Torres del Paine National Park

The beauty of Southern Chile

Tourist attractions in southern Chile.
A view of Puerto Varas with Llanquihue Lake and Osorno Volcano as a backdrop  

The term "Southern Chile" refers to the territory immediately north of Patagonia, not the southernmost part of the country. It includes the regions of Biobio, Araucania, Los Rios and Los Lagos. The wealth of natural landscapes that Southern Chile has to offer, combined with good road and air connections, make it one of the most visited areas of the country. 

Every year, hundreds of thousands of national and foreign tourists enliven the streets of cities, small towns and places of interest such as Lago Villarrica and Pucon, Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, Valdivia (The City of Rivers), as well as the Biobio region, the beautiful Chiloe Island, with its mild landscapes, traditions and tasty cuisine. Chiloe Island is also a place full of history, as it was the last bastion of the Spanish crown in Chile during the nineteenth century.

The south of Chile is a land of volcanoes, with snow-capped peaks that provide a beautiful backdrop to the landscape, idyllic lakes to enjoy in the summer, numerous rivers to delight anglers and adventure travelers, mountain resorts whose slopes are transformed into world-class ski fields in the winter, and more. 

In this part of the country, many traditions are still preserved from the many German settlers who arrived in the 19th century, whose influence is especially reflected in the architecture and typical local cuisine. Below is a list of the best places to visit in southern Chile.



Places to visit in the South of Chile:


City of Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is the capital of the Region de Los Lagos ("Region of the Lakes"), also known as the Tenth Region of Chile. It serves as the primary gateway for tourists exploring the southern region of Chile, leading them to a multitude of captivating sites and attractions in the area. 

Puerto Montt is located 1,033 km. South of Santiago, on the shores of the Seno de Reloncavi (Reloncavi Sound) and its population is of 220,000 inhabitants, the estimated population of the Region de Los Lagos is reaching nearly 1 million. The city's airport "El Tepual" and the bus terminal are the main points of arrival of passengers in southern Chile.

Resort town of Pucon and Villarrica Lake 

Image: voces.latercera.com
The most important lake resort and one of the favorite tourist destinations in Chile. Pucon and Puerto Varas, small yet vibrant cities, are hailed as the true "capitals" of tourism in this enchanting region of the country.  

Pucon is a commune in the Ninth Region of La Araucania, 780 km. South of Santiago and 100 km. Southeast of Temuco. Like in all Southern Chile, summer temperatures are mild rather than high. In the off- season, Pucón is a small town with a population of about 25,000, but during the high season, the population easily doubles due to tourism. Situated in close proximity are other charming tourist destinations, including Villarrica and Licanray.

Pucon has everything a visitor needs to relax and have fun. The infrastructure to serve the tourist is highly qualified ranging from an important Casino belonging to the Enjoy chain through Hotels, Spas, National Parks and Natural Reserves where excursions take place in places of stunning scenic beauty. The town is located on the Eastern shore of Lago Villarrica (Lake Villarrica) and one of the favorite activities is to go swimming and sunbathing to Playa Grande. The active Volcan Villarrica, with an elevation of 2,860 mts. above sea level gives a beautiful backdrop to the region, and in spite of being the most active in South America, every year it attracts hundreds of mountaineers and adventurers to climb its crater.


Also worth mentioning are: Centro de Montaña Pillan (former Pucon Ski Center) on the slopes of Volcan Villarrica, one of the most emerging in Chile; the numerous Thermal Centers, many equipped with good tourist infrastructure such as Termas de Menetue, Termas de Vergara, Termas Geometricas, Termas del Rincon, Trancura, Termas de San Luis, Palguin, Ancamil, Coñaripe, etc. Lago Caburgua, located 23 km. NE of Pucon, with its two beaches, famous because of the beauty that surrounds the lake and also for being the Summer residence of personalities including Presidents; tour to Los Ojos del Caburgua (The Eyes of the Caburgua Lake), a beautiful natural basin located 15 km. of Pucon, formed by small cascades of 15- 20 mts. from an undercurrent of Lago Caburgua. Villarrica National Park, 12 km. of Pucon, 63,000 Hs. surface area, with Araucaria forests, a typical tree of the region, Lengas and many other species, several hiking trails cross its wooded landscapes.

In keeping with its reputation for beautiful watercourses,  another ideal place to take pictures is Salto El Leon, one of several waterfalls in this part of Chile. It is an impressive 95-meter cascade located in Palguin Alto, about 30 km from Pucon. Salto El Leon is one of the most popular natural attractions in the area, providing a spectacular view and an environment surrounded by native forest. The waterfall can be accessed by a 300-meter trail from the reception, where you can also reserve your wooden hot tub with a view of the waterfall.

