Recent Searches
Clear

Things to Do in Chile

In Chile, coastlines stretch along the Pacific Ocean; the rugged terrain of Patagonia seemingly reaches to the end of the earth; and the dry Atacama desert, Andes mountains, and Valdivian forests nestle against one another to comprise a country where the topography is as varied as its options for exploring. Santiago de Chile, the country’s capital, is a melting pot of Latin culture, bohemian neighborhoods, and colonial architecture. Don’t miss out on views from the top of San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal), colorful street art, and thumping nightlife in trendy Bellavista, or a bike tour of top city sights. UNESCO World Heritage Site Valparaiso—renowned for its hillside funiculars (cable railways) and street art—and beachside gem Vina del Mar are just a 1.5-hour drive away, and easily doable on a day trip from Santiago. If you’re seeking outdoor adventure, Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park boasts surreal beauty, with its mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers making it an ideal location for horseback riding or hiking tours. For wine lovers, Chile is the promised land for New World varietals, with regions such as the Maipo Valley, San Antonio Valley, and the Matetic Vineyards best explored on wine-tasting tours. Plus, the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert—home to Moon Valley, the Atacama Salt Lake, and the Ojos del Salar—are a must-see from San Pedro de Atacama. Far-flung Rapa Nui Easter Island, home to nearly 900 oversized-head statues, is a modern mystery best explored on a multi-day trip, including round-trip plane rides.
Read More
Category

Osorno Volcano
star-4
1
28 Tours and Activities

Nicknamed the King of the South, snow-capped Osorno Volcano is one of Chile’s most visible landmarks. Towering over Lake Todos Los Santos and Lake Llanquihue, the conical volcano can be seen from as far off as Chiloé. The volcano’s near perfect shape is the result of some 40 craters scattered along its base. The volcano has erupted 11 times during the 18th and 19th centuries, but always in these craters; never at its peak. Today, a windy road leads visitors to the base of a ski resort, where chairlifts ferry passengers to a point near the volcano’s peak — a worthwhile excursion even for non-skiers simply for the stellar views of the alpine lake below. Experienced climbers can make the full-day trek to the summit of Osorno.

Read More
Ahu Tongariki
22 Tours and Activities

With 15 gigantic stone-carved moai lined up on a 200-foot-long platform and a remote location framed by the looming Rano Raraku volcano and the crashing ocean, Ahu Tongariki is nothing short of spectacular. For many visitors, this is the star attraction of Easter Island, and looking up at the towering figures, the largest of which stands 14 meters tall, it’s hard not to be in awe of the Rapa Nui people, who achieved the seemingly impossible feat of carving and moving the 30-ton stone boulders to their waterfront perch.

Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial site ever made on the island, featuring the largest number of moai ever erected on a single site, and each statue is unique, with only one featuring the iconic red-rock “pukao,” or ceremonial headdress. Even more astounding, considering the size and weight of the statues, is that the site was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami in 1960, with the rocks flung more than 90 meters inland.

Read More
Milodon Cave (Cueva del Milodon)
star-3
2
25 Tours and Activities

In 1896, German explorer Eberhard Hermann entered a cave and found strange remains inside, the fur and bones of the extinct Mylodon sloth. Named after the giant ground sloth found within, Milodon Cave (Cueva del Milodon) is the largest of several caves within Cueva del Milodon National Monument. But the sloth wasn’t the only inhabitant of the caves. Remains of other extinct species, including a saber-toothed cat and a dwarf horse, as well as evidence of human habitation from as early as 6,000 BC have been found within the caves.

As visitors enter the monument, they’re greeted by a full-size replica of the mylodon sloth, standing 13 feet (4 meters) tall. The mylodon was said to resemble a giant bear, though the mammal was in fact a very large herbivore that went extinct over 10,000 years ago. A viewing point atop the cathedral-sized cave affords visitors views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and the Eberhard fjord.

Read More
San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal)
star-4.5
67
71 Tours and Activities

The Santiago skyline is dominated by San Cristobal Hill - or Cerro San Cristobal, a forest-carpeted mountain rising from the city, protected as the Parque Metropolitano, or city park. It was once called Tapahue, after the indigenous headdress it resembles, and developed into a public greenspace at the beginning of the 20th century, after the astronomical observatory was constructed atop.

