoes, icy Andes, customary food and delicious wine, and the warm Chilean people all nestle together in the long and petite Chile peacefully. There so many fabulous things to do in Chile that you will love exploring.
Though Chile has been gaining popularity amongst the new-age travelers recently, more so for its teach English in Chile volunteer program, Chile is still one of the most offbeat places to visit in South America. Maybe not many people know that Chile gives a ninety-days free visa to most of the countries?
Now when you know that traveling to Chile isn’t hard and is, in fact, promoted by the country, let us take you through some of the best places to visit in Chile to get your ready for that Chile trip.
Here are our best 7 picks from Chile in order of their appearance on the Chile map while traveling from the North to the South of Chile.
7 Must visit places in Chile
The Atacama desert, the Northern-most tip of Chile, makes for a brilliant visit for its unique landscape and star-studded skies. Head to San Pedro de Atacama, a small village which is also the gateway to the desert, and make your way to the Atacama from there.
You would want to spend at least a couple of days in San Pedro for this small town has peaceful adobe homes that give the whole place a timeless charm. Walk around the plaza de armas or the central square in San Pedro, and find a tour company to visit the many attractions of the Atacama desert. Valle de la Luna or the moon valley known for its crater-like surface, red lakes dotted with pink flamingoes, and hot geysers are only some of the bizarre formations in the middle of the desert you wouldn’t want to miss.
Remember that the night skies in the Atacama attract stargazers from around the world.
You can also visit some of the stunning places of Atacama as part of the Uyuni salt flats tour that begins in Chile and ends in Bolivia. Signing up for the Uyuni salt flats tours from San Pedro is a good choice if you want to see the Atacama desert at the end of your Chile travel and then wish to travel in Bolivia. You can book the Uyuni tours from the many travel agencies in San Pedro.
Viña del Mar
About 120 km away from Santiago, Viña del Mar is situated on the Pacific coast of Chile making the city a quick stopover for a relaxed day on the beach.
Find Playa Reñaca for a perfect stroll on the shore (the water might be too cold for a swim), visit the botanical gardens of Viña, or go to the vineyards in the Casablanca valley near Viña to admire the grapevines and taste some rich Chilean wines.
Did you know that Chile makes some of the finest wines in the world?
Colloquially known as Valpo, Valparaíso is a major port town of Chile. Located about 120 km from Santiago, Valparaíso is known for its group of hills that houses colorful homes, thoughtful graffitis, art galleries and artists at every turn, long staircases and funiculars, and fresh seafood.
Though Alegre and Concepcion hills are the most popular in Valpo, you can find the fusion of art and culture just about anywhere in this hip city.
Do not forget to look over the panoramic views of the Pacific from the high hills of Valparaíso.
Pucón, the adventure hub of Chile, lies further down South and is about a ten-hour drive from Valparaíso.
Travelers visit Pucón to hike the active Volcano Villarrica, ski at Centro de Ski Pucon, swim and kayak in the Villarrica Lake, and relax at the many lakeside beaches. You can also make day trips to the many secluded waterfalls near Pucon.
The best time to visit Pucon is November to March when the skies clear up, and the weather is warm.
Further down South in Los Lagos or the Lake region (Chile is divided into 16 regions), you can find Valdivia, a city situated at the junction of the rivers Calle-Calle and Cau-Cau. Spanish conquistadores settled in Valdivia and built many forts around the city; these forts still remain the most popular tourist attractions of Valdivia.
Plan a few days in Valdivia for the city has many places to see both in and around. Visit the Niebla fort situated on a beach near the city, discover the war museum and the local market at the fort, head to the Fluvial market for the best views of fresh seafood in fishermen’s stalls and sea lions bathing by the sea, and do whatever you might but don’t forget the Kunstmann brewery which makes Chileans’ favorite local beer in many flavors.
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The legendary island of Chiloé is also located in the Los Lagos region.
While teaching English in Chile, I stayed in Chiloé for five months. So believe me when I say that if you are looking for a closer look at the culture of Chile, you must visit Chiloé with a few days in hands.
Admire the colorful stilt houses of Castro, watch the seagulls fish away the seafood from the local farmers’ markets, buy homemade wool souvenirs customary to the island, ask the Chilote people (locals of Chiloé) about “minga” that is a joint community activity, explore the wooden churches of Castro, and enjoy the typical Chilote food that is a bit bigger and heavier in size than the rest of Chile.
Reaching Chiloé is an adventure. So if you are driving or taking the bus, which are the only two options to arrive at the island, watch out for the dolphins dancing in the Pacific around the ferry that would carry your bus or car on board.
Last but not the least — Patagonia, the region at the southernmost tip of Chile, is a no man’s land, and many have failed to civilize this icy stretch that almost leads to the end of the world.
Patagonia is Chile’s Andean Himalayas. Here you can hike incessantly in the Torres del Paine national park, visit the many lakes in the region, trek on treacherous glaciers, and admire the bizarre but gorgeous marble caves of Patagonia.
Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas are the cities of Patagonia that are connected to the rest of Chile by air. Or you can drive into the region through the Carretera Austral. Make sure you think about making bookings beforehand in Patagonia as tourists from around the world flood to Patagonia, especially in the peak summer season.
This is our list of some of the must-see places in Chile. Hope after reading about these places you don’t have to think twice before booking a one-way ticket to Chile.
Have a fun trip.
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Guest Author’s Bio
Priyanka Gupta is an itinerant travel blogger from India who left her
investment banking career to travel the world and write. Having traveled
extensively thorough South America, solo, Priyanka is now based out of India. She
focuses on culturally immersive travel while relishing local delicacies and never
missing a chance to see wildlife. Priyanka blogs full-time and claims to know the
art of blogging from even the camps in the wild.
things to do in Chile