31 In Chile/ Travel/ Travel hacks

THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN CHILE

If you didn’t know it already, Chile is a long, narrow nation. Spanning 2,653 miles from top to bottom, not many people see the whole country in one trip. Nonetheless, with attractions such as Torres del Paine and San Pedro de Atacama, the Chilean tourism industry is experiencing rapid growth. When dealing with such a long country, it’s hard to pick and choose places to fit your itinerary. This causes many tourists to ask: what are the best places to visit in Chile? In this article, I hope to explain what you can expect at some of the most exciting places in the country. Hopefully, my summary will help you to narrow down your destinations for your dream trip!

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a small town in Northern Chile that is located smack-dab in the middle of the desert. While this doesn’t sound that tempting at first, I was personally taken aback by the beauty of this region. Watching the sunset in Valle de La Luna, I felt like I was on another planet. This destination has to make the list of best places to visit in Chile for any adventure traveler.

Activities to expect:

  • Sand boarding
  • Stargazing
  • Trekking
  • Taking a dip in natural hot springs

La Serena/ Valle del Elqui

La Serena is my favorite beach town in Chile. It’s always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Santiago and escape to La Serena for a few days of pure relaxation. From La Serena, it’s easy to join a tour group or take a bus on your own to Valle del Elqui. So, why is Elqui Valley such a big attraction? The answer is easy: it’s where the country’s favorite alcohol is created. Yep, grapes for pisco as well as wine are cultivated here, creating a gorgeous image of contrast between the rugged mountains and the green, flourishing vineyards.

Activities to expect: 

  • Pisco tasting 
  • Horseback riding
  • Camping
  • Trekking

Santiago

Most people tend to just pass through Chile’s capital on their way to another part of the country. However, I think Santiago deserves a visit. There are many places to catch a stunning view of the Andes mountain range that surrounds the city. Furthermore, I would argue that Santiago is the best place to get to know a little more about Chilean history and to sample true Chilean food.

Activities to expect: 

  • Walking tours 
  • Museums
  • Visiting the local city market
  • Watching the sunset from Sky Costanera

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Valparaíso/ Viña del Mar

Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are sister cities along Chile’s coast. While the first is primarily known for its brightly colored houses and street art, the latter is better known for its beaches. Tourists flock to both destinations, and luckily, it’s quite easy to move back and forth between the two using public buses. If you’re short on time, definitely make sure to fit these cities into your list as they are undoubtedly some of the best places to visit in Chile!

Activities to expect: 

  • Graffiti tours 
  • Sunbathing
  • Visiting Pablo Neruda’s house
  • Riding the funiculars up and down Valpo’s steep hills

Pucón

Pucón is the first city that I’m going to mention in the South of Chile. A 10-hour bus ride from Santiago, this small town tourist epicenter is an extremely popular destination during the summer (December-February). People from all over the world come to Pucón to climb Villarrica Volcano (yes, an active volcano) and engage in other extreme adventure activities.

Activities to expect: 

  • Volcano climbing
  • Bicycle riding
  • Zip-lining
  • Relax in the hot springs

Valdivia

Valdivia is a charming town in the South of Chile, offering picturesque views. It’s hard to be anything but relaxed when strolling this city’s streets or passing through the local market. Not to mention, Valdivia is famed for its chocolate. If you need another reason to visit this quaint destination, you can also visit the Kuntsmann beer factory and enjoy an afternoon tasting your favorite samples.

Activities to expect: 

  • Strolling through the local market
  • Taking a boat ride 
  • Tasting artisanal chocolate at Entrelagos 
  • Drinking your fill of Kuntsmann

Chiloé Island

Chiloé is best known for its distinctive flair, with rows of vibrant houses placed high above the water. Many of the gorgeous wooden churches you’ll see in this town are actually UNESCO world heritage sites. Chiloé is different from any other place you’ll find in South America, marked by a connection to the sea and a rich spiritual culture.

Activities to expect: 

  • Visiting the iconic churches of Chiloé 
  • Trekking 
  • Getting to know the region’s folklore 
  • Whale-watching and bird-watching

Torres del Paine

This stunning national park gets its name from the three granite peaks of the mountain range. Tourists from all over the world (approximately 150,000) travel to Torres del Paine to take in the breathtaking views along different hiking paths, making it one of the best places to visit in Chile. One of the most popular options is the “W” route, taking about five days to complete. Summertime is the best season of the year to visit this national park as other times of the year typically involve extreme weather.

Activities to expect: 

  • Hiking 
  • Connecting with nature 
  • Taking in the epic views

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This list details the best places to visit in Chile with information about each destination to help with your trip planning.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    thekiwicouple
    November 7, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Bookmarking this right now for when we go to Chile one day! We were so sad to have to skip it this time, but will use that as an excuse to go back…

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      November 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      definitely! let me know if you guys ever get a chance to go! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kreete
    November 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I love that there are so many destinations on your list where you can go hiking and trekking and even climb a volcano! That’s a dream! All the photos look amazing too, makes me want to visit straight away! Maybe one day:)

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      November 8, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Yessss! Chile is the ultimate adventure travel destination!

