What to see in Chile: cities and attractions not to be missed

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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If you are a sporty and adventurous person, the Chile is the right country for you! It is no coincidence that it has won the World Travel Award for three consecutive years as "Best adventure destination in the world". With its 6.000 kilometers of ocean coasts, mountains, volcanoes, still unexplored glaciers and the driest desert in the world, Chile will offer you breathtaking landscapes! An ideal destination to discover, have fun and learn about a new culture .


  1. Santiago de Chile
  2. Cerro San Cristobal
  3. Lauca National Park
  4. Laguna San Rafael National Park
  5. Torres del Paines National Park
  6. Atacama Desert
  7. Valparaiso
  8. Chiloé Island
  9. Las Magdalenas Island
  10. Easter island
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Santiago de Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and the most important ubrano center of the whole nation. It is located in a valley between the Andes and the ocean.
A city rich in history and culture, it was also the home of the famous poet Pablo Neruda, who lived here for most of his life. On a visit to Santiago, you absolutely cannot miss: the lively Parade ground, the beating heart of the capital, one of the most beautiful and lively squares, the place where the city was founded and its historic center, overlooked by many colonial-style buildings; the Palacio de la Moneda, one of the most majestic and elegant buildings in the whole city, the official seat of the mint until 1929; the Bella Vista neighborhood, full of restaurants, theaters, art galleries and events, the neighborhood where Pablo Neruda lived in his house La Chascona; the Central Market, born in 1872 and true commercial heart of Santiago, declared by National Geographic as the fifth most beautiful market in the world.

2 - Cerro San Cristobal

In Santiago you cannot miss a ride on the cable car, which will take you to the top of the San Cristobal hill, one of the most important social and cultural places in the capital.
From here you can enjoy a magnificent view over the whole city, but not only: in this large green area you can visit and see several attractions, including the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Statue of the Virgin Mary always visible from any point in the center, a anfiteatro and Municipal Zoo, perfect for spending an afternoon with the kids. Near the zoo you will also find a Japanese-style garden, two municipal swimming pools, as well as several bars and clubs. This place is much loved by locals, who want to get away from the chaos of the metropolis and enjoy a few hours of relaxation.

3 - Lauca National Park

Lauca National Park is located in the north of Chile, on the border with Bolivia. It is a nature reserve still far from the onslaught of tourists, so it is the perfect place if you want to spend a few days in complete contemplation of nature. The best way to visit it is base in the town of Putre, right outside the park boundaries.
To visit it we advise you to rely on a tour e allow for at least two days because there are so many things to see! Generally, tours are organized in zones, so you can visit the north, east or south with a single tour.
One of the main attractions of the park is the Chungarà Lake, one of the highest in the world, at an altitude of 4.500 meters. Here you will find yourself at the foot of the twin Payachata volcanoes. But, in addition to the natural wonders, at Lauca you can visit many places of archaeological and historical interest, such as the village and church of Parinacota, the village of Chucuyo and several Inca ruins. During your visit you may come across beautiful and furry alpacas and lamas walking free in nature, which may even approach you in search of food.

4 - Laguna San Rafael National Park

The Laguna San Rafael National Park is located in southern Chile and is a real paradise for explorers and for those who want to live a different experience. Declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, here you can admire and discover massive glaciers of the park and the rock formations of Campos de Hielo Norte. Get on one of the rafts, always wearing a life jacket, and sail along the Lagoon, a natural swimming pool that extends over 1.742.000 hectares.
Many cruises and catamarans that make gods also depart every day tours through the canals and fjords of southern Chile, passing through the different islands of the park.
For climbers and the more trained, you can also climb Mount Dan Valentin, the highest peak in the Southern Andes. But be careful, this activity is only for those who already know how to climb and are an expert, do not improvise climbers, it could be dangerous.
But this is also a paradise for animal lovers: the park, in fact, is home to a great variety of sea and land birds, including black-browed albatrosses, cormorants and black-necked swans, and as you navigate you can come across sea ​​lions, dolphins and elephant seals.

5 - Torres del Paines National Park

Torres del Paine National Park is located in the far south of Chile, just over an hour from Puerto Natales, and is one of the most beautiful parks in South America. Here you will see and experience pure Patagonia, an uncontaminated nature where the colors change constantly. It has been declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978.
If you are a mountain lover, this place will surely steal your heart. And if you want to visit the park on your own, know that there are three different trekking routes, to be chosen according to your timing and your level of training: the Paine circuit, a path that will take you away for a week, but you can take a complete tour of the park; the W trekking, lasting 4/5 days; the path that leads to the mirador of the towers, which will only take you one day, perfect if you can't stay long.
We recommend that you dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket with you. In fact, the climate is very unstable, in one day you can find all four seasons! It is not difficult to go from a tremendous cold wind to a very hot sun. And, of course, hiking shoes to safely walk the trails.

