Full of multiple climate zones at all times of the year, Chile has an infinite amount of activities to offer its visitors. From icy glaciers to luscious green rain forests, dry deserts, and stunning sandy beaches, Chile truly has it all. With great weather year-round, there’s no excuse not to visit! With so much to offer, we’ve done the research for you and narrowed it all down to the top 9 things to do in Chile.
1) Isla Magdalena
If visiting between November and March, take a boat tour to Isla Magdalena to experience the largest penguin colony in southern Chile. All boat tours depart from Tres Puentes Terminal in Punta Arenas. See if you can spot some dolphins or whales on the two-hour boat ride over. Watch more than 120,000 penguins roam free in their natural habitat. Get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures, as most are used to the tourists that visit daily. Check out the historic Isla Magdalena Lighthouse and its informative exhibition about the island. Take in the stunning views of the Strait of Magellan from the island before heading on your boat ride back to the mainland.
2) The W
All avid hikers should be familiar with ‘the W,’ a popular route around the Torres del Paine mountain. This multi-day trek will have you gazing at many lagoons, waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, mountains, and forests. Plan your visit in the summer months (October-April), but note it does get busy around the holidays from late December - late February. This remote destination attracts more than 250,000 visitors per year with its outstanding beauty and untouched wilderness.
3) Mano del Desierto
Constructed by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal, this structure of a hand stands 36 feet tall. The artist made it this size to emphasize human helplessness and vulnerability. This concrete and iron piece of art reaches up from the sand and into the stars. Found in the Atacama Desert, it’s a must-see stop when traveling along the Pan-American Highway. It’s a great photo opportunity to add to your memories in Chile!
4) Easter Island
Discover the mysterious giant head statues — moai — that have stood on Easter Island for thousands of years. Outside of the statues, enjoy the pristine beaches and the distinct culture the island has to offer. Visit between either April-June or October-December for pleasant weather, minimal crowds, and low accommodation rates. Plan in advance, as getting to Easter Island can be quite difficult. Once you are there, visit one of the few ATMs in Hanga Roa and take out any necessary cash you may need while on the island. Almost all places on the island take either Chilean pesos or U.S. dollars.
5) Glaciers of Patagonia
While there are only a few places still left in the world where you can witness glaciers, Chilean Patagonia is one of them. There are many glaciers located between the regions of Aysén and Magallanes. The most convenient points for glacier visits leave from Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales. Visit the glaciers by bike, hike or on the water. The water option allows you to get up close and personal with them either in a kayak or by a boat that will take you right up to the glacier walls.
6) Wulff Castle
Built in 1906 for the Wulff family, Wulff Castle is a historic structure that overlooks the sea in Viña del Mar. The city bought the castle in 1959, and it is now a National Historic Monument. Visitors can admire and appreciate the medieval architecture and stunning coastal views. Parts of the castle now serve as exposition halls for temporary art exhibits throughout the year. Many feature paintings, sculptures, and photographs for the public to enjoy.
7) Pisco, Elqui
A long-time rival to Peru, there has always been controversy about the origin of pisco. The town of Pisco in Elqui claims they were the original to create this clear brandy made of a blend of white grapes. Try the variety of styles from the rustic and earthy versions made from small artisan distillers to the modern triple-distilled made by luxury brands. Find your favorite for the perfect pisco sour — a refreshing blend of lime juice, egg white, sugar syrup, and (of course) pisco. End your sunsets with these on those hot Chilean summer evenings and compare with ones you may have tried in Peru. Can’t make it to Pisco? Chile’s first pisco bar, Chipe Libre, is located in Santiago.
8) The Lake District
The Lake District of Chile should definitely be on your list of preferred destinations, especially if you are an outdoorsy person. You’ll be able to indulge in all of the natural beauty through fly-fishing, kayaking, hiking, and cycling. You’ll even have the opportunity to climb one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, the Villarrica Volcano. If you visit in the winter, you’ll be able to ski down them! Do note that the hike up is more difficult in the winter months due to the snow and ice.
9) Robinson Crusoe Island
Enjoy this tropical island on the Juan Fernandez archipelago full of blue lagoons, sandy beaches, palm trees, colorful coral reefs and scattered huts. This nature lover’s paradise is well known for its fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving. The most popular dive site is down to the wreck of a World War I battleship. End your day of diving or playing in the waves with some delicious lobster, the island’s specialty. Feel inclined to make friends with the local fishermen and go with them during the day to catch your own fresh catch dinner.
As you can see, Chile offers a variety of things to do that will satisfy all kinds of travelers, no matter the age. Whether you are looking for stunning landscapes, adrenaline adventures, cultural activities, or culinary experiences, Chile has it all. No matter what activities you decide to indulge in, it will be a guaranteed unforgettable experience. Let Acanela take the stress of planning off of you and start your Chilean adventure with them today!
Post written by: Kirsten Cusack, @kirqsak