Stretching from dry, dusty desert to ice-cold glaciers, this 4,270-kilometre (2,653-mile) long, thin country boasts plenty of outstandingly beautiful places. Becoming more and more attractive to travelers, this country has been on adventure travelers’ bucket lists for years. Discover the best places to visit in Chile in 2021.
Places to Visit in Chile – Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chile
Valle de la Luna and the Atacama Desert
Valle de la Luna, which literally translates as “Valley of the Moon,” lies 13 kilometers west of San Pedro de Atacama at the north end of the country, near its border with Bolivia, and can be accessed via well-marked bike trails, tour buses, or self-drive car rentals.
This rugged, inhospitable looking landscape in the heart of the Atacama Desert attracts many visitors for its eerie resemblance to the surface of the moon, an effect caused by the erosion of its sand and stone features by wind and water over countless millennia. Despite its remoteness, though, this surprisingly beautiful landscape has sustained life for centuries, both human as well as that of numerous species of flora and fauna.
Among its most interesting features are its dry lake beds-this is, after all, one of the driest places on the planet-which are dazzlingly white due to deposited salt, and prone to producing fascinating natural saline outcrops.
Other notable features of the Atacama Desert are the region’s many caverns, some containing evidence of pictographs created by early man and where some of the world’s oldest mummies, preserved by the area’s aridity, were found. The most famous of these, the Chinchorro mummies, are now on display at the archaeological museum in San Miguel de Azapa.
Santiago: Chile’s Cultural Capital
Santiago is not only the financial and business capital of Chile, it also serves as the country’s cultural and entertainment center and is home to endless fun things to do, including visiting its best museums and galleries, along with excellent shopping, dining, and hotel options.
Centrally located and the country’s main transportation hub, Santiago is where most visitors begin their Chilean travels before heading to the Andes or other areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as Easter Island. The smartest travelers, though, will allow time in their Chile travel itinerary to get to know Santiago.
The Chilean Lake District
Stretching for more than 330 kilometers from Temuco to Puerto Montt and resembling the alpine regions of Europe, the Chilean Lake District (Zona Sur) is well worth exploring. Like its alpine cousin, this beautiful region of the Andean foothills boasts rich farmland at the base of its many snowcapped volcanoes, ringed by thick forests and the kind of deep lakes that water sports enthusiasts drool over.
And the connection to Europe doesn’t end here. After the forced resettlement of the region’s indigenous people, the Mapuche, farmers from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany arrived, bringing with them aspects of their own culture that can still be seen in the architecture of towns like Osorno and Valdivia, as well as in the region’s customs and festivals.
Embark on a road trip or a journey by bicycle along this famous route, stopping at the marvelous marble caves that can be found on the General Carrera Lake. As you whizz over the glacial lakes by boat towards the caves, you will notice the incredible tranquillity. These stunning natural caves really are photogenic, with the swirling patterns of the caves’ walls standing out against the azure blue lake.
This is the island of magic, where moai statues are there to protect you. Discover the enchanting history and the traditions of Rapa Nui, lounge on the pristine white beaches and bathe in the warm, crystal-clear sea, where you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.
Lauca National Park
Located near to the border with Peru and Bolivia are the snowcapped, rumbling volcanoes Pomerape and Parinacota. The park is rich with flora and fauna as well as grazing wildlife. You can spot flamingoes, llamas, rheas and alpacas mincing around this spectacular park.