Breathtaking landscapes, places you never imagined, and everything very close to you, that’s Chile! Today, I’m going to show you Chilean attractions that impress for their natural beauty.
Chile is the second most visited destination in South America. In this long and narrow country on the west coast of South America, tourists will enjoy stunning landscapes that range from the high peaks of the Andes and endless beaches to dense forests, ancient volcanoes, and dramatic coastal cliffs. In addition, Chile has an impressive number of excellent national parks and conservation areas, archeological sites, museums, and many others.
So, are you planning a vacation to this country but don’t know what to do? Then this post is for you. Below I’m going to list of the 15 Best Things to Do in Chile that I loved during my 20 days tour to this country. I know that you will also be impressed. Read on!
Best Things to Do in Chile
1. Easter Island
Going on a trip to Easter Island was neither easy nor fast. More than two days to arrive and as many to return. But of course, can you price a dream, something you’ve wanted to do since you were little? I think not.
Easter Island is among the top things to do in Chile as it is known throughout the world for its stone figures. There are 887 statues on the island, which are called Moai. They were created by the Rapa Nui people, and most of them are under the protection of the Rapa Nui National Park, which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The most impressive collection of 15 statues is found on the Ahu Tongariki platform. There are also several ancient ruins of stone houses built in the shape of a boat.
Another attraction of the island is the Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum, which is located in the town of Hanga Roa. The museum is interesting for its wonderful exhibition on the history of the Polynesian peoples and their traditions. You can also get to enjoy its paradisiacal beaches and dive into the crystalline waters of this part of Polynesia.
With more than 5 million inhabitants, Santiago is today one of the most famous cities in the world when it comes to tourism. I confess that at the beginning, I didn’t know what to do in Santiago. I thought it would be just another big city, but I was very wrong. Santiago is right in the heart of a very rich region, very close to the Andes Mountains, great wineries, ski resorts, parks, and unrivaled natural beauty.
It was founded in 1541 with an abundance of tourist sites. Among them, I can mention the Cultural Center of the La Moneda Palace, a state institution located on the territory of an impressive palace. Also, there is the National Museum of Fine Arts of Chile, which focuses on the work of local artists. The museum has a permanent exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and photographs.
You can stroll through the city’s colonial historic center, a real gem for lovers of neoclassical architecture, the parks, and the bohemian districts of the city.
Other interesting sights include:
- Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which offers to get acquainted with the heritage of the country’s indigenous peoples.
- Museum of Remembrance and Human Rights, dedicated to the victims of the Pinochet regime.
- Travel by air tram to the San Cristobal hill, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the hospitable city.
By the way, it is from here that many tourists begin their journey to visit Chilean attractions before heading to the Andes or other places in the country.
3. The Atacama Desert
My trip to the Atacama was very special, unforgettable. In addition to being the first one that I did alone, the desert was a place that impacted me a lot with its absurd and surreal beauty. It was there that I discovered and rediscovered myself in many ways, that I changed my way of admiring and also respecting nature.
Fast forward: the Atacama Desert is one of the most amazing destinations I’ve ever seen! Located in Northern Chile, with more than 1,000 km of extension, the Atacama Desert is considered the highest desert on the planet and also one of the most arid regions that exist. This makes it to be one of the best tourist attractions in Chile that you must visit.
There are lakes, villages, archaeological sites, and even the salt desert. In the middle of the desert, the Salar de Atacama forms a beautiful lake with crystal clear water and is full of flamingos. In addition, history says that different cultures lived in this desert that constitute the origins of Chilean culture. So, you can hire some of the tours to listen to the magical stories of the oases and other phenomena.
4. Torres del Paine National Park
After an incredible trekking adventure to the base of Torres del Paine, it was hard to believe that the most important National Park in Chilean Patagonia would still have beautiful surprises in store for me.
Torres del Paine Park is located in the Magallanes Region, in Chilean Patagonia, in the extreme south of the country. Founded in the ’50s, the park has an area of more than 242 thousand hectares, uniting snowy peaks, lakes, rivers, glaciers, waterfalls, and vast fields in a single place. This makes it to be one of the most popular Chilean attractions.
