The best things to visit in Chile

The best things to visit in Chile

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31 December

It’s not just cool, it’s Chile! Sorry for the pun, but we’re pretty excited. This destination is a country that packs a serious punch into its long, thin land mass. It’s less than 200 km wide on average, so you’ll never be far from either the spectacular Andes mountain range or the Pacific Ocean. That’s without even mentioning the intriguing culture waiting for you — that intoxicating blend of colonial charm, indigenous culture and modernity. It’s time to discover natural wonders and cultural delights with our list of the best places to go in one of South America’s most exciting destinations.

Santiago de Chile

If you want to get a good feel for a country, it’s always best to visit the capital city. Start your Chile travel adventure in Santiago, an incredibly gorgeous place where you’ll see old colonial buildings with snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Take a walk through the Parque Metropolitano, where you’ll see the iconic statue of Cerro San Cristobal. Like a smaller version of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, this religious monument has become an enduring symbol of the city. When you’ve had a good look there, head to the Mercado Central, the beating heart of the Chilean capital. It’s the perfect spot to indulge in some local treats like sweet, juicy custard apples and — if you dare — fresh sea snails. If the thought makes you squeamish, then just stick with a good glass of Chilean red.

Like any Latin American city, Santiago also boasts some incredible nightlife. Put on your salsa shoes and head to the Bellavista neighbourhood if you want to dance the night away. Just be warned — Chileans take partying seriously, so you’re in for a long night!

Aerial photo of city buildings


From the hustle and bustle of the big city, it’s time for something totally different. The untamed wilderness at Patagonia National Park should be on everyone’s list of the best things to visit in Chile. This rugged landscape is a paradise for anyone who loves an outdoor adventure. You’ll feel like you’re a million miles from civilisation as you trek through Patagonia, discovering trails and routes that are a world away from what you’re used to.

Untouched glaciers, jagged peaks and crystal-clear mountain lakes are just a few of the treats that are waiting for you in this magical, all-natural place. Watch out for the animals, too, including different species of deer and adorable vicuña, the smaller cousin of the llama and alpaca. If you’re really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a sleek puma — just don’t get too close to these ferocious creatures!

Sheet of water surrounded by mountains

Torres del Paine

We’re staying in the Patagonia region for this one. This is another national park that’s one of the best places to visit in Chile. If you’re looking to get away from it all, this is the place to go. Lose yourself in the majesty of nature as you trek along trails between snow-capped mountains or go horse riding through an otherworldly landscape of red flowers and silvery glaciers.

This park is a place for any lover of the great outdoors. Go hiking, ice hiking or horse riding, then stop by Lake Pehoé or the Salto Grande waterfall for the perfect photo opportunity. Anyone seeking the chance for escapism in nature should head straight for this park, where you can forget all about the drama and nonsense of everyday life.

Herd of horses on bushes and grasses across the mountain

Puerto Montt

Need a reason to add this southern city to your list of the best things to visit in Chile? Well, it’s the capital of the area known as the Lake Region — what more do you want? The city itself is beautiful, but it’s also a great place to go to explore the surrounding nature. Take a boat trip on the Navimag Ferry, navigating between glaciers and rocky inlets, or get your heart pumping when you go whitewater rafting on the Petrohué River. When you need a break, try exploring the narrow streets of the old town, which was originally settled by Germans and still has a distinct vibe as a result.

Best of all is the soaring Osorno Volcano, ninety minutes away from the town. Sitting high above the lakes and rivers below, this volcano still has the remains of ancient lava flows embedded into its slopes. You can hike it if you like, but you’ve been warned — it’s not an easy trek. If you’re a hardcore hiker, you’ll appreciate this tough trail, which offers stunning views once you get up to the top.

A group of people walking along a pavement near a body of water

La Serena

La Serena is home to some of the best Chile tourist attractions, especially if you’re a beach lover. Even if you’re not up for chilling out on the sand, there are plenty of fun things to see and do here. We recommend stargazing in the Elqui Valley, home to some incredible observatories. Many are reserved for scientists, but the Observatorio Turístico Collowara is happy to let travellers come and peer through its giant, immensely powerful telescopes.

If you’re seeking peace and quiet, it’s hard to beat El Parque Jardín del Corazón, the Garden of the Heart. This tranquil spot is the largest Japanese garden in South America, complete with beautiful landscaping, delicate wooden bridges across waterfall-edged ponds, and exquisitely manicured trees and lawns.

Brown and white concrete lighthouse under blue sky during the daytime

Puerto Varas

If you’re looking for adventure, be sure to add Puerto Varas to your list of the best things to visit in Chile. For a long time, this was known as a sleepy area of the Chilean countryside. Today, adrenaline junkies flock here. Go kayaking on the water or join a local fishing boat for a cruise around the harbour. Try whitewater rafting on the nearby river or, if you’re really up for a challenge, take a kayak out on the fjords.

In winter, this area is also a great skiing hub. If you’re looking for the best time to visit Chile for snow, remember that the seasons are different in the southern hemisphere. In this region, you’ll be able to indulge in snow sports from June to October.

Green trees and white snow mountain


The name Valparaíso means Paradise Valley, and we reckon that’s pretty accurate. This stunning city is known for its funky, bohemian atmosphere. It’s one of the most interesting cities in Chile to visit if you’re into a laid-back, backpacker vibe. This is where travellers from around the world congregate, drawn in by the street art and craft beer.

In fact, the city’s abundant graffiti is its main attraction. Almost everywhere you turn, you’ll find a new, fun mural. Some are fiercely political, others are achingly artistic and, well, some are not all that impressive, if we’re being honest. Nevertheless, most are definitely worth looking at. Just make sure you’ve got your walking shoes on if you want to go on a street art tour, as the city of Valparaíso is built on 42 hills!