Today, the park serves as a scenic escape above the smog that can choke Santiago on winter days, and offers fantastic views across this city of 6.5 million to the Andes. Walking trails, picnic spots, and an amphitheater are all dwarfed by the 22-meter (72-foot) statue of the Virgin Mary, erected here in the 1930s.

The park extends into the cerro's skirts, and also encompasses the National Zoo and two pretty public pools, both excellent options for families.

Read More
Llanquihue Lake
star-4.5
2
29 Tours and Activities

The town of Puerto Varas sits on the banks of Llanquihue Lake in Chile’s magnificent Lakes District. The lake itself, the second-largest lake in the country after General Carrera Lake, sits at the base of the near-perfect conically shaped Osorno Volcano, adding to its already picturesque qualities.

The shores of the 336-square-mile (870-square-kilometer) lake share a German heritage, yet each attracts visitors for a different reason. Puerto Varas is the lake’s adventure capital, while Frutillar on the western banks of the lake appeals to Chilean tourists on summer holiday. The charming Bavarian-style town of Puerto Octay offers remote accommodations on the north shores of the lake, and rustic Ensenada on the eastern banks sits at the entrance to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.

Read More
Plaza de Armas
101 Tours and Activities

At the heart of Santiago de Chile's historic district is the city's social hub, the palm-shaded Plaza de Armas. Surrounded by the neoclassical facades of Santiago's most important buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral; the Municipalidad, or federal building; and perhaps most striking, the magnificent Correo Central, or old post office. Two pedestrian malls, lined with handicrafts vendors, independent musicians, and plenty of cafes and shops, stretch out from the festive city center. Most of Santiago's museums and important sites are within a few blocks.

Since 1540, the venerable expanse of stone, cement, and sculpture has been a social hub, and it still serves as a gathering place for folks from across the cultural spectrum. Whether you're here to learn some history, feed a few pigeons, or just enjoy a glass of wine, the Plaza de Armas probably offers the finest people-watching in Chile.

Read More
La Moneda Palace (Palacio de la Moneda)
star-3.5
2
108 Tours and Activities

La Moneda is easy to spot – its white, neoclassical walls make up the presidential palace that takes up an entire city block in downtown Santiago. Construction began in 1781 and was completed in 1805, when it was used as a mint, which is what the term moneda translates to in English.

The gigantic Chilean flag that waves in front of La Moneda, from a grassy traffic circle in the middle of the Alameda (Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins), can be seen from blocks away. There are two nearby plazas that serve as popular meeting and lunchtime spots, each with lawns, fountains and benches. History buffs will remember that this building was bombed in 1973 as part of the coup d’etat that ended Salvador Allende’s presidency and preceded Augusto Pinochet’s rise to power. There are still, a few areas where the damage has been left for visitors to see.

Read More
Santa Lucia Hill (Cerro Santa Lucia)
star-3.5
4
91 Tours and Activities

Cerro Santa Lucia is one of two hills that overlook Santiago, where in 1541 Pedro de Valdivia founded the city long before Chile existed as an independent country. At the time, the hill was called Huelén by the indigenous people; a nearby street (by metro Salvador) still bears that name.

The hill rises about 230 feet over the surrounding part of the city, and there are excellent views of downtown from several terraces up there. Cerro Santa Lucia has three main constructions: the main entrance on the Alameda, with its wide, curving staircase, fronted by a fountain and backed by a yellow mansion; the fort at the top from which the best views of downtown can be seen; and the Castillo Hidalgo, which often hosts large international events.

Read More
Viña del Mar
star-4.5
77
70 Tours and Activities

Viña del Mar is Santiago’s closeby seaside cousin, just a little bit over an hour away on one of the country’s busiest highways. Viña, as it is commonly called calls itself the garden city, for the profusion of flowers, all over the city, and at Quinta Vergara, the large park there, as well as the iconic flower clock that faces the ocean walk so popular among locals and visitors.

In the summer, Viña fills up with Chileans as well as Argentines from just across the Andes, and international visitors as well. There are restaurants and nightlife, close proximity to more historical Valparaíso, and of course, the long Pacific coastline. Viña del Mar also has a casino and a couple of other points of interest, including a castle you can visit, and the aforementioned Quinta Vergara park, where the summer song festival is held ever February.

