20 Must-Visit Attractions in Chile

Moai
Moai | © voltamax / Pixabay
Harry Stewart

With some 2,600 miles (4,300 kilometers) separating the southern tip of Patagonia from the northern border of Peru, Chile has a myriad of worthwhile attractions across a variety of geographical zones. Starting from the south, let’s work our way north on a tour of Chile’s 20 best tourist destinations.

1. Isla Magdalena

Got a thing for penguins? Then look no further than Isla Magdalena, located just off the coast of Punta Arenas. Hundreds of the cute little critters can be seen up close and personal as they waddle around and huddle up together.

Isla Magdalena, Chile

A penguin in Isla Magdalena| © Jose Luis Hidalgo R. / Flickr

2. Torres del Paine

Park

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park (UNESCO Site), Cuernos del Paine peaks and Lake Pehoe
© Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo
No hiker worth their salt would even consider visiting Chile without crossing Torres del Paine off the bucket list. The stunning treks of this world-renowned national park pass groaning glaciers, towering peaks, forested valleys, and crystal clear lakes.

3. Villa O'Higgins to Argentina

Villa

Lago OHiggins
© Hector Garcia / Flickr
Most people opt for a bus or a plane when traveling across borders, but in Villa O’Higgins, this isn’t strictly necessary. Intrepid travelers can do a hike through the unspoiled Patagonian wilderness and arrive in El Chaltén, Argentina just a few days later.

4. The Marble Caves

Natural Feature

The Marble Caves
© Javier Vieras/Flickr
Hidden underneath a peninsula in the picturesque Lago Carrera General is the spectacular Cuevas de Mármol (Marble Caves). The aqua and turquoise waters bounce sunlight onto the roof of the caves, creating a stunning reflection that is unlike anywhere else on earth.

5. Carretera Austral

5. Carretera Austral
© Fernando Valenzuela/Flickr

A very long stretch of isolated gravel road, cruising down the Carretera Austral is the quintessential off-the-beaten-track experience. There are heaps of national parks, hiking trails and campsites to stop off at along the way.

Carretera Austral, Chile

Ruta 7, Carretera Austral, Hornopirén. | © Fernando Valenzuela / Flickr

6. Chiloé

6. Chiloé
© Tetraigofotos/Flickr

It seems to rain every day on this mystical green island in northern Patagonia. But don’t worry because there are plenty of amazing UNESCO churches and exciting boating expeditions to make up for it.

Chiloé, Los Lagos Region, Chile

Isla Mechuque, Chiloé | © Tetraigofotos / Flickr

7. Easter Island

7. Easter Island
© myeviajes/pixabay

Just a few thousand miles offshore lies one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands. Easter Island is most famous for its mysterious Moai statues, but it’s got plenty of great scenery and fascinating indigenous culture as well.

Easter Island, Valparaiso Region, Chile

Moai statues on Easter Island | © myeviajes / Pixabay

8. Puerto Varas

8. Puerto Varas
© Murray Foubister/Flickr

A charming little German settlement with a distinctly European feel, Puerto Varas is set around a beautiful lake and has numerous nearby waterfalls, volcanoes, and forests to explore.

Puerto Varas, Los Lagos Region, Chile

Puerto Varas | © Murray Foubister / Flickr

9. Valdivia

Market

9. Valdivia
© Pablo Meneses/Flickr

This quaint little student town boasts stunning natural surroundings, a vibrant cultural scene, and a busy fish market right on the lake where sea lions hang out to gobble up any leftover scraps.

Valdivia, Los Ríos Region, Chile

Valdivia | © Pablo Meneses / Flickr

10. Pucón

10. Pucón
© Carlos Adampol Galindo/Flickr

One of the most pleasant towns in the Chilean Lake District, Pucón gets a lot of love for its numerous outdoor adventure activities and the chilled lakeside atmosphere.

Pucón, Araucania, Chile

Playa Negra, Pucón, Chile | © Carlos Adampol Galindo / Flickr

11. Volcano Villarica

Those with the energy and bravado should consider scaling Villarica, the mammoth volcano that towers over Pucón. It requires a strenuous eight-hour climb with crampons and ice picks, but the views from the top are so worth it.

Volcano Villarica, Panguipulli, Los Ríos Region, Chile

Villarica | © Omar Burgos / Flickr

12. Santiago

12. Santiago
© sergom5/pixabay

No trip to Chile would be complete without a stopover in the enormous ciudad capital. Peruse some amazing museums, splurge on world-class fine dining, or just enjoy a few drinks with newfound friends in one of South America’s most exciting cities.

Santiago, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile

Santiago | © sergom5 / Pixabay

13. Valparaiso

13. Valparaiso
© amira_a/Flickr

This trendy little seaport town has earned the reputation of being a true bohemian paradise. With jaw-dropping street art adorning almost every wall, Valparaiso is the place to be for hip young millennials.

Valparaiso, Valparaiso Region, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile | © amira_a / Flickr

The wine regions

Most of Chile’s wine is produced within just a few hours’ drive of Santiago. Throughout the region, a huge number of world-class vineyards offer wine tasting tours where a copious amount of vino is liberally dispersed among thirsty travelers. Salud!

Viña Caliterra

14. La Serena

Heading north of the capital now, and the first place worth stopping is the pleasant seaside town of La Serena. Head for nearby Islas Damas to hike, swim or snorkel among adorable penguins and sea lions.

La Serena, Coquimbo Region, Chile

Islas Damas | © Gernot Ruthofer / Flickr

15. Elqui Valley

15. Elqui Valley
© Leonora (Ellie) Enking/Flickr

A few hours inland from La Serena lies the tranquil Elqui Valley, Chile’s major pisco-producing region. Apart from indulging in the local produce, there are valleys to explore and some spectacular stargazing opportunities on offer.

Elqui Valley, Chile

Elqui Valley | © Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr

16. San Pedro de Atacama

16. San Pedro de Atacama
© poLiMetralleta/pixabay

It’s a long way north to San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in the middle of the desert that serves as the main tourism hub for this remarkable region. Visit steaming hot geysers, bizarre rock formations, and high altitude lagoons surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes.

San Pedro de Atacama, Coquimbo, Región de Coquimbo, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama | © poLiMetralleta / Pixabay

17. Chuquicamata

17. Chuquicamata
© Peter Collins/Flickr

Go on a tour of Chuquicamata, one of the world’s biggest open-pit copper mines. The free guided tour (these people make so much money that they don’t bother to charge) lasts several hours and provides a fascinating insight into the scale of this lucrative industry.

Chuquicamata, Calama, Antofagasta Region, Chile

Chuquicamata copper mine, Calama, Chile | © Peter Collins / Flickr

18. Iquique

Resort

Fancy a beach break? Then check out Chile’s most happening seaside resort, which is brimming with revelers during holiday periods. For something different, the nearby ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura give an intriguing insight into what life was like back in the 19th century.

Iquique, Tarapacá Region, Chile

Humberstone | © Tefy fd / WikiCommons

19. Arica

19. Arica
© Capablazab/Wikipedia

The end of the road, or the beginning of your coming from Peru, Arica has a pleasant surfable beach, some lovely colonial architecture, and a great mirador with a war museum that overlooks the coast.

Arica, Arica y Parinacota Region, Chile

Arica | © Capablazab / WikiCommons

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