Torres del Paine National Park

Places to visit in Bio Bio and Ñuble Regions

A view of Concepcion, the regional capital

The Bio Bio Region, often called by its ancient designation of "Octava Region" (Eighth region of Chile) has an area of 23,890 km² and a population of just over 2,100,000 people, its name comes from the river that crosses the region. The regional capital is Concepcion, the largest of Southern Chile and second largest in the country. The population of Greater Concepcion, including Talcahuano and other adjacent communes reaches nearly a million inhabitants. 
Bio Bio is an industrial region, especially as it relates to forestry and derivatives, agribusiness, iron and steel production, oil refinery, small-scale fishing, tourism industry. The educational area also has a good level of development because in Concepcion are concentrated many Professional Institutes and Universities either private or state-backed, of great importance nationwide. In addition, this region, located on average about 500 km. South of Santiago, is also prolific in natural beauty and attractions.

The arrival can be from Santiago or other important Chilean cities through the different Bus Lines that connect with the region, this is the most traditional means of transportation, since a large part of the country´s terminals have connection with Biobio.  By plane, to Carriel Sur International Airport, located in the commune of Talcahuano.

Important Update: In September 2018 was created the new Ñuble Region, which until then was part of Bio Bio. Its population is 480,000 inhabitants and the capital is the city of Chillan. Here is a list of places to visit in Bio Bio and Ñuble Regions.

Cathedral of Concepcion

City of Concepcion, Chile, Main Square and surroundings
Concepcion's Main Square and surroundings           
Just in front of the Plaza de la Independencia, the city's historical and cultural heart. Built between 1940 and 1950, it was officially handed over in 1964 thus replacing the original building destroyed by a major earthquake in 1939, known as the "Chillan earthquake", which left 30,000 dead. Inside the Temple is located the Museo de Arte Sagrado (Sacred Art Museum), an artistic and historical collection. The Catholic sanctuary is a tourist place worth visiting. 

Ironclad Huascar

Ironclad "Huascar", Port of Talcahuano.
Monitor Huascar - Image:                   
Historical battleship of the nineteenth century, currently restored and converted into a floating museum anchored in the port of Talcahuano, Chile's main Naval Base. More than once this true relic has caused controversy between Chile and Peru. Built by British shipyards in 1863, the Monitor Huascar was the flagship of the Peruvian Navy during the War of the Pacific. After the Naval Battle of Iquique, where the Huascar faced and sank the Chilean corvette Esmeralda, it was captured by Chile in the Battle of Angamos, October 8, 1879. In this combat died the Peruvian Admiral Miguel Grau, the greatest Peruvian naval hero.   

The Huascar, is one of the oldest floating museums of the world and more than a trophy of war, it is a symbol of brotherhood, it has been defined by the Chilean Navy as a "floating shrine of the naval glories of Chile and Peru". After suffering the ravages of the tsunami that struck Chile on February 27, 2010 which moved the ship about 30 meters from its original position, the monitor Huáscar was soon returned to its place of anchorage in the port of Talcahuano, one of the most affected by waves.  In 1995, the World Ship Trust awarded the Chilean Navy with the "Maritime Heritage Award" for the excellent restoration of the "Huascar" and the invaluable historical testimony that this work represents for Chile and Peru.
Visiting Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 to 12:30 hrs. and from 13:30 to 19:30 hrs.


