Places to visit in Chile

Chile map & itineraries

Make the most of your time

Stretching the distance from Norway to Nigeria creates a diverse array of contrasting places to visit in Chile: The only option here is north or south – east-west just doesn’t really happen in Chile. To reach its fjords and glaciers; fertile valleys and lakes; lush forests or spectacular desert, you’re likely to have to factor in a flight or two – though this will offer spectacular aerial views of snow-blanketed volcanoes and craggy, splintered coastline. Roads are in great condition in Chile though, and the scenery will make any long drives whizz by as you enjoy the panorama of gradients rising from surf-washed Pacific beaches to jagged 6,000m Andean peaks. And at the northern tip, a vast, dramatic plateau – the Altiplano – is a breathtaking step up to the clouds.
Atacama Desert Torres del Paine Aysén Lake District Chiloé Island Lauca National Park Central Valley Valparaiso Easter Island Juan Fernandez Archipelago Tierra del Fuego Santiago

Atacama Desert

The world's highest active volcano – the 6,893m Volcan Ojos del Salado – is just one towering hot-top around the geothermal wonderland of the Nevado de Tres Cruces National Park in the Atacama Desert. Minerals create lakes with otherworldly hues, while hot springs bubble amid rugged plains and salt flats. The coastal town Caldera provides a charming getaway, with a little pier and good fish restaurants.


Chile’s most sparsely populated region blends islands, fjords, glaciers and ice fields with South America’s second largest lake – famous for the phenomenal “Marble Cathedral” caves that beckon kayakers. Queulat National Park protects the “Enchanted Forest” – a myth-ridden cold climate “rainforest” with glacial waterfalls and – some claim – fairies! What is definitely real are its brilliant rafting and hiking.

Central Valley

The charms of Chile's fertile heartland extend far beyond its famous gaucho cowboys. The waterfalls of the Radal Siete Tazas National Park vie with the thundering Salto del Laja cascades for drama, while the Nevados de Chillán are idyllic hot springs in prime hiking and skiing country. Relax on wine routes through areas like Colchaqua or hit the surf beaches around Pichilemu.

Chiloé Island

Chiloé's inhabitants still tell stories of mysterious ghost ships and seductive mermaids that seem totally appropriate to a jaw-dropping isle with otherworldly fauna, old wooden churches and fairytale cottages wreathed in wood smoke. Life depends on the sea here, providing a gourmet bounty – the most famous dish is the classic Chilean meat-and-fish stew curanto, traditionally cooked in an earth oven.

Easter Island

The haunting moai monoliths fashioned by the island's ancient Rapa Nui culture are true global icons, carved from an atmospheric quarry at Rano Raraku. Peer into the crater of the extinct Rano Kau volcano then visit the tribal village of Orongo. If you come late Jan/early Feb, the Tapati Rapa Nui festival brings a carnival vibe to the main settlement of Hanga Roa.

Juan Fernandez Archipelago

Isla Robinson Crusoe is the star of the Juan Fernandez archipelago, an otherwise uninhabited group of islands 675km out in the Pacific west of Valparaiso. Check out its castaway – and pirate – links, hike mountains draped with lush forests, and recharge in fishing hamlets majoring in lobster. There's brilliant diving too – plus a fascinating traditional cult of 'The Birdman'.

Lake District

Chile's answer to the Swiss Alps is chocolate-box beautiful, with slivers of lake between snow-tipped volcanoes and verdant valleys. German settlers brought beer and bakeries, but this is also the heartland of the Mapuche, adding a potent weave of native culture to an idyllic landscape where visitors can enjoy kayaking, white water rafting, volcano hikes and hot springs.

Lauca National Park

Chile's highest national park drapes across northern highlands, 4,000m-6,000m up – a landscape of lonely altiplano lakes and jetting geysers, roamed by herds of wild vicuña, llama and alpaca. The interconnected Cotacotani lakes glitter in a dark lava field, while Lago Chungara washes the foot of a 6,330m volcano. The tiny village of Parinacota is the park's evocative HQ, huddled around a gorgeous church.


Chile's 500-year-old colonial capital sits on a wide plane with a magnificent Andean backdrop. Not as famous as Rio or Buenos Aires but with its own proud identity among its 7 million citizens, Santiago's highlights include the bohemian quarter Bellavista, the bustling central colonial square Plaza de Armas, two fantastic food markets and a superb Pre-Columbian museum.

