Skip to Content

The Ultimate Chile Itinerary For Ten Days or Two Weeks

This article may contain affiliate links. Read my privacy page for more information.

With the piercing peaks of the Andes prominent in the north, glacier-riddled national parks of the south and fertile, wine-growing valleys of the centre, it’s fair to say that Chile has jaw-dropping geographical diversity oozing from every pore.

Which is why planning a Chile itinerary for ten days or more of travel might seem a bit of a headache.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks

How to use this Chile itinerary

Luckily, Chile has one of the best transport systems in South America, meaning you can – and should – zip between its diverse regions if you’re on a short trip.

Staying here longer? Even better; you’ve got plenty of time to really get under the skin of a country I’ve come to love over the past year and a half.

This Chile backpacking itinerary focuses on the things to do in Chile north of Chiloé Island (around two-thirds of the way down the country), largely because I’ve already written extensive itineraries (and even a free e-book download) about where to go in Patagonia:

Looking for guidance about what to take with you on a trip to Chile? Check out our detailed Patagonia packing list, as well as our guide to what to pack for South America more generally.

Recommendations for travel in Chile and using this Chile itinerary:

  • As a vast, sprawling country, there are plenty of things to do in Chile; it’s always better to slim down your travel itinerary, take it slow and really dig deep into a place than scratch the surface with a whistle-stop tour of all the top attractions. In the latter, you’ll also spend too much time travelling between places which, let’s face it, is not the main idea of a holiday or even longer-term travel.
  • Travel in Chile is expensive and while this post doesn’t delve too deeply into how you can travel Chile on a budget, consider booking cheaper types of accommodation, such as local alojamientos or hospedajes (cheap B&Bs) or cabañas (cabins) if you’re in a group, many of which aren’t available to book via hotel booking websites.
  • Plenty of hostels and the previously mentioned accommodation types also have kitchens, making it easy to self-cater. Bear in mind that Chile has some excellent restaurants and some surprisingly good local cuisine (even if it might not seem it on first glance) so make sure to factor in some time and money for eating out!
  • Alternatively, camping is relatively easy throughout the country, so pack camping and cooking equipment (see my recommendations in this post about packing for Patagonia) and use that as a way of seeing Chile on the cheap.
  • These Chile itineraries for ten days and two weeks rely on the fact that you will take some long-distance transport to travel between the regions. Yes, flights can be expensive, but if you plan ahead, you can get a good deal with Sky Airline (the low-cost airline) and LAN (the more upmarket airline). I generally compare prices on Skyscanner and then book directly through the companies themselves.
  • Additionally, Jet Smart is Chile’s answer to Easyjet in Europe and has some extraordinarily low fares, although, as they have only been in business a couple of year, they don’t yet offer flights to all of the cities and they’re often at slightly more awkward hours. However, they’re definitely worth checking out, particularly as they’re starting to offer direct flights between cities in Chile without having to go through Santiago, which can significantly reduce your flight time (you can see their full list of destinations here). Be aware that you always have to pay an extra fee for both hold baggage and cabin baggage. 
  • Buses are also an inexpensive and reliable way of travelling through Chile, with long-distance, overnight buses making it easy enough to travel from Puerto Montt to Santiago or Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama in reasonable comfort (although prices of flights, if booked a few weeks in advance, are generally as cheap as bus tickets for these routes). Aim to book a couple of days in advance; websites such as Viaje en BusBus Bud, Recorrido are really helpful, while you can book off the cuff at the bus terminals in all towns and cities.
  • Renting a car is also a great way of travelling. I’ve personally driven through a lot of Chile and it’s much faster than taking buses and gives you the freedom to explore beyond the main tourist destinations. Driving in Santiago is somewhat terrifying and you find drivers don’t pay a lot of attention in most cities and even in rural areas, so you’ll want to keep your wits about you. However, of all the countries in South America, Chile (and Argentina) is definitely the safest place to rent a car. There are lots of tolls on the highways, so make sure you’ve always got cash and download Maps.me for maps available without internet. I always book using Rental Cars, as I find they have the best prices (even better than going directly with companies generally) and have insurance documents in English.
  • Uber and other ridesharing apps such as Easy Taxi, do work in Chile, but are actually illegal. In practice, this means that drivers can be arrested by the police (while you’re in the car!). This generally only happens for cars going to or picking up from the airport in Santiago, so avoid using Uber here and you should be fine. It’s generally a reliable and safe way of travelling around cities (and better than hailing a cab, which will often try and rip you off or scam you). Just sit in the front next to the driver to make it look more like you’re travelling with friends.
  • Oh, and I lived in Santiago for close to three years and wrote a guidebook about Chile (you can learn about the project here and buy the book here), so rest assured that these itineraries stem from some pretty extensive exploration and travel.

