Urban Exploration

Life spills into the streets with pop-up graffiti murals, sprawling food markets, narrow winding staircases and leafy museum neighborhoods in the vibrant Chilean cities of Santiago and Valparaíso.

La Vega Central Vendors hawk a feast of ripe figs, avocados and chirimoyas. Nearby Mercado Central dishes up seafood lunches.

Santiago museums Classic Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino contrasts with funky Museo de Arte Contemporáneo and fashion-forward Museo de la Moda.

Graffiti art Compelling graffiti murals flank the alleys and steep staircases of Valparaíso, making any stroll an exploration.

Night cycling At sunset the air cools, traffic eases and Santiago lights up – the witching hour for touring.

Centro Gabriela Mistral Grab the cultural pulse at Santiago's cutting-edge performing-arts center.

Barrio Recoleta Get off the beaten path and sample an authentic neighborhood with great ethnic eats.

Hiking

Chile has 4000km of mountains bumping down its spine. From desert to temperate rainforest, trails are everywhere, so expand your itinerary to include a lesser-known route. You won’t regret it.

Putre Ideal base camp for high-altitude desert treks, less crowded than San Pedro de Atacama.

Siete Tazas Near wine country, a clear river drops through seven pools carved of black basalt.

Río Cochamó Valley A pristine valley of waterfalls, granite panoramas and well-marked trails, though the mud is infamous.

Cerro Castillo In the heart of Patagonia, trekking around this cathedral peak provides a top-notch four-day adventure.

Reserva Nacional Lago Jeinimeini Stunning contrasts, from tough backpacking over mountain passes to short hikes to rock art.

Animal Encounters

Andean condors soar the peaks and the cold Humboldt Current means abundant marine life, from sea lions to migrating blue whales. Chile hosts a variety of camelids, diverse bird species and the huemul, an endangered national symbol.

Lago Chungará Teeming with birdlife, including the flamboyant Chilean flamingo, this surreal mirror lake sits high in the altiplano.

Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas Over 20,000 of the park’s namesake camelids roam this high desert reserve surrounded by sky-hugging volcanoes.

Chiloé Both Magellanic and Humboldt penguins nest near Ancud; pudú and avian life inhabit Parque Tantauco.

Parque Nacional Patagonia From guanaco, fox and condor to elusive puma and huemul, a treasure of Patagonian wildlife.

Food & Nightlife

In agricultural Chile, food is all about freshness, from amazing seafood to local wines and California-style produce. Nightlife ranges from rustic to sophisticated, hitting its apogee in the capital.

Norte Chico With firewood scarce, women in the desert village of Villaseca power up solar ovens to rave reviews.

San Pedro de Atacama Take a tour of the night sky in one of the world's best spots for stargazing.

Santiago Contempo stylings and bold South American fusions ignite the restaurant scene at places like Peumayen and Étniko.

Lakes District Beyond German staples, asados (barbecues) feature natural local beef, berry pies and organic summer salad.

Santiago neighborhoods Revelers light up the night in the party-til-you-drop dance halls of Bellavista and Lastarria's upscale sidewalk cafes.

Patagonia Cocinas custombristas feature kitchens of grandmas stirring up fresh seafood concoctions.

Memorable Landscapes

Potent scenery is not hard to find in Chile, where the climate ranges from parched desert to glacial peaks.

Atacama Desert Red rock canyons, cactus scrub and copper mountains give contrast to the piercing blue sky.

Archipelago of Chiloé From western cliffs to eastern inlets pocked with stilt houses, these green isles feed the imagination.

Lakes District Rolling, rain-soaked countryside marked by dozens of deep-blue lakes and snowcapped volcanoes that stand sentinel.

Patagonian Andes The Andes range reaches its dramatic crescendo in the deepest south.

Rano Kau Among the South Pacific's most striking landscapes, this crater lake overlooks the vast cobalt ocean.

Tierra del Fuego Both rugged and mystical, a last-frontier destination of remote isles and wind-sculpted landscapes.

Remote Getaways

Over 90% of Chile’s population is concentrated in its middle. Escape in any direction, from the Atacama to remote Carretera Austral and barren Tierra del Fuego. Or visit Easter Island, the remotest Pacific isle.

Belén precordillera Off the beaten path, visit ancient pictographs, old colonial churches and lovely landscapes.

North coast of Easter Island This eerie stretch north of Ahu Tahai passes towering moai and climbs grassy hills to the Pacific.

Raul Marín Balmaceda With overgrown ferns and streets of sand, this lost village is surrounded by otters, dolphins and sea lions.

Caleta Cóndor An isolated, postcard-worthy paradise along a protected stretch of hard-to-reach indigenous coastline near Osorno.

Wine Country

Flanked by colonial bodegas, a Pacific breeze and the dazzling backdrop of the Andes, wine never tasted so good.

Ruta del Vino Link up with local experts around Santa Cruz touring the powerhouse wine region responsible for Chile’s best reds.

Lapostolle winery A posh and lovely setting to acquaint yourself with Chile’s richest terroir.

Casablanca Valley A hub of excellent cool-climate winemaking and a quick getaway from Santiago.

Museo de Colchagua Don’t miss ‘El Gran Rescate,’ an exhibit on the daring rescue of the 33 miners.

Emiliana winery Make your tasting dessert with the chocolate and wine pairings at this organic winemaker.

Living History

Take a break from museums. Outdoors you can explore history that persists in coastal battleships, on pioneer trails and in Chilote villages still using their ancestral inventions.

Humberstone This whole nitrate boomtown gone ghost city whets the traveler’s imagination.

Ascensor Concepción Relive Valparaíso’s glory days climbing above the city on its oldest cable-car elevator.

Orongo Ceremonial Village This ancient village places you in the geographical heart of Easter Island’s strange bird-cult culture.

Lago Llanquihue Historic German villages confound Latin sensibilities with unique architecture and German sweets.

Mina San José Tour the site where trapped miners survived 69 days, guided by one of the original 33.

Iquique Board the old naval ship Esmeralda, a famous warship with a dark role in the dictatorship.

Northern Patagonia Ride the well-worn trails first forged by Patagonian pioneers around Palena and Futaleufú.

Pure Adrenaline

With high-quality outfitters, wild geography and pristine settings, Chile is a natural playground for adventure sports. Mountaineers, kitesurfers and backcountry skiers should bring their own equipment.

Skiing and snowboarding Chile’s top ski resorts include Valle Nevado, Portillo and hot-springs mecca Nevados de Chillán.

Glacier treks Scramble up Torres del Paine’s Glacier Grey, Glaciar San Rafael or remote glaciers on the Carretera Austral.

Surfing Ride famous waves at Pichilemu or Iquique, or discover the quiet surf-shack style of Buchupureo.

Rafting and kayaking Paddle Cajón de Maipo near Santiago, Puerto Varas' Río Petrohué or the world-class Futaleufú.

Sand-boarding Sample this relatively new sport in San Pedro de Atacama and Iquique.