Read More

More Things to Do in Chile

Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach

23 Tours and Activities

With its stretch of white sand fringed with Tahitian coconut palms, a backdrop of grassy hills and ocean waters that rarely dip below 64 degrees F (18 degrees C) even in the winter months, few places come as close to paradise as Anakena Beach. One of only three beaches on Easter Island, Anakena also plays an important part in the history of the island. It was here that King Ariki Hotu Matu’a first landed on Easter Island and later, the beach became a spiritual center for the Miru tribe–the remnants of which can be seen in the seven beautifully restored moai of Ahu Nau Nau and the single moai of Ahu Ature Huki that overlook the beach.

Aside from its striking setting and dramatically situated moai, the main draw to Anakena Beach is, of course, the ocean and the warm, clear waters make the ideal spot for swimming, surfing and snorkeling.

Learn More
Cerro Concepcion

Cerro Concepcion

47 Tours and Activities

Perhaps the most scenic of Valparaiso’s popular cerros, Cerro Concepcion is home to quaint shops, unique art galleries and picturesque views of the stunning Chilean countryside—as well as a whole lot of rolling hills. On clear days visitors can gaze out over the dunes of Concon and even see as far as far off Vina.

The climb to Cerro Concepcion may be steep, but quiet cafes perfect for people watching offer up the ideal place for travelers to catch their breath. Afterwards, the hidden side streets, colorful murals decorating old building walls and spectacular views offer up enough reason to wander slowly from the heights of Valparaiso Heaven back to the reality down below.

Learn More
Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)

Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)

star-5
15
58 Tours and Activities

Not a single drop of water has fallen onto the Moon Valley in hundreds of years, thus the wind-sculpted salt statues inhabiting its eerie bowl have continued their slow, centuries-old dance uninterrupted. Come moonrise, when valley's light dusting of salt and metallic minerals shimmers all around, you may well see them move.

The awesome spectacle is one of the most popular excursions from San Pedro de Atacama, and at sunset the sand dunes can be covered with tourists, all enchanted by the quality of light. Fewer people visit in the morning, so sunrise may be a more tranquil experience.

Learn More
Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park

star-4.5
112
53 Tours and Activities

Torres Del Paine National Park (or Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) is one of the world's last great, unspoiled spaces, green fields and chill glittering lakes spread out beneath the naked granite spires of the Cordillera del Paine.

These epic massifs, with their wintry snow raiments, call rock climbers and ice hikers to their feet with promises of an adventure at the edge of their abilities. Less ambitious visitors will find all sorts of wonderful trails through the wilderness and herds of guanaco (a type of small, Patagonian llama) that can be enjoyed in a few hours; buses run between lodging and the different trailheads and vistas. The famous W trail takes 9 days for full circuit, and requires more serious preparation.

Learn More
Magdalena Island (Isla Magdalena)

Magdalena Island (Isla Magdalena)

2 Tours and Activities

When Magellan passed through the strait bound for Chile for the first time, he cruised on past the tiny Magdalena Island, famous for its thousands of penguins. Today, travelers make it a point to stop at this scenic island that’s northeast of Punta Arenas to explore the rocky shores and get up close to the playful penguins.

Visitors can follow well-marked paths to a popular lighthouse for impressive views of the empty island, but it’s the friendly penguins that walk side-by-side with travelers that really draw tourists to this natural haven outside of the region’s capital.

Learn More
Casablanca Valley

Casablanca Valley

55 Tours and Activities

Its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and unique mix of clay and sandy soils has made the Casablanca Valley one of Chile’s top wine producing regions despite it’s relatively new arrival on the scene. The first vines were planted in the mid-1980s—more than 100 years later than some of Chile’s other notable wine regions.

Visitors to the Casablanca Valley, which is best known for its white grapes, like Sauvingnon Blanc and Chardonnay, can enjoy an afternoon in the quaint city of Casablanca, before embarking on a tour of the scenic region. Travelers love the wine museum at El Cuatro and agree that the eco-friendly and organic practices of Veramonte make it worth a stop.

