Things to do in Chile
Chile is a huge country and extends across plenty of cultural and geographical areas. The best plan for visiting, if you have a short amount of time, is to pick two areas you'd like to see and enjoy them in-depth. Our guide suggests the best things to do in Chile to help travelers discover authentic, local experiences.
Some of the best things to do in Chile include the great outdoors, no matter the season. In winter, hike through the ice fields and glaciers, go skiing in the Andes or bathe in the hot springs. See the mineral-streaked volcanoes of Parque Nacional Nevado de Tres Cruces and the turquoise waters of Laguna Verde. During warmer months, you can take a Jeep ride in the Atacama Desert, go sea kayaking and whitewater rafting, or even take a hot air balloon and drop in on a winery.
For city life experiences, Santiago’s monuments, museums, and restaurants are worth the trip. Visit Valparaíso with its meandering alleyways decorated by local street artists. The beach resort of Viña del Mar makes a relaxing spot to vacation in Chile. Check out the UFO Route, a mountainous strip within the southern Maule region where more than 100 UFO sightings have been reported since 1993.
Travel across the Magellan Strait to Tierra del Fuego and visit the unique flora and fauna in Easter Island and Isla Robinson Crusoe.
Everything from the jewelry to the jam to the paintings on the walls is made in Chile. Take home a 22-piece set of cypress-and-alerce (a prized South American spruce) spoons and forks, carved by two sisters from Chiloe Island. A downy baby-alpaca poncho comes from the north.
Chilean architect José Cruz Ovalle (a former sculptor) has created an elegantly sinuous pavilion of curved laminated wood to house the tasting room and production facilities of Viña Pérez Cruz, in the Malpo Alto Valley southeast of Santiago.
Built to resemble a typical Chilean country house, this oak-and-stone winery is already turning out award-winning wines—after only four vintages.
When fashion-savvy Santiagans want to buy locally, they head to Kebo, for Carla Godoy's flirty skirts and kimonos
Earthwatch Institute promises a “National Geographic moment” for volunteers on the Easter Island Culture expedition.
Steps from the café-lined Plaza Aníbal Pinto, expat owner James Henkel hosts frequent art exhibits and readings in his bookstore, specializing in Latin American politics, literature, and travel essays.
Culturally immersive itineraries in Africa, Asia, and Europe, among other places, are infused with the expertise of local staff such as Sangay Wangchuk, who has written a memoir about growing up in rural Bhutan.
The two-hour tour of the 136-year-old, 345-acre Viña Errázuriz begins among the garden's fountains and fragrant sweet peas, and climbs through the vineyards for an expansive view of the property.
Showcasing the work of more than 300 local artists, the Museo de Artes Visuales, or MAVI, serves as a center for Chilean contemporary art.
See relics of Chile's maritime heritage: there's a room dedicated to Bernardo O'Higgins, the principal leader in Chile's fight for independence, and founder of the navy; and sections of the Esmeralda, the infamous wooden galleon that stood up to Peru's iron battleships in the War of the Pacific (
Vendors hawk remnants of the city's glory days amid the crooning of tango singers every Sunday. Score flea-market finds (rare Condorito comics depicting Chile's beloved flip-flop–wearing condor) and antiques (like a 1918 stand-up Victrola).
In the 1990's, renowned Chilean masters such as Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antunez, and Roser Bru adorned the exteriors of houses with a series of 20 original murals and created the "open sky" museum. From Ascensor Espiritu Santo, veer to the right and follow the art.