Museums in Concepcion

Museo de Historia Natural, address: 2359 Maipu St., Plaza Acevedo. Founded in 1902 by the British naturalist Edwin Reed Brookman, the small gallery shows part of the geographic history of the Bio Bio Region, Chile and South America. The permanent exhibition is divided into several sections such as Los Coleccionistas; Espacio Regional; El Mundo de los Fosiles, with samples of specimens from around 65 million years ago; Presencia del Carbon (Presence of Coal): the geological history of this mineral and what it represented for the region in human terms and for the economy; objects of the ancestral Mapuche and Selknam cultures.
Casa del Arte, pictorial and art gallery located in the campus of the Universidad de Concepcion, in front of the Plaza Peru, city of Concepcion. The largest collection of Chilean paintings in the country, with more than 2,500 works, covering almost all of its periods. At the entrance, the mural Presencia de America Latina, painted in 1964 by Mexican muralist Jorge González Camarena, is imposing.
Galeria de la Historia, address: Parque Ecuador, on the slopes of Cerro Caracol. The illustrative exhibition displays various historical aspects of Concepcion sculpted in miniatures along with audio and legends that enliven the tour. It also includes exhibitions of handicrafts, silverware, instruments, clothing and utensils of the native Mapuche culture.  You will also be able to see the collection with the best pieces of regional ceramics, donated by Gloria Herrera. The regional ceramic industry had a great apogee during the 20th century. 
Museo de Arte Religioso, religious art museum next to the city's cathedral. Founded in 1995, the exhibition comprises about 600 pieces of history, art, and religious tradition of the city and Archdiocese. You can see ancient liturgical vestments, bibles from different periods and languages, valuable objects such as an ivory Christ with silver inlay donated by King Felipe II to the old cathedral, paintings, photographs, books, furniture and commemorative objects of the visit of Pope John Paul II to the city in 1987.
Museo Geologico Profesor Lajos Biro Bagoczky, geological museum belonging to the Universidad de Concepcion. The gallery displays more than 30,000 pieces of minerals, petrified logs, fossils and rocks, some of them dating back millions of years. Online Tour Here.

Isla Mocha (Mocha Island)

Located 35 km. from the coast facing the border of the Regions of Biobio and La Araucania. Discovered in 1550, it has 14 km. long and an average of 6 km. wide, its central part covered by a lush forest. The island was a refuge for English and Dutch corsairs such as Sir Francis Drake, Olivier van Noort and Joris van Spilbergen. Many ships sank around its shores in ancient times, some of them laden with treasures.  

Its main attraction is  Reserva Nacional Isla Mocha, managed by CONAF (National Forest Corporation).  The main tourist activities are guided trekking circuits with varying degrees of difficulty; horseback riding, horse cart rides, mountain biking, diving, exploring the shipwrecks around the island, birdwatching, observation of the abundant sea life, especially the spectacular sea lions colonies.  You can also practice water sports like windsurfing and sport fishing.

Salto del Laja (Laja River Falls)

Saltos del Laja Falls, Chile
Salto del Laja Falls                                            
One of the great tourist attractions of the Bio Bio Region. Situated between the Chilean cities of Los Angeles and Chillan, taking a small detour on Ruta 5 Sur (Panamerican Highway), 479 km. south of the capital Santiago. The waterfalls are made up of four magnificent cascades, between 40 and 55 mts. in height. Although not with the same volume of water as before due to the current climate change, this is a must stop when one makes a trip to this part of southern Chile. There is a wide range of tourist services in the surroundings to cater to visitors. 

Balneario de Dichato (Dichato Beach) 

Small town of just over 3,000 inhabitants located in the commune of Tomé, 37 km. N. of Concepcion, whose infrastructure was badly damaged by the tsunami of February 27, 2010, Today it has resumed its normal life and the authorities have placed special emphasis on recovering the tourist flow the town always had. Its bay has the shape of a huge semicircle, of white sand and calm waters. During the Summer there is a wide range of entertainments including a major Music Festival, besides the gentle surf of its sheltered bay allows a safe practice of all kinds of water sports. The offer of Hotels and services is wide and available year round.

In the commune of Tomé there are also several other beaches of great natural beauty such as Playa Bellavista, (2 km. away from the main square), Playa El Morro, (the closest to the town), Pingueral, in an exclusive seaside residential area, with a varied tourist offer, situated 2 km. from Dichato, Playa Pudá, beautiful beach about 6 km. from Dichato, of great extent, this place is known for its strong waves, yellow sand and clear waters, not suitable for swimming but ideal for recreational shore fishing, photography and relaxing walks; Playa Punta de Parra, located 7 km. S. of the city of Tomé, a small paradise to relax, provided with a beautiful natural setting, has an area where the trees grow naturally, a restaurant, picnic area and hiking trails in the forest.

San Pedro de La Paz

Commune with a great tourist potential based on ecotourism, with lagoons suitable for sports tourism, gastronomic offer, bird watching, hiking, religious tourism, etc. Its location is Southwest of the Bio Bio River, with a population of around 150,000 inhabitants. Among its attractions stand out the Puente Ferroviario (Railway Bridge), built in 1889 to connect the city of Concepción with the coal mines in Lota and the port of Coronel, Laguna Grande, small lake of glacial origin, of low depth. Not suitable for swimming but where you can practice water sports such as sailing, rowing and kayaking, members of the local Rowing Club have achieved important triumphs even internationally; Laguna Chica, around this lagoon there are beaches such as the Balneario Municipal, Sports Centers of both public and private character and nautical clubs; Amphitheater of San Pedro de la Paz, next to the Cultural Center, in a privileged environment, where live shows are performed; Mouth of the Bio Bio River, the largest watercourse in the region and the second longest in Chile.

