Planning a trip to South America and looking for the best places to visit in Chile?! You’re in the right place! Tons of itinerary inspiration below!
It’s crazy, downright crazy. The more I hear and research about a destination, the more I yearn to go there.
See a photo of the sun rising above Haleakala — I want to go there (located in Hawaii). Hear a friends story about hiking through the rice fields of Sapa — it’s automatically put on my never-ending bucket list (this place is in Vietnam). Read about the strenuous 1,000+ steps to an impressive view of Kotor — I’m looking at flight prices (located in Montenegro). This just proves how much of the world is basically unknown to the ordinary traveler.
Sure, we’ve all been to (or have thought about visiting) Hawaii, Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco, but what about the Elqui Valley, Valparaiso, and Lauca National Park (all beautiful and the best places to visit in Chile). Sometimes, destinations not on our radar catch us off guard and we find ourselves planning a trip there. Alas, what’s happening to me right now with what just so happens to be the skinniest country on Earth, Chile.
Chile is said to be one off the diverse countries on the planet, due to it’s ridiculous long and narrow size, spanning over 6,000km of Pacific coastline. With this being said, how on Earth do I plan the ultimate trip to Chile? Well, if you’ve only got 10 days in Chile, definitely check out these three spots! But if you’ve got even more time, try and include some of the other best places to visit in Chile on your itinerary below:
Best Places to Visit in Chile:
1) San Pedro De Atacama: The Inspiring Arid Desert
Located in the Andes mountains of northeastern Chile, San Pedro de Atacama is full of arid desert, salt flats, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. It is one of the most visited destinations in Chile and for good reason – it’s absolutely breathtaking!
San Pedro de Atacama is considered to be Chile´s “archaeological capital” due to the human remains in the area dating back approximately 12,000 years. You can’t miss an archaeological tour of Tulor, in the Norte Grande natural region of the Antofagasta Region, and of course Pukará de Quitor, a national monument and pre-Inca archaeological site. However, be wary of mild altitude sickness which can occur due to it;s extremely high elevation at roughly 8,000 feet.
Don’t miss wandering the town, viewing Licancabur volcano, witnessing the sunset in the desert, and Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). Better yet, you can even go sand boarding here, something still on my bucket list!
2) Elqui Valley: The Wine Region and home of Chile’s famous Pisco Sour
Chile really has it all, including it’s very own wine region! Elqui Region is known for producing not only table grapes and other fruits, but pisco brandy as well (that delicious stuff you find in Pisco sours). During your trip, make sure to tour a Pisco production plant, learn how Chile’s national drink is made, and then indulge in a Pisco tasting. (My kind of activity!)
Since the 90’s, when wine production began, over 700 acres of vines have been planted, and it’s possible
3) Valparaiso: Santiago’s Bohemian Sister
Take a full day tour of the bohemian town of Valparaiso from Santiago, meaning “The Valley of Paradise” for a reason. Explore it’s UNESCO World Heritage sites on the colorful streets, including the La Matriz Church and Santo Domingo Square. This harbor town nestled between the sea and the mountain range will sure peak your interest.
You can also take the funicular up into the hills for some coffee and take a boat trip of the bay to see the enormous sea lions resting on buoys and shipwrecks.
4) Santiago: Chile’s Capital City
Being Chile’s capital and largest city, it’s impossible not to visit Santiago, one of the most popular places to visit in Chile. And plus, it’s central location makes it a convenient base to explore other parts of the country.
Only in Santiago can you go skiing in the Andes and then by on the beach all in the same day. But there’s so much to do in the city it’d be a shame to leave so quickly. Check out Parque Metropolitano, Plaza De Armas, Mercado Central, Catedral Metropolitana, La Chascona, Santiago Centro, and Parque Forestal. If you like jazz music you’re in for a treat, as Santiago is home to an impressivee jazz scene, as well as a yearly Jazz festival.
You can’t leave Santiago without taking a Food Tour. Explore the local markets, learn about Chile’s food culture, and sample Chilean delicacies.
5) Lauca National Park: Mountains and Volcanos
Enormous volcanos dot the landscape in parts of this National Park, as well as several lagoons including Lake Chungara (not to be missed). Lake Chungara is one of the highest lakes in the world and offers spectacular views with plenty and plenty of wildlife! Over 140 species of birds can be found here, including the Crested Duck, Puna Teal, Andean Condor, Chilean Flamingo. If you’re looking to see some volcanos, you’re in luck. You won’t want to miss Vulcan Parinacota, the highest and most impressive at 6,300+ meters high.
You can even camp out here if you’d like!
6) Lake District: Awe-Inspiring Natural Beauty
If you’re looking for unsurpassed natural beauty, make sure to include a stop at Los Lagos. This region of the country will never fail to impress or surprise you, with it’s snow capped volcanoes, pale green lakes, and endless miles of ancient forest. Don’t miss the adrenaline town of Pucon, the sleepy town of Puerto Varas (with its twin volcanos, Osorno and Calbuco), and the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park (most definitely world famous).
7) Torres Del Paine National Park: Southern Patagonia
Of all the best places to visit in Chile, Patagonia is screaming my name the most. Located in the extreme south region of the Patagonian Chile, you’ll find other-worldly landscapes with mountains, lakes, and even glaciers.
What not to miss: Torres del Paine (the three ever-so-famous immense rock towers), Cuernos del Paine (spanish for “Horns of Paine”, and thus, horn-like mountain tops), Grey Glacier, Lake Grey, Lake Pehoe, Lake Nordenskjold, and Lake Sarmiento. So many beautiful lakes it you haven’t noticed!
If you’re a big hiker, consider the 4-5 day “W” treat to really see what the park has to offer. There are numerous companies you can do the long trek with, as well as campsites throughout the National Park for comfy sleeping.
8) Easter Island: Moai, Moai, and more Moai!
Being one of the most remote and isolated islands on Earth, it’s no surprise that so many have never even heard of Easter Island. However, despite it’s remoteness, getting here is quite simple, with direct flights from Santiago (daily) and Tahiti (weekly). Although officially a territory of Chile, it is located far off in the Pacific Ocean and is famous for it’s enigmatic large Polynesian statues, the Moai. Definitely one of the most unique places to visit in Chile, that’s for sure!
Have you been to this country before?! Which places to visit in Chile have you the most excited about?!