With 6,400 kilometers of coastline, 36 national parks, 52 nature reserves, 10 biosphere reserves, countless mountains, volcanoes, lakes and many islands, Chile is the ideal destination for those who want to be in touch of nature. Where to go and what to do in Chile? Here is the answers and more informations you need…
Where To Go And What To Do In Chile?
From north to south, ie an equivalent distance between the Arctic Circle and the south of Spain, Chile offers an impressive diversity of landscapes due to the wide variety of climates. We will move from the most desert lands in the north of the country to the Antarctic ice through the fertile valleys of central Chile and the rain forests of Patagonia.
The Chilean cities do not have the charm of the colonial cities of Peru or Mexico, but you will meet a welcoming population and they will serve as a starting point to explore the natural treasures of Chile.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? We offer below the most important tourist attractions of this country that you will discover in the cities and regions that we recommend you to visit during your next trip to Chile. For each of the places presented in this list you will discover a more detailed presentation with practical information to know everything about how to get there, to find accommodation and especially not to miss the most beautiful things to see. Where to go and what to do in Chile?
With nearly 6 million inhabitants, the agglomeration of Santiago concentrates more than a third of the population of Chile. With the mountain ranges in the background, Santiago has the appearance of the modern city with many skyscrapers that would make us forget that the city was founded on February 12, 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia. Nevertheless, by going through the Historical Center of Santiago one will discover beautiful buildings having been constructed during the colonial period and just after the independence of the country. Among the most remarkable buildings in Santiago are the Metropolitan Cathedral opposite the Plaza de Armas, the Palacio de la Moneda in the Plaza de la Constitución, the National Library of Chile, the San Francisco Church, the National Museum of Fine Arts Arts, the Municipal Theater or the Central Market.
From the top of Cerro San Cristóbal we will enjoy the view of Santiago and the Bellavista area at its feet. It is in the district of Bellavista that is “La Chascona”, the house of Pablo Neruda turned into a museum.
Going away from Santiago you can ski in the Valle Nevado, El Colorado or Farellones resorts, we will visit the vineyards and wineries close to the capital like those of “Concha y Toro”, “Portal del Alto”, ” Santa Rita “,” Undurraga “,” Tarapacá “or” Maipo Alto “. A little further, we will quickly find a more natural environment by going to the Natural Sanctuary of Yerba Loca, the National Reserve Río Clarillo or National Park La Campana. Heading towards the famous ski resort of Portillo, 140 km from Santiago and 8 km from the border with Argentina, we will discover the highest peak of the continent: Aconcagua.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? 1,800 kilometers from the capital, and only 300 kilometers from the border with Peru, Iquique only developed from the 19th century thanks to the exploitation of nitrate, which brought prosperity to its port. The buildings that will be seen in Iquique are relatively recent and among them we will especially notice the Clock Tower and the Municipal Theater in Plaza Prat.
But if the main attractions of Iquique are worth visiting, we will also discover other interesting sites in the desert and on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Iquique has indeed beautiful beaches like Playa Cavancha or Playa Brava, and further north the beaches of Punta Pisagua, Punta Pichalo, Playa Seis and Pisagua Viejo. 125 km from Iquique we can visit the village of Mamiña, famous for its thermal waters and its beautiful mountain landscape, the Tarapacá Valley, the Huasco Lagoon, we will make beautiful hikes in the Isluga Volcano National Park or in the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve, we will discover the oases of Matilla and Pica where most of the citrus fruits and tropical fruits consumed in the region come from.
Much further, we will reach Arica which is in one of the driest deserts in the world, close to the Peruvian border. Arica also has beautiful beaches and is close to the beautiful Lauca National Park.
San Pedro Atacama
Where to go and what to do in Chile? In the heart of the driest desert in the world, San Pedro de Atacama is one of the most popular destinations for tourists who want to discover the incredible landscapes of this region.
The most famous building of the small town is San Pedro Church, where you can visit the Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum and the Inca House.
But San Pedro de Atacama will serve mainly as a base camp to discover the wonders of the region such as the geysers of Tatio, the Valley of the Moon, the Coyote Stone, the Baths of Puritama, the oasis of Toconao, Pucara de Quitor dating from the Inca period, or the archaeological site of Tulor.
We will make beautiful hikes in the National Reserve Flamencos, around the Cejar, Piedra, Ojos del Salar or Tebinquinche lagoons, and we can observe the flamingos in the Salar de Atacama surrounded by mountains.