Planning Your Trip to Chile?

Save time, stress & money with a customized travel itinerary planned for you by a Chile expert

What previous clients have said:

Steph’s itinerary exceeded all expectations. She provided off the beaten path hikes, great restaurants and accommodations, and very helpful local contacts.

Due to the weather we had to deviate from our original plan, however Steph quickly responded to our email during the trip with further recommendations. Her service took all the guess work out of planning our vacation and lead to the most fun and unforgettable trip we have ever had!

avatar

Catherine Bradley

Traveled to Chile and Patagonia in Dec 2019/Jan 2020

Chile Itinerary for ten days of travel 

Day One: Santiago

Arrive in Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance) or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the centre of town).

Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural (Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre, the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.

Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilisations across Latin America.

You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile history: the Pinochet dictatorship.

To delve even deeper into this scar on the country’s past, visit with Travolution on a guided tour of the museum and a visit to a Santiago neighbourhood where the wounds of the military dictatorship run deep (get 5% off if you mention Worldly Adventurer).

Finally, listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Santiago’s skyscrapers with the brooding Andes Mountains behind.

For dinner, you’ve got various options:

  • Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with organic and bio-dynamic Chilean wines at Polvobar de Vinos.
  • Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria, a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
  • Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró.
  • For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio.

Where to stay in Santiago: Stay overnight in CasaSur Charming Hotel (double room $113,000 CLP/$163 USD) in the heart of the hip Barrio Italia, with a wealth of bars and restaurants, plus excellent transport links.

Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget, ordered by neighbourhood. 

Days Two to Five: San Pedro de Atacama

Head back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL), from where domestic flights leave from a separate terminal. Take a two-hour flight to Calama.

Transfer services at the airport are timed to leave after flights arrive, so hop on one (one hour 30 minutes) or hire a car and drive to San Pedro de Atacama, one of Chile’s top tourist attractions.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The otherworldly pavement at Piedras Rojas.

Spend the next two days exploring the region’s top sites, including Piedras Rojas, Lagunas Altiplanicas and Geisers del Tatio.

(For more inspiration for San Pedro de Atacama read this post on adventurous places to visit in and around San Pedro de Atacama) or consider Travolution’s Authentic desert life in San Pedro de Atacama tour.

While I always try and outline how you can explore destinations independently, if you want a truly unique experience of San Pedro de Atacama and surroundings, this Travolution is right up your street.

Over four days, you visit many of the region’s top sights, including El Tatio Geysers, Valle del Arcoíris (Rainbow Valley), as well as spend an evening stargazing and learning what ancient Andean cultures believed lay in the night sky. Most fascinating, however, is joining a traditional llama caravan, where you learn from your local guides about the relationship between the indigenous Lickan Antay and this animal through history – all while walking with your new furry companions across the desert.

Worldly Adventurer readers get 5% off this and all of Travolution’s incredible community-led tours, which promise an extraordinary perspective of Chile through local eyes.

Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama: If you’ve got a bigger budget or are travelling in a couple, stay at Ckuri Atacama (double $48,000 CLP/$78 USD); it’s definitely the nicest accommodation you’ll find in San Pedro. Their three double rooms include private bathrooms, large double beds, a small breakfast area with fridge, cutlery and plates (breakfast isn’t included – so go and check out Pananderia Franchuteria (Calle Gustavo Le Paige) in town for Chile’s best croissants and other delicious French pastries!).

Where to stay on a budget in San Pedro de Atacama: For smaller budgets, La Casa de Matilde (dorm $13,000 CLP/$21 USD, apartment $55,000 CLP/$89 USD) is ideal. It’s got a decent kitchen, huge patio and no bunk beds! If there’s a group of you, you can rent a mini apartment (with kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms).

