11 Best Places to Visit in Chile

I have been fortunate to have made many trips to the beautiful country of Chile. In the process, I compiled a list of what I personally think are the best places to visit in Chile.

I first traveled to Chile to explore the history behind José de San Martín, the Argentine General who liberated South America from Spanish Rule in the early 1800’s. My journey took me from Santiago to the Andes Mountains on the border of Argentina.

On this trip, I fell in love with this South American country. Chile’s incredibly diverse landscape and rich history invites opportunities for legendary adventures.

From the Andean Plateau in the north, to the glacial magnificence of the mountains in Patagonia, here are my recommendations for the Top 11 Places to Visit in Chile:

1. Easter Island

row of towering stone statues on a grassy island with blue, cloudy skies in South America

Located in the Polynesian Islands in the Pacific, the famed and mystical Easter Island holds a special interest for all adventurers. This remote island, known as Rapa Nui by the indigenous people, is home to beautiful natural scenery and a fascinatingly deep, cultural history.

Take in the mysterious aura as you hike through national parks fixating on the unmistakable stone statues that have given this island prominence. Known as moai, these statues are a must-see and an excellent introduction to the culture of Rapa Nui.

polynesian performers dancing in a grass field on a sunny, cloudy day in Easter Island

As you immerse yourself into the cultural identity of the island through dances, shows, and food, explore the island’s vast network of caves, volcanoes, pink sand beaches, and grasslands. Taking an Easter Island tour is a must for any adventurers who dream of uncovering the secrets behind the world’s most mysterious destinations!


2. Atacama Desert

person standing by warm rocks in San Pedro de Atacama Desert in Chile before a vast salt lagoon surrounded by mountains in the background

Located west of the Andes in northern Chile lies the Atacama Desert. One of the most extraordinary places on the planet, this vast desert is home to a marvelously unique landscape teeming with life. The Atacama Desert is known for being the driest desert in the world and provides an incredible, Martian-like backdrop for adventurers traveling throughout the area. While hiking through the dry Atacama desert climate, the landscape’s diverse beauty, from salt flats and lagoons to geysers and volcanoes, will leave you in awe.

No trip to the Atacama desert is complete without a visit to San Pedro de Atacama. This Chilean town is situated at an elevation of roughly 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) and exhibits the everlasting traditions of Andean culture.

After dark, I highly recommend a visit to one of northern Chile’s famed observatories to witness millions of stars illuminate the sky. For those in search of nature’s beauty, a trip to the Atacama Desert is an absolute must.


3. Elqui Valley

plots of green fields for winemaking in Chile set in a moutainous valley

The long, thin Elqui Valley carves a squiggle out of the dusty mountains at the very southern end of the Atacama Desert. It’s perhaps best known as one of Chile’s foremost winemaking regions. Elqui Valley is packed with vineyards, and they say there’s the perfect blend of chalky soil and sunny-cool climate for producing tasty Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Carmenere varieties. 

More recently, the area blazed a trail when it was dubbed the world’s very first International Dark Sky Sanctuary back in 2015. That paved the way for stacks of international investment from space agencies and scientific institutes, which is why you can now spot futuristic telescopes dotting the mountaintops, not to mention see the Milky Way in all its glory once the sun has set!

On a more general level, the Elqui Valley is downright beautiful. At points, it looks like something plucked out of the Karakoram, with cinnamon-brown ridges enfolding gurgling rivers. At other places, it’s a country idyll, unfolding in a mosaic of plum orchards, vineyards, and grassy farm fields.


4. La Serena

coastal Chilean town with palm trees surrounded by mountains and lined by a sandy beach

Founded by the conquistadors sometime between 1543 and 1544, La Serena reigns as the second-oldest city in the country and serves as the capital of the Coquimbo region in northern Chile. It hugs the edge of this region, where the swells of the Pacific Ocean bend to caress the dry peaks of the southern Atacama Desert. That makes for a pretty nice setting, with long, scything runs of golden sand on offer just steps from the downtown.

The peak of the summer is La Serena’s moment to shine. Thousands of domestic travelers flock in to cool off on the breezy shores, hit the scuba meccas of the Isla Damas, and sip pisco sours on the promenade. This is also the gateway to the aforementioned Elqui Valley, an elongated and fertile stretch of the Atacama that’s celebrated for its tasty wines and uber-clear night skies. 


