One of the best features of Chile is the multiple climate zones that a visitor can come across during their vacation; from shimmering icy glaciers and luscious green rainforests to dry deserts and endless sandy beaches, Chile has a place for everyone.
Easily accessible by flights, buses, and cars, and with a number of tour companies offering great packages, Chile is easily one of the best places to visit.
Sites that shouldn’t be missed include the Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, Valle Nevado ski resort, the Cajon del Maipo canyon, and the pristine Pumalin Park rainforest.
1. Cajon del Maipo
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Cajon del Maipo is an expansive canyon near Santiago. The gorge features the Maipo River, El Volcan River, Colorado River, and Yeso River as well as many other minor streams. There are many tourist companies that offer day trips to Cajon del Maipo and take visitors on a journey to explore the valley. The sites around the canyon are breathtaking, and visitors will be able to see panoramic views of the mountains that surround them. Outdoor activities such as trekking, swimming in the hot springs, horse riding, and bike riding, are available for visitors to take part in.
19790, Comercio 19708, San José de Maipo, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-69-45-55-60-17
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2. Tunquen Wetland Nature Sanctuary
Established between 2002 and 2014, the Tunquen Wetland Nature Sanctuary includes dunes, ravines, cliffs and a stunning sandy beach. The sanctuary is home to unique animals, plants and numerous species of birds, including herons, the Huairavos, Trile, Oyster Catcher, the Taguas and Hualas. The Tunquen Wetland Nature Sanctuary is loacted at the northern end of Tunquen Beach, at the mouth of the Estero Casablanca River. The closest place to stay is Tunquen Magico which offers magnificent ocean views and a number of luxury amenities. If you are arriving at the Santiago Airport, the sister property Chena Magica offers accommodations as well.
3. Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts
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The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts was established in 1880, making it the oldest museum of its kind in South America. The museum is managed by the Artistic Union and has grown to become one of the leading centers for Chilean and South American art. Housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, the beaux arts-style building itself is a stunning piece of work designed by Chilean architect Emile Jequier. Some of the current exhibitions visitors can enjoy include The Traffic of the Earth, which is a photographic installation by Spanish photographer Xavier Ribas, Another Way of Looking at Infinity, which is a fractal set by Soledad Chadwick, and Draw the Limit, which includes a collection of videos, photographs, and drawings by artist Janet Toro.
Ismael Valdés Vergara 506 Santiago, Bellas Artes, Phone: +5-62-29-77-17-55
4. Chilean National Zoo
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The Chilean National Zoo opened in 1925 inside Santiago Metropolitan Park in San Cristobal Hill. The 12-acre land is home to over 158 species of animals, including many Chilean native animals as well as rare and endangered species. Some animal exhibits loved by visitors of all ages include the jaguars, guanacos, lemurs, condors, Humboldt penguins, lions, elephants, kangaroos, emus, and Darwin’s frog, which is a rare frog native to Chile. The zoo is a fun place for visiting families to spend the evening; other than viewing the 1,000+ animals, visitors will also be able to see different plant species and learn about the various conservation and research projects that take place at the zoo.
Providencia, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile, Phone: +5-62-27-30-13-68
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5. Chungara Lake
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Located all the way in the north of Chile, Chungara Lake can be found within the exquisite Lauca National Park. The park itself is filled with mountains and volcanoes but the lake is a special feature of the park and attracts many visitors throughout the year. Ranked as the 31st highest lake in the world, visitors will get a stunning view of the expansive water of body and the Parinocota and Pomerape volcanoes beside it. There are many animals near the lake that visitors will be able to see, including alpacas, guanacos, llamas, and foxes. Ornithology lovers will see many species of birds such as the Chilean flamingo, small jergon duck, and the puna partridge.
6. El Tatio
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A geyser found on the Andes Mountains in northern Chile, El Tatio is one of the highest-elevated geysers in the world. The field has over 80 active geysers, with some of them erupting to over 6 meters high. The site has become a major tourist attractions and visitors can find many tour companies that offer transport to and tours of El Tatio. Sunrise is the most popular time for visitors to head to the geyser field as the cold air condenses the stream and creates some stunning views. Visitors are also able to bathe in the small pools of hot geyser water that can be found in the area.