Days Six and Seven: Valparaíso

Return to Calama and take a flight to Santiago. Buses leave from the Terminal Alameda (Av. Alameda 3750) and the Terminal San Borja (San Borja 235) in the city centre for Valparaíso (two hours, $3,000 CLP/$4 USD), a historic harbour city set across 42 hills and home to a wealth of street art.

This includes the beautiful ship-inspired house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda (well, one of his three), elderly acensores (which are also UNESCO heritage monuments) and a colourful skyline of brightly-painted houses, cobbled streets and vivid graffiti.

Read all about our favourite things to do in Valparaíso for more information about the city or take a tour with local residents as part of Travolution’s excellent community-led Valparaíso tour (and get a 5% discount if you mention Worldly Adventurer!).

If visiting over the summer (be warned: it gets rammed full of Chilean holidaymakers), be sure to hop on a local micro (bus) and head around the coast towards Viña del Mar where the best beaches are.

The easiest to access is Playa Caleta Abarca as it’s right on the main road that passes through the city, while nearby Reñaca also has a pretty beach.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The colourful rooftops of Valparaíso.

Valparaíso has a reputation for being unsafe at night, so you’ll want to stay in either Cerro Alegre or Cerro Concepción. Wherever you stay, avoid the bus station at night, stick to areas with plenty of street lights.

Where to stay in Valparaíso: Winebox (Baquedano 763, $77,000 standard d) is a truly unique hotel, built entirely from 25 recycled shipping containers. What’s more, they have an urban winery in the basement and a wine bar cum restaurant on the roof (which is open to the public). It’s actually on Cerro Mariposa, so you’ll need to take local colectivos (shared taxis) or taxis to get into the centre at night.

Where to stay on a budget in Valparaíso: For smaller budgets, the pint-sized Puerta Escondida (Templeman 549, $48,000 CLP/$67 USD double room) is a welcoming B&B in the heart of Cerro Concepción. It gets booked up fast, so be sure to reserve in advance.

Days Eight and Nine: Santiago and Colchagua

Return by bus to Santiago and you’ve got two options for exploring another of Chile’s top attractions: vineyards.

  1. For bigger budgets: rent a car and drive to winery Casa Silva, just north of San Fernando.
  2. For smaller budgets: take the bus from the Terminal Santiago ( Av. Alameda 3850) operated by Nilahue to Santa Cruz (3 hours, $7,000),

1. For bigger budgets

One of the most awarded wineries in the country and on the northern tip of the Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva not only has a wonderful setting (think rolling hills covered with neat rows of vines and a colonial-style bodega overlooking their polo field) but also an excellent restaurant.

Where to stay: I stayed in their gorgeous accommodation, Hotel Casa Silva (double $181,000 CLP/$300 USD) and spend a day eating in their two fine restaurants, wine tasting in their wine shop and wandering their vineyards.

You can stay one day at Casa Silva, and then on the next, drive to Santa Cruz, the main town for the Colchagua wine valley, and spend an afternoon exploring the top vineyards (see below).

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Vineyards at Montes in the Colchagua Valley.

2. For smaller budgets

Take a bus to Santa Cruz where you can rent rent mountain bikes, complete with panniers, from Casa Suiza (double $30,000 CLP/$35 USD, dorm $17,000 CLP/$20 USD) to explore the local vineyards of the surrounding Colchagua Valley at your leisure.

For all budgets

All of the wineries in the Colchagua Valley offer tastings, tours and many even have fine-dining restaurant (in beautiful settings, surrounded by vines), so I strongly suggest you aim to have lunch at one of the restaurants.

The valley is also known for its Carménère wine, a grape similar, and for a long time, confused with Merlot, so make sure you sample plenty while you’re here.

My favourite is Montes, which lies ten kilometres north of Santa Cruz. It’s a renowned winery (they age their wine to the sound of Gregorian chant in an amphitheatre-shaped cellar) with tours (from $10,000 CLP/$14 USD), tasting (from $2,000 CLP/$3 USD per glass) and the truly sensational Fuegos de Apalta restaurant.

