It’s one of the world’s longest countries, at over 2600 miles from north to south. Chile hosts some of the most beautiful geographical diversity, and is also one of the largest wine exporters. The country has plenty of accolades to its name, which can also make it overwhelming to the first-time visitor. So I wanted to share some of my favorite highlights, chosen from my own travels and themed around some of the best aspects of this South American gem.
5 AMAZING TRAVEL EXPERIENCES IN CHILE
#1: CHILE’S CENTRAL COAST FOR STUNNING BEACHES
The Pacific Coast to the West defines this country just as much as the Andes Mountains.
Although places like Valparaiso and Vina del Mar frequently take front and center in the minds of travelers, I’d urge you to rent a car and explore the nearby beach destinations. Zapallar is a stylish town, borrowing a vibe similar to those in several upscale California towns lining the PCH. But most likely, you’ll find yourself in down-to-earth beaches with small cafes, and humble Chilean restaurants.
There is also an ever-present surf culture, none more apparent than in Pichilemu. For those keen on the sport, you’ll be happy to know that the city hosts the Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos at the iconic left hand point break at Punta de Lobos.
#2: CASABLANCA, COLCHAGUA & MAIPO VALLEYS FOR CHILE’S BEST WINES
Any traveler on a budget will appreciate the fantastic quality-to-value ratio that Chilean wines offer. To get the most out of your time in exploring the wine regions, I’d encourage you to adopt a slower pace to take in the wineries and the history behind some unique grape varietals (such as the ubiquitous Carmenere). You should also allow yourself time to appreciate the setting itself — the vineyard-clad hills carpeting vast acres of land in front of you.
Below are some select wine tours that believe in the take-it-slow philosophy, allowing you the right pace to explore everything Chile’s wine regions have to offer.
#3: patagonia for chile’s best landscapes
This large swath of land encompasses Argentina as well, and boasts several national parks that could each vie for the title of best in country.
Guanacos are the most popular species, and you can count on seeing a line of them making their plaintive steps down the hills, sinking their long heads into the earth to find their meal for the day. Other animals such as the powerful puma and the endangered vicuna also call Patagonia home, roaming within a natural arena of snow-covered mountains, colossal glaciers, and imposing trees.
I suggest doing some research on the popular destinations within Chilean Patagonia, of which there are numerous. Based on that, map out an itinerary that will help you cover your points of interest in a reasonable amount of time. Keep in mind that the changing patterns of the seasons and daily weather can put a wrench in any well-laid plans, so be as flexible as possible.
#4: atacama desert to visit another world
It’s no coincidence that the Atacama Desert is one referred to as “Mars on Earth”, even prompting NASA and robotics researchers to use it as a testing ground for space rovers. This is one of the world’s driest places in the world, receiving little rainfall each year.
I recall being astounded at the diversity of the region, at every turn, around every bend, was a breathtaking experience. The desert is famous for its lagunas, hot springs and geysers. But I also noted its tranquility and sanctity, quickly getting accustomed to the silence of this stunning place.
Due to its lack of proximity to the large Chilean cities, many of the world’s leading observatories are based here (the most famous being ALMA). This means that you can choose from several astronomy tours, gazing up at a glittering sky where starlight goes unchallenged.
#5: VALPARAISO FOR ITS BOHEMIAN CULTURE
Often referred to as the street art capital of the country, Valparaiso has mesmerized Chile’s visitors for ages. Its grit only adds to its charm, along with its windy hills (cerros) that provide the bohemian backdrop of this city by the sea.
Easily accessible from Santiago, every visitor should prioritize spending 2-3 days here, soaking in the food, vistas and of course, all the street art. Join a free walking tour, chat up the locals and lose yourself in the beautiful labyrinth.
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