Though it’s relatively small in size, Puerto Varas, Chile, offers some magnificent sights and activities. From adventures on the river to some of the best restaurants in the region, you’ll find plenty to do in this cozy lakeside town. Here’s out guide to the top 10 activities and sights to make time for.
Everyone who has visited Puerto Varas has at least glanced at Museo Pablo Fierro. How could you not, with the cars, the balcony, and the eccentric objects surrounding the building? The outside alone is fascinating, and a visit inside will surely spark even more interest. Step inside and soak up the history of immigration and colonization in the region.
If you’re looking for trees and a secret lookout overlooking Lake Llanquihue, head over to Cerro Philippi. With trails for walking, biking, and driving, this park is accessible for all. Once you reach the top, you’ll find a lovely, panoramic view of the town and a huge cross that glows in the night. Named after German explorer Bernado Philippi, this park is just one of many examples of the vast German influence that has left its mark on Puerto Varas.
It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s the absolute best thing to do in Puerto Varas: walking along the lake. You’ll be inspired by the beauty of Volcan Osorno and neighbor Volcan Calbuco, and you will likely take a load of selfies. If you go on a Sunday, you’ll find a lot of local families walking and enjoying the lake.
A day trip to Volcan Osorno is a great option year-round. In the winter, you can ski, snowboard, or tube, and in the summer, you can trek, take the chair lift for panoramic views, or zip line. The options are endless and fun is guaranteed. The volcano is accessible by car via Route 225 or by tour, departing from Puerto Varas; a trip to the volcano is a must.
While you’re on the way to Volcan Osorno, you need to stop at Los Saltos de Petrohue (Petrohue Falls). The water is clear and the view is incredible. There is also a cute place to grab a hot cocoa or coffee and a snack, and shops that sell local artwork.
If you like to shop, you’ll love Puerto Varas, which has boutique clothing stores, the Artesan Fair, and everything in between: chocolate shops, wool shops, outdoor adventure stores, gourmet food, and wine stores. You’re sure to find many treasures and meet kind, passionate store owners and artisans on your shopping day.
Visible from the lake shore, both Sacred Heart Church and Iglesia Lueterana stand tall and colorful. Be sure to stop by and learn about the history of colonization and its impact on religion in this quaint tourist town.
Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales is part of the reserve of the Rainy Temperate Biosphere of the Southern Andes. With excellent trails ranging from 30 minutes to five days on horseback, this park accommodates all levels of fitness. Be on the lookout for wildlife, as it’s quite possible you’ll see a pudú (a type of deer), puma, or river otter.
Puerto Varas’s coastal street is lined with excellent restaurants that serve locally sourced ingredients in a pleasant, sociable atmosphere. Whether it’s a dinner of pizza and craft beer or fine seafood paired with a Chilean wine, dinner by the lake will be an evening to remember.
It’s time to get out on the water. From rafting and kayaking on the Petrohue river to swimming and boating tours on Lake Llanquihue, there are many opportunities to enjoy southern Chile’s pristine waters. You’re sure to have fun and enjoy some breathtaking views at almost every turn.