The park has all the natural beauty: mountains, glaciers, countless lakes, and rivers. Its most important part is the Cordillera del Paine, an area where the Patagonian steppes merge with the subpolar forests of the north.
The most popular activity to pass time in the park is a hiking, since the area has a lot of well-designed hiking trails. Many of them have places to stay overnight, equipped with everything necessary for those who went on a long hike in the mountains.
5. Lauca National Park
Since I’m in love with nature, I decided to head to Lauca National Park. It is located in the very north of Chile, 140 km east of the city of Arica. The park covers an area of 1,300 square kilometers and mainly consists of hilly plains and mountain ranges, most of which are former volcanoes.
Among the attractions of the park, its pristine mountain lakes, for example, Kotakotani and Chungara, are especially attractive. The crystal waters of the lakes reflect the surrounding landscape for a stunning effect. The park has several important archaeological sites, as well as traces of the first European settlers in the form of colonial churches and other buildings.
The park has become extremely popular with bird watchers as it is home to over 140 different bird species, including the Andean goose, crested duck, Chilean flamingo, and the huge Andean condor.
In addition, near the park, you will find the town of Chucuyo, famous for having several ornamental and rustic restaurants, which offer the most authentic Chilean food.
6. Chiloe Island
Chiloe is located in the Los Lagos region and is the second-largest island in Latin America. What really impressed me is that it is a completely virgin coast, whose natural landscape is maintained practically without human intervention.
The island has a beautiful landscape, and its crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming at almost any time of the year. It is also a place to do a wide variety of sports, such as kayaking or trekking. This makes it one of the best Chiles attractions that you must visit.
From an architectural point of view, I liked the “palafitos,” which are wooden constructions on the water. In addition, I was also able to see its chapels and churches from the 18th and 19th centuries, which were recognized as UNESCO heritage sites.
7. Cochamo Valley
The beautiful Cochamo Valley is among the best tourist attractions in Chile that I had to include in this list. Thanks to a famous waterfall, accompanied by granite hills, I think this is the perfect place to practice activities such as mountaineering.
People often compare this valley to the California National Park, precisely because of the rock formations and the sports that take place here.
If you are really adventurous and in good shape, you can encourage yourself with climbing the Rainbow route, one of the steepest and most demanding in the entire area, but the one that offers the best view, allowing you to visualize the entire mountain circuit of the Cordillera de The Andes.
8. Saltpeter Factories Of Humberston And Santa Laura
These are abandoned towns that I really like to visit. It is located near the northern port city of Iquique and were both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005.
Our tour guide explained to us that this was once a thriving town. For 60 years, starting in 1880, thousands of Chileans, Bolivians, and Peruvians lived here, working in the saltpeter mines. In the process, a distinctive culture and way of life were developed that has been reliably preserved in Humberston and Santa Laura.
A visit to this mining town gave me an opportunity to stroll in an unreal setting. A swimming pool made of copper, a large wooden theater, and grandiose buildings bear witness to the economic and technological development that has now passed. I was able to understand the behind-the-scenes and the conditions of forced labor suffered by minors and their families.
9. San Rafaela National Park
Another Chile attraction that you cannot miss in the southern region of Chile is San Rafaela National Park. Here you have the possibility to enjoy the incredible view of Mount San Valentin, which is the highest peak in the Andean mountain range.
It was declared part of the World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1979, as it has one of the largest water reserves in the Northern Ice Fields, which are the origin of the lagoons, the river flows, and glaciers.
I was able to spot a wide variety of bird species in this park, some of them at risk of disappearing. That’s why this park is considered an impotent reserve for conservation and a must-visit.
10. Elqui Valley
As I was planning my tour to Elqui valley, I didn’t know what I would find. I confess I had never heard of the region. The name didn’t seem familiar to me. And when looking for information about the place, I realized that I was missing this charming little corner of Chile.