7. La Chascona
© La Chascona
Pablo Neruda was a Nobel Prize winning poet and politician in Chile, and La Chascona is one of three houses he left behind upon his death. Found on the slopes of the San Cristobal Hill, the home retains the quirky and artistic styles of the poet. A popular destination for tourists, La Chascona is often described as a “house from a fairytale with an enchanted garden to accompany it.” The house has a rich history as it was the home he created with his then-secret lover, who soon became his third wife. One of the most popular pieces in La Chascona is a painting of her, depicting her with two faces: one that is known to the public and the person he knew as a lover.
Fernando Márquez de La Plata 0192, Santiago, Providencia, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-27-77-87-41
8. La Moneda Palace
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La Moneda Palace, which translates to Palace of the Currency, is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. Occupying an entire block in downtown Santiago, is also houses the offices of three of the country’s cabinet ministers. La Moneda Palace has become a Chilean attraction mostly because of its stunning neoclassical architecture with Roman Doric influences. It is often said that the palace is the only structure in Latin American that was built in pure Italian neoclassical style. Visitors are invited to explore the public Citizenry Square as well as the Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center, which hosts historical and cultural exhibitions throughout the year.
Moneda S/N, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-26-90-40-00
9. La Portada
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La Portada is one of Chile’s 15 natural monuments considered a protected area of Chile. The natural arch can be seen 11 miles off the coast of Chile and is made of black andesite stone, sedimentary rock, yellow sandstone, and layers of remaining fossil shells. Formed by marine erosion, the natural monument is a beautiful site to see. Visitors will also see much of Chile’s fauna as the monument is also considered an observation site for birds such as Inca terns, Peruvian boobys, grey gulls, kelp gulls, pelicans, and Guanay cormorants.
10. Mano del Desierto
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Constructed by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal, Mano del Desierto is a 36-foot-tall structure of a hand that looks like it’s reaching for the stars from its sandy surroundings. It can be found in the Atacama Desert and is a popular sight to see for visitors traveling the Pan-American Highway. Built with concrete and iron, the artist has said that the exaggerated size of the hand is to emphasize human helplessness and vulnerability. Many visitors enjoy stopping near the structure and taking fun photographs with the large hand – if anything, the photographic opportunity offers a great memory of a trip to Chile.
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11. Marble Caves of Chile Chico
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The Marble Caves of Chile Chico is a beautiful set of caves formed by over 6,000 years of waves crashing into the calcium carbonate surroundings in the Patagonian Andes. Found on a peninsula bordering Lake General Carrera, the swirling blue patterns of the cavern wall are a stunning reflection of the glacial lake’s blue waters. The caves are accessible by boat, and visitors will find many local tour companies who’ll take them through the Marble Caves and their connecting tunnels. Of Chile’s many natural attractions, the Marble Caves are one of the most beautiful sites to behold.
12. Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
© Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
An art museum established in 1981, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino is a fun and educational place to spend the day. Here, visitors will find exhibits of pre-Columbian artifacts and artworks from South and Central America, which the museum is dedicated to studying, preserving, and presenting to the public. The museum came to be when Chilean antiquities collector and architect, Sergio Larrain Garcia-Moreno, acquired land to preserve his extensive private collection. Visitors can find the museum in Chile’s capital, Santiago, in the Palacio de la Real Aduana. The collection spans over 10,000 years and some of the pieces that shouldn’t be missed include masks and copper figures from the Central Andes, pottery from the Valdivia people, and more modern pieces from the San Pedro culture.
Bandera 361, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-29-28-15-00
13. Museum of Memory and Human Rights
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The Museum of Memory and Human Rights can be found in Chile’s capital, Santiago. The museum is dedicated to victims of human rights violations and focuses on the period between 1973 and 1999, when Augusto Pinochet led the civic-military regime. Visitors will be able to see an extensive collection of memorabilia used during the dictatorship as well as newspaper clippings, letters written by prisoners to their family members, and testimonies from survivors. Many exhibitions have been added, including a photographic exposition on Chile’s indigenous people. Various events, such as a human rights-themed film festival, are held at the museum throughout the year.