I had the best steak of my life in their dining room, which surrounds a circular iron grill where you can watch the chefs at work. It doesn’t come cheap (expect to pay $20,000-$24,000 CLP/$28 USD-$34 USD per main) but their lomo liso (sirloin) and entraña (skirt steak), washed down with a Cabernet Sauvignon is an experience you’ll never forget.

Other wineries to visit from Santa Cruz include:

  • Boutique winery Laura Hartwig, which you can easily walk to for a tasting as it’s on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. They produce very small quantities of wine each year and while it can sometimes be hit-and-miss, they often strike gold. You can sample glasses from just $1,000 CLP/$1.5 USD).
  • Eight kilometers east of Santa Cruz, Viu Manent is a winery set within a beautiful old hacienda. Their star grapes are Carménère and Malbec and they have tours of the vineyard via horse-drawn carriages (from $15,000 CLP/$21 USD) as well as tastings (from $12,000 CLP/$17 USD) and great food in their restaurant Rayuela Wine & Grill ($9,000-$14,000 CLP/$13-$20 USD mains).

Where to stay in Santa Cruz: Hotel TerraViña (Camino a los Boldos, $106,000 CLP/$148 USD double) has a charming location overlooking rows of vines from cast-iron balconies and a swimming pool. The added boon is they’re a short walk through the vines to the Laura Hartwig winery, which can be reached by a short vine-lined path.

Where to stay on a budget in Santa Cruz: Small budgets will enjoy staying overnight in Casa Suiza (Los Libertadores 199, $14,000 CLP dorm/$20 USD, $35,000 CLP/$49 USD double). There are plenty of places for unwinding, including a grassy garden, plus kitchen access and owners who run cycling tours to tiny boutique wineries.

Day Ten: Santiago

Spend a final day in Santiago. Dedicate at least three hours to exploring the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), an excellent museum dealing with a grizzly topic: the Pinochet dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990.

To delve even deeper into this scar on the country’s past, visit with Travolution on a guided tour of the museum and a visit to a Santiago neighbourhood where the wounds of the military dictatorship run deep (get 5% off if you mention Worldly Adventurer).

If you want to learn first-hand about the Chilean love of the sanguche, head to La Fuente Alemana for a traditional churrasco (beef or pork sandwich) – just ask them to go easy on the mayo.

Head over to nearby Barrio Lastarria (barrio means neighbourhood) and take the short hike up to Cerro Santa Lucia for views across the city and the omnipresent Andes Mountains beyond.

For even more impressive cityscape views, take the funicular up to Cerro San Cristóbal in Parque Metropolitano (don’t walk; there have been reports of muggings of people hiking up the hill and those straying from the trails).

Finally, listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.

Return to the airport and fly home.

Want a custom-made Chile itinerary, but without the effort of organising it? Get it planned by an expert (me!) with my travel itinerary planning service (prices starting from $100 USD) or local operator EcoChile Travel who design and book tours throughout the country and who offer Worldly Adventurer readers a 5% discount on their services! Find out more information here and book here to claim your discount.

Chile itinerary for two weeks of travel

Day One: Santiago

Arrive in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance) or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the centre of town).

Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural(Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre, the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.

Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilisations across Latin America.

You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile history: the Pinochet dictatorship.

Moon Chile guidebook next to a cup of tea

Need more inspiration?

You’ll find even more detailed itineraries, off-the-beaten-path gems, hiking routes and accommodation, restaurant and tour recommendations to suit your travel style in my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.

To delve even deeper into this scar on the country’s past, visit with Travolution on a guided tour of the museum and a visit to a Santiago neighbourhood where the wounds of the military dictatorship run deep (get 5% off if you mention Worldly Adventurer).

For dinner, you’ve got various options:

  • Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with organic and bio-dynamic Chilean wines at Polvobar de Vinos.
  • Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria, a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
  • Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró.
  • For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio.

Where to stay: Stay overnight in CasaSur Charming Hotel (Eduardo Hyatt 527, double room $113,000 CLP/$163 USD) in the heart of the hip Barrio Italia, with a wealth of bars and restaurants, plus excellent transport links.

Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget, ordered by neighbourhood or learn about other things to do in Santiago.

