A rich patchwork of mountains, deserts, jungles, islands and oceans, Chile is one of the most diverse and beautiful destinations in the world. Its unusually long shape (4,300km in length and just 175km wide) means that is has a hugely varied climate, from the world’s driest desert in the north to the icebergs and penguins of the south. Covering 15 regions, there is so much to see in Chile that can be tricky to do it all in one trip. The good news is that it just means that you’ll have to keep going back!
Once you’ve booked your flights and planned your packing list, its time to work out which places you would like to visit the most. These are just some of the most unmissable sights in this vast and beautiful country.
Santiago de Chile
The chances are that if you are flying to Chile, your plane will be landing in the country’s capital – Santiago de Chile. Exploring this city is a treat worth staying for, from the stunning mountain views of the Cerro San Cristobal Park to wine tasting at Vina Aquitania, there is something for everyone. Head to Barrio Bellavista to soak up the art and culture of the city’s bohemian quarter, join one of the many guided walking tours or pay a visit to Chilean poet and Nobel literature prize winner Pablo Neruda’s ship-shaped house La Chascona.
Torres del Paine
The jagged mountains and glaciated lakes of the Torres del Paine National Park make it one of the most sought-after attractions in Chile. Take a guided horseback tour through the park, or join a catamaran trip for the afternoon. For those who want to explore the area for longer, there are plenty of five to seven-day hikes organized by local tour companies.
The Easter Island heads (Moai) are some of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and have enticed curious explorers for many years. Over 3,700km east of the Chilean coast, getting to the island is quite a journey, but one definitely worth making. Take part in the island’s lively festival Tapati Rapa Nui, where you can learn traditional Polynesian dancing, woodcarving and watch surfing competitions.
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Twin cities based along the Chilean coast, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar both have an appeal of their own. The stunning colorful houses in Valparaíso and beautiful street art make for great photo opportunities, while just a short bus ride away is Viña del Mar, known for its beaches. Spend some time soaking up the sun on the golden sands, visit another of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and join a graffiti tour to make the most of the stunning street art which helped Valparaíso get UNESCO World Heritage status.
Take your stargazing experience to a whole new level by paying a visit to the Atacama Desert. Located between the Andes and the Pacific, this uninhabited stretch of land is one of the driest places in the world. The lack of human activity here means that the night sky is completely unpolluted by light, making it the perfect place to watch the stars.
Stretching 140 km from the beautiful beach town of La Serena to the Argentine border, this stunning valley is well worth a visit. The dramatic contrast between the jagged mountains and the lush green valley in between is awe-inspiring. Chilean papayas, avocados, and oranges are grown here, along with grapes for pisco and wine. Take a guided tour from La Serena or take a hike into the mountains from one of the many picturesque villages dotted around.
If it’s surfing you’re after you would do well to visit Pichilemu. Located close to Santiago, the waves and views on offer here attract surfers and kiteboarders from all over the world. Kick back and soak up the chilled-out vibes of this relaxed water sports hub.
The varied and diverse nature of this beautiful country means that there is a holiday to suit all kinds of budgets and interests. Your only problem will be trying to fit it all into one trip!