Chile is located in the western corner of South America. It stretches over six thousand miles along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Chile is known for its football. But when it comes to the best places to visit in Chile, it leaves behind the neighbors like Brazil and Argentina. The landscape is so diverse that many travelers would pick Chile over its neighbors.
What Makes Chile So Special?
If this question comes to your head, then you’re thinking the wrong way, or you don’t know about Chile at all. What isn’t special about Chile? The peak of the Andes Mountains, magnificent sunny beaches, forests, volcanoes – whatever you associate with adventure, Chile has it. That’s why these places are gaining more and more tourists every day.
Chile is home to some amazing conservation and national parks that are popular travel destinations among the tourist community. You can go trekking or hiking if you’re the adventurous type.
The opportunities are endless for adventure seekers in Chile. Mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding, and river rafting are some of the popular choices.
The cultural attractions in Chile are in abundance. Santiago, the capital of Chile is a host to many art galleries and museums while Easter Island has mysterious stone figures.
Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Chile
1. Torres Del Paine National Park
Torres Del Paine is god’s work of art. It’s becoming a prominent tourist attraction, and, naturally, it’s of great importance to Chile. Everything in the vicinity is picturesque. The lakes and rivers flow gently beside the plain grassland. In the background, breathtaking mountains and glaciers almost touch the sky. If you were having a bad day, this place would bring you back to life.
There are multiple trails in the park for travelers to go on hiking. You can also stay overnight and trek the entirety of the mountain. If you hike for a day, then you can do it in a group. But hiking longer than a day requires you to tag along with a professional guide. This is a safety precaution issued by the park authority.
Many tourists go on a 5-day trek that reaches the top of Patagonia. The path is 71 KM long, so it’s going to be a tough journey. But the views you get are incomparable. The grey glacier and the Paine Grande Mountain are also visible along the path. In the end, this journey is worth it.
2. Valle de la Luna and the Atacama Desert
The Valley of Moon is the direct translation of Valle de la Luna. The name itself is intriguing enough to get anyone off their seat. It’s located near Chile’s border with Bolivia, thirteen kilometers away from San Pedro de Atacama. You can go there by tour buses, car rentals or if you’re feeling adventurous you can take a bike and follow the bike trails.
The valley has an uncanny resemblance to the moon’s surface. That’s why people visit in huge numbers. The inhospitable climate has always attracted human civilization, and Chile is no different. Unique geological features in the valley are caused by erosion of the red rocks. The hostile environment couldn’t stop flora and fauna from evolving and adapting to the surroundings.
The dry lake and riverbeds attract both researchers and tourists. It’s one of the driest locations on the earth. The soil samples are quite different from any other place on earth because of salt deposits and naturally infused saline.
A fun fact about the Atacama Desert: The Chinchorro mummies stored in San Miguel de Azama archaeological museum were discovered in this valley. There are other pieces of evidence of ancient civilization residing here, including rock paintings and pictographs.
3. Santiago: The Capital of Chile
Santiago is vital for everything related to Chile. Finance, Businesses, culture, economy everything is dependent on a functioning Santiago. Culturally Santiago resembles a lot of European countries. They have tried to store their history and showcase it proudly through museums and galleries. Shopping and dining options, coupled with the diverse nightlife of Santiago, make it a must-visit place.
No matter where you go inside Chile, you’ll start your journey from the capital as it’s the main transportation hub. Before going to the Easter Islands or the Atacama Desert, explore the city. Otherwise, your Chilean experience would be incomplete.
The city started its journey in 1541, and it has evolved drastically over the years. The good part about Santiago is that it’s not overpopulated, unlike other South American cities. So, you can go about your day without having to bump into people now and then. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts) is a good place to start in the city. There’s another museum which has artifacts from the Pre-Colombian era called Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Santiago tour would be incomplete without riding the aerial tramway. Use the tram to go to San Cristóbal Hill, and you’ll get the best possible view of this magnificent city. On the hill, you’ll find a statue of Mother Mary, which is twenty-two meters high. You can end the Santiago tour at Parque Metropolitano de Santiago. This park has green spaces in an urban setting, a funicular railway, and the Chilean National Zoo
4. Easter Island & Rapa Nui National Park
The Island was named by a Dutch explorer, but it was discovered back in 1722 by Europeans. Polynesians have lived on this remote island for thousands of years. Although it’s far away from the mainland, it remains the best Chile has to offer. The stone sculptures near the beaches make this place truly remarkable.
UNESCO has already declared this island as a World Heritage Site. The statues were made by Rapa Nui civilization, and now the Rapa Nui National Park protects all 887 statues on the island. The largest platform of the island consists of 15 statues which were re-erected.
On this island, you’ll find breathtaking beaches with green water. White coral along the beaches and coral reef beneath the ocean is quite similar to the Maldives. But the setting is much more spiritual.