The humidity is almost zero in the Atacama desert, astronomical observatories have been installed and some can be visited as the Astronomical Observatory ALMA located at 5,000 meters altitude.
120 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama is Chuquicamata, which was still the world’s largest open-pit copper mine.
San Pedro de Atacama is also close to Bolivia and Argentina, which will allow travelers to continue their journey to these two countries via the Jama pass (Paso de Jama) to reach San Salvador de Jujuy, or by Pass (paso) Portezuelo del Cajón to enter the Eduardo Avaroa National Park and continue the trip to South Lipez.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? In a bay surrounded by hills, Valparaiso is one of the most charming cities of Chile with its colorful houses overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and mild temperatures throughout the year.
The port of Valparaiso is the largest in Chile, and to reach the other neighborhoods of the city perched on 42 hills we will take the lifts and funiculars some of which have been operating since the end of the 19th century. At the top, several watchtowers offer a beautiful panorama of the port and bay of Valparaiso. Among the most picturesque hills of Valparaiso are the Cerro Concepción with the Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, the Cerro Bellavista where one of the three houses of Pablo Neruda, “La Sebastiana”, the Cerro Artillería and the Casa Artillery Nº 156 are located. Overlooks the cliff in an impressive way.
Among the other most symbolic buildings in Valparaiso, we can see the Plaza de Armadillo, the Church of La Matriz, the neoclassical building of the newspaper El Mercurio, the Public Library Santiago Severín, the Plaza Sotomayor. Elevator Polanco to reach the hill of the same name, and the imposing building of the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso. About ten kilometers from Valparaiso you will reach Viña del Mar, famous for its beaches and international song festival.
Valparaiso is also within easy reach of the Peñuelas Lake National Reserve, a refuge for birds and other animals from the area where you can enjoy pleasant hikes.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? First city founded in southern Chile by Pedro de Valdivia in 1552, Valdivia is at the confluence of Calle-Calle, Cau-Cau and Rio Cruces, 15 kilometers from Corral bay opening onto the Pacific Ocean. Although hard hit by the 1960 earthquake, Valdivia still has some interesting monuments, such as Torreón Los Canelos and Torreón Picarte dating from 1774, Casa de Carlos Anwandter, which houses the Maurice van de Maele Historical and Anthropological Museum. its fortresses protecting access to the city, beautiful 19th century mansions along Calle General Pedro Lagos, the Prochelle Houses and San Francisco Church whose foundation goes back to that of the city.
But the main wealth of Valdivia is its proximity to the Corral Bay with its river port, and the presence of several natural parks such as Oncol Park with beautiful landscapes on the mountains, volcanoes and the ocean, the Sanctuary of Nature Carlos Anwandter, Valdivian Temperate Forests, Ranco Lake and Panguipulli Lake.
Further away from Valdivia we can also make beautiful hikes in the Huerquehue National Park, around the Villarrica volcano which dominates Lake Villarrica and the municipality of Pucón, in the Reserves Huilo-huilo and Mocho-choshuenco, as well as the Park National Puyehue that we can cross to reach Villa la Angostura and San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? Due to its strategic position, Puerto Montt will be the starting point for many sites of Chilean Patagonia. Founded in 1853, Puerto Montt has a harbor in a protected bay, important for communications with Chile’s southernmost regions. It is from this port that we can make beautiful cruises to the south of the country. The Angelmó market is known for the quality of its fish and seafood that you will find in the restaurants of the city. Near the market you can go around Tenglo Island with the fishermen.
Puerto Montt is also the gateway to reach the Chiloé archipelago which has retained a culture well differentiated from the rest of the country because of its isolation.
From Puerto Montt we will go to Puerto Varas on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, a small town colonized by the Germans and which has a crazy charm with the Osorno Volcano in the background.
Ecotourism and trekking enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice from Puerto Montt which is close to many natural parks such as Llanquihue National Reserve, Puyehue National Park, Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park near Cerro Tronador, Hornopirén National Park, Pumaín Park or Corcovado National Park.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? Capital of the Aysén Region located between the Andean Cordillera and the many fjords connected to the Pacific Ocean, Coyhaique was founded in 1929 with the aim of developing this isolated area of the rest of Chile. Populated by the Tehuelches, Alakaloufs and Chonos who had settled along the canals, the Aysén Region is a real paradise for nature lovers. Coyhaique is indeed close to many natural parks such as the Río Simpson National Reserve, the Coyhaique National Reserve, the Natural Monument Dos Lagunas, the Trapanada National Reserve, the Mañihuales National Reserve or Cerro Castillo National Reserve. Further north, you can also go hiking in the Queulat National Park or the Isla Magdalena National Park.