Learn More
Plaza Sotomayor

Plaza Sotomayor

82 Tours and Activities

This one-stop Valparaiso destination is home to plenty of Chilean history, art and culture. As a result, travelers will find lots to explore on a visit to Plaza Sotomayor. Named after Rafael Sotomayor, this popular city square lies in the middle of the city’s historic district. Visitors can get up close to the Chilean Navy headquarters, and pay homage to fallen sailors at the plaza’s central monument dedicated to the Battle of Iquique. Afterwards travelers can make a stop at the National Council of Culture and the Arts before wandering to the nearby Customs House or Estacion Puerto, where commuter trains arrive and depart from other Chilean cities.

Learn More
Cajón del Maipo

Cajón del Maipo

star-5
34
21 Tours and Activities

Cajón del Maipo, a narrow canyon where the Maipo River flows, begins just 16 miles (25 kilometers) southwest of Santiago, but its picturesque scenery, fresh air and charming mountain towns feels worlds away. Santiago residents often escape to Cajón del Maipo on the weekends for hiking, rafting, horseback riding, climbing, cycling and skiing. Rafting season lasts from November through March, while winter sports take over from June to September.

At the heart of Cajón del Maipo lies San José de Maipo, the biggest city in the canyon. Founded during a 1792 silver rush, the town maintains many of its colonial adobe structures as well as an eighteenth century church in the Plaza de Armas in the center of town. Hot springs scattered throughout the canyon offer opportunity for relaxation, while roadside stalls sell fresh-baked bread, Chilean empanadas, honey and other food items to stave off hunger pangs during a day of exploration.

Learn More
Penguin Colony of Otway Sound (Seno Otway)

Penguin Colony of Otway Sound (Seno Otway)

1 Tour and Activity

Travelers can find close encounters of the penguin kind on a visit to Otway Sound and Penguin Reserve in Punta Arenas, where wooden walkways wind through the animal’s natural habitat. Travelers warn cold winds blow most any time of year. And while visitors have to stay in designated areas, penguins and other wildlife roam close and roam freely, making it a truly unique outdoor experience. Roughly 5,000 warm weather penguins make their way to the shores of the Otway Sound each September and begin laying eggs in October. By November, travelers can find plenty of fluffy gray chicks wandering the sound, which makes it one of the best times of year to visit.

Learn More
El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers

star-3.5
2
64 Tours and Activities

Rising toward the fading stars high atop the Andes, El Tatio Geysers erupt from more than 80 vents into wraith-like plumes, which dance in the first crisp golden rays of dawn. It's not quite the largest geyser field in the world (it's the third), or the highest (it's close), but combined with those snowcapped volcanoes that encircle its steaming expanse, it is perhaps the most magnificent.

In addition to the searing-hot fumeroles and geysers, the field has a few more inviting geological features. A large 35°C (95°F) hot spring lets you soak away the Andes' stubborn chill, while bubbling mud pots offer the perfect masque for cleansing away weeks of grime from the road. Relax.

Learn More
Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama)

Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama)

21 Tours and Activities

The high Andean starry nights, combined with the cold Atacama winds, can chill the unprepared tourist to the bone. Happily, however, these mountains are volcanic, and pour forth the planet's heat into a series of steaming pools, the Puritama Hot Springs.

The name "puritama" simply means "hot water" in an ancient, pre-Inca tongue, suggesting that these medicinal springs have been used for millennia. With high concentrations of relaxing lithium and minerals accorded all sorts of health benefits, they are guaranteed to mellow you out. Temperatures hover around 33°C (91°F), so they aren't ridiculously hot, making daytime visits a treat. Though most pools have been left in a relatively natural state, there are changing rooms, eateries, campsites, trails, handicrafts vendors and other improvements all around.

Learn More
Ascensor Concepcion

Ascensor Concepcion

15 Tours and Activities

Built in 1883, Ascensor Concepcion is the city’s oldest elevator. Once powered by steam, today this electric ride sends travelers up to the Concepcion Cerro, where they are met with charming cobble streets, colorful homes and a handful of cafes, restaurants and bars that serve lunch, dinner and coffee el fresco.

While travelers warn the ancient carriages can feel a little risky, the view from the top (and energy saved by not making the climb on foot) is worth the jarring ride. The elevator makes regular trips, which means cars are rarely crowded and visitors will likely find one departing almost as soon as they arrive.

Learn More