Top travel destinations in Chile

This is a map/ list of top destinations I’ve put together of my beautiful country, Chile, with many places I need to yet explore. The most special and unique places are highlighted with stars*** in accordance to my personal preference, which inclines to nature and outdoors.

The map gives you an idea of the geographical locations and distances to plan your trip to Chile. I have included the country´s main airports shown on icons. I have especifically highlighted the area of Carretera Austral as a major destination that deserves a trip of its own. There are so many places to explore there and driving distances are long.

If you are traveling from far away to get to know this diverse long country, please give yourself at least 3-4 weeks. If you only have one week my advice is to choose one spot only as travel distances are far in Chile. In general, the best time to visit Chile is during the summer months of December – March.

The main activities around these top destinations you can do include: trekking, climbing, sight seeing, cycling, surfing, diving, kayaking, rafting, and horse riding.

 

Chile travel destinations map_med.jpg

 

Top travel destinations listed on the map (in geographical order):

NORTH

Parinacota_volcano.jpg
view of Parinacota volcano at Parque Nacional Lauca

1. Parque Nacional Lauca: Parinacota volcano and Chungará lake
Nearest airport: Arica (2hrs 40min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 2.5hrs drive from Arica airport to the national park

destination-san-pedro-de-atacama-chile
San Pedro de Atacama desert
Mountain-bike-san-pedro-de-atacama-ACT96
biking through San Pedro de Atacama desert

2. San Pedro de Atacama desert***
Nearest airport: Calama (2hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: from Calama take a 1.5hrs bus ride

parque-nacional-pan-de-azucar_26151.jpg
Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar

3. Pan de Azúcar National Park
    Nearest airport: Copiapó (1.5hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 2hrs+ drive from Copiapó
    Read about a cool motocycling blog.

Bahia Inglesa
Bahia Inglesa

4. Bahía Inglesa beach
    Nearest airport: Copiapó (1.5hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 1hr drive from Copiapó

climb ojos del salado Chile
climbing Ojos del Salado, highest volcano in the world

5. Ojos del Salado (6893m) volcano
    Nearest airport: Copiapó (1.5hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: from Copiapó drive 4.5hrs to Laguna Verde, and then drive on sandy road (4×4 needed) to Refugio Atacama (5260m) as base camp for 25km.

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isla Damas

6. Punta de Choros & Isla Dama
    Nearest airport: La Serena (1hr flight from Santiago)
How to get there: from La Serena is 2hrs bus ride

 

CENTRAL

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star gazing in Valle del Elqui

7. Valle del Elqui
     Nearest airport: La Serena(1hr flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 1.5hrs drive from La Serena

8. Places around Santiago:

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Zapallar beach
View-of-Casablanca-Wine-Region-from-Indomita-Vineyard-Valparaiso-Chile-e1491354427255
Casablanca valley
embalse el yeso winter
Embalse el Yeso in winter, Cajón del Maipo
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surf in Pichilemu
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radal de 7 tazas
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Valle de los Cóndores
corralco invierno
winter sports in Chillán

 

  • Zapallar beach (3hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Valparaíso (2hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Casablanca valley of wines (1hr drive from Santiago)
  • Cajón del Maipo (1-2 hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Pichilemu & Punta de Lobos beach (3.5hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Radal de 7 Tazas (4hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Valle de los Condores***: rock climbing heaven (5hrs drive from Santiago)
  • Chillan ski resort (5hrs drive from Santiago)
chillan ski cool
skiing in Corralco

9. Corralco ski resort
    Nearest airport: Temuco (1hr 20min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: from Temuco airport is 2hrs drive

 

SOUTH

parque nacional conguillio cascada
Parque Nacional Conguillío

10. Parque Nacional Conguillío
      Nearest airport: Temuco (1hr 20min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 1.5hrs+ drive from Temuco

parque nacional huerquehue Pucon.jpg
Parque Nacional Huerquehue in Pucón

11. Pucón & Santuario el Cañi & Parque Nacional Huerquehue
      Nearest airport: Temuco (1hr 20min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: From Temuco airport drive for 30min to Pucón

huilo huilo montaña-magica-lodge-hotel-chile
Magical Mountain Lodge at Huilo Huilo

12. Huilo Huilo biological reserve
      Nearest airport: Temuco (1hr 20min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 2.5hrs drive from Temuco

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Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

13. Parque Nacional Puyehue & Vicente Perez Rosales
      Nearest airport: Puerto Montt (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get to Puyehue national park: 2hrs drive from Puerto Montt
How to get to Vicente Perez Rosales national park: 1hr drive from Puerto Montt

14. Caleta Condor beach
      Nearest airport: Osorno (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: take a bus to Bahía Mansa (1.5hrs) and then a small boat (departs on Mondays and Wednesdays only) for 2hrs.

