When it comes to South American destinations, Chile may tend to be a bit overlooked. Brazil has the Amazon and iconic Rio de Janeiro. Argentina has the tango, tons of outdoor adventure options, and the allure of Buenos Aires. So what could South America’s “skinniest” country have to offer? The answer is plenty.
Yes, Chile is a long and narrow (skinny) country. But it’s also one of the most diverse geographical countries in South America. Chile is definitely no stranger to many climate extremes.
It’s home to the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. Then there are the glaciers of the south in Patagonia. There are plenty of cozy coastal towns for the beach bums. Adventure seekers will have many activities to choose from as well. And Chile has plenty of historical and cultural gems to check out too.
So what is there to do in Chile? Here’s a look at some of the best things to discover while exploring the country…
Explore the Eclectic Capital of Santiago
Santiago’s dramatic setting draws visitors from all over the world. Who wouldn’t want to experience the majestic views of the snow-covered Andes Mountains?
Those who love the arts will definitely have a lot to discover in Santiago. Be sure to check out the huge assortment of museums. Fans of Chilean poet Pabal Neruda will find a museum dedicated to him. If you’re looking for a local cultural experience, head for the Museo Chileno de Art Precolombino. Here you’ll find an interesting exploration of Chilean culture.
Santiago has many great architectural sites to see. Check out the Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s an impressive neo-classical cathedral dating back to 1541. And while exploring the city, be sure to spend some time in the artsy Bellavista neighborhood. Here you’ll find the former home of poet Pablo Neruda. Art galleries, cafes, and boutique shops can be found amongst antique homes and colonial mansions. It’s definitely a cool experience and a great place discover.
Take a Walk Along Valparaiso’s Colorful Streets
This coastal city is a well-known traveler destination. Valparaiso’s hills offer some pretty epic views from various vantage points. And it’s known for the uniquely stacked houses built to accommodate the hilly city. Sightseeing in Valparaiso is a hugely popular tourist pastime!
Valparaiso also has a great art and cultural scene. Here you’ll find a diverse selection of museums. The nightlife in Valpo is pretty vibrant. Tango bars, dance clubs, pubs, and artsy cafes can be found all around the city. It’s a great way to experience the culture of Chile while enjoying a night out on the town.
Star Gaze in the Atacama Desert
It’s known as the driest place on the planet. And it’s got some of the best views of the night sky. Chile’s Atacama Desert is full of intriguing sights. Its sprawling, desolate landscape is a unique experience. Here you’ll discover huge salt flats, wind-sculpted sand dunes, and even volcanoes.
The Atacama Desert is also an ideal place for stargazers. There are several international observatories located in the desert. Some can be visited. Tours are offered from the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Various tours are offered. Be on the lookout for abandoned mining towns, desert rock paintings, and the famous Atacama Salt Flat.
Take on the Chilean Patagonia
The Argentine side of Patagonia tends to get most of the attention. But Chile’s Patagonia has plenty to explore too. Patagonia is full of beautiful terrain to discover and is an adventure-lovers paradise.
Hikers will have plenty of picturesque trails to choose from. And there’s plenty of striking scenery to take in, including the snow-capped Andes. There are penguin-inhabited islands to check out too, as well as a number of small villages with Patagonian charm. And don’t forget to head for Torres del Paine National Park. It’s one of the most visited parks in Chile. Nature lovers, hikers, and adventure enthusiasts will love the majestic sights this park has to offer in the heart of Chilean Patagonia.
Taste the Wine of Rapel Valley
Wine lovers shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Rapel Valley during their Chile visit. Head for the southernmost part of Rapel Valley, known as Colchagua Valley. The area has grown into one of the most important regions in South America for winemaking. It’s known for its delicious red wines. Fans of Malbec, Syrah, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon will definitely love the wines made here.
The best time for a wine-tasting visit is typically October through May. But most of the wineries are open all year round.
Beach Bum Your Way along Chile’s Long Coastline
With over 2,500 miles of coastline, Chile has plenty to offer those looking for a beach vacation. There are plenty of beach resort towns. And they range from very chic to very affordable.
Vina del Mar is one of the country’s most famous beach resort destinations. But it’s also one of the most expensive. You’ll find plenty of upscale restaurants and trendy shops along the boardwalk.
Arica is one of the best beach destinations in the northern region of Chile. The weather is typically warm all year round. And it’s usually not as touristy as other nearby beaches. It’s also a great place a variety of water sports.
For the spring break type of feel, head for Renaca. It caters to the hipper, younger crowd. Here you’ll find plenty of parties on the shores and cheap souvenirs. The vibe here is fun and laid back.
For warmer waters, check out Bahia Inglesa. It’s surrounded by the Atacama Desert region, making it an even more intriguing beach destination.
Chile is a country so diverse in potential travel destinations. It’s full of culture and history with plenty of great sights to see and adventures to discover!