Chile is the slenderest country in the world and is a marvel of outstanding natural wonder, lively metropolises, and beautiful countryside. The capital city Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, and Torres Del Paine are some famous tourist destinations and their increased popularity is justified by millions of visitors annually. However, there are some fantastic yet less-traveled places in Chile that are worth your visit. Each of them offers stunning nature, unique culture, and adventure.
In this post, I have listed seven lesser-known places to visit in Chile. These places are not only devoid of tourist hordes but also allow you to experience the true essence of this beautiful country.
Roca Roja in Antofagasta
Just a short drive outside Antofagasta, Roca Roja is a desolate place where the large span of sand dunes meets the azure sea. Its lack of tourist crowds makes it a perfect location to organize a group sandboarding trip. When I was in Antofagasta, my friend took me there for the day where we did not encounter any other human being. We stopped the car in front of a large sand dune and spent our morning blasting music, sandboarding, picnicking, and admiring the drastic surrounding landscape. Along the way, we stopped in front of an unnamed cave, went deep into it to observe the unique formation of the rocks, and tried looking for some artifacts and figuring out why the caves were there.
Located on an ocean terrace, La Serena is Chile’s second oldest city after Santiago. Two popular places to visit in La Serena are Plaza de Armas and the beach of the Avenida De Mar. At Plaza De Armas, make sure to check out the historical museum of President Gabriel Gonzales Videla, a museum featuring Chile’s president Gabriel Gonzales Videla’s life, his public and economic contribution to the La Serena, and his professional career as a politician.
Avenida De Mar is within walking distance from the city center, and the waves are strong. It is not the best place for swimming. There is a promenade where you can walk, jog, and watch the ocean currents crush the shoreline and surfers rip the waves on a windy morning.
Situated along the Valdivia River, Niebla Fort was built in the 17th country by Spaniards to protect Valdivia from the attack of pirates and other European countries. The fort has a museum showcasing the region’s historical past from the pre-colonial period to Chile’s Independence Day. During the summer, local tourists visit this place to learn about the history while being amazed by the picturesque view of Corral Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Frutillar as built in 1856 after the first group of German colonists came to the city, built their houses and gardens around the hills, and dedicated themselves to agricultural development. The German heritage was preserved so well. Walking around the city, I still felt as if I had been transported back to old Europe. There is a German Museum that was built to pay respect to the early German settlers.
It is important to point out that Frutillar is regarded as a “city of music,”, with a music festival taking place for two weeks from the end of January to February, as well as the music concerts all year around at the Teatro De Lago, which has the best acoustic system in South America. Another popular attraction is Lake Llanquihue, the second largest lake in Chile, where I enjoyed walking around in the afternoon.
Villa Puerto Edén
As the most isolated place in Patagonia, Puerto Edén has a total population of fewer than 200 people; yet, it is home to a number of full-blood Kaweskar, an indigenous people in Chile’s Patagonia. Owning to its humid climate, Puerto Eden does not have roads but walkways connecting houses and shops. However, visitors can stop there for a few hours or 3-4 days for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and shopping for traditional indigenous handicrafts. The only way to reach Puerto Edén is by sea from Puerto Montt or Caleta Tortel.
Carretera Austral (Ruta 7)
Carretera Austral is a highway of 770 miles long running in the north and central stretch of Chile’s Patagonia from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. It is an overlooked place and is a completely different world from Argentina’s Patagonia, Ruta 40, and the popular Torres Del Paine in the south.
Carretera Austral is connected to the main towns in the Los Lagos region but visitors still feel cut off from the rest of the world due to the sparse population, few paved roads, limited access to modern facilities, and the only airport in Coyhaique. There, you can embrace endless adventure by participating in a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, white-water rafting, kayaking, trekking the glacier and camping, or just taking a relaxing walk anywhere to appreciate all the natural beauty and wonder.
There is public transport taking travelers from town to town but some prefer to travel in their own vehicles or hitchhike to explore this world’s most beautiful highway in their own peace and admire the stunning landscapes as they please.
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So you arrived in Ushuaia believing that you have reached the world’s southernmost city, but do you know there is another city further south across the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia? That is Puerto Williams, which is regarded as “a city beyond the end of the world” and its complete lack of marketing effort makes this place a true gem to discover.
I finally reached Puerto Williams after three months traveling overland in Chile, and man, it was an adventure. This place did not appeal to me when I first arrived, but I loved this city more and more each day. It really is a community built and preserved by hospitable locals and the descendants of Yaghan. The seafood is tasty and the cost of travel there is affordable. In Puerto Williams, you can enjoy activities such as trekking, fishing, biking, and museum visiting or simply stay there for a few days and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Have you visited any lesser-known places in Chile? Comment below.
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