From stargazing in the world’s driest desert to hiking the numerous trails of the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile has so much to offer tourists wishing to experience geographical marvels or clashes of historical and modern culture. Renowned for their kindness and hospitality, the Chilean people who call this spectacular country home, welcome tourists with open arms, keen to give world travelers a taste of their lifestyle. In this guide, we look at some of the most popular and breath-taking attractions that are a must-see for anyone embarking on Chile travel.
1. Atacama Desert
With the exception of the poles, the Atacama Desert is officially the driest place on Earth. This extreme environment is the place where Mars rovers have been tested, and three international observatories provide a place for stargazers to gather from around the globe. The desert is almost entirely void of shade or greenery and pollution is at a minimum due to the lack of civilization. Canyons sculpted by wind and salt lakes attract photographers to marvel at its ‘out of this world’ beauty.
2. Torres del Paine National Park
Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, this national park attracts over 150,000 visitors each year who come to marvel at the mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers which characterize this part of the world. The park is particularly popular with hikers and has been elected as the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic.
3. Easter Island
The Rapa Nui National Park (or Easter Island) is the place of mysterious moai statues. These stone figures stand as a monument to the Polynesian people, recognizing their seafaring skills and unique culture. While high season on Rapa Nui is from January to March (Southern Hemisphere summer), the weather is relatively pleasant year-round.
4. Horseshoe Paine
The name “Horseshoe” Paine is given to the bend in which the Paine River turns back on itself around the hills of the Torres del Paine National Park. A truly magnificent setting, snow covered mountains provide the backdrop, attracting photographers from around the world.
5. Grey Glacier
This beautiful, natural ice construction is a particularly popular attraction for those embarking on Chile travel during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring and summer months (September – April). With a “nunatak” – a piece of land – that divides the glacier in two, a piece of land is created where visitors can walk. Tourists visit by land, sea and air to enjoy hiking, flora and fauna observation and photography.
6. Cerro San Cristobal
Offering one of the most spectacular panoramas of Santiago, this huge hill situated in the middle of the city offers a unique view of a whole host of landmarks. Snack bars and tourist shops can also be found at the top, allowing tourists to relax and take in the view.
Located almost 70 miles northwest of Santiago, Valparaiso is one of the South Pacific’s most important seaports, and is the capital of Chile’s third most populated administrative region. Often referred to as “the Jewel of the Pacific”, the city is built on steep hillsides and consists of numerous cobblestone alleyways and streets, and is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. Patagonia Waterfalls (Andes Mountain Waterfall)
Flowing from the snow-frosted peaks of the Andes, fast flowing streams and waterfalls bubble their way through the volcanic and mountainous Patagonian landscape. Tours are available for those wishing to experience the cascading beauty of the waterfalls, from the Cascada Chachin to the Cascada del Rio Agrio.
9. Santiago Cathedral
The Santiago Cathedral is the seat of current Archbishop of Santiago de Chile – Ricardo Ezzati Andrello – construction of this neoclassical cathedral began in 1748 after previous cathedrals in the archdiocese were destroyed by earthquakes. This Chilean national monument is a breath-taking display of architecture.
10. Osorno Volcano
As one of the most active volcanoes of Chile, the Osorno Volcano was first discovered by Charles Darwin. 11 eruptions are recorded between 1575 and 1869, and the now dormant volcano is similar in appearance to Mount Fuji. The volcano has been used in various advertising campaigns due to its stunning appearance, and this volcanic landscape is a popular tourist site for those embarking on Chile travel.
11. Milodon Cave
Named after one of the prehistoric animals thought to have once lived within it, this
huge cavern has depths of 200 metres and is 80 metres wide. The cavern is thought to have been a popular hunting ground for the first inhabitants of Patagonia. The cave provides a 20minute stroll along a boardwalk and is open year-round to those enjoying a true Chile travel experience.
So, if our guide hasn’t got you Googling flights to Chile – why not? With so much to offer, it’s clear to see why so many tourists come here each year. Whether wanting to relax, get active or photograph some of the simply remarkable natural creations, our guide has highlighted just a few of the reasons to consider Chile travel in your future plans. Experiencing the dramatic volcanoes or huge icy glaciers is sure to make you feel alive, connecting with nature in some of the most wide-open spaces anywhere on the planet. In contrast, the modern city of Santiago offers a cosmopolitan taste of Chilean culture, awakening the senses and creating an experience that surely will never be forgotten.