South America

Where to go in Chile?

Laura Pattara

Laura Pattara  |  31 January 2018

A country of many faces, Chile is one of the most distinctive and diverse destinations in all of South America, offering something to captivate everyone who visits.

Named the top travel destination in 2018 by Lonely Planet just a few months ago, Chile has been enjoying an immense surge in popularity among discerning travellers and it’s certainly not difficult to see why that would be. Small, captivating and offering an eclectic mix of attractions, Chile is one of Latin America’s most avant-garde and modern destinations, with an ease of travel and high quality of infrastructure that makes touring the country rewarding and hassle-free. A wealth of stellar sights and sites, all easily reached from its vibrant and captivating capital, Santiago.

So take your time exploring Chile and find your favourite side of the country. Whether you’re into pristine, awe-inspiring nature, superb gastronomic delights or vibrant cities brimming with culture and history, this is really a country of many faces.  Come discover YOUR favourite side of Chile and finally see what so many have been saying for years: this is one of the most rewarding travel destinations in the world!

Chile dessert

Chile for the nature lover

Chile may be renowned as a gourmet traveller and active explorer’s dream destination, yet behind all its most celebrated traits lies the fact that this is a country which, more than anything else, boasts unparalleled pristine nature. Nestled between the high Andean mountains and the Pacific, this narrow yet extensively long country boasts an impressive array of distinctive landscapes: from the arid contours of the marvellously arid Atacama Desert, through the luscious wine-producing valleys of the centre and spellbinding delights of its frigid Patagonian south, highlighted by the wildlife-enriched Torres del Paine National Park and the glistening and imposing fjords of its southernmost reaches. All up, Chile is home to  36 national parks which, combined, cover a mind-boggling area of over nine million hectares. The most rewarding aspect of exploring Chile’s natural highlights is that, even at the height of its tourist season, parks are still uncrowded. This is still one of South America’s hidden treasures, one of the least visited but, in many ways, most enjoyable destination. So come discover it now…before the rest of the world descends.

Torres del Paine National Park Chile

Chile for the history and culture buff

A city of great cuisine, world-class wines and gorgeous architecture, Santiago is both a brilliant springboard and fabulous cityscape destination of its own accord. The country’s capital does a mighty fine job of introducing the best of Chile to first-time visitors and is, without doubt, the best place to explore at length if culture and history get your juices flowing. Santiago rivals Buenos Aires in its culinary offerings, has a wicked nightlife to entice even the most diurnal of visitors and enough splendid museums, churches and colonial mansions to keep sightseers busy for days. Plus, it’s a stunner no matter which way you see it. If you’re a fan of famed poet Pablo Neruda, you can visit three of his houses in Chile, with La Sebastaiana (in Valparaiso) being the most memorable. UNESCO-listed Valparaiso actually boasts glorious colonial architecture and there are plenty of highlights to keep you busy for a day of sightseeing, including the beautiful Lutheran Church of Santa Cruz. Over on Easter Island, arguably the most enigmatic destination in the whole country, Chilean culture and history shine resplendent. Oversized hand-carved Maoi statues have captivated the world for centuries and this UNESCO-listed site is a must for those who wish for even more cultural diversity on their journey. Ancient ruins and museums combine with the island’s natural highlights to make this a very comprehensive, rewarding and unique destination to add to your itinerary.

Santiago Chile

Chile for the gastronomic indulger

We’re certainly not opposed to a little culinary feasting on our travels through Chile and we’d even go as far as to rate ‘eating and drinking your way through the country’ a bona fide mission to tackle. The cuisine throughout the country, and especially in its capital, Santiago, are world-class, with high-grade ingredients granting regional favourites like asado, empanadas and alfajores, also found in neighbouring countries, an almost unfair advantage. Street food is better here too and the country’s diversity in landscapes and cultural influences have also created more varied regional specialties. In the south, ancient Mapuche delicacies are making a comeback and, alongside traditional German fare brought by immigrants who arrived in droves at the turn of the last century, combine to offer the curious feaster a wealth of options. Fantastic seafood on the coast, hearty BBQs in the mountains and amazing breads and pastries are now found all over the country. As far as wine is concerned, it’s fair to say Chile needs very little introduction. One of the world’s foremost wine growing producers in the world, the country wears its badge with much pride, offering over a dozen separate wine regions, some just an hour outside of the capital city. Revered for producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir and a healthy number of Bordeaux blends (among many others) Chile attracts wine lovers from all over the world.

Because exploring Chile through your taste buds is nothing short of extraordinary!

Food South America Travel

Chile for the active explorer

If you don’t consider culinary feasting ‘active enough’ then you’d be happy to learn that Chile can get your pulses racing in a myriad of ways. The very distinct landscapes in the country have created a maze you could hike, bike, raft and horseback ride for an entire lifetime. Whether you’re after a multi-day adventure in search of waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and Alpine lakes, or wish to stretch your legs on a moderate trail close to Santiago, you’ll find a hiking route that’s just right for you. Torres del Paine is the unsurprising #1 hiking destination in the country, a park that offers tentative beginners and full-on explorers equal options. Pucon offers you the chance to climb an active volcano with its postcard-perfect Villarica standing guard nearby and the northern Atacama Desert, with its lunar landscapes and startling gorges, offers yet again a multitude of trails. Closer to Santiago, you can set off to explore the  Maipo Canyon, brimming with towering snowy peaks, sapphire lakes and a wealth of wildlife, along with the glorious Morado Glacier. Even the San Cristobal Mountain, on the outskirts of the capital, offers a splendid hiking ‘experience’ for young and old alike and the views, from the top, are certainly worthy of a little exertion. Yet hikers aren’t the only ones who can get a real kick out of Chile. The reason this country is rated as one of the best destination for active explorers is that, within its relatively diminutive borders, you can indeed hike active volcanoes and some of the world’s highest mountains, white water raft down some of its best rated rivers, mountain bike through pristine forests, horseback ride through sensational landscapes and, above all that, ski, snow board and toboggan in the best ski fields in the whole continent.

Not happy just sitting back, soaking up the views? Don’t worry…discover YOUR favourite side of Chile and sitting can be the very last thing you’ll do!

Active explorer Chile

Ready to pack your bags and come discover YOUR favourite side of Chile? At VivaExpeditions, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Chile tours to reflect the diversity of the country and we’d love nothing more than to combine that with YOUR favourite things to see, do, taste and experience. So tell us what you love, what your dream about and what you wish for your visit to Chile….and we’ll make it happen. Contact us for more on Chile and all other Latin America destinations.

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