Chile Destination Guide
From glaciers to salty desert, Chile is an awe-inspiring insight into the power and beauty of nature. This long but narrow country is full of adventure and begs to be explored, packed with mountains, geysers, beaches, forests and volcanoes. Adding to its attractions are the warm and friendly locals who are hospitable and welcoming to foreigners.
The beautiful landscapes, friendly locals and well developed transportation system make Chile a very attractive destination for all its visitors.
Use this Chile destination guide to plan what you want to see and do during your holiday. A perfect way to see the highlights of Chile is to take a Chile tour. And be sure to check out some further Chile travel information, or find out what attractions are in Isla de Chiloe.
Things to See & Do Chile
Follow the links below or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Chile:
The south of the country is hugely popular with globetrotters seeking a getaway in the great outdoors. The crystal clear waters of the lagoons, the scenic lakes, lush green valleys, thick forests, national parks, volcanic peaks and white water rivers offers something for everyone. Close to Osorno is national park and Lake Puyehue.
Puerto Varas, Saltos de Petrohué and Frutillar by the banks of Lake Llanquihue are a must-see for visitors to southern Chile. Further south is the Lake Todos los Santos and Puerto Montt, which is where the Southern Road leading to Chiloé and Patagonia begins.
Northern Chile is largely desert lands which are awe inspiring in their grandeur. An abundance of wildlife is sheltered in the many national parks which are definitely worth a visit. To see animals like viscachas, condors, vicuñas, alpacas and llamas of Aymara shepherds, flamingos and guanacos, head to the Lauca National Park. For culture buffs the Indian settlements, Andean churches and archaeological sites offer plenty to experience.
The San Pedro de Atacama oasis is in itself a sight to behold, but the salt plains of Salar de Atacama and the Sairecahur and Tocorpuri volcanoes make great side trips. Visitors looking for something different can even see the stark landscape of mineral rocks in the Moon Valley, the geoglyphs near Iquique and the geysers of El Tatio.
Chilóe is often described as ‘Es otro mundo' or ‘another world'. This intriguing island does indeed feel like it is in a world of its own. Its landscape, culture and traditions, architecture and daily life is far removed from mainland Chile. A good way to explore is by hiring a four-wheel drive vehicle, but if you can't afford it then the local transport system works quite well and you won't do badly by using it either.
Chile's islands in the Pacific are very popular globally and rightly so. Easter Island with its mammoth monolithic rock statues or moai figures is a sight to behold while Chiloé Island in the South Pacific is incredibly special with its ancient legends and unmatched fauna. One island that captures the imagination of the adventurer and the cerebral holidaymaker alike is Robinson Crusoe Island, its name inspired by the story of the shipwrecked Crusoe.
If you're looking for a holiday off the beaten track then Patagonia is the perfect place for you. This land of legends offers a magical holiday in pristine surroundings.
If so inclined, you can see icebergs and glaciers, lakes and evergreen forests and even wide open treeless spaces all in one trip to Chile. The sky here is surreal; vast and clear, it enhances the experience of being in a place which is probably as far south on the planet as most of us will ever venture. Don't miss out on visits to Glacier Grey and Lake Grey or Laguna St Rafael or even the Torres del Paine National Park, as each has something unique to offer.
Nestled in the scenic Lakes Region of Chile, Pucón is an 11 hour bus drive from Santiago. Nature lovers and the adventure seekers will find plenty to fill their time here. Though Pucón is small there are plenty of great places to stay and many cosy restaurants serving up delicious local cuisine. Towering over Pucón is the active volcano Volcán Villarrica. Villarrica is part of a popular trekking route during summer and turns into skiers' heaven in winter. Other activities you could try while in Pucón are horseback riding, hiking, climbing or even water sports like canoeing, sailing, white water rafting, and kayaking. The less adventurous can enjoy a day of relaxation at a volcanic hot spring or go fishing.
The capital city of Santiago is in the heart of the country in the central valley area and is the economic, cultural and political hub of Chile. Climatically and geographically the city is distinctly different from the north and the south. Its picturesque valleys and vineyards are home to some of the country's finest wines and Santiago's balmy Mediterranean style climate makes it a great holiday destination. The high Andean peaks are within easy reach, making it the perfect base for winter holidays while the coastal belt is a summer holidaymaker's paradise.
Chile's deep south seems like it is a huge distance from capital Santiago but in fact, is quite easy to reach. Reasonably priced flights connect Punta Arenas, which is centrally located in Torres del Paine, to Santiago. The renowned national park Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales lies in the north of this region. The park is believed to be among the best in Latin America and is a great place for hikers and trekkers to hit trails which offer spectacular views of the countryside around.
Tierra del Fuego with its lofty peaks and vast plains is reached from Porvenir, a tiny village on the other side of the Magellan Strait via Punta Arenas.
The extreme end of Patagonia is to the south of Punta Arenas and is rarely visited by tourists. It does however offer the discerning tourist the opportunity to see nature at its untouched best and is well worth including on an extended itinerary in Chile.
Due to its location on the high slopes of the Andes, the Altiplano or the plateau region of the mountains has some of the world's highest growing species of trees and organisms. The queñoa flower and the bright green llareta organism are just some of the unusual forms of life that thrive in this unique ecosystem. Vicuñas, llamas, guanacos, Andean geese, flamingos and alpacas are some other species that are found in the area.
Chile's North Coast has a wealth of cacti species - the Pan de Azucar National Park alone has more than 140 types. Marine life and birds like bottle-nose dolphins, Chilean pelicans, sealions and Humboldt penguins are found in the Reserva Naconal de Pinguino de Humboldt.
The Andes & Central Valleys of Chile allow a variety of dry weather plants to flourish in the arid regions while the river beds and shady slopes are ideal for trees like the California chaparral. Pumas, condors and foxes live in this part of Chile.
The Araucania area is famous for its ancient coniferous tree, the auracaria. This tree has in fact been named a national monument of Chile and can only be found at a particular elevation above sea level and at some specific latitudes on the globe. The copihue found in this region is the country's national flower.
The world's oldest and biggest expanse of the coniferous tree alerce can be found in Northern Patagonia's temperate rainforest. The last surviving Andean deer - the huemul - is also local to Patagonia. The coastal areas get yearly visits from migratory whales while there are porpoises, sea lions and seabirds here year round. The Torres del Paine pampas and forests of Patagonia form a habitat for condors, flamingos, guanacos, ñandús, pumas and foxes. The area around Punta Arenas is home to Magellanic penguin colonies.