6 - Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert, in the north of the country, is one of the driest areas in the world, 50 times drier than California's Death Valley! Just think that in some areas there has never been a drop of rain. But the landscapes that you can admire are unique of their kind, you will feel like you are on another planet, on Mars. This is a must-see destination on a trip to Chile.
Its altitude ranges from 2.400 to 4.200 meters above the sea level and, on its territory, they are located three of the largest international astronomical observatories. Here is located the ALMA, the most important astronomical project in the world. But don't think you will find only desert expanses, going around the desert you will come across volcanoes, stretches of salt, lagoons and abandoned mines.

7 - Valparaiso

In Chile, as well as unspoiled and wonderful nature, you can also visit beautiful urban centers. An example is Valparaiso, a bohemian-style town full of colors. Also called "Jewel of the Pacific", here is the seat of the Parliament and the Chilean Army.
If you are in Santiago, you can easily visit Valparaiso in a day, as it is only 115 kilometers away and is conveniently connected by several buses.
We advise you to do a ride in one of the many elevators, symbol of the city. Built between the end of the th and the beginning of the th century, los ascensores sanctioned the commercial growth of the port and, consequently, of the whole city. A trip to one of these cable cars, in addition to being cheap, is also the best way to move from one hill to another and to admire the city from above.

8 - Chiloé Island

In addition to cities and beautiful natural parks, Chile really has some beautiful islands. Visiting them all will be difficult, but it is right that you know them.
Starting with Chiloé Island, the largest in the archipelago of the same name. Setting foot on the island you will feel like you have entered a book: lots of hills covered with colorful houses with pointed roofs, wind that never stops blowing, lush vegetation thanks to constant rains (it rains about 300 days a year). Furthermore, to make everything even more like a story, here the population lives mainly from fishing, wood cutting and agriculture. Tourism has only recently been developing.
This is also the birthplace of the writer Francisco Coloane, best known for his stories about the end of the world.
On Chiloè and on all the islands you can see so many small wooden churches of Chilota tradition, all become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, near the city of Ancuad, you can visit the islets where there are several colonies of penguins.

9 - Las Magdalenas Island

Las Magdalenas Island is part of the Magellanic Region and Chilean Antarctica, in southern Chile.
Magdalena Island is the only one in the strait that hosts colonies of sea lions and penguins. Here, in fact, you can visit the largest penguin colony in all of Chile, with about 120.000 Magellanic penguins. The whole island has been a protected area since 1982, when it was baptized, thanks to all its penguins, as Los Pinquinos Natural Monument.
To visit it, you can take part in the many boat tours that are organized every day.

10 - Easter Island

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, very famous all over the world for the sculptures present, is a volcanic island in Polynesia. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, with its 3.601 kilometers away from the coasts of Chile, it is one of the most remote places in the world.
On the territory there are 4 volcanoes: the Poike, the Rano Kau, the Rano Raraku and the Terevaka. But the real attraction, what brought it to the attention of the world, are the numerous moai, the stone statues placed along the coasts.
638 monolithic busts are scattered around the island. The true purpose of these statues is not yet known, but according to some studies they could represent various indigenous tribal leaders.
Reaching it is not very easy, nor is it very economical: it can only be reached from Chile, by flights that depart from Santiago and last about 5 hours.

Travel informed: useful information and necessary documents

  • Inhabitants: about 18 million
  • Capital: Santiago de Chile
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Local currency: Chilean Peso (€ 1,00 = 794,17 CLP)
  • Weather: given the vastness of Chile, you can really find many different climates: to the north is the Atacama desert, the driest place in the world; in the center of Chile the climate becomes almost Mediterranean, with mild and rainy winters and hot and sunny summers; finally, the south has a usually cold climate, with an oceanic climate, and the further south you go, the more temperatures drop
  • Time zone: daylight saving time is in effect between September and April, so in this period it is 4 hours behind Italy; when in Italy there is daylight saving time the difference is 6 hours; in the rest of the year 5
  • vaccinations: no compulsory vaccination required, but vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended after consulting a doctor
  • Entry requirements: passport with residual validity of at least 6 months at the time of entry; a tourist visa is not required if you stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days.
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    Il Chile it is located in the extreme southwest of the South American continent. It stretches along a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes and includes the Juan Fernandez Islands, Sala y Gomez, Desventuradas Islands and Easter Island.

    Tours and excursions in Chile

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