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From Patagonia to the Atacama Desert, Chile‘s diverse landscapes offer an impressive array of top-notch destinations. Discover the majestic Andean mountain range or climb up the hills and winding streets of port city Valparaíso. Whether interested in stunning vistas or a peek into traditional Chilean culture, these top destinations have something to offer every type of traveler.
In northern Chile, the Atacama Desert expands over 40,000 square miles, encompassing some of South America’s most memorable landscapes. The Valle de la Luna, just eight miles west of San Pedro de Atacama, gets its name from its unique stone and sand formations that appear to resemble the moon. Marvel at the flamingos and salt flats at the nearby Los Flamencos National Reserve, and check out the high-elevation geysers found at the El Tatio geyser field.
Sleeping under the stars in Chile’s mystical Valle de Elqui is a unique experience to truly commune with nature. With some of the world’s clearest skies, surrounded by the majestic Andes mountains, camping doesn’t get much better than this. To learn more about the night sky, the nearby Observatorio Mamalluca and Pangue Observatory are open for star tours.
The spectacular Torres del Paine National Park attracts tourists from across the globe, with over 150,000 visitors each year. Home to numerous lakes, mountains, hills, and glaciers, the park can take weeks to fully explore, if you have the time and resources. The park’s namesake, “Torres del Paine,” refers to the three glorious granite peaks of the Paine mountain range.
Chile’s bustling capital city is a sight to see, offering an unforgettable view of the Andes and a multitude of cultural activities. A climb up both the San Cristóbal and Santa Lucia hills is a must for anyone visiting Santiago. Stroll through the European-style streets of Lastarria and check out La Vega Central market for a colorful local experience.
The Island of Chiloé is the fifth largest island in Latin America. Locals, referred to as “Chilotes,” are known for their strong sense of pride in their island’s rich culture and history. While on the island, visit Chiloé National Park, to see diverse marine life, such as whales, dolphins, and penguins. In Castro, the island’s capital, colorful stilt houses called palafitos add to the city’s unique charm.
Tourists from all over the world flock to northern Chile whenever conditions allow to witness the unique flower desert. A stunning natural phenomena, the flower desert only lasts a couple of months each year, occurring sometime from September to November, though some years do not see any flowers. When the desert’s purple flowers do bloom, it’s a special sight to behold.
Chile’s capital of culture and a historic port city, Valparaíso‘s beauty is cherished by Chileans and visitors alike. Known worldwide for its unique street art and winding roads, get a lay of the land when you first arrive by trying out a walking tour through Valparaíso Tours 4 Tips. The Paseo Yugoslavo lookout offers breathtaking views and excellent photo opportunities, while the former prison Ex-cárcel Valparaíso or Valparaíso Cultural Park, hosts regular community events and showcases artwork and photography.
The Villarica volcano is the centerpiece of this beautiful outdoorsy town, which has hot springs, waterfalls, hills, and the Villarica lake nearby. Adventure travelers will adore Pucón’s numerous outdoor opportunities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, and hiking up the Villarica volcano. Or rent a bike and explore the area’s biodiversity on one of the local bike or hiking paths.
Soak in Rapa Nui culture and check out the distinct moai statues on Easter Island or “Isla de Pascua.” The local Polynesian Rapa Nui culture has a rich legacy that includes unique dancing traditions, stone work (statues, platforms, and houses), and myths.
This laid-back surfing hub is close to Santiago and offers wicked waves, ones that you don’t have to be a surfer to appreciate. The nearby Punta de Lobos attracts surfers and kiteboarders from all over the world and has a spectacular view.