Bird's eye view photograph of the house lot

Carretera Austral

It’s back to Patagonia, home to yet another one of the best things to visit in Chile. The name Carretera Austral means Southern Highway, but don’t worry — you’re definitely not going to just see miles and miles of dull tarmac in this area. Instead, You’ll find the eerie Marble Caves, where thousands of years of erosion have turned the rocks into magical colours. You can only access the caves by water, so most travellers hitch a ride on a motorboat. If you’d rather get your heart rate up, hop into a kayak and get exploring.

Carretera Austral is also home to forests, lagoons and several stunning glaciers. The most impressive of all is the Hanging Glacier in Queulat National Park. It’s a truly remarkable sight: a brilliant blue glacier perched high on a rocky peak, with a mighty torrent of water cascading down from it. You’ll probably want to spend plenty of time here checking out this remarkable waterfall. Make the southern city of Punta Arenas your base if you plan on spending a few days exploring this stunning part of Chile. Wildlife lovers should also take a trip out to tiny Magdalena Island, a short boat trip away from Punta Arenas, which has no human inhabitants but plenty of friendly penguins.

Black motorbike parked on the road towards the glacier mountain photo during the daytime


Grab your rod and get ready to reel ’em in because Coyhaique is known as Chile’s fishing capital. This remote city has the rough and ready spirit of a frontier town. Don’t miss the Monumento al Ovejero in the city centre, a monument that celebrates the pioneering sheep farmers who once settled in this area in search of a better life. Today, you’ll still see plenty of fluffy white sheep out in the pastures, but the city has become better known as a hub for outdoor activities.

What can you do in and around Coyhaique? Hikers will love the nearby nature park, which encompasses enormous mountains and sprawling plains. At the weekend, it’s a hot spot for locals who want to escape the city and enjoy a barbecue. If you’re lucky, they might just invite you to join them!

Horse riding and whitewater rafting are both popular activities around here, but nothing beats fishing. From mid-October to early May, the riverbanks are lined with anglers waiting for a bite, and the local restaurants all serve a superb catch of the day.

River among green trees under blue sky during the day


Frutillar is in the heart of the lake region, which makes it one of the best things to visit in Chile if you’re looking to lose yourself in the great outdoors. The city stands on the banks of the majestic Lake Llanquihue. Even if you can’t pronounce it, you’ll still be able to have a great time out on the water. Catamaran tours will take you all around this enormous body of water, one of the largest lakes in South America. Frutillar boasts other sights, including an open-air spa tucked away in a natural ravine, a stunning forest nature reserve and one of the best farmers’ markets you’re ever likely to visit.

This is a very small city, and you’ll find endless trails all around it. Choose your own adventure as you set out on a hike through the woods, surrounded by magnificent old trees and dramatic, powerful birds soaring overhead.

Frutillar has also been named a UNESCO City of Music for its unique artistic traditions. It’s home to the oldest music festival in Latin America, which takes place each summer in the Teatro del Lago, or Theatre of the Lake. Against a truly stunning background, Chilean and international musicians come together to perform classical pieces.

A group of people standing on a pier next to a body of water

The Atacama Desert

Many people think of South America as a landscape of mountains and rainforests. If this is the case, you might be surprised to learn that one of the best things to visit in Chile is actually a desert. You won’t find the shifting sands of the Sahara here. Instead, the Atacama is a high-altitude desert with an eerie red rock landscape that looks like something from another planet.

As you explore this rugged landscape, you’ll be rewarded with epic sights. The Licancabur Volcano is one of the most impressive peaks in the area, and the climb to its peak is surprisingly straightforward. That being said, think twice before you strap on your boots: the trek may be simple, but it’s certainly time-consuming, and it’ll take you nine to ten hours of hiking to get to the top, 5,916 metres above sea level. Not one for the casual hill walker, then!

You’ll also find Laguna Cejar, a salt lagoon that’s even saltier than the Dead Sea. Don’t be tempted to spend too long in the water! Ten minutes of floating will be enough, as any more than that can damage your skin.

As well as these remarkable sights, the Atacama Desert is home to the world’s third-largest geyser field, El Tatio. Here, you’ll find no fewer than 80 active geysers. For the best possible views, set your alarm clock nice and early. The geysers are at their busiest between 6 and 7 in the morning, which is the perfect time to see them gushing and bubbling with boiling hot water.

Rock formation under white sky

Valle de la Luna

While you’re exploring the Atacama, don’t miss the Valley of the Moon, which earns its own special spot on our list of the best things to visit in Chile. This is a hotspot for hikers, but make sure you get an early start if you want to see the desert at its best. Don’t feel like stretching your legs? Take a 4×4 through the desert, driving through the magical landscapes of volcanoes, salt lakes and craggy peaks.

Unlike most of the Atacama Desert, the Valle de la Luna is a small green oasis, so it’s easier to hike and offers you some amazing views. The Valle de la Luna is also the best spot in the area to watch the sunset. Perch yourself high on a rocky outcrop and enjoy the sheer natural majesty of the sun’s dying rays. They’ll light up the desert surroundings, painting the rocks in brilliant shades of red and purple. It’s views like this that will make you promise yourself to come back to Chile sooner rather than later.

A view of a mountain range from a high vantage point

At WeRoad, we’ve got two great Chile tours for adventurous travellers who want to discover the magic of Chile for themselves. First, you can join us for an expedition across Chile and Bolivia, which will take you deep into the Atacama Desert before you cross the border and see the Bolivian salt flats. If you want the drama of glaciers instead of desert sands, try our Patagonia tour. This trip will take you across Argentina and southern Chile, where you’ll trek through some of the world’s most stunning landscapes. Curious to know more about Patagonia? Read our guide!

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team