Chile is a country that attracts more and more travelers, thanks to its varied landscapes and its rich culture. Everyone has the image of this thin strip of land wedged between the countries of South America and the Pacific Ocean, but few know what it hides as treasures, the many sites to visit.
In order to give you some ideas and guide you in the preparation of your itinerary, we have gathered the Must-See places in Chile, as well as the essential activities. You just have to pick from the list according to your desires, and create a personalized circuit to make your trip unforgettable.
You cannot take a trip to Chile without starting with its capital, Santiago. There is always something new to discover in this huge, bustling city. Start by sampling local delicacies at the central market, or in the city’s many restaurants, and stroll through the streets of the historic heart.
Visit the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, Pablo Neruda’s House, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Climb to the top of the hills with breathtaking views of the center, and after a busy day, relax at Forestal Park to recharge your batteries.
Second major city of Chile, Valparaiso is a very pleasant port city. The Concepción and Alegre hills are the most touristy places, because they have a crazy charm with their little colorful houses.
There is also the Matriz Church, Sotomayor Square, and another splendid house by Pablo Neruda: Sebastiana. If you are passionate about painting, especially street art, you will be pleased to note that Valparaiso is filled with very successful wall frescoes. This city definitely deserves a stay, even short.
3. The Atacama Desert and the Moon Valley
It is one of Chile’s most famous attractions, as this unique desert is full of magnificent natural sites. It is located in the north of the country, on the border with Peru and Bolivia (including the famous Salar of Uyuni).
The easiest way is to go to San Pedro de Atacama and go on an excursion from this city. For a change of scenery, go to the Valley of the Moon, where the climate is so arid that nothing grows. The dunes and ocher rocks give the impression of no longer walking on Earth and being totally cut off from the real world. But that’s not all! You can also admire the Salar of Atacama, a beautiful lake of salt, where you can see flamingos, and see the mountains reflected.
4. Visit the geothermal field of El Tatio geysers
Also, in the region of Atacama, another visit is El Tatio Natural Park. It is more than 4,000 m above sea level in the Cordillera of the Andes, and is framed by two volcanoes. This is why the geothermal activity is very strong, and the many geysers spit boiling water at regular intervals. It is even possible to bask in natural hot springs, in the midst of the incredible landscape of this park. We can only recommend you these sites to visit in Chile.
5. The Island of Chiloe
The island of Chiloe is a large Chilean island located southwest of the coast, near the town of Puerto Montt. Its peculiarity is to be populated of small colored houses on stilts called palafitos. They are typical of this region of the world, and give an unusual brilliance to natural landscapes.
In addition, there are hundreds of churches on this island, sixteen of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They were built in wood around the 17th century by Spanish Jesuit missionaries to convert local people. Since then, they have been preserved, and their exceptional architecture makes them remarkable places of visit and pilgrimage.
6. Excursion on Easter Island
As you may know, Easter Island is attached to Chile, although it is more than 3,000 km from the coast. This place of ancestral legends is essential for all explorers who have always dreamed of being face to face with the Moai statues. On this end-of-the-world island, you’ll find only 6,000 inhabitants, mysterious megaliths, and natural parks, all surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.
In other words, it is a paradise whose preservation is a crucial issue. Moreover, the considerable heritage of Easter Island is protected by UNESCO and local authorities. If you are still hesitating, tell yourself that this may be your only opportunity. It definitely would be a real shame to miss one of the greatest mysteries of Humanity.
7. Torres del Paine National Park
It is one of the most beautiful national parks of Chile, located in the South of the country, in Patagonia. If you like hiking, this is an opportunity to go trekking to discover glaciers, rocky peaks, and mountain lakes.
There are two main circuits that take between 4 and 10 days, depending on your physical form. And you do not even have to carry camping stuff and food stocks ! The paths are punctuated with shelters and food outlets. This trek is really grandiose, and has nothing to envy to the glaciers of the Alps or New Zealand. Don’t miss this spectacular sites to visit in Chile !
8. Drink Chilean wine in the Maipo Valley
After the effort, some comfort. When you travel, you have to know how to give yourself little moments of pleasure, and savor local products.
It is therefore natural that the Maipo Valley should be on your route, for a bucolic getaway to discover alcoholic flavors. Just one of many interesting sites to visit in Chile. The various vineyards in the region offer walking and cycling tours, with tastings of their best wines. In addition, the Maipo Valley is located just a few kilometers from Santiago, the capital. There is therefore no reason to deprive yourself.
9. Explore the Arica region
Radical change of scenery, with this arid region located in the north of the country, on the border with Peru. The port city enjoys a microclimate that makes it a place with almost no rainfall. The temperature is stable throughout the year, around 19 ° C.
It is a very pleasant place to live, which has prospered thanks to trade for a long time. Arica itself is a rather cute town, with beaches, but it is also worth visiting the Azapa Valley. True oasis in the middle of the desert where are cultivated delicious fruits and vegetables. In addition, you can visit the archaeological museum with remarkable collections of Inca objects.
10. Discover Laguna Verde in the Copiapo region
One of the sites to visit in Chile is the Laguna Verde. Certainly one of the most beautiful natural creations of Chile. The Green Lake is a high mountain lake whose excessive salinity prevents all life from developing. It is also this characteristic that gives it its particular color.
For a breathtaking view of the Laguna Verde, it is best to climb to the top of one of the many volcanoes that surround the valley. But beware, they peak at over 6,000 m, which can be difficult to bear. However, you will not regret for a second the climb, when you will discover the lunar landscape with in its center the turquoise lake.
11. Along the Carretera Austral
It is a mythical route of southern Chile, which connects the small villages of Patagonia to the cities of Puerto Montt and Villa O’Higgins. It is quite narrow, and stops in several places to give way to ferries, but it gives even more charm to the Carretera Austral.
Whether on a road trip, by bike, hitchhiking or on foot, the crossing is worth the detour and always reserves beautiful surprises. It’s a bit of a world away before Tierra del Fuego. A multitude of incredible landscapes parading along the way: fjords, ocean, Andean cordillera, volcanoes, plains, lakes, snow-capped peaks … Prepare the cameras and be prepared to have sparkling stars in your eyes.
12. Visit the Marble Cathedral by canoe
This is an excursion we cannot resist, certainly one of the best sites to visit in Chile. Who can say no to a canoe trip on crystal clear water, to go paddling under a dug-out rock that lights up in bluish colors with the lake tides? This is what awaits visitors brave enough to explore this natural cathedral, as well as its binoculars called chapel and marble cave. Guaranteed thrills and exceptional photos.
13. Climb to the top of Villarica volcano
The Villarica volcano is in permanent activity, and regularly spits ashes and lava more or less. It can erupt at any time, and therefore enjoys close surveillance by the scientific community. However, hotheads who like to live dangerously, have the opportunity to climb the volcano and its 2,800 m above sea level.
On the agenda of this day of hiking: steep ridges, eternal snow, beautiful scenery and a crater in which we hear the magma bubbling. If walking is not for you, helicopter rides are also offered, and even downhill skiing.
14. See humpback whales crossing the Strait of Magellan
An explorer’s dream for centuries, the strait that connects America to Tierra del Fuego was crossed for the first time by Fernand de Magellan in 1520. It is still navigable, and the best way to discover its wonders is, of course, on a boat.
Embark on a cruise through the fjords and rushing waters of the Strait, and visit the Marta and Magdalena Islands, home to penguin colonies. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see humpback whales. They come to this part of the world from September to April, and let themselves be observed from the deck of tourist boats.