A narrow country with a wide range of environmental diversity, Chile is a stunning example of South American prosperity. Ice, mountains, deserts, jungles, the remotest island and urban metropolises classify Chile: it is a country of the extremest extremes. Human history in Chile is ancient, stemming back tens of thousands of years until the clash of indigenous and European populations in the 1400s.
Despite the domination of the Spanish conquistadors, some indigenous ethnic groups have survived and maintained their traditional ways of life. You will have plenty of chances to see the traditional music and dress of local cultures during your visit, and you 11 also be able to explore the ways of ancient populations at places such as Easter Island.
The well-established and maintained tourist infrastructure, coupled with the fact that Chile is considered the safest nation in Latin America, makes this country a perfect destination for tourists with an eye for culture and nature. Tourists can hike, bike, watch wildlife, snorkel and mountain climb all in one place. If you aren’t already a nature lover, one trip to Chile will change your mind.
01. Atacama Desert
With the touristy San Pedro de Atacama at its heart, the Atacama Desert has drawn in fascinated tourists from around the world for years. Well-known for being the world’s driest location, parts of the Atacama Desert haven’t received even the smallest bit of rain for as long as humans have been keeping track. The desert spans the northernmost part of Chile to the southern border of Peru and is an awe-inspiring piece of landscape that will remind you why you love to travel.
02. Easter Island
Best known for the moai, the millennium-old famous head (and sometimes body) statues that are distinctly recognizable. Almost all of the permanent Easter Island residents live in Hanga Roa, the only continuous settlement on the island, and the best place to jump off for your Easter Island exploration. It has a fascinating anthropological and political history, not to mention its unique landscape and ecosystem. The island is shrouded in mystery and legend, leading to tens of thousands of tourists to come see for themselves.
03. Torres del Paine National Park
Known in Spanish as Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, this stunning national park will awe you with its rock towers, eerie blue glaciers, gushing waterfalls, turquoise lakes and rocky mountains. This marvelous showcase of Chilean Patagonia was rightfully designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and can offer you a myriad of day hiking or longer backpacking trips. Some call it the best national park in all of South America – you’ll have to see for yourself where it gets its stellar reputation.
Santiago is both the capital and the most populous city in Chile, with a whopping third of the entire Chilean population residing here. It has recently been revamped and updated, making it a beautiful city that is worth a visit rather than just a jumping off point for other Chilean sites. Characterized by diverse, mouthwatering cuisine, beautiful parks, modern cultural centers and its backdrop of the Andes Mountains, the new Santiago has something for everyone.
Easily recognized by its array of brightly colored houses practically piled on top of each other, impressively vibrant street art on many exterior walls, and its sunny harbor location, Valparaiso is sometimes regarded more highly than Santiago. It certainly has been the focus of more intrigue, with equally colorful ascensores (funiculars) running up the steep hillsides where streets can’t quite make the climb. Valparaiso is notorious for snatching the interest of unsuspecting visitors, causing them to stay much longer than they had planned.
With the still-active, smoking Villarrica Volcano in the background, Pucon has an atmosphere of danger that clearly fulfills the role of best adventure sports city in Peru and offers adventurous attractions at all times of year. The town of Pucon is an expert in pampering guests, so you can expect to have a comfortable time here – when you’re not climbing cliffs, slipping down waterfalls or rafting through rapids, that is.
07. Vina del Mar
Although its name refers to vineyards, this city is now known as the City of Gardens due to its extensive green areas, lovely beaches and luxurious palaces. It stands in stark contrast to its chaotic neighbor, Valparaiso, in that it is orderly, well kept, pleasant and peaceful. While it is certainly a lovely city, there is not too much in terms of deeper cultural layers, making it the perfect beach resort for a day or two’s visit, but probably not much more than that.
08. Puerto Varas
The counterpart to Pucon, Puerto Varas is a hub of adventure tourism with not one but two volcanoes looming in the background. This is a place people come to for the available activities. It is in a prime location for adventure sports of all kinds, but it has a distinctly different feel than Pucon due to its influential German colonial style. You might forget you’re in South America altogether and think you’ve been transported all the way over to continental Europe.
09. Chiloe Island
Chiloe Island, also known as Isla Grande (the Great Island) of the Chiloe Archipelago, has a fascinating history and culture that is highly distinct from mainland Chile. From food to architecture, from spiritual culture to landscape, Chiloe is a place in its own right, making a unique and exciting spot to visit for holiday makers. You will be stunned by its notorious morning fogs and proud Chilote people, as well as its ecosystem and flora. Tread lightly on this island – it sure feels like you’re not in Chile anymore.
An important university town and the capital city of Los Rios, Valdivia has a young energetic vibe unlike any other Chilean city. Although this was the landing point for thousands of Germans during the 1800s, the Germanic legacy and architecture is not as pronounced as in other towns (such as Puerto Varas). It is located along the seaside and stems back to the 1500s and is a pleasant and interesting city with many museums, cafes and public buildings.