Days Two to Five: Chiloé

Fly from the domestic terminal in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) to Aeropuerto El Tepual (PMC) (one hour 40 mins), the airport just outside of Puerto Montt.

Outside the airport, buses for the bus station in central Puerto Montt (30 mins, $2,500 CLP/$3.5 USD) are run by Andrés Tour and leave a short while after flights land.

In the bus terminal, there are plenty of companies selling tickets to Ancud, on Chiloé Island (2.5 hours including the boat crossing, $5,000 CLP /$7 USD).

Alternatively: rent a car from the agencies at Aeropuerto El Tepual and drive to Chiloé Island. While public transport on the island does connect most destinations, it can be painfully slow and infrequent, so a car grants you significantly more flexibility and will allow you to get to destinations faster and therefore see more. Puerto Montt airport has some of the cheapest car rents in Chile (from $30 USD per day) and you can book via Rental Cars, who provide insurance documents and all contracts in English.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Chiloé’s beautiful palafitos rising out of the bay.

In Ancud, stop at the brilliant and free Museo de las Iglesias which explores how Chiloé’s most famous buildings – the brightly coloured wooden churches, of which 16 are UNESCO World Heritage registered – were constructed.

If the season’s right (September to March), spend the afternoon at the Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñhuil where the rare Humboldt and less rare but still wonderfully cheeky Magellanic penguin have a colony.

You can take a tour from town with 13 Lunas (Los Carrera 855) who charge $15,000 CLP/$21 USD per person (and an additional $5,000 CLP/$7 USD for an English-speaking guide).

Alternatively, hop on a local bus marked for Puñihuil (40 mins, $2,000 CLP/$3 USD) from the Terminal Rural (Colo Colo 318). Which leave four times daily from Monday through Friday and at 1pm and 1.30pm on Saturdays; these buses drop passengers and then leave for the return journey around 10 minutes later. 

When you arrive at Puñihuil, you’ll need to get on the next boat with Pingüineras Chiloé ($7,500 CLP/$10.5 USD), a cooperative of fishermen who take tourists out on their boats to see the penguins (note that you are not allowed off the boat). .

Where to stay in Ancud: A 15-minute drive or taxi journey southwest from Ancud, Paihuen Yurts (Camino a Lechagua, $60,000 CLP/$84 USD two-person yurt) have one spacious canvas yurt hidden in the forest, with its own private hot tub down a short path to the river. The setting is serene and the facilities are superb, with a complete kitchen, plus modern bathroom with a good shower. I loved my stay here!

Where to stay on a budget in Ancud: 13 Lunas Hostel (dorm $11,000 CLP/$17 USD, private double $28,000 CLP/$43 USD) is a really comfortable and beautifully decorated hostel right opposite the bus station, a two-minute walk from the harbour and with big, comfortable dorms, plenty of communal space including a huge kitchen and a terrace overlooking the bay. Avoid the beds downstairs as they’re dark and most don’t have windows.

The next day, hop on a bus to Castro, the capital of Chiloé and famed for its vibrant palafitos: colourful, traditional fishermen’s houses on stilts that line the harbour overlook the bay at two places, just off Calle Ernesto Riquelme and another accessed by Calle Puerto Montt.

However, the best place to appreciate them in all their colourful glory is across the river from Calle Ernesto Riquelme at Mirador Gamboa.

Another unmissable stop in Castro is at the Feria Artesanal (Lillo s/n, just before the harbour), a craft market where you can find a both local woollen crafts to buy and a cheap lunch of empanadas (stuffed with seafood or cheese and prawns) or huge plates of fish.

Nip out the back to meet the resident sea lion population, who’ll also be fighting over their lunch – scraps of fish thrown into the sea by the fishermen.

Where to stay in Castro: If you fancy finding out what it’s like inside a palafito, stay at the brown-shingled Palafito 1326 (Ernesto Riquelme 1326, $89,000 CLP/$125 USD double). Rooms are spacious, with crisp white linens and those overlooking the water have a balcony from which you can watch the ocean.

