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Long and narrow, Chile has over three thousand miles of South Pacific coastline. This traditional and gorgeous part of Latin America was once the home of the ancient Incas and is now one of the most geographically-diverse nations in the world. Chile enjoys a reputation as one of South America’s most-developed and democratic nations, a political pleasantness that is only enhanced by the widespread liberal attitudes regarding religion and the Euro-tinged remains of Spanish influence over daily life.

Chile is a country that offers a bounty of beauty, culture, and entertainment to its visitors! The snowy winters of the mountainous interior have given rise to some of the finest skiing to be found anywhere, and there are untold thousands of miles of forests, lakes, and oceanfront beaches to explore. The vino is exceptional! Sip a full-bodied Chilean red as you dine on sea bass and ceviche, or book a romantic walking tour of the sun-soaked, gorgeous vineyards nestled in the countryside! Those who venture to the extreme southern tip of the continent are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of fjords, glaciers, and glistening ice. Of course, this is to say nothing of the fascinating, gorgeous enigma that it Easter Island, bedecked with its mysterious moai statues. This is all in addition to the food, fashion, and artistic tradition for which the country is famous. Whether you favor shopping, trekking, museum-hopping, or merely floating from one five-star dinner to the other, Chile has you covered. 

Top Sights in Chile

Santiago

Known for outstanding art and food, Chile’s capital is full of sensual pleasures. For the kind of gourmet food that’ll haunt your dreams, head to Avenida Nueva Costanera in Vitacura - the seafood, especially the ceviche, will be a highlight almost everywhere you go. Fashionistas won’t want to miss the Museo de la Moda, a stunning temple to couture that includes originals by Gaultier, Mugler, and Westwood. From the pop-up ferias to the luxe expanse of Alonso de Córdova, the shopping is first-rate. For the slightly more rugged traveler, mountain climbing and skiing are outstanding here, and bicycle tours of the city are very popular.

Concepcion

Chile’s second-largest city is a major industrial center and, accordingly, is ever buzzing! This exciting, busy crossroads is known as an intellectual hub dotted by strategically-preserved “green space” for strolling, picnicking, and daydreaming. Wander the immaculate gardens of the Universidad de Conception, visit the Huascar naval base, and consider brushing up your Spanish - the locals here are overwhelmingly friendly and willing to share their charming, clipped dialect. Drop in on the notable symphony orchestra, catch an indie film at the handful of alternative cinemas, or learn to paint: there are numerous art academies in the area.

Patagonia / Chilean Antarctica

Located near the bottom of the world, Patagonia is a part of Chile entirely unlike the others. This immense, pristine wilderness spans both Chile and Argentina, and is blown across by wild winds. It is the absolute epitome of untouched paradise, and thrill seekers from around the globe flock to this mythically-named place for trekking and hiking of all sorts, punctuated by views of fantastically-diverse flora and fauna. For travelers with a true spirit of adventure, Chilean Antarctica offers the ultimate “get away from it all” experience. This section of the continent is long on lunar landscapes, glaciers, and glistening ice, and the biggest research station is located near a colony of gentoo penguins! Bundle up for a voyage you’ll never forget!

Vina Del Mar

Known as the Garden City for its outstanding, flowering beauty, Vina Del Mar and its sister city, Valparaiso, boast gorgeous hilltop views and a maritime tradition. This area was also the home of Pablo Neruda, Chile’s renowned poet laureate. Today, visitors flock to this scenic resort town, the “vineyard by the sea,” for outstanding watersports and nonstop fun. Prepare to bring a wetsuit, though - Antarctic currents teem beneath the waves, and the water can be quite cold! Sun yourself on Renaca Beach, check out the area’s archaeological history at the Fonck Museum, or simply breathe in the salty air along the Avenida Peru, one of Vina’s most famous walks.

Easter Island

One of the remotest and most mysterious spots on Earth, Easter Island is a must-visit for the traveler who wants to earn props for originality. The vacant eyes of the iconic moai statues gaze off into the far distance, and combined with the often-deserted beaches, their effect can be downright eerie. Dormant volcanoes and broad caldera make up the island’s landscape. You’ll need to hop either a plane or a cruise ship to get here, but the trip is worth it: Rapa Nui National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a site of flourishing, wild beauty. Visit the moai atop their ceremonial ahu pillars, try some bodysurfing or diving off the coastline, or explore (cautiously!) the nooks and crannies of the island’s many caves.