At 66 kilometers from Coyhaique we will reach Puerto Aysén which welcomes more and more tourists, especially to join the Laguna San Rafael National Park. Boats connect the San Rafael Lagoon to Puerto Chacabuco (near Puerto Aysén) and Puerto Montt, allowing tourists to admire the fjords of Chilean Patagonia.
116 kilometers to the south lies the town of Río Ibañez on the edge of Lago General Carrera, better known as Lago Buenos Aires, a huge glacial lake shared between Chile and Argentina.
Torres del Paine
Where to go and what to do in Chile? The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the largest parks in the country and certainly one of the best known tourists, especially those who wish to make beautiful hikes in one of the most natural areas of the world. Nestled to the north with the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, Torres del Paine is 114 kilometers from Puerto Natales and 350 kilometers from Punta Arenas.
Covering an area of 181,000 hectares, the park has three gateways (Lago Sarmiento, Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul), roads accessible to vehicles, many hiking trails, trekking tours, horse riding and offers the possibility of climbing, kayaking or sport fishing. You can stay inside the park in comfortable hotels, campsites or in shelters located in different places.
To reach El Calafate, Argentina, to visit Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno, you will have to go to Puerto Natales to take a bus that will take the famous Route 40.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? At the edge of the Señoret Canal, between the Almirante Montt Gulf and the Última Esperanza fjord, Puerto Natales is considered the gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and connects this region from Chile to Argentina.
Founded in 1911 in a territory occupied by the Tehuelches, Puerto Natales is a small town whose economy has long relied on fishing and seafood exploitation. But in recent years the city has developed thanks to tourism, many travel agencies offering their services to Torres del Paine.
At 24 kilometers from Puerto Natales, tourists who will take the time to visit the region will discover the Mylodon Caves that were used as a shelter long ago for this cousin of the Megatherium who died almost 15,000 years ago.
Although for many tourists Puerto Natales is only a point of passage to the Torres del Paine, this small town is however an excellent base camp to discover the natural wonders of the region such as the Sofía, Diana and Dorotea lagoons. Balmaceda and Toro lakes, Dorotea and Prat mountains, Almirante Montt Gulf, Los Cisnes and Guanaco Islands, Antonio Varas Peninsula and Bernardo O`Higgins National Park with Mount Balmaceda, Pío XI Glacier and the Ice Fields of South. Most of these excursions will be by boat from Puerto Natales which is also connected by this means of transport to Puerto Montt.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? Capital of the region of Magellan and the Antarctic Chilean, Punta Arenas is one of the most southern cities of the world and it was before the opening of the Panama Canal the main port on the Strait of Magellan that allows the passage between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
This region, long considered inhospitable, was nevertheless populated by many indigenous tribes such as Onas, Alakaloufs, Yagans and Tehuelches, all living mainly from fishing for fish and molluscs. Today, Punta Arenas is the most populous city in Chilean Patagonia and much of its economy depends on its port activities, fishing, sheep farming and tourism.
The city has some interesting buildings and museums, most of the tourists who go to Punta Arenas go for cruises along the Strait of Magellan and the many fjords of the region, or to reach Ushuaia on Earth of fire.
Seven kilometers north of Punta Arenas we will visit the Nao Victoria Museum with its replica of the boat headed by Ferdinand Magellan.
Cruises to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world, located on the Beagle Channel, will also be available. Other cruises will take you to Cape Horn and Antactique.
Where to go and what to do in Chile? 3,500 km from the Chilean coast and 4,200 km from Tahiti, Easter Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country because of its natural beauty and the mystery surrounding the civilization that inhabited the area.
The Polynesian island of Rapa Nui intrigues its visitors with its many moai scattered everywhere. These monumental statues (some reaching 9 meters in height) seem to be the last guardians of this lost island in the Pacific Ocean.
Walking on Easter Island will discover a large number of seabirds such as seagulls, frigates, gulls and black terns. We will climb to the top of the Ma’unga Terevaka, the highest point of the island at 511 meters above sea level which offers a magnificent panorama of Rapa Nui. Going up to the top of the Rano Kau volcano 324 meters high, we can admire the crater flat bottom strewn with many small lakes. The Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater occupied by a lagoon and whose flanks served as a quarry to extract the stones used for carving moai.
Hanga Roa is the capital and it is practically the only residential center of Easter Island. There are hotels, restaurants, shops and the Padre Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum, which has a good collection of pieces on Rapa Nui culture.