Top ideas for fleshing out an itinerary for a trip to Chile.
Every inch of Chile’s long tail of land offers an opportunity to explore. There are natural parks where nature has been let off the leash, markets scented by the smells of cooking street food like doughy sopaipillas, and acres of vineyards where bottles are filled with everything from sauvignon blanc to carmenere.
Here are a few things not to miss on your next trip.
Top things to do in Chile
Explore the national parks
Mountains, waterfalls, forests, valleys and volcanoes are all protected by Chile’s national parks. One of the easiest ways to experience one of these wild places is to take a guided tour.
A very popular tour in Patagonia takes you from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park. Once inside the park you’ll see glaciers, lagoons and the Milodon Cave, which is home to a rock formation called Devil’s Chair.
Other options include Pucón, on the shores of the natural mirror that is Lake Villarrica, and Juan Fernandez National Park, which is a UNESCO World Biosphere in the Pacific Ocean.
Spend a day at the museum
Chile’s cities are goldmines when it comes to museums. The National History Museum in Santiago houses more than 70,000 exhibits alone.
Delve into indigenous life through the 1,500 artefacts on display at the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino in Santiago, see Chile’s first ever Virgin Mary icon at the Iglesia Convento y Museo de San Francisco in Santiago, and say hello to Miss Chile – a mummy with intact skin, teeth and hair – at Museo Arqueológico Padre le Paige in San Pedro de Atacama.
Take time for wine
Chilean wine is famous around the world. The country produces everything from tarty sauvignon blancs to plummy cabernet sauvignons and oaky carmeneres. Wine producing regions include Coquimbo, Aconcagua and the Central Valley.
It’s the latter that’s home to Maipo, which is said to be the birthplace of the Chilean wine industry. You can take guided tours here from Santiago that will take you to the region’s boutique wine producers for tastings and to learn about the production process.
Visits can also be organised that include breakfast or lunch in settings like orchards and horse farms.
Taste the best of Chilean cuisine
You haven’t truly experienced a country until you’ve tasted its food. For an authentic experience, take a food tour with a guide with local insight.
A typical food tour of Santiago, for example, will take you to the city’s markets, including La Vega Central, which is one of the oldest at almost 400 years, and it will also take you to some street food spots.
Sopaipilla is one of Chile’s most classic street foods. This deep fried snack comes in savoury or sweet varieties and is either served soaked in chilli sauce or a syrup made from orange peel and cinnamon.