5. Santiago

aerial view of a bustling downtown city at night with bright skyscrapers surrounded by mountains in Santiago, Chile

Santiago is one of my favorite cities in the world. In the heart of central Chile, this metropolitan capital, fuses historical colonialism with the liveliness of a modern city. I have had the good fortune of visiting Santiago many times over the years. As a lover of history and adventure, the city has everything I could ask for. Colonized in the mid-1500s by Spanish conquistadors, the city shows its age through various architectural styles.

As you would expect from a strongly cultured metropolis, Santiago has an outstanding array of restaurants and excellent nightlife. With many parks, museums, and sporting and cultural activities, Santiago will keep you busy. Located just a quick trip from the towering Andes Mountains which rise over the city and the Pacific Ocean, Santiago is perfect for every adventurer.


6. Valparaíso

woman standing near a colorful building overlooking a bridge to a ship port in Valparaiso, Chile, South America

Located on the coast in central Chile, Valparaíso is next on the list and a special destination, in my opinion. Known as “The Jewel of the Pacific,” Valparaíso is a hilly port city.

An eclectic stop for travelers, the city is in the middle of an interesting transformation. Once a powerful seaport, Valparaíso has become an architectural marvel due to its colorful buildings, varying styles, and maze-like layout upon the surrounding hills. While here, I recommend riding the funiculars and sampling the local cuisine, before heading to beautiful beaches nearby, such as Viña del Mar or Reñaca.

Given the central location of Santiago and Valparaíso to both the coast and the mountains, many adventurous activities exist just outside the city walls. On the coast, numerous water activities are available such as scuba diving and kayaking. In the Andes Mountains, I’d recommend a visit to some of the best ski resorts South America has to offer – Portillo Ski Resort is a popular spot for visitors. For a more relaxed excursion, check out of the vineyards of the Casablanca Valley for world-class Chilean wine!


7. Southern Chile

clear lake surrounded by snow-dusted mountains and rocky cliffs on a bright day with volcanoes in the background in South America

As we work our way down this list, we are effectively moving down the slender coast of Chile. Unsurprisingly, the breathtaking array of Chile’s natural beauty continues in its southern region.

One of my most beloved locations, this geographic locale boasts enormous volcanoes and gorgeous lakes and rivers. This region’s astonishing landscapes is home to the Mapuche culture. An integral part of the region, the Mapuche offer a unique culture with outstanding food that is not to be missed.

row of hikers with backpacks walking down a stone road surrounded by lush tall trees in a national park in Chile

In my opinion, southern Chile is an exceptional place for the adventurous soul. While here, you’ll have the opportunity to ski some of the best mountains in the world, fish in the pristine rivers and lakes, relax in the natural spas, or hike the rugged terrain in the nature reserves. For more adventurous activities, visit the city Pucón and try your hand at whitewater rafting, or canyoning, a favorite among visitors.


8. Lake District

snow-capped volcano near a glistening body of water with a sailboat in Chile

Gleaming waters shimmer like the surface of a mirror, framed by dashes of pine forest and lush pastures peppered with cow herds. In the background, snow-mantled volcanoes – Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco and Volcán Villarrica – soar to the clouds, marking the phalanx of rock that is the mighty chain of the Andes. Welcome to the Chilean Lake District, a 200-mile (322-kilometer) stretch of Southern Chile that’s pure idyll from start to finish.

This is a land of no-holds-barred outdoors adventure. There’s a whopping seven national parks to get through. That could mean hikes amid the alien-like monkey puzzle trees of the Huerquehue National Park. It could mean swimming in the steaming hot springs and gurgling waterfalls of the Puyehue National Park. Or it could mean conquering the lava slopes of the mighty Osorno Volcano (Volcán Osorno) within the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park.

The Lake District is usually accessed from either the regional capital of Puerto Montt or the so-called City of Roses, Puerto Varas. These days, both exhibit a unique blend of German and Latin American culture. But the rich folklore heritage of the indigenous Mapuche people also lives on, particularly amid the hills and villages of the La Araucanía region.