But one thing immediately caught my attention: the absurdly starry sky. I couldn’t stop thinking about the real possibility of seeing the night as I had never seen it before. And, believe me, the feeling when visiting astronomical observatories is to be able to touch the stars, so “close” that they show themselves.
But Valle del Elqui goes beyond astronomical observation. The intense color that takes over the landscape is mesmerizing. Among the monochromatic rock formations of the Andes Mountains, green stands out and gives us the real dimension of what a valley is.
As I travel along the roads, my eyes do not leave the landscape. I visited one of the highest wineries in Chile (and I drank good wines straight from the barrel and accompanied by goat cheese from the neighboring farm). I watched stars protected by blankets and hot soup, massaged at the edge of the vineyards, and meditated overlooking the Cordillera. Visiting Equi valley is probably one of the best things to do in Chile.
I loved this small city as it is an excellent place to enjoy flavors, fun, and the beach, with much less bustle than there is in the main city.
This city has continuously changed its structure due to the constant effects of the saltpeter, showing that the locals have been adapting to the sea and its demands. At present, its economy is based on international trade through the seaport and the Iquique Free Zone (ZOFRI).
I had a fun time enjoying the nightlife of the villages in the areas near the beach. In addition, their dishes were very delicious. There are a wide variety of restaurants with international inspiration, and of course, enjoy important architectural buildings from the time of the saltpeters.
Finally, Iquique has a coastline suitable for the public, and the climate is good most of the year. So regardless of the travel date, you can enjoy a sea bath.
Valparaíso would definitely be on my list of 14 tourist attractions in Chile to visit! Despite not having exceptional beauty like other destinations in Chile, Valparaiso has a particular energy and a special history.
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Valparaíso was the first Chilean capital, and its port was once the main one in South America during the colonial era. It is also the third city with the highest number of graffiti in South America, only behind Sao Paulo and Medellin, in Colombia.
Valparaiso has several viewpoints, cable cars, historic trolleybuses, graffiti alleys, and beaches with cliffs. But what I love most about the city is its particularity.
13. Los Pinguinos Natural Monument
In addition to the creation of national parks, Chile’s wildlife conservation efforts are reflected in support of natural monuments. One of the most popular such monuments is Los Penguins, located 35 km northeast of the city of Punta Arenas. The natural monument includes two islands: Magdalena and Marta.
As the name suggests, the area is home to one of Chile’s largest penguin colonies, with 60,000 Magellanic penguins. In addition, there are colonies of seals and sea lions. Access to the islands is only possible through a special guided boat tour.
Being among the famous Chiles attractions, you should not miss a visit to this island of Magdalena and enjoy. In addition, since the island is inhabited mainly by penguins, the only building here is an old lighthouse.
14. Valley Nevado
This was my first time enjoying winter experience in Chile, and I spent my time in Valley Nevado, about 40 kilometers from the capital. It is a winter sports and vacation area, and it is considered one of the most modern in the country and on the continent.
It has about 37 kilometers of slopes with a height of 3,000 meters, which are a place for competitions, practices, and sports tourism in activities such as skiing. In fact, it is the only ski center in South America. And it here that the FIS Snowboard World Cup takes place here.
Thanks to this, the area offers one of the most luxurious and comfortable offers of restaurants and hotels, with walks in the snow, bonfire nights, rooms with a fireplace, and more.
15. Laguna del Inca
This was, by far, the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen in Chile. In fact, my original itinerary included El Yeso, but the visit to the site by tourist companies was disabled due to the tragedy with two children. So at the last minute, I opted for the Laguna Del Inca tour to replace the original. And how thanks!
The landscape is stunning, and it yields beautiful photos! When I thought I had seen something beautiful, I managed to be surprised. Finally, I had lunch at the Portillo restaurant, which is the oldest ski resort in Chile. Wonderful food and wine, and the view of the lagoon in the background.
I hope you liked this article about tourist attractions in Chile that I encourage you to get to know. For me, it is one of the top destinations in terms of tourism in all of South America.