The Best Destinations to Visit in Chile

A visit to the Valley of the Moon in the heart of the Atacama Desert is amongst one of the best destinations to visit in Chile
A visit to the Valley of the Moon in the heart of the Atacama Desert is amongst one of the best destinations to visit in Chile | Courtesy of Robert Harding / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lucy Pierce
29 July 2021

The Atacama desert, the glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park, the mighty Andes, the wine valleys of Maipo – and let’s not forget Easter Island. There’s a lot to discover when you’re visiting Chile. Join us and discover the best.

Torres del Paine National Park

Park
Map View
torres del paine national park scenes
Courtesy of Yuen Man Cheung / Alamy Stock Photo
The towering peaks of the Torres are the perfect reward after a tough hike. With jade-green glacial waters, you really can’t make these majestic scenes up. While photos make this natural masterpiece look incredible, you really have to experience its sheer size for yourself.

San Pedro de Atacama

Natural Feature
Map View
Anfiteatro Valle de la Luna, Atacama Desert. Chile
Courtesy of Malkin Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

With views reminiscent of a scene out of a sci-fi film, this beautiful landscape can be found in the north of Chile. It’s a perfect holiday destination – where you can let the warmth of the thermal baths soothe you, sit in awe of the gushing geysers and watch as some of the world’s most colorful sunsets develop into a celestial sky.

Santiago

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Mountains and Hills of The Andes Mountains in Santiago, Chile
Courtesy of Lucas Inacio / Alamy Stock Photo

The Chile capital, Santiago, sits between the Andes and the Pacific, offering weekends away in the mountains – or by the coast. The city has a rather dark history from the time of the Pinochet dictatorship and now prefers to express itself through the city’s street art, tradition and culture. Time your visit to coincide with the Fiestas Patriascelebrations and get in the Chilean spirit.

Valparaíso

Natural Feature
Map View
View of houses on Valparaiso hills, Chile
Courtesy of Jose Luis Stephens / Alamy Stock Photo

A stomping ground for the famous poet, Pablo Neruda and visual artists alike, this coastal city gives Santiago a run for its money. With brimming culture, eye-catching street art and an ever-increasing size, Valparaíso is a must-see on your Chilean adventure. Admire the colorful houses that hang off each other artistically, and marvel at how they are all still intact after so many earthquakes.

The Wine Valleys

Natural Feature
Map View
Wine Valleys, Chile, South America
Courtesy of Hoberman Publishing / Alamy Stock Photo

In Chile, there is no shortage of vineyards – nor valleys where world-class wine is made. In fact, most of the countryside surrounding Santiago is lined with blossoming vines, which are used to create some of the finest wines in the world. Why not try a tipple of Carménère, Syrah and Pinot Noir, accompanied by some fine Chilean cuisine cooked with local meat to experience the real deal.

Chiloé Island

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Traditional stilt houses know as palafitos in the city of Castro at Chiloe Island in Southern Chile
Courtesy of Jose Luis Stephens / Alamy Stock Photo

As you venture down to the south of Chile, you will encounter much German influence – as well as Mapuche traditions. Chiloe Island, in particular, is an island where, due to its isolation, life continues much as it did in the past. If you’re lucky to witness a minga celebration, you might get the chance to taste the explosive flavor of a curanto, too.

Pisco Elqui

Natural Feature
Map View
Church with Andes mountains in the background in Pisco Elqui in the Elqui Valley in Chile
Courtesy of Jesse Kraft / Alamy Stock Photo

This sublime area of Chile is where the national drink, pisco, is made. Take a tour around the distillery and taste the product – as well as enjoying great trekking and other outdoor activities. The village of Pisco Elqui isn’t far from La Serena, so you can combine your trip with a stop off at Isla Damas, where you can spot penguins on one of the many beaches.

Carretera Austral

Natural Feature
Map View
Carretera Austral red bridge over Glacial lake in Patagonia
Courtesy of Sense2 / Alamy Stock Photo

Embark on a road trip or a journey by bicycle along this famous route, stopping at the marvelous marble caves found on the General Carrera Lake. As you whizz over the glacial lakes by boat towards the caves, you will experience incredible tranquility. These stunning natural caves really are photogenic – with swirling patterns of the caves’ walls standing out against the azure blue lake.

Easter Island

Archaeological site
Map View
Ceremonial moai, Akivi, Easter Island
Courtesy of Alamy
Easter Island, the island of magic, is where the Moai statues are there to protect you. Discover the enchanting history and the traditions of Rapa Nuilounge on the pristine white beaches and bathe in the warm, crystal-clear sea – where you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Oh, and be sure to look out for the wild horses; there are hundreds of them.

Tierra del Fuego

Natural Feature
Map View
Cormorants perching on the old pillars of the ruined pier at Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile, with Torres del Paine in the distance
Courtesy of Malkin Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Tierra del Fuego translates as “the end of the world”, and the main inhabitants here are the abundant colonies of Magellanic and Humboldt penguins. Nature and wildlife enthusiasts love the incredible mountainous scenery that comes hand in hand with animal spotting – keep an eye out for humpback whales, sea lions and dolphins, too.

Lauca National Park

Park
Map View
Parinacota volcano, Lauca national park, Chile
Courtesy of GM Photo Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Located near the border of Peru and Bolivia are the snowcapped, rumbling volcanoes – Pomerape and Parinacota – of Putre. Lauca National Park is rich with flora and fauna, as well as plentiful grazing wildlife. Spot flamingoes, llamas, rheas and alpacas mincing around this spectacular park while you breathe in the fresh Chilean air.

Puerto Varas

Historical Landmark
Map View
Full Moon over Lake Llanquihue and Osorno Vocano seen from Puerto Varas Chile
Courtesy of Edwin Remsberg / Alamy Stock Photo

The Chilean lake district is another area not short of great treks worthy of a day – or two – exploring. From waterfalls to dense forests, gurgling volcanoes and quaint country villages, you’ll really feel you’re in the heart of Chile. Take a boat ride around one of the many lakes that offer a great angle of the surrounding volcanoes of Puerto Varas.

Pucón

Natural Feature
Map View
Geometricas Hot Springs, Conaripe, near Pucon, Panguipulli, Los Rios, Chile
Courtesy of Cacio de Vasconcelos / Alamy Stock Photo

Pucon is an outdoor enthusiasts’ heaven. You can climb the Villarrica volcano, white-water raft on boisterous rapids, gallop through the valleys on horseback, go canyoning, hike through the surrounding national parks – and once you’ve completed all these, sit back and relax in the steamy natural thermal baths.

Portillo

Natural Feature
Map View
Portillo ski resort Chile
Courtesy of Gail Mooney-Kelly / Alamy Stock Photo

Portillo is South America’s oldest ski resort, with an iconic yellow building that is easily noticeable from all around the resort. Discover the pistes and ski on the well-groomed terrain – or if you’re feeling adventurous, explore some of the endless off-piste runs. Be sure to pack extra clothes for the evenings, as they are known to get into the minus temperatures.

These recommendations were updated on July 29, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Lucy Pierce

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