The Top Things to See and Do in Puerto Montt, Chile

The city of Puerto Montt makes for an enjoyable stop along the Chilean coastline before a visit to the nearby Chiloe Islands
The city of Puerto Montt makes for an enjoyable stop along the Chilean coastline before a visit to the nearby Chiloe Islands | Courtesy of Cesar Santana / Alamy Stock Photo
Will Lees

Considered the bouncing-off point for Chile’s islands and Patagonian fjords, with the Andes mountains featuring as a striking backdrop, Puerto Montt is a great city to visit on your Chilean adventures.

1. Walk in the Alerce Andino National Park

Park

Walkway into Alerce Andino National Park
Courtesy of J M Barres / Alamy Stock Photo
Pay a visit to the biggest known living tree: Alerce Milenario, it’s 60m (196ft) tall and has been around for over 3,600 years. Aside from the humbling sight of this giant, the Jurassic Park-esque landscape features waterfalls, enormous ferns and gushing rivers. Covering vast land across the foothills of the Andes, it’s ripe for hiking and guided treks. You’ll find it 40km (25mi) southeast of Puerto Montt, driving on Carretera 7.

2. Get Up Close and Personal with the Osorno Volcano

Natural Feature

Path leading to the foot of the Osorno Volcano
Courtesy of Cesar Santana / Alamy Stock Photo

Between Lake Llanquihue and Todos Los Santos Lake is South America’s answer to Japan’s Mount Fuji. It’s a remarkably similar-looking volcano, dominating the horizon with a white peak that looks almost drawn on. With its ethereal presence, Osorno entices you to get closer – and it is hikeable if you are up for the challenge . At the very least, you should take the trip to stand at the base and gaze up at this mighty sight.

3. Visit the Lakeside Town of Puerto Varas

Historical Landmark

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

If you’re not up for the 90-minute drive to the Osorno Volcano from Puerto Montt, instead, head north for 21km (13mi) to the lakeside town of Puerto Varas. This Germanic colonial town comes with a sensational view – Osorno in the hazy distance, framed by Lake Llanquihue. While you’re here, pop into the white-painted wooden church – it looks more like it’s from the mountains of Bavaria with its cherry-red turrets.

4. Take a Boat Ride on the Seno de Reloncavi

Natural Feature

The Reloncaví Sound is the body of water to the south of Puerto Montt. With the south of mainland Chile splitting apart into a range of different-sized islands, peninsulas and bays, this huge inlet eventually empties into the frigid waters further south and provides some scenic views from a boat or kayak. Ko’KayaK, based in Puerto Varas, offers guided kayaking excursions and equipment rental.

5. Travel on the Navimag Ferry

Architectural Landmark

Navimag Ferry on open sea, Chile
Courtesy of Nils Kramer / Alamy Stock Photo
The journey south from Puerto Montt gives you two beautiful options: Route 7 through the countryside by bus or car, or the slower, more exciting way – taking a boat with Navimag Ferries. Setting sail from the port at Puerto Montt, it travels 65km (40mi) to Puerto Chacabuco. The voyage takes 24 hours but you get a bed in a four-person cabin with a shared bathroom – although sadly, there’s no window.

6. Drop into the Historical Museum Juan Pablo II

Museum

Puerto Montt has had its ups and downs over the years – tales of which are told at this history museum near the city’s bus terminal. It covers the 9.5-magnitude earthquake that happened off the coast of Chile in 1960, which decimated Puerto Montt’s port. Given the museum’s name, there is, of course, a section on Pope John Paul II, who held mass on this site in 1987.

7. See the Scenery of the Lahuen Ñadi Natural Monument

Park

The Lahuen Ñadi park, north of Puerto Montt, contains more of the world’s oldest trees across an area that feels like virgin-forest wilderness. And it is – the park comprises the last 200 ha (495 ac) of pristine forest in this region, including Patagonian cypress trees and Chilean myrtles. A network of trails and boardwalks have been laid out through part of the otherwise dense forest, making for an easy walk.

8. Shop at Pueblito de Melipulli

Architectural Landmark

Souvenirs store, Puerto Montt, Chile
Courtesy of Robert Fried / Alamy Stock Photo
This colorful collection of wooden shacks and stalls is the place to pick up unique, handmade souvenirs, as local artisans come here to sell their wares. The pueblito, or “little town”, known as Melipulli, is part of the city of Puerto Montt that has been surrounded – but not engulfed – by modern buildings, and stands as a neat representation of the old and new Puerto Montt.

9. Visit the Archaeological Site of Monte Verde

Natural Feature

The archaeological site of Monte Verde is significant not just to this part of the world, but to all of humanity. It might surprise you with its – albeit controversial – fresh information on the movement of early humans and their settlement in the Americas. For example, it was widely accepted that humans arrived in the Americas around 13,500 years ago, yet the findings here date back to 18,500 years. Here, instructive plaques show where excavations occurred over time.

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