Centro de Montaña Pillan 

Pillan Mountain Center (formerly Pucon Ski Center) is an ideal place for skiing, nature and adventure lovers, as well as for those who love the culture of southern Chile. Located at the foot of the Villarrica Volcano and within the Villarrica National Park, this center offers various outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, kayaking, rafting and the main one, skiing. There are equipped cabins, a restaurant, a games room and a heated swimming pool. In addition, guided excursions are organized through the beautiful landscapes of the area, visiting other volcanoes, beautiful lakes, forests and hot springs.

The local fauna is abundant, from Coypus and Foxes to Pumas, including black-necked Swans, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers, Peregrine Falcons, Hawks, Pudues, Chillas, etc. Another protected wildlife area, located 35 Km. of Pucon is Parque Nacional Huerquehue, a former National Park of 12,500 hectares, in an area of outstanding natural beauty near Caburgua Lake in La Araucania Region, also known as the IXth. Region of Chile. Amidst great forests of native tree species especially Araucarias there are 17 beautiful lakes, among the best known are Lago Toro, Escondido, Tinquilco, Verde. Its main trekking trails are Los Lagos, Quinchol, Los Huerquenes, San Sebastian and Ñirrico.
 

Archipelago of Chiloe

One of the emblematic places for sightseeing in Chile is the Isla Grande de Chiloe and adjacent islands. Its soft landscapes, particular traditions, legends, folklore and gastronomy make it one of the favorite places to visit. Here you can find more information on Chiloe.

City of Valdivia and Huilo Huilo Reserve

A night view of Valdivia, city of Chile.
Night view of "The City of Rivers" - Pixabay
Valdivia, also known as "The city of Rivers", is the capital of Los Rios Region. It is situated 848 km south of Santiago, the Chilean capital. Founded in   1552, Valdivia holds the title of being the fourth oldest Chilean city

Because of its many qualities, on more than one occasion, Valdivia has been chosen as the best place to live in Chile. One of its features are the beautiful rivers that surround it, on various occasions Valdivia has been compared to the city of Venice. Another characteristic of this area of southern Chile is the strong presence of German colonization, in all fields: dairy industry, sausage and beer production, agriculture, livestock, naval industry, architecture, etc., including some traditions and discipline of its people. Read more on Valdivia... 

Separate chapter for another unmissable tourist landmark in the South of Chile, so we invite you to read information about an extraordinary natural protected area, in the middle of the southern Andes:   Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.



Puerto Varas

Tourist town known as "The city of Roses", located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, 20 Km. N. of Puerto Montt, very well prepared to serve the needs of the visitors, including a world-class Casino, Hotels, Restaurants and services. The village, today with a population of just over 30,000 inhabitants, was born from the settlement of German colonists arrived in the second half of the 19th century, whose influence in all fields is reflected to this day. Although Volcan Osorno is located 59 km. away, the mountain along with Lago Llanquihue provide a magnificent setting, worthy of a postcard.

Frutillar

A view of Hotel Frutillar in Frutillar Bajo.
A view of Hotel Frutillar in Frutillar Bajo
Charming lakeside town, of almost 17,000 inhabitants, located on the western shore of Lago Llanquihue, 42 km. North of Puerto Montt, facing the peaks of the Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador volcanoes. It was founded in 1856 by German colonists, whose descendants maintain their traditions, gastronomy, the architecture with gable roofs and where the festival "Semanas Musicales" is held at the end of January each year in the modern Teatro del Lago, official venue of the event since 2011.

The "Semanas Musicales de Frutillar", a Festival where the variety of melodies ranges from traditional Classical Music to different styles like Jazz, Chilean Folklore, etc. This presentation takes place every year between late January and early February at the "Teatro del Lago", with the performance of renowned national and international artists. 

In a green area of 3 hectares is located the "Museo Colonial Aleman", a complex of old style constructions that recalls the life of the German settlers who founded several towns around Lake Llanquihue. The construction of the German Colonial Museum began in 1972, the initiative was supported by the Government of Germany and the Municipality of Frutillar, with the technical assistance of the Universidad Austral de Chile.

Peulla

Image: hotelgranpacifico.cl
Picturesque village in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Eastern shore of Lake Todos Los Santos, 96 Km. NE of Puerto Montt. The place can be visited all year round, there is excellent infrastructure with food services and accommodation. Peulla and all its surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful and you can enjoy many different activities of eco-tourism as jet boat rides, sport fishing, horseback riding, canopy, mountain biking, trekking through the dense forest of the south. The nearest town is Petrohue, on the west side of the Todos los Santos Lake, another great center of tourist attraction in the South of Chile, Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales.