9. Chiloé Island

edge of a hilly lush island surrounded by calm waters and mountains in the distance

The Isla Grande de Chiloé is a fragment of the Chilean Lake District that’s sort of been chewed off the side of South America and surrounded by the Pacific. It may as well be a country unto itself, though, such is the stark difference in the cultures and the cuisines and the landscapes here.

The people of Chiloé are fiercely independent in their way of life. They still rely on the bounty of the sea and traditional fishing methods to get by. They follow a unique blend of Huilliche Indian mysticism and devout Roman Catholicism – as evidenced by the UNESCO-tagged wooden churches that pepper the island, each raised by missionaries in the 17th century.

Most travelers plan a trip to the towns of either Castro or Ancud, to witness the ramshackle stilted fishing cabins painted in bold oranges and blues above the water. I’d also recommend adding in trips to see the squawking Puñihuil Penguin colony on the north shore (by boat) and intrepid hikes through the Chiloé National Park, home to one of the last remaining tracts of old-growth Valdivian rainforest.


10. Patagonia

row of hikers with hands linked and raised on a bridge in torres del paine in front of snow-caped jagged mountains

Patagonia is one of the most sought after adventure destinations on the planet and is known for its absurdly beautiful landscape. The mountains in Patagonia are some of the most impressive in the world. Not to mention, Patagonia offers a homogenous blend of lakes, lagoons, forests, steppes, fjords, and glaciers. A world apart, Patagonia remains exotic and seemingly untouched, as spectacular wildlife, such as condors, red foxes, and pumas, inhabit this pristine environment.

large glacier cascading down rocky snow-capped mountains on a lake on a cloudy day

While exploring the unspoiled terrain, experience the gaucho lifestyle and visit the pioneer towns dotted throughout the region. As you continue to take in the surrounding beauty of the mountains, a trip to Patagonia is not complete without a stop at Torres del Paine National Park.

For trekkers and hikers alike, this once-in-a-lifetime adventure will carry you deep into the wilderness to experience waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and stunning views in the Southern Ice Fields. Long days spent walking in the national park will surely be worth it.


11. Torres del Paine

hiker with outstretched arms standing on the edge of a cliff above a glacier lake with granite peaks in the background

Most travelers gasp in awe the first time they lay eyes on the Torres del Paine. The centerpiece of an incredible national park on the Chile-Argentine border, Torres del Paine is a trio of spear-like summits forged by wind-battered, glacier-carved granite. 

The hike to see them is one of the highlights of the legendary W Trek tour – one of the most popular treks in the world. It’ll whisk you up past Refugio Chileno, a long-lost cabin deep in the Andes, to a mirador lookout point that showcases a turquoise glacier lake and the jagged summits in the distance.

The thing is, Torres del Paine is just one part of the reserve. There’s a whole wonderworld of other unforgettable things to see within. They include the twisted tops of Los Cuernos massif, the calving ice walls of Grey Glacier, and the secret wildflower meadows of the French Valley (Valle del Francés). 

The aforementioned W Trek links them all up over the course of four or five days of rugged hiking, which is precisely why it’s now considered one of the most stunning treks on the whole planet. And if you dare to push further south on the continent, navigating the sea fjord and crossing the Strait of Magellan will amaze even the most seasoned adventurer.

weathered wooden posts remaining from a destroyed pier with a bright sunset behind mountains reflecting on a body of water


I hope you enjoyed my blog on the Top 11 Places to Visit in Chile. The next time you’re planning an getaway, consider Chile! It is one of the best destinations in the world for lovers of history and adventure. And if you need help making arrangements, keep The Explorer’s Passage (an industry award-winning premier adventure travel company) in mind. My team of experts is dedicated to making your travels smooth and unforgettable.

If you’re ready to explore one of the stunning destinations above (or any other world-class adventures globally), CONTACT US to learn more. Or if you’ve already been to Chile and have some favorite sites, we’d also love to hear about them. Just shoot us an email at info@explorerspassage.com

I look forward to seeing you on the trail.



Jeff Bonaldi
Founder & CEO
The Explorer’s Passage

About Jeff Bonaldi

Jeff Bonaldi is the Founder and CEO of The Explorer’s Passage, a premier adventure travel company. His mission is to provide travelers with the opportunity to transform their lives and the planet through the power of adventure.

Learn more about Jeff’s story and his company HERE.