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Puerto Varas

15. Puerto Varas & Frutillar
      Nearest airport: Puerto Montt (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: 30min drive from Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas

Cochamo valley hiking
Cochamó valley

16. Cochamó***: rock climbing paradise
      Nearest airport: Puerto Montt (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get to the valley: from Puerto Montt airport drive 2hrs to Cochamó. Then walk 4-5hrs towards La Junta in Cochamó

 

 

CARRETERA AUSTRAL:

parquepumalin
Parque Pumalín

17. Parque Pumalín***
      Nearest airport: Puerto Montt (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: The national park is divided into North, South, West. It’s easier to reach to Pumalín North, but has no infrastructure. From Puerto Montt you can drive 3hrs+ to Hornopirén on the Carretera Austral, 110km south of Puerto Montt. From Hornopirén you can take the ferry to Caleta Gonzalo (which requieres previous reservation), or drive 4.5hrs to Caleta Gonzalo, or rent a boat to take you south down the Comau fjord.

Houses on wooden columns, Chiloe Island, Chile
Colourful houses on Chiloé Island

18. Chiloé***
      Nearest airport: Castro (seasonal only) (2hrs flight from Santiago)

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rafting on Futaleufú river

19. Lago Yelcho & Futaleufú River***: world class rafting!
Nearest airport: Puerto Montt (1hr 45min flight from Santiago)
How to get to Futaleufú (770km from Puerto Montt): best is to fly from Puerto Montt to Chaiten (204km away) for 45min. Then from Chaiten to Futaleufú is 156km in which you can drive for 3hrs+ or take a 4hrs bus with Transportes Altamirano.

glaciar-del-parque-nacional-queulat-chile
glaciar colgante Queulat

20. Parque Nacional Queulat*** in Puyuhuapi
Nearest airport: Coyhaique (2hrs 15min flight from Santiago) (keep in mind that the airport Balmaceda is 1hr away from Coyhaique city)
How to get there: from Coyhaique airport drive 4hrs to the park

cerro castillo mirador
mirador Cerro Castillo

21. Cerro Castillo***
      Nearest airport: Coyhaique (2hrs 15min flight from Santiago) (keep in mind that the airport Balmaceda is 1hr away from Coyhaique city)
How to get there: from Coyhaique airport drive 1hr to Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. The route begins in the section of Las Horquetas Grandes to start the demanding trek. See trekking guide here.

marble caves chile
Marble Caves

 

22. Capillas de Mármol (Marble Caves)***
      Nearest airport: Coyhaique (2hrs 15min flight from Santiago) (keep in mind that the airport Balmaceda is 1hr away from Coyhaique city)
How to get there: From Coyhaique drive 4hrs+ to town of Puerto Tranquilo, then take an excursion boat to Marble Caves

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conservation at Parque Patagonia

23. New National Park Parque Patagonia (Jeinimei Reserva Nacional)***
Nearest airport: Coyhaique (2hrs 15min flight from Santiago) (keep in mind that the airport Balmaceda is 1hr away from Coyhaique city)
How to get there: Driving south from Coyhaique airport takes 6-8hrs on almost all dirt road. You will pass through Cerro Castillo, Puerto Tranquilo, further south is Puerto Bertrand (where the park entrance is) and continue for 11km following River Baker, until reaching the park administration and Lodge del Valle Chacabuco.

 

EXTREME SOUTH: PATAGONIA & TIERRA DEL FUEGO

parque nacional laguna san rafael.jpg
Parque Laguna San Rafael

24. Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael
      Nearest airport: Coyhaique (2hrs 15min flight from Santiago)
How to get there: A) Fly from Coyhaique airport Teniente Vidal to Aeródromo Laguna San Rafael for 1hr and 20min on a small aircraft, or B) Take boat with a tourism company such as Skorpios from Puerto Montt (tourism companies offer trips from 2-7 days).

torres-del-paine-mtb-climb_h.jpg
mountain biking in Torres del Paine

25. Torres del Paine National Park***
      Nearest airport: Punta Arenas (3.5hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: From Punta Arenas take a bus or drive to Puerto Natales for 3hrs, spend the night in Puerto Natales, then drive another 1.5hrs until the park entrance.

Hiking up Paso Virginia
Hiking up Paso Virginia on the Dientes Circuit, Isla Navarino

26. Dientes de Navarino, Cabo de Hornos, Tierra del Fuego***
      Nearest airport: Punta Arenas (3.5hrs flight from Santiago)
How to get there: from Punta Arenas take a flight with Aerovías DAP on airplane Twin Otter DHC-6 (capacity for 20 passengers) for 1hr+ to airport Guardiamarina Zañartu in Puerto Williams. Check prices and itinerary with Aerolíneas DAP. Then hire a car service to drive for about 45min to the beginning of the trek.

ISLANDS OF CHILE

Isla-de-Pascua-Moáis-Chile
Easter Island

27. Isla de Pascua
How to get there: Direct flight of 6hrs from Santiago

juan fernandez archipielago.jpg
Juan Fernandez archipelago

28. Isla de Juan Fernandez/ Robinson Crusoe
How to get there: Direct flights of 2.5hrs from Santiago via private airlines only to Robinson Crusoe airport, and then take a boat for 1.5hrs to town of San Juan.

 

 

Great websites for general guide to traveling in Chile:
http://chile.travel/
http://www.visitchile.com/

(Note: all photos are taken from the Internet of different sources)

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