Saltos del Petrohue

Located 56 Km. from Puerto Varas, Saltos del Petrohue is a series of beautiful small cascades belonging to the Petrohue River, within a short distance of Todos los Santos Lake, at Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. The waterfalls and rapids of the river are due to rocks formed by hardened lava of the Osorno Volcano, eruptions occurred over 600 years ago. Visiting the place is a must since the cascades, as well as the volcano, Todos los Santos Lake and all the surroundings are tourist icons of southern Chile. The Osorno Volcano has also a Ski Center which offers a spectacular view of the area and during the summer provides programs appropriate to the season.


Valle de Cochamó

The Cochamo Valley, in the Los Lagos Region, is a nationally and internationally recognized destination for trekking, climbing and nature lovers. This valley attracts thousands of tourists every year due to its imposing granite walls, ancient forests and clear rivers. 

Among the activities available in the valley are climbing, trekking, swimming in the river, observing flora and fauna, and relaxing in a breathtaking landscape. The Cochamó Valley Nature Reserve protects primary temperate forests of great ecological importance, home to species such as the Pudú, Monito del Monte, Darwin's Frog, Puma, Güiña and Andean Condor, among others. 

The valley has been described as one of the best places to visit in Chile, especially for trekking and climbing enthusiasts. In addition, in 2023 the Cochamó Valley was declared a Nature Reserve, which contributes to the conservation of its ecosystem.

Cruise through the Southern Channels

Leaving from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in Patagonia (or vice versa). If you want to reach the southern Chilean Patagonia, instead of traveling by plane, you can navigate through the Patagonian fjords, enjoying its magnificent views and incredible fauna and flora. Go to Navimag Ferries.

Antillanca Mountain and Ski Center 

Antillanca ("Sun Jewell" in the ancestral Mapugundun language belonging to the Mapuche ethnic group), for decades has been a traditional ski center, located 98 Km. away from the city of Osorno, on the slopes of Casablanca Volcano, in one of the three areas that comprises Puyehue National Park: Aguas Calientes, Anticura and Antillanca. Its privileged location make it one of the ideal places for Adventure travel in Summer and practice of Winter Sports between June and October. A plus is the location of the hotel, next to the ski slopes, besides its ecological reserve on the shores of Puyehue Lake. The Winter Resort offers 14 pistes with different degrees of difficulty, from beginners to professionals and for all preferences and styles. Learn more about Antillanca

Valle Corralco Ski Center

Of recent creation, Valle Corralco Ski Center is considered one of the best Winter resorts in Chile. Located just over 700 km. South of Santiago and 120 km. East of Temuco, on the slopes of the Lonquimay Volcano, Malalcahuello- Nalcas Forest Reserve. 

It is well known that in the area of Lonquimay, snowfalls are heavy (in winter, a high percentage of precipitation falls in the form of snow, up to 2 meters), which give it a seldom seen snow quality and making Valle Corralco, -with 29 world-class pistes-, a spectacular Mountain and Ski Resort.

The 5 star Hotel and Spa was opened in 2013. The environment is amazing, surrounded by Araucaria and with a direct view of the volcano. Apart from its ski and snowboard circuits, there is also a full schedule of excursions in the beautiful National Reserve: trekking and mountain biking routes, horseback rides, recreational fishing programs, snowshoes, randonee and snowmobile.


Parque Nacional Conguillio

This true treasure of nature is located in the Araucania Region, also known as the Ninth Region of Chile, 148 km. Northeast of Temuco, the regional capital and 700 km. South of Santiago. With 608 km2, Conguillio National Park was created in 1950 and it is run by CONAF, the National Forest Corporation.  

It was formed by the union of 2 National Parks, Los Paraguas and Conguillio. The beauty of Conguillio, one of the most visited parks in Chile, lies in its lakes and lagoons, the Llaima stratovolcano, with an altitude of 3,195 meters, the dense native vegetation, highlighting the Araucaria or Pehuen, typical tree of this area of southern Chile, the mountain Cypress, Andean Canelo among others. The main trails are Sierra Nevada, Las Araucarias, Los Carpinteros,  Truful Truful, Laguna Captren, Laguna Arcoiris.

During the Summer season and until mid-Autumn, there is food sale, kayak, boat and cabins rental, open trails, camping and picnic areas.


Contact information:
parque.conguillio@conaf.cl 
reservas@sendasconguillio.cl 
Telephone number: 56 228406818

Comments

  1. Great research and review! I just found out that Chile is one of the safest countries in South America. I really want to visit the Isla Grande de Chiloe. When is the best time to visit?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chile Travel and NewsJanuary 27, 2023 at 1:42 AM

    The best time to visit and enjoy the Chiloe Archipelago is during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere, between December and March. At that time the best temperatures are reached, which always remain very mild.

    ReplyDelete

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