With some 2,600 miles (4,300 kilometers) separating the southern tip of Patagonia from the northern border of Peru, Chile has a wide variety of worthwhile attractions in a variety of geographical areas. Starting from the south, let’s move north on a tour of the 20 best tourist destinations in Chile.
Do you have a thing for penguins? Then look no further than Isla Magdalena, located off the coast of Punta Arenas . Hundreds of these adorable critters can be seen up close as they stroll and snuggle.
Torres del Paine
No self-respecting hiker would consider visiting Chile without crossing Torres del Paine off their bucket list. Breathtaking hikes in this world-renowned national park pass roaring glaciers, towering peaks, forested valleys and crystal-clear lakes.
Villa O’Higgins to Argentina
Most people opt for a bus or plane when crossing borders, but in Villa O’Higgins, this is not strictly necessary. Intrepid travelers can trek through the pristine wilderness of Patagonia and arrive in El Chalten, Argentina, just a few days later.
The Marble Caves
Hidden beneath a peninsula in picturesque Lago Carrera General are the spectacular Marble Caves. The turquoise and aquamarine waters bounce sunlight off the ceiling of the caves, creating a dazzling reflection unlike anywhere else on earth.
A very long stretch of secluded gravel road. Touring the Carretera Austral is the quintessential off the beaten track experience. There are plenty of national parks, hiking trails and campsites to stop at along the way.
It seems like it rains every day on this mystical green island in northern Patagonia. But don’t worry as there are plenty of amazing UNESCO churches and exciting boating expeditions to make up for it.
Just a few thousand miles from the coast is one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world. Easter Island is most famous for its mysterious Moai statues, but it also has many fantastic landscapes and a fascinating indigenous culture.
A charming little German settlement with a distinctly European flair, Puerto Varas sits around a beautiful lake and has numerous waterfalls, volcanoes, and nearby forests to explore.
This quaint little student town boasts a stunning natural setting, a vibrant cultural scene, and a busy fish market right on the lake where sea lions gather to munch on leftovers.
One of the friendliest towns in Chile’s Lake District, Pucón gets a lot of love for its many outdoor adventure activities and laid-back lakeside vibe.
Those with energy and courage should consider climbing Villarica, the gigantic volcano that towers over Pucón. It requires a grueling eight-hour climb with crampons and ice picks, but the views from the top are worth it.
No trip to Chile would be complete without a stopover in the huge capital city . Amazing museums, splurge on fine dining or just enjoy a few drinks with new friends in one of South America’s most exciting cities.
This trendy little port town has earned a reputation as a true bohemian paradise. With amazing street art adorning almost every wall, Valparaíso is the place to be for young millennials.
Most of Chile’s wine is produced within a few hours’ drive from Santiago. Throughout the region, a host of world-class vineyards offer wine-tasting tours where a large quantity of wine is generously doled out to thirsty travelers. Health!
Heading now north of the capital, the first place worth stopping at is the pleasant coastal town of La Serena. Head to nearby Damas Islands to walk, swim or snorkel among adorable penguins and sea lions.
A few hours inland from La Serena is the tranquil Elqui Valley, the main pisco-producing region. As well as enjoying local produce, there are valleys to explore and some spectacular stargazing opportunities on offer.
San Pedro de Atacama
It’s a long way north to San Pedro de Atacama , a small town in the middle of the desert that serves as the main tourist hub for this remarkable region. Visit steaming geysers, strange rock formations, and high-altitude lagoons surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes.
Take a tour of Chuquicamata, one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. The free guided tour (these people make so much money they don’t bother to get paid) lasts several hours and provides a fascinating insight into the scale of this lucrative industry.
Fancy a break on the beach? Then check out Chile’s funniest beach resort, which is teeming with revelers during vacation periods. For something different, the nearby ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura provide an intriguing glimpse into what life was like in the 19th century.
The end of the road, or the beginning of your arrival from Peru, Arica has a nice beach for surfing, beautiful colonial architecture, and a great viewpoint with a war museum that overlooks the coast.