There are museums on the island that hosts ancient artifacts of the Rapa Nui civilization and their leaders. You should check them out as well.
You should visit Easter Island as a part of the Chilean trip. Flights are available from Santiago, and it takes 5 hours to reach the island. So, pack your bags for a few days at least.
Valparaíso is the 3rd largest city in Chile. It’s situated between the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range. It’s a two hours’ drive from Santiago to Valparaíso. So you can check this place off your list within a day.
The old cobbled streets, harbor, beaches and one-of-a-kind architecture make this place perfect for European and American tourists. Some of you would be excited to know that Pablo Neruda used to walk through these streets and get ideas for his poems.
The city focuses on its oceanic heritage and it shows. Museo Naval Y Maritimo is a maritime museum that displays artifacts from the Pacific War of 1879. Museo Lord Cochrane is another museum that was built by Lord Cochrane.
6. Chilean Lake District
The Chilean Lake District is often termed as the Alpine of South America. It stretches from Puerto Montt to Temuca for over 330 kilometers. The Andean foothill region is rich farmland. The volcanoes in this area are almost hidden behind thick forests. The Lake District also has deep lakes that are suitable for different water sports.
Some time back, the indigenous people of this territory were forced to move elsewhere. European settlers arrived in this place and made it their own and started mixing with the locals. Mainly, the farmers from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria came and settled here. The hint of European culture is quite visible in Osorno’s architecture. Various norms and cultural traits here are also influenced by the Europeans
This is a heaven for adventurers and adrenaline junkies. Volcano climbing is now becoming very popular among the tourists. You can also choose safer options like hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and water rafting. During the winter, you can ski as well.
7. Pumalín Park
Pumalín Park is quite similar to the Torres Del Paine National park. It was established as a sanctuary back in 2005. The park covers a total area of 988,000 acres. It starts at the Andes and ends on the Pacific Ocean. The pristine coastline, forests, and mountains are integral parts of this sanctuary.
The reason why this place has remained so picturesque is that we humans haven’t touched it yet. The impact of urbanization hasn’t reached Chile. Pumalin Park is home to diverse flora and fauna. The park is currently owned by a US-based Nature Conservation Agency. Visitors can access the park with prior permission.
They do a very good job of providing visitors with an actual wilderness experience. This is possible only because the Park authority has made campgrounds, visitor facilities, hike trails while keeping in mind the environmental impacts of such structures. You can either stay here for a small period by going on a hike or get a cabin to stay the night. No matter how you spend your time at Pumalin Park, you’ll cherish this experience for years to come.
8. Chiloé Island & Chiloé National Park
Chiloé Island is Chile’s second-largest island. While the ambiance may not be comparable to some of the other places on the list, it still is amongst the top-visited places by travelers. You’ll have a more relaxed experience here.
When you reach the island, the first thing you’ll notice is that the topography is quite similar to rural Europe, especially Germany. After the world war, many Germans escaped and came to South America. That’s why so many places have European influence on its culture and architecture. You can explore the island on foot. The wooden churches are iconic in this part of the world. The colorful wooden and semi-wooden houses built near the water catch the eye of every tourist – a perfect place to take a photo for your Instagram. These houses are called palafitos and they are one of the main attractions of this place.
You’ll get to see the ocean wildlife in its natural habitat if you come to this small island. Blue whales and dolphins jump out of the waters to entertain their traveler friends. This island is also a breeding area for penguins. They arrive in a flock and lay eggs on the beach. As travelers, you must protect these magnificent wild species.
9. Valle Nevado
Most people had no idea that Chile had so many snowy mountains which are perfect for skiing and other winter sports. But the tourist spots like Valle Nevada are starting to gain traction. The Valle Nevada is now amongst the most popular skiing spots in South America. The resorts are located in the foothill of the Andes in El Plomo. This place was made in 1988 as a skiing spot. It’s fair to say, it serves its purpose efficiently.
The skiing range has an altitude of 3000 meters. You can ski here almost one-third of the year because of the clear blue skies. The resort has 11 lifts and 38 trails. The resort also features a variety of condos, chalets, and rooms. You can stay there for a day or two to get used to the Chilean snow. La Parva and El Colorado are two nearby skiing spots that are also tourist-friendly.
10. Los Pingüinos Monument
The Monument area is a breeding location for penguins, as the name Los Pingüinos suggests. This part is only accessible by guided boats because Chile is putting more focus on conserving its diverse wildlife. Huge colonies of sea lions and seals have made this island their home. This monument is a part of the magnificent Marta islands and Magdalena.
Every location on this list is unique and represents the diversity of Chile. This thin and long country boasts some of the best scenic places in the world, and you won’t be disappointed no matter which one you pick from this list of the best places to visit in Chile.