Tierra del Fuego

Divided from mainland Patagonia by the Magellan Strait, the 'Land of Fire' is named after the native Yamana fires first spotted by the eponymous explorer. Explore the forested peaks of the Cordillera Darwin, the lakes of Isla Grande, or tackle the tough 70km mountain hiking trail on Isla Navarino – where Puerto Toro bags the title of world's most southerly town – albeit one consisting of 36 inhabitants.

Torres del Paine

Patagonia’s most iconic backdrop is the jewel in its crown, dominated by immense, granite towers. The classic “W” circuit takes you up to the base of the towers, past the bright turquoise Nordenskjöld Lake and into the gorgeous French Valley, with well-equipped refugios along the way – or campsites for the truly rugged.


One of South America's most enchanting cities, Valparaiso remains something of a secret – a tangle of gaudily-coloured tumbledown houses draped across steep hills offering stunning viewpoints over a wide Pacific bay. Characterful vintage funicular lifts (ascensores) get people up and down. As well as surface beauty, the city enjoys a reputation as a bohemian idyll, with small cafes, quirky art shops and hidden bars.

Chile itineraries

Chile adventure holiday (15 days):

Santiago ► Valparaiso ► (flight) Atacama Desert ► San Pedro de Atacama ► Salar de Atacama ► El Tatio geysers ► (flight) Lake District ► (flight) Punta Arenas ► Torres del Paine National Park ► Puerto Natales ► Punta Arenas ► (flight) Santiago

Atacama & Patagonia, 16 days:

Santiago ► (flight) Atacama Desert ► Andes ► El Tatio geysers ► (flight) Santiago ► (flight) Punta Arenas ► Puerto Natales ► Torres del Paine National Park ► Punta Arenas ► (flight) Santiago

Travel times in Chile

The following times give you a rough idea of the travel times between the main attractions in Chile.
  • Santiago – Valparaiso: 1½ hrs by bus
  • The 'W' circuit in Torres del Paine: 4 days on foot
  • Santiago – Calama (for San Pedro de Atacama): 2hrs by air, then 1hr by car
  • Santiago – Punta Arenas (Patagonia): 3hrs by air
  • Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine: 7hrs by car
Photo credits: [Top box: troita_] [Aysen: javier] [Lake district: Robert Cutts] [Chiloe Island: michael lloyd] [Lauca National Park: Alberto ...] [Central Valley: Alessandro Caproni] [Valparaiso: Beatrice Murch] [Easter Island: Arian Zwegers] [Juan Fernandez Archipelago: Serpentus] [Tierra Del Fuego: Dimitry B.] [Santiago: B1mbo]
Tour of Patagonia, El Calafate & Torres del Paine

Tour of Patagonia, El Calafate & Torres del Paine

Patagonia's best - Torres del Paine and Perito Moreno Glacier.

From US $620 5 Days ex flights
Chile adventure holiday

Chile adventure holiday

Chile's best: the Atacama Desert, Lake District and Patagonia

From £3465 15 Days inc UK flights
Torres del Paine tour

Torres del Paine tour

5 day tour in the incredible Torres del Paine National park!

From £1440 5 Days ex flights
Small group adventure holiday to Patagonia

Small group adventure holiday to Patagonia

Explore the spectacular wilderness and mountains of Patagonia

From £3208 21 days ex flights
Rio Futaleufu rafting holiday in Chile

Rio Futaleufu rafting holiday in Chile

Raft deep canyons and pristine wilderness of Patagonia

From £2748 9 Days ex flights
Patagonia highlights holiday

Patagonia highlights holiday

Explore the wild, mountainous south of Argentina and Chile

From £3649 15 Days inc UK flights
Patagonia luxury adventure holiday

Patagonia luxury adventure holiday

Luxury hotels and adventure in Patagonia

From £3644 11 Days ex flights
Patagonia small group holiday

Patagonia small group holiday

Explore Patagonia's National Parks by foot and small-ship.

From US $3995 11 Days ex flights
South America overland expedition

South America overland expedition

South America as few others will experience it

From £2845 12 Weeks ex flights
Patagonia trekking adventure holiday

Patagonia trekking adventure holiday

Trek Fitzroy, Paine and visit Ushuaia, Patagonia Highlights

From US $3054 15 Days ex flights
Paine and Fitz Roy trek, trekking holiday

Paine and Fitz Roy trek, trekking holiday

Spectacular Andes scenery from glacial lakes to towering granite peaks

From £3790 15 Days ex flights
Patagonian holiday

Patagonian holiday

Explore the mountain scenery of Chilean & Argentine Patagonia

From £2855 15 Days ex flights
Lima to Santiago overland holiday

Lima to Santiago overland holiday

Travel through Peru Bolivia & Chile

From £2499 21 Days ex flights
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