Avenida Matucana 501, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-25-97-96-00
14. Parque Forestal
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Located in Santiago’s historic downtown district, Parque Forestal is an urban park situated right beside the Mapocho River. The park was established in 1905 and has been offering Chile’s visitors and residents a safe, green sanctuary to relax and spend the day. Visitors are able to go on walks, enjoy the flora and fauna, and have a picnic amidst the beautiful site. It is open all year long and an attraction that shouldn't be missed are the three lines of beautiful oriental plane trees. On the park grounds, visitors will also find the Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts.
Santiago, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile,
15. Plaza de Armas
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Santiago’s main square, Plaza de Armas, is the centerpiece of the capital’s square grid pattern layout. The plaza was sanctioned by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 and accomplished by Pedro de Gamboa. Visitors can walk through the square, enjoy Chile’s sunny weather, and see the many historic buildings that surround it. Some of the sites nearby include the Central Post Office building, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, and the Palacio de la Real Audienca de Santiago. Visitors will be able to see lots of entertainers in Plaza de Armas; these include comedians, mimes, painters, and other artists.
16. Pumalin Park
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At over 715,000 acres, Pumalin Park is one of the largest and most diverse park conservation efforts in all of South America. The park stretches from the fjords of the Pacific coast to the heart of the Andes and contains Chile’s most pristine rainforest. At the park, visitors will be able to walk the extensive trails, stay overnight in the campgrounds, and use the many other facilities the park offers. There are twelve trails in the park, each of varying length and difficulty, but all with stunning landscapes of the surroundings. Beyond the park, visitors will come across the Pumalin Project, which comprises a network of organic farms that have been restored through social initiatives.
17. Punta Pite
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Punta Pite is a brilliant architectural masterpiece stretched over 27 acres of Chile’s beautiful coastline. The collection of twisting paths, bridges, and cliffside stairs carved out of the stony surroundings offers visitors a chance to see a unique side of Chile. Punta Pite was constructed between 2004 and 2006; the oceanside trails have since then taken visitors on a journey across the waters. The outdoor experience is fun for the entire family, though the young and the elderly may find it difficult to navigate the winding trails. Many visitors find that the surroundings offer an insight to Chile’s stunning beauty, and the panoramic photographs they take home prove them right.
E-30-F 1000, Papudo, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
18. San Cristobal Hill
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Rising well above the rest of Chile’s capital of Santiago, San Cristobal Hill is a recognized landmark around town. The hill was named after St. Christopher by the Spanish conquistadors. At the very top, visitors will find a sanctuary and statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception; there is also a chapel and amphitheater on top of the hill. The Virgin Mary statue is one of the most visited sites in Chile; visitors flock from all over the world to see the 22-meter statue. At the foothill of San Cristobal Hill, visitors will be able to explore a Japanese-style garden and the Chilean National Zoo.
19. Santa Lucía Hill
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Santa Lucia Hill is the remains of a 15-million-year-old volcano and can be found in the heart of Santiago. The hill has a 65,300-square meter park filled with fountains, facades, and beautifully architectural stairways. Visitors often head to the popular viewpoint at the highest point of the hill; there, visitors will get to see panoramic views of their surroundings. One site on the hill that shouldn’t be missed is a 2-meter-high stone carved monument, which has an inscription of the text that was sent to Emperor Carlos V by Pedro de Valdivia. Other monuments include one of Manuel Vicuna Larrain and another listing the names of people who founded the city of Santiago.
20. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral
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Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral is one of Santiago’s top historical destinations. Found beside the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral is a quiet sanctuary among the many musicians and entertainers within the square. Anyone can enter the main house of worship for Chile’s Catholic Church at no cost and just have a seat, meditate, pray, or walk around and explore the cathedral. Architecture lovers will see some amazing baroque details throughout the cathedral. Visitors can explore the chapel, several alters, a crypt, and three naves; there are also beautiful frescos adorning the church. One of the finest pieces of religious architecture in all of South America, a visit to the cathedral will be a memorable aspect of any trip to Chile.