Where to stay on a budget in Castro: La Minga Hostel (dorm $10,000 CLP/$15 USD, double $25,000 CLP/$38 USD) is a proper backpacking hostel (run by the wonderful Camila, a Brazilian and former backpacker herself) that is small but perfectly-formed. Rooms are fairly tiny and there aren’t that many bathrooms to go around, but it’s got a really sociable atmosphere without being a party hostel. Camilia also has great local knowledge and can help with suggestions for local things to do.

Spend the rest of your time on Chiloé exploring the churches; my favourite was definitely Tenuan, which you could reach by bus from the terminal in Castro (one hour 10 mins, $1,600 CLP/$2 USD).

If there’s a group of you, take a wander along the shore and you can try negotiating a small boat to take you to Isla Mechuque, which also has its own church and a small museum and is supposed to be stunning.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The beautiful wooden church in the village of Tenuan.

Cucao, a one-hour bus journey (again from the local bus terminal in Castro), is one of my favourite places on the island and has the mind-blowingly beautiful Palafito Cucao (dorm $17,000 CLP/$26 USD, double $55,000 CLP/$84 USD).

Not only is this place hugely comfortable (it has a large dorm with two bathrooms, lovely double rooms and a shared kitchen), it’s the living room area and outdoor terrace with views across Lago Cucao that make this place one of the most sensational places I’ve ever stayed in Chile.

I even saw a giant otter swimming past one day. They can also arrange horseback riding and trekking tours to nearby Parque Nacional Chiloé and its stunning, practically untouched nearby beaches.

Palafito Cucao is close to the Muelle de las Almas, a destination that has shot to fame in Chile in recent years.

While it is beautiful – it’s an art installation shaped like a pier that appears to jut out over the cliff-edge and into the ocean on a desolate hillside – it’s now so overrun that much of the magic is lost.

If you do want to go, make sure you get here as early as possible in the morning, as 45-minute queues for photos with the muelle are unfortunately common.

Days Five and Six: Puerto Varas

Return by bus to the bus terminal in Puerto Montt and then take a small micro (a blue local bus) from the terminal to Puerto Varas (20 mins, $1,000 CLP/$1 USD).

This lovely lakeside town sits beneath the shadow of Volcán Osorno, but rest assured, it hasn’t erupted since 1869.

There’s not a whole lot to do in the town, although the somewhat eccentric collection of artwork and accumulated bric a brac in Museo de Pablo Fierro, run by enthusiastic owner and artist Pablo Fierro is definitely worth an hour of your time through.

For hikers, the best way to stretch your legs is by taking a local micro (minibus) from the corner of El Salvador and San Pedro in the centre of the city (all local buses leave from here) to Petrohué on the banks of Lago Todos los Santos where there are a handful of treks.

Paso Desolación, which goes around the edge of the volcano and takes around eight hours return (23km), while a shorter, 11km route takes a path along the edge of the lake before heading back in a loop and offering views of the volcano and the valley, with a walking time of around three hours.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Sunset over Volcan Osorno.

Don’t miss the Museo Pioneros Petrohué ($2,000 CLP/$3 USD), which is run by Petrohué Lodge and details the various “pioneers” who ventured to this once remote part of the Chilean lakes district across history, including explorers and German settlers.

If it’s not open (which it probably won’t be), nip into the Expeditions Office next door to ask to be allowed in.

Catch the bus back from Petrohué and stop at the Saltos de Petrohué ($4,000 CLP/ $6 USD) to see the raging, crystalline waters of the Río Petrohué churning over the rocks with a backdrop of the volcano.

For a more relaxed afternoon, hop on a bus to Fruitillar (from the same place in Puerto Varas) to try locally baked kuchen, a German dessert brought, and cooked, by the German descendants who started this town.

There’s also a really good museum, the Museo Colonial Alemán, with its collection of artefacts brought over from Germany with the settlers and the history of founding the different towns around the lake.

There’s also Frutillar’s elegant, lakeside theatre, Teatro del Lago (they have performances from all across the globe and the building is renowned for its acoustics).

Possibly the most delightful pit-stop for lunch or afternoon tea is at Lavandara: Casa de Té, a gloriously cute cafe with spectacular views across their lavender fields and down to the lake.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
At Lavandara: Casa de Té. Seriously, have you ever seen a cuter cafe?

