This Patagonian country is a rich tapestry of mountains and plains, jungle and ocean. Chile’s long and unusual shape has given it a varied climate with one of the world’s driest deserts in the north, while its southern tip is home to cold-weather creatures like penguins. Chile is one of the closest nations, along with Argentina and New Zealand, to Antarctica.
The South has a strong history of visiting explorers, as everyone who sailed around the world before the Panama Canal was built needed to pass its tip. The country also has a well-known wine region that attracts many oenophiles every year. Here is a look at some of the best places to visit in Chile:
This northern Chilean city is the second oldest in the nation. It has a city full of charming architecture and a warm golden beach. La Serena is reputed to be an intellectual city, and has a number of excellent attractions that fit this description, such as an archaeological museum and an astronomical observatory. Outdoor enthusiasts will love biking through the Elqui Valley, swimming, snorkeling, diving and / or walking on Isla Damas, and visiting the Fray Jorge National Park.
The capital city is the political and cultural heart of Chile. From the high mountain views of Cerro San Cristóbal Park to the isolated history of the poet Pablo Neruda’s writing retreat, there is much to see in Santiago. The best options include skiing in Valle Nevado or Portillo, wine tasting in Viña Aquitania or visits to one of the main museums such as the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art in Chile or the Fashion Museum. For those who don’t want to spend all their time in the city, there are incredible hiking opportunities, such as the steep slopes of the Cajon de Maipo.
Chiloé Island is the largest island in the Chiloé archipelago in the Los Lagos region and the second largest island in South America after Tierra del Fuego. Partly due to its physical isolation from the rest of Chile, Chiloé has a very special local architecture and culture. The Spaniards who arrived in the 16th century, and the Jesuit missionaries who followed them, built hundreds of unique wooden churches in an attempt to bring Christianity to the archipelago. The result was a mix of Catholicism and Chilean indigenous beliefs.
This beautiful seaside town and casino offers a vibrant waterfront and magnificent 19th century Georgian architecture such as the Aztoreca Palace. Iquique is Chile’s Monte Carlo, and it has a lot to offer for anyone who loves free-spirited fun. During the day, guests can participate in world-famous surfing, paragliding or surfing waves on the Costa Dorada. A walk along the wooden sidewalks of the historic mining town, or the cobbled street of Baquedano, gives an idea of a time of great economic boom. Finally, the spectacular nightlife offers dazzling games, great restaurants, and duty-free shopping in the district.
The southern coast of Chile has a large number of fjords and channels that provide the only access to this part of Patagonia. Navigating this region can be an unforgettable experience. Most trips start from Puerto Montt and travel to Carretera Austral, Laguna San Rafael and Puerto Natales. The trip takes visitors through days of uninhabited fjords, close encounters with glaciers, and views of orange sunsets over the Pacific. To the south, the channels become narrower. Along the way, travelers can see whales, many birds, and sea lions.
This economic and hard-working port city on the coast of central Chile was loved by the poet Pablo Neruda for its beautiful chaos. It has some of the first urban innovations in Latin America, such as the first volunteer fire department. In addition to its working-class roots, Valparaíso has a reputation for being an underground street art movement. Rather than specific tourist attractions, Valparaíso is best known for its brightly colored houses, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful ocean views.
Lake District of Chile
This long and lush volcanic valley region stretches from Puerto Montt in the south to Temuco in the north. It is home to dense forests, crystal clear lakes and snow-capped volcanoes. Before the introduction of the Europeans, the Lake District was heavily forested and inhabited by the Mapuche, one of the few South American tribes that avoided being swallowed by the Inca nations. Today, there are still some beautiful spots, such as Los Alerces National Park, known as Yosemite de Chile. The mountains here are very young, only two thousand years old, making them taller and more jagged than anything else in North America, and well worth the trip on their own.
San Pedro de Atacama
Popular with Chilean tourists and international visitors, this is one of the most visited places in Chile. San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean city on the edge of one of the most impressive landscapes in the world. Austerias, endless floods and salt plains surrounded by mountains of copper are abundant and must be seen to be believed. The nightlife here is a little different: the big draw is the star trails, as it is one of the darkest places in the world and the opportunity to see the night sky undiluted.
Torres del Paine
Torres de Azul National Park constitutes a glacial region in the extreme south of Chile. Three large pillars in the park give it its name, and it is also home to a series of “horns” or other mountains and glacial lakes. Exploration through this park can be done through minivan tours, multi-day hikes or catamaran trips. There are some services that will also offer horse tours of some of the sites. Much of the park is foot-only, and there are a number of excellent guide companies that can help transport equipment and cook meals on hikes for five to seven days.
One of the best places to visit in Chile. Located over 3,500 km (2,000 miles) from central Chile, Easter Island continues to be one of the great mysteries of the world. This treeless island of hundreds of giant hollow-eyed statues carved by its Polynesian visitors is a mysterious but beautiful example of art and human achievement. In addition to visiting these statues from a respectful distance to avoid large fines and walking the rocky plains, guests can enjoy two white-sand beaches with deep-sea diving, an extinct cinder cone, and a series of native tours offering views of things. They are unique and worthwhile.