The longest country in the world with some of the most dramatic landscapes, you could spend years traveling up and down the coast of Chile without even scratching the surface of discovering what this South American country has to offer locals and travelers.
Chile is home to the driest place on Earth, The Atacama Desert, and has one of the longest coastlines in the world. In addition to its natural wonders, Chile has a deep culture rooted in the interwoven history of indigenous people, Spanish colonization, and immigration. There are many reasons why Chile was named the best country to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet.
There’s a lot to see, so to narrow it down, this blog post details a few of the top places in Chile you should add to your bucket list and visit in your lifetime.
Known as the "Jewel of the Pacific", Valparaiso is Chile’s second largest city and an important port. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but is a bit rough around the edges. The streets and dilapidated houses are covered in beautiful street art throughout the city’s 42 hills.
Valparaiso, or "Valpo" as its referred to by locals, will quickly become one of your favorite cities with its unique charm and bohemian vibes.
Get lost in the hills and streets :
Valparaiso is infamous for its 42 hills and the street art that covers almost every building, home, and stairway in sight. Cerro Concepcion is one of the most famous hills and has a high concentration of great restaurants and famous street art. The best thing to do after a long lunch is to aimlessly walk around this area to take photos and get sweeping views of the harbour.
Insider Tip: There are many street dogs in Valparaiso. As tempting as it is, refrain from petting or feeding the dogs.
Ride a funicular :
If you’re not up for walking the many hills and windy streets of Valparaiso, you can ride the funiculars located around the city to take you to high points of the city.
Insider Tip: Another common form of transportation are the "collectivos". Locals pile into these taxis and ride them to the top of the hills to their destinations. The collectivo won’t leave until the car is full with 4 people and you pay upon entering the vehicle. You’ll need to know some Spanish to give the driver the address!
Wave to the sea lions on a harbor tour :
Head down to the port and hop on a tour boat. No need to be picky on the tour boat — they all go the same route. You’ll join a group tour and will be able to see the sea lions that hang out on the docks and buoys. This spot has amazing views of the entire city.
Visit Pablo Neruda’s home :
"Valparaíso, what an absurdity you are, how crazy: a crazy port." One of Chile’s most famous artists, Pablo Neruda, captured the essence of Valparaiso perfectly in his poem, An Ode To Valparaiso. Neruda’s one of many homes, La Sebastiana, is located one one of the many hills in the city and has sweeping views of the harbour. The house is 5-stories and feels like a maze through the poet’s life.
San Pedro de Atacama
Located in the driest desert in the world, San Pedro de Atacama is center to accessing some of Chile’s most drastic and beautiful landscapes. The town and surrounding area is like a mix between the Wild West and outer space. At times, you’ll feel like a cowboy and at other moments, you’ll feel like you’re walking on Mars.
Stargaze on an astronomy tour :
The Atacama Desert is known for having some of the best night skies in the world. The high altitude and low light pollution makes it the perfect conditions to the Milky Way. Book a night tour in order to see our galaxy and amazing constellations through telescopes. These tours are typically set up by the companies and are housed in the owner or guide’s yard. They will provide beverages after you stargaze. Wear warm clothing!
Insider Tip: There are a multitude of tour companies in San Pedro de Atacama. Walk down the main road of the quaint town and shop around.
Catch your breath at Laguna Miscanti :
Located 13,580 feet above sea level, Laguna Miscanti is a stunning site in the Atacama Desert. The view (or the walk at such high elevation) will literally take your breath away. The heart-shaped lake has a deep blue color from the glacier water of the volcano that towers over the land.
Tour San Pedro de Atacama by foot :
San Pedro de Atacama is a small town compared to Santiago or Valparaiso, but it’s the center for traveling to the various sites in the Atacama Desert. Reserve at least one afternoon during your trip to do a walking tour of San Pedro de Atacama
Insider Tip: The temperature is extreme in the desert. Pack clothing and sunscreen for very hot days and layers and a jacket for the evenings. Temps can fluctuate between 90 degrees F to 30 degrees F in one day.
There are many cities and towns you should visit in the south of Chile, such as Valdivia, Puerto Varas, and Chiloe, but Pucon is one of the best with its charming downtown and access to many nature activities. If you’re looking for adventure, then Pucon is a must-visit during your trip to Chile.
Kayak on Lake Villarrica:
Spend the day on the lake’s black sand beaches and get in some exercise by kayaking on Lake Villarrica. The water is pristine and refreshing since it comes down from the melted snow of the volcano that looms above it. This is a great photo opp activity!
Insider Tip: Chile has an excellent bus system. You can take a bus from Santiago or other major cities and towns to Pucon. Check out Turbus and Pullman Bus for routes and pricing.
Relax in the thermal waters:
Since Pucon is next to the volcano, visitors have access to the thermal waters. You can book a tour which takes you to the thermal waters at night so you can relax in the hot water while stargazing.
Hike the Villarrica Volcano:
If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can hike to Villarrica Volcano. Tour guides will take you to the top of the volcano and in winter you can ski down it! There are many tour companies in Pucon so shop and check reviews around before committing to one.
Be sure to share your travels to Chile with us by tagging us on Instagram (@newslangapp) in your photos and by using the hashtag #NewslangTravel.