Places to visit in Chile
Chile is one of the most narrow countries in the world with almost 4,000 miles of Pacific coastline. The Andes is its vertical border shared with Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and the Drake’s Passage to the far south.
The landscape varies from desert to glaciers with natural beauty everywhere. Nature lovers and adventure seekers find plenty to do here.
We’ve visited Chile on two separate trips, and each time find new destinations we love. Here are seven places to visit in Chile. Check back since we will continue to add more!
Where to Go, Stay & Dine
7 Top Places to visit in Chile
Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region — the Magallanes and La Antartica Chilena. In 1848, the Chilean government established this town as a penal colony in the Strait.
During the 19th Century, the town grew with increased maritime traffic and trade between the coasts of North and South America. There are several places to visit here including the UNESCO Heritage Site of Torres del Paine National Park, called the “Eighth wonder of the World” or go tour the Bulnes Fort or observe penguins and sea lions on Isla Magdalena and Isla Marta.
We only had 1 day so we decided to explore the town with our guide Ricardo with Patagonia Antarctica and learn about the history of Magellan’s 1519 expedition and the tycoons of Patagonia. Our tour included the Casa Braun Menendez Museum, formerly the home of one of the most wealthy families during the tycoon period where you can see rooms furnished with the original furniture and paintings.
Walk up the hill to the top of the town and get panoramic views looking out to the city and the waterfront from Cerro la Cruz.
Don’t Miss! Be sure to visit the Ferdinand Magellan statue in the Plaza Munoz Gamero, and rub Magellan’s toe for good luck.
Torres del Paine:
One of our favorite experiences was visiting Torres del Paine National Park and hiking the “W” segment of the hiking trail circuit. We stayed at Hotel Explora and roughed it by day, then got pampered at night at this 5-star luxury hotel.
Castro & Chiloe Island:
We met our guide Marcela and Christian, the owner of Turismo Pangue then ventured out to explore the famous UNESCO Churches of Chiloe, Achao, Chonchi and Nercon. The countryside of Chiloe Island is pastoral with winding roads through hilly terrain and stunning views of the water and islands nearby.
After we visited these beautiful churches, we explored the town of Castro and its palafitos (fisherman’s houses on stilts overlooking the water) which have now been restored and converted to restaurants, cafes, boutique hotels. Especially loved the boutique hotel called Sizigia with a gift shop filled with artisan goods, and a charming cafe. You can walk to the palafitos at Gamboa or Pedro Montt from the main square in Castro.
Many visitors to Castro also choose to hike the Cucao National Park or go on a horseback ride. We hope to do this on our next trip to Castro!
Puerto Montt is located to the north of Castro, Chiloe Island and to the south of mainland Chile. Upon our arrival into the Reloncavi Sound, we met our guide from Puerto Montt Excursions, and went on a tour of Puerto Montt founded in 1853 when many Germans settled during the colonization of Southern Chile. If you want to find a souvenir, visit Angelmo Market near the port.
We continued our drive to see a popular resort town called Puerto Varas, city of roses, then drove to see the Petrohue Falls where we had magnificent views of the Osorno volcano.
(Photo credit: rafting photo taken by Andrea Slattery)
Other excursions include river rafting adventures, horseback riding, fly fishing the Maullin River and hiking the Alerce Andino National Park.
South Excursions greeted us for an all day tour of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. They customized a tour for us to see the highlights including the National Congress building, located in the main commercial Avenue “Pedro Montt”; you also go through the city parks and plazas, such as Italia, De La Victoria, and Sotomayor. Another great part of the tour is the walk through the “Pleasant Hill Historical District”, where you can access the via Funicular Lift.
In Viña del Mar, we saw the famous “Garden Clock”, as well as the Municipal Casino, the “Quinta Vergara” (where the city’s founding family had their Estate), and the gorgeous coastal views that the city has to offer.
Highlights of the city include the Government Palace, The main Square and Santa Lucía Hill. Our time was brief when we visited Santiago, so we hope to return soon.
We stayed at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Santiago hotel and were pampered during our short 15 hour stay.
Don’t Miss! The top floor spa and pool. Be sure to dine at the hotel restaurant Estro and order traditional dishes.
Last on our list of places to visit in Chile! Located in the far north of Chile, you’ll find a desert landscape where you can ride horses, hike trails or sand board down high sand dunes. We stayed at Hotel Explora Atacama.
We would like to thank those mentioned in this article for partially hosting us during our visit to Chile.