If this country isn’t already on your travel radar, put it on there now. Chilé stretches from the middle of South America down to the very bottom, resulting in a wide variety of landscape, scenery and activities. Not to mention Chiléans are some of the friendliest people on earth, their wine region is exceptional and their craft brewing scene is very much worth a look in.
Here are a bunch of reasons to visit Chilé.
The capital city of this glorious country. The jewel in its crown. The meat in its empanada. Santiago will leave you wanting more, regardless of how long you spend there. This city is alive with art, good vibes and friendly people; and also happens to boast some of the best food and wine you’ll ever come across. Barrio Lastarria has sensational eatery options; Barrio Yungai has impressive street art; and Barrio Bellavista has dozens upon dozens of bars serving up artisanal beer and red wine from up and down the country.
Or ‘Valpo’, as the locals commonly refer to it as, is a breathtaking port town a few hours north-west Santiago. Picture a mix of Portugal’s Lisbon and the USA’s San Francisco with a little bit of Italy’s Cinque Terre thrown in. You could spend days meandering through the charming streets and admiring the plethora of colourful street art. (Sidenote: You can’t just decide to paint a graffiti mural in Valparaiso—you have to submit your design to the council and have it approved. And if they really like it, they’ll assign it to a professional artist.) You could also spend a lot of time eating at the incredible ‘pescadors’ (fish restaurants)—given this is a port town, the fish is where it’s at. And the hot tip from the locals is to eat at the restaurants lower down on the hill, closer to the coastline—because these restaurats are physically closer to the fisherman, they have better relationships with them and thus get the best fish. Smart.
3. The Colchagua Valley Wine Region
We have one word for you—Carmenére. This wine region has wineries aplenty, all serving up Chilé’s flagship red varietal. In reality, any winery you stumble across in this area will be good, but we particularly recommend Viňa Viu Manent, where you can go on a horse-drawn carriage ride through their vineyard before your wine tasting; and Las Niňas, who specialise in amazing organic wine.
The Peruvians claim they invented them; the Chiléans insist it was them. For the sake of this article, we’re going to give empanadas to Chilé. This tasty local snack involves a variety of fillings (beef, pork, fish, cheese) all wrapped up in a warm toasty pastry. The best of the best is the pino—meat, onions, an olive and half a boiled egg all mixed up together in their saucy goodness.
5. The Plethora Of National Parks
There is so much natural beauty in this country, you’ll wonder where to even start. Lucky we’re here. Start with Conguillo National Park, home to the breathtaking Lake Conguillo (where you can fish, kayak or enjoy a wine at the overlooking cafe) and the incredible Sierra Nevada hiking trail. Parque Nacional Huerquhue is equally as magnificent, highlights being the Los Lagos and San Sebastian hiking trails. Park Pumalin is spectacular with a bevvy of waterfalls, volcanoes, 4000-year-old trees and hikes—namely the Vulcan Chaiten trail, which takes you to a smouldering volcano crater.
Obviously, if you’re going all the way to Chilé, you need to head south to the Chiléan Patagonia region. A web of rivers, peaks and sprawling glaciers, this is an adventurers dream. Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is the most commonly visited spot for travellers, and with good reason—the granite pillars, emerald forests and radiant blue glacier mean there are literally panoramas everywhere. If you don’t have enough time to commit to The O Trek (the common 8 to 9 day hike), a great idea is to do The W—a five day hike that covers Torres del Paine’s highlights. Kind of like a Patagonia: Greatest Hits.
7. San Pedro De Atacama
One of the country’s biggest attractions is of course the oasis of Atacama (the driest non-polar desert in the world), which includes some of Chilé’s most remarkable scenery. It has the country’s largest salt flat, volcanoes, fields of steaming geysers, epic star-gazing and a host of otherworldly rock formations. Do not, under any circumstances, forget your camera.
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