Laguna Llacolén

With its serene ambiance and abundant wildlife, Laguna Llacolén is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Concepción. Llacolén, or Laguna Chica, is a picturesque freshwater lagoon in Concepción, nestled amidst lush greenery and surrounded by rolling hills, this natural gem offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city life. 

Visitors can indulge in various recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, and fishing in the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon. The scenic walking trails around the lagoon provide breathtaking views and are perfect for leisurely strolls or picnics. It should be noted that Laguna Llacolén has been the location where many of the nautical competitions of the 2023 Pan American Games held in Chile have taken place. 

City of Chillan

City of Chillan, Chile.
City of Chillan, capital of Ñuble Region - Image:
     Chillan, located 403 km. South of Santiago, it is the capital of the Ñuble Region. Its population is close to 200,000 inhabitants. The city, birthplace of the Father of the Nation Bernardo O'Higgins, is a strategic point to set out on a journey  through many tourist attractions in the South of Chile

But the city and surroundings have their own interesting sites for the visitor such as the Cathedral, the main postcard of the city, located next to the main Square, built after the violent earthquake of 1939. With arches of more than 20 meters and a 39 meter-high Monumental Cross. The Claudio Arrau Museum, address: 558, Claudio Arrau st., a cultural site dedicated to the life and works of the famous pianist Claudio Arrau Leon, a native of this city and considered one of the main pianists of the 20th century.

Another museum to visit is located in 720 Andres Bello Ave., premises of the Bio Bio University. This is the Marta Colvin Museum, which was the National Prize of Art in 1970 and also a native if this city.  By prior appointment, the museum offers a library and guided visits to schools and cultural groups

The Museo Internacional de la Grafica, on the corner of O'Higgins Ave. and Vegas de Saldia, is a gallery dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of national and international Graphic Arts. It was created in 1997 by visual artist Hernando León, being the only Museum dedicated to Graphics in Chile, it has a collection of 450 works by European and Latin American authors from the second half of the 20th century onwards. 

The Mercado de Chillan, address: 773, Maipon st.,it is a must for any tourist, wide, varied, safe and clean place, in the center of the city, where you can find a great variety of vegetables, fruits, fish, seafood and the famous Longaniza de Chillan, (spicy, long pork sausage), an appetising and characteristic product of this part of Chile. Crossing a narrow street, we visit the Feria Artesanal de Chillan or Feria de la Plaza Sargento Aldea, with thousands of typical products from the Chilean countryside, from this region and from others in the country. It is the right place to choose a souvenir, either in wicker, wood, leather, ceramics, warm handmade ponchos, and more.

Nevados de Chillan 

Hotel Alto Nevados, Ñuble Region, Chile.
Hotel Alto Nevados                                         
Mountain Resort and Thermal Spa, important tourist center located in the Andean foothills of Ñuble Region, 82 km. from Chillan and 194 km. from Concepcion, open all year round. 

There are fun daily activities for all ages and relaxation in Summer and especially Winter, when its ski slopes, considered among the best in South America are in operation. This mountain resort, projected to become one of the largest in South America in the short term, currently consists of 2 Hotels: Hotel Nevados and Hotel Alto Nevados, this latter in the middle of the Nevados de Chillan Ski Center. There are two Winter Sports Centers, Nevados and Valle Hermoso, 11 ski lifts, 6 cafeterias, 3 spas, a large Bike Park and 8 pools with thermal waters in different places.


Salto del Itata   

Itata River Falls - Region of Bio Bio, Chile
Itata River Falls                                                 
It is a 75 mts. lovely natural cascade belonging to the Itata River, hitherto little known but whose landscape keeps the typical beauty of the rural landscape of Southern Chile. It is located 18 km. from the town of Yungay, Province of Ñuble, Region of Bio Bio. The place is open all year round and is suitable for hiking, swimming, photography. You can appreciate its abundant vegetation with native trees, shrubs and wild flowers surrounding the place. Following the course of the river Itata you will also see the Saltillo del Itata, a cascade of much lower height but in an equally charming location, where a natural pond is formed, with abundance of native vegetation, picnic area, camping and good fishing.  

Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja

Laguna del Laja National Park, of 11,600 hectares, is located in the Andean foothills of the  Biobio Region, Commune of Antuco, 93 Km. from the city of Los Angeles and very close to the border with Argentina. The nature of southern Chile is wonderful and this park is no exception, inside there are several pathways you can walk to enjoy the scenery. The main activities are sport fishing, climbing, trekking, wildlife observation. Within its boundaries lies the Laguna del Laja, the country's largest natural dam and which was formed thousands of years ago by the eruption of the neighboring Volcan Antuco, another attraction of the park. The Antuco Volcano dates back some 10,000 years, being one of the best known in Chile. On the foothills of this volcano is  located the Memorial with the names of the 45 Chilean Army conscripts died as a result of a snowstorm in May 2005, during a military exercise. Close by is situated the Sierra Velluda stratovolcano, a lesser known name but even more imposing than Volcan Antuco, this mountain has two main summits, whose 3,585 meters northern peak is the highest mountain in the region. 

Another attraction of this National Park is the Rio Laja, which is born in the homonymous lake and after traveling 148 kilometers westward gives rise to the famous Salto del Rio Laja. In the vicinity of Laguna del Laja National Park, 25 km. East of Antuco are also located El Velo de la Novia and Salto Trubunleo, lovely cascades of considerable height that form a gentle mist, at a distance of about 100 mts. from each other.

Lago Lanalhue

Lanalhue, or "Place of lost Souls" in the native Mapudungun language, is a small 32 km2 lake between the towns of Cañete and Contulmo, on the western slope of the Nahuelbuta Range. in the Province of Arauco, Biobío Region. There is good infrastructure of tourist services to enjoy the place.
It is surrounded by native Coihues and Mañíos forests, where you can enjoy nature, water sports, go hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and observe the birdlife, abundant in Black-Necked Swans that a few years ago moved to these waters to make them their home.

It is also worth mentioning the Valle de Elicura (Elicura Valley) near Contulmo, with a large number of Mapuche communities, called Lafkenche ("people from the coast"). Many of these communities have opened their doors to tourism, with the possibility of knowing their Rukas (typical Mapuche houses), tasting their gastronomy or listening to their legends.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Due to the successive acts of violence that have occurred, which have affected tourist facilities in the area, visiting these places is not recommended at least for the time being. However, the Government and the National Defense Command have initiated a plan to guarantee security conditions in the province of Arauco during the summer 2023-2024, which includes Lake Lanalhue, located between the municipalities of Cañete and Contulmo. 

Laguna El Barco (El Barco Lake) 

Located 175 km. of the city of Los Angeles and 5 hours from Concepcion by car. It is a small lake, 200 hectares of surface in a very little polluted area of the Andes Mountains, between Callaqui and Copahue volcanoes with a nice place for camping amidst forests and mountains. There are nearby roads to walk and go around Laguna la Mula and Callaqui Volcano at Reserva Nacional Ralco. Its name "El Barco" (The Boat), comes from the formation in the middle of the mass of water that seen from the height gives the impression of being a small boat that moves on the lake. Adventurers who reach these remote place will be rewarded by the transparent waters of the lake, the abundance of fish and a landscape so pristine that thrills.

Reserva Nacional Ñuble

Ñuble National Reserve is one of the most biodiverse Protected Wild Areas in the country, located between the communes of Pinto and Antuco. The Reserve, created in 1978, covers an area of more than 70,000 hectares and especially protects the Huemul, a type of deer native to Chile and Argentina. The fauna also includes Pumas, Vizcachas, Condors, Black Carpenters, Black- Necked Swans, etc. The vegetation is formed by the shrub known as Radal Enano, Hazel Trees, Coigües, Lleuques and Cypress of the Mountain Range.

The Reserve, open to visitors from September through April, has several extensive trails, picnic and camping areas, lookouts, horse rentals and thermal waters.  To get to the protected area, you can take Route 5 south to Chillan and then follow Route N-55 to San Fabian de Alico. From there, take the road that goes East, following the signs that indicate the entrance to the natural reserve. Access is difficult and requires 4WD vehicles.