  • Reply
    Hope Chen
    November 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Hey Leah, I’ve always wanted to go to Chile so I really appreciated your post. Pucón and the volcano climbing sound absolutely surreal! It sounds like there were many outdoors – hiking adventures included in your trip, which I love! Definitely inspired to not only pass through the capital and also visit other parts of it!

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      November 8, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      That’s so great to hear! I hope one day you get to visit 🙂

  • Reply
    Gina
    November 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I have always wanted to visit Chile but have known nothing but Santiago and the Patagonia region! This is such a great reference, thanks!

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      November 8, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you! Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize everything that Chile has to offer!

  • Reply
    Marissa
    November 7, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Funny you mention that people just pass through Santiago – that’s exactly what I did on my way to Argentina! It’s such an affordable and easy place to fly into when you’re trying to get to other parts of South America that I think it gets overlooked as a destination in itself. Personally, I’m itching to go back because I’ve only heard amazing things about the city – and you can’t beat the mountain setting! Great post, I’ll definitely be referring back to this when I plan my future return trip to Chile. 🙂

  • Reply
    Allison
    November 8, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Sign me up for the vineyards! Valdivia looks so quaint and charming. I always try to spend a few days in the city as well so would be sure not to skip Santiago.

  • Reply
    Maja | Mexatia
    November 8, 2016 at 5:22 am

    I’m kinda obsessed with volcanos so I just gasped seeing this one! Chile has always been a dream, unfortunately – still not fulfilled one. As soon as we go, we will definitely visit Atacama and Valparaiso, right after we climb the volcano lol.

  • Reply
    Alan
    November 8, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Great article we visited South America last year but it was way too quick with only a week stay in Santiago and a couple of weeks in Lima and Cusco. Hope to get back there again soon and would love to see so much more as it has a lot to offer.

  • Reply
    Natasha Welch
    November 8, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Wow this is awesome, Chile looks like such a beautiful place. I love these pictures and how you have a real good mix between natural spots and cities. Awesome guide!

  • Reply
    Katie
    November 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Santiago is a city that has been on my list for some time now but I hadn’t realised there were so may great places in Chile. Pucon reminds me of Mt. Fuji and is stunning! Valdivia looks almost European and is now on my list!

  • Reply
    Taylor Fuller
    November 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I am dying to go to Chile and this post just made me want to go there sooner!

  • Reply
    Janine Good
    November 8, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Chile is a place i’m dying to get to for many reasons, including on the way to Easter Island. I would so be in for the vineyards and volcano climbing. This would make it a well-rounded vacation!

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    November 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Chile is top of my travel wish list. There is so much to do and see, we keep putting the trip off until we can go for at least a month. We just need to relocate to South America for a few years to see everything on our list!

  • Reply
    Stace
    November 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Pinning this! Oh my God I’ve been dying to visit Chile for the longest time. I love this overview of each of these towns! I was just going to check out Santiago and Torres del Paine, clearly I have a lot more to see

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 12, 2016 at 3:14 am

    My pick would be Torres del Paine, for it’s soaring peaks. The scenery is jaw dropping and I would love to visit again. I went a few years ago and stayed in historic meat (sheep) processing plant that had been converted into a very funky boutique hotel.

  • Reply
    neha
    November 12, 2016 at 3:22 am

    These destinations seem very versatile. So many different kind of places to explore and things to do in Chile itself. I am amazed.

  • Reply
    Jurga
    November 12, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Chile has been on my wish list for a long time. Pinning this for later. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Rosi C.
    November 12, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I didn’t know there was so much to do in Chile. Great info. Definitely cannot be done in a week 🙂

  • Reply
    Natasha von Geldern
    November 12, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I can’t believe I still haven’t travelled in South America. Chile is high on my list and your photos just confirm that. Can’t wait to travel there!

  • Reply
    Deni
    November 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I have been wanting to go to Chile for so long, and this has inspired me to start looking into it a bit more. I love how San Pedro de Atacama looks like Mars, and I would love to hike Torres del Paine! I definitely need to brush up on my Spanish before I go though!! (And by that, I mean actually learn Spanish hehe)

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    December 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    San Pedro de Atacama and Valdivia look so incredible! There are so many places that look worth exploring!

  • Reply
    sarah
    December 3, 2016 at 1:30 am

    I have very happy memories of Santiago and Valparaiso. I wish I’d done more whilst I was there now, but that’s life. An excuse to go back I suppose.

  • Reply
    Meg Cale
    December 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Oh I love this. How beautiful are those houses in Chiloé? I haven’t been to Chile yet, but it’s definitely on my list.

  • Reply
    Traveoport
    January 18, 2017 at 6:01 am

    Perfect list, would love to follow every inch of it. I´m a wanderer myself and I could put quite a few check marks to some from these list and still willing t see more and more. So happy travelling to all of us!

  • Reply
    Megan | Red Around The World
    February 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I LOVE your pictures so much! I will definitely come back to this when I start planning a trip to Chile! It’s like, the top of my list!

  • Reply
    Therie
    May 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Chilean landscapes are unlike any other, especially Moon Valley it’s just out of this world beautiful!

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