Chile, a country of mountains and long coastline, stretches over 3000 miles (over 4,800 km) from north to south. High deserts, tall mountains, clear lakes, and rivers await the adventurist.
Santiago is the capital and largest city. Modern and nestled at the foot of the Andes mountains and surrounded by wineries. This is your entry point.
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are a short drive away taking you to the Pacific ocean. Visit Pablo Neruda‘s house or stop for some of the best seafood anywhere.
Further from central Chile is Patagonia – full of lakes, fjords and ice caps to the south – and Easter Island with strange carvings to the north. Do be careful as Chile is known to rock and roll every once in a while. Constructions, however, follow high standards for earthquake resistance.
Top Things to See and Do in Chile
Santiago, the capital and largest city sits at the foot of the Andes mountains. It is the political and cultural center of the country. It is cosmopolitan with lots of architecture, museums, restaurants, and parks to visit. Be sure to take in Parque Metropolitano, Plaza de Armas, Mercado Central, La Moneda Palace, the Cerros and more. Surrounding the city are fantastic vineyards. Or rent a car and drive into the mountains, they are a site to be held.
Valle Nevado, a ski resort and one of the ultimate ski experiences in South America. It’s considered the largest ski area in the continent. Valle Nevado is a short drive from Santiago (just 28 miles / 46 km to the east), but depending on weather conditions it can be a dangerous drive up the mountains. The sixty curves in a narrow road extend the drive to 90 minutes.
Valparaiso, the coastal city west of the capital is a historical port and bohemian enclave. Built on hills dropping to the sea with houses built on windy streets. Take the ascensores, funiculars, up the hills and walk the communities. Stop by Pablo Neruda’s house and take in his inspirational view. Or visit for the New Years celebration, considered the biggest in South America. Also, take a day trip to Viña del Mar a neighboring resort city known for the gardens, beaches, and high-rises.
Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world resides in north Chile running 1200 miles (close to 2000 km) north from Arica to Peru. You can find hot springs, desert blooms, and the clearest of nights to star gaze. Along the coast are beaches and interior Mars like topography. The main entry point is San Pedro de Atacama.
Easter Island an isolated island off the coast of Chile, 5 hours by air. It is famous for its giant stone statues created centuries ago believed to be by Polynesians. You can explore both by tours and trekking but be respectful of local customs.
Pucon and Villarica in the lake region have spectacular views of the volcano of Villarica. It is stated this is the most beautiful region of Chile. There are activities year-round for the active adventurist, just make sure to take it all in.
Wine is a major product which Chile exports. With 5 major wine regions, there are plenty of opportunities for a wine tour. Take a day trip from Santiago or venture further on multi-day trips through the regional valleys. The scenery is spectacular to sample a cabernet sauvignon or a carmenere. The latter has French origins and was thought to have disappeared in France until recently rediscovered in Chile.
Pisco sour is the national drink both in Chile and Peru, and while both countries have different ways to prepare it, they create the perfect drink. Best to make your own judgment.
Torres del Paine National Park is a spectacular park with mountains, lakes, and glaciers. This is a hiker’s paradise and you must love the outdoors. More than likely you will book various trek packages to hike, see penguins, boating to the glaciers, etc. Available are day trips to 4 and 5-day hikes with camping.
Patagonia is natural beauty at its best. Tall mountains, forests, glaciers, and fjords…all breathtaking. Patagonia expands thru Argentina as well. Here is your jumping off point to Antarctica.
General travel advice for Chile
- Do you need a visa? Check here
- Language spoken: Spanish, with a slightly different accent compared to other Latin American countries
- Currency: Chilean Peso. Calculate the exchange here
- Electricity: 220 Volts
- Standard electrical frequency: 50 Hz
- International calling code: +56
- Drives on the: Right