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-27-87-56-00
21. Stone Moai of Easter Island
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One of the most renowned attractions in Chile, the stone moai of Easter Island are a collection of monolithic human figures carved between 1250 and 1500 by the Rapa Nui people. Surrounded by a great expanse of ocean, the island is a remote getaway that makes for the perfect day trip. The largest stone sculpture on the island is El Gigante and towers over 72 feet tall and weighs nearly 182 metric tons. The statues are scattered throughout the hillside and have minimalist, yet stunning, artistic features; carved in flat planes, the facial expressions of the statue have proud expressions on their faces with heavy brows, elongated noses, and heads that are much larger than the rest of the body.
22. Valle de la Luna
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Valley of the Moon, or Valle de la Luna, is a beautiful expansive landscape amidst Chile’s Atacama Desert. There are many sand and stone formations that have been carved by water and wind over the years. The range of textures and colors make for some amazing photographs; the texture of the surface is said to resemble the moon, hence the name. The various natural formations, such as dry lakes, caverns, and hills, are great to explore and show visitors a side of Chile that can’t be seen anywhere else. There are many tour companies that will take visitors on journeys through the valley and pinpoint some of the best features there are. The wonderful natural phenomenon is a geological beauty and shouldn’t be missed.
San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta Region, Chile
23. Valle Nevado
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Considered the best skiing and snowboarding resort in all of Chile, the Valle Nevado resort is the place to go to enjoy various winter activities. Located on the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the 800-hectare skiing area was founded by French entrepreneurs in 1988. Inspired by similar European resorts, Valle Nevado has five chairlifts, six paddle lifts, and two magic carpets. In 2013, the ski resort opened the first mountain cable car in Chile, making it significantly different from its competitors across South America. Visitors can enjoy various activities, classes, and much more, including the surrounding weather, which differs so much from that of the rest of the country.
Avenida Vitacura 5250 of. 304, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-24-77-70-00
24. Wulff Castle
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Built in 1906 for the Wulff family, Wulff Castle is a historic structure that overlooks the sea in Vina del Mar. It stayed with the family for many years before the city eventually bought it in 1959. It then housed the Chilean Navy Forces Museum and a collection of items by writer Salvador Reyes Figueroa before being pronounced a National Historic Monument. Now the headquarters of the city heritage center, Wulff Castle is open to the public for them to admire and appreciate the castle’s medieval features as well as the surrounding coastal views. Certain areas of the castle have been converted to exposition halls for temporary art exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and photography; these events are held throughout the year and are open to the public.
Av. Marina 37, Viña del Mar, Región V, Chile, Phone: +5-63-22-18-57-51
25. Cementerio General de Santiago
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Cementerio General de Santiago was established in 1821 and has grown to become one of the largest cemeteries in Latin America. There are over two million people buried there, including most of the past presidents of Chile. Having been named as one of the “World’s Most Scenic Cemeteries” by CNN, the cemetery has become an attraction of its own. Visitors can walk through the sprawling 210 acres filled with peaceful gardens and ornate sculptures. The mausoleums are also extraordinarily beautiful and range in size and architectural style. Visitors will also be able to see a range of exotic birds, which visit the cemetery.
Prof. Zañartu 951, Recoleta, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-26-37-78-00
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Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda
The Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda is a cultural facility that allows citizens to familiarize themselves with the cultural richness of the nation. Designed by Chilean architect Cristian Undurraga, the cultural center has two main exhibition halls and many other minor halls with a resource center, an archive, a digital laboratory, restaurants, cafe, and a small shop. Visitors who plan ahead can schedule a free guided tour of the museum. Past exhibitions include the Chilean Photography Gallery by Luis Poirot, a design gallery by textile designer Alejandro Stuven, and an Andy Warhol exhibition with over 200 pieces from the museum in Pittsburg.
Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: +5-62-23-55-65-00