Quick Facts

Capital: Santiago
Primary Airports: Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL), Carriel Sur International Airport (CCP), Mataveri International Airport (IPC)
Government: Republic
Currency: Chilean peso (CLP)
Population: 17,460,000 (2012 est.)
Language: Spanish
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Time Zone: UTC -3 to UTC -6
Chile

Chile Travel Reviews


A Couple of Days in Santiago

A Couple of Days in Santiago

While on a trip to visit family in Argentina, my husband and I stopped for a few days in Chile. We mostly stuck around the capital Santiago. The stunning Andes Mountains make an impressive backdrop to the city. There are lots of fine dining restaurants, hip boutiques, and most of the gardens we saw were perfectly landscaped. We stayed in Barrio Bellavista for three days. I enjoyed this neighborhood because of the street art. We walked around the area for hours admiring the creativity of the artists. This was a really great place to stay because of the access to all of the restaurants and cafés. We usually don’t stay out too late, but we noticed that there were lots of bars and nightclubs in the area. Unfortunately, this meant that the neighborhood was pretty noisy at night. The Patio Bellavista is a nice area to go when you are hungry since it gathers all kinds of food cultures together. You can find local food, sushi, Italian, fast food, salads, and just about anything else you could want. We kind of felt like we were in a sort of classy mall food court. This is also a great place to meet other travelers and locals. Most people are just relaxing and so if you like to engage in conversation and meet new people, this is a great place to do it. We did a bike tour with Paseos en Bicicleta. Andres, our tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable and professional. This is a great way to see old Santiago and get some exercise after a long flight.

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Destinations Visited: Chile

Santiago Travel Review

Martin Stuessy

My trip to Chile was a week-long tour of its capital; Santiago.

Generally, my impressions of the city varied a lot! On one hand, aspects of the city looked run-down and impoverished, whereas other parts of the city seemed extremely gentrified and refined.

The people are rather short for western standards, and on average very tanned. However, one can see a major influence of European immigrants on the overall ethnicity that populates the city.

I was very impressed by the general atmosphere that is radiated by its people; hard working, but nevertheless heartwarming and outgoing.

The places with the most engrossing South American atmosphere was the Mercado Central. It is a very large seafood market with restaurants and stands all around. Just walking into the building and absorbing the smell is itself an irreplaceable experience.

I think that one of the most characterizing landmarks of Santiago is its Underground system. It's fast, efficient and affordable, albeit a little dirty. It perfectly encapsulated this disconnect between rich and poor that I could feel around the city.

If you're a sucker for historically grand buildings, head to the center of town and visit La Moneda. It has incredibly fascinating history behind it, involving a coup, alleged suicide and more exciting stories!

All in all, Santiago is one of the most fascinating Metropolitan cities in South America. This trip gets nothing but a 5-star rating from me! Come check it out yourself - you won't be disappointed!

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Destinations Visited: Chile

Eco-Tourism in Villarrica, Chile

Anonymous

On our fifth visit to Chile, we wanted to venture out from some of the larger cities and experience Chile off the beaten path. What we discovered was certainly not disappointing! Nestled at the bottom of Mount Villarrica is the 400 year old town of Villarrica. Founded by the Spaniards, the historic town located in Southern Chile, has been abandoned many times over the centuries, but since the late 1800s, it has grown into a delightful favorite among eco-tourists.

We stayed at the Starwood Villarrica Park Lake Hotel and Spa which we booked directly from the Starwood/Sheraton Resort website. This verdant paradise offers luscious landscapes to explore and stunning views of the snow capped volcano as a backdrop. On site, the resort offers a restaurant and three bars. The Aguas Verdes Restaurant serves international cuisine – we especially enjoyed the Seafood Risotto and Smoked Trout Salad. Vertigo Bar was the perfect place for a nightcap after a day hiking Mount Villarrica - Chile's most active volcano.

The beauty of Villarrica is that it is an excellent destination any time of the year. Our visit was during the summer months. We enjoyed whitewater rafting along the Trancura River, fly-fishing and hiking; however we look forward to returning during the skiing season. On our last day in Chile, we took a stroll along the streets of Pucon, a local village about 8 miles from the resort on the opposite side of the lake. We highly recommend the walking tour of Pucon!

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Destinations Visited: Chile

Amazing Hiking in Patagonia

amyd

The 9 day hike in Torres Del Paine was perhaps the most spectacular trip I've taken. Everyday brought absolutely amazing views and the hiking was just the right level of challenging but not overly exhausting.

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Destinations Visited: Chile
Tour Operator: G Adventures

Hiking the W Trail

Brittany M

We hiked the W Trail in Chile in the middle of winter (early July 2009) and it was fantastic. It was sunny every day, no wind, and we saw about 6 people in our entire 4 days. Every view point we reached we got all to ourselves. We hiked in boots, jeans, long sleeve shirts, fleeces, and raincoats (and occasionally accessories) and were comfortable the entire time. We stayed in the "refugios," which are basically cabins (not always electricity, but always hot water). You should bring your own sleeping bag. We didn't see anyone camping in the winter. The hike was gorgeous and the total isolation was really unique and welcome to us. This was definitely one of the best hiking experiences I've ever had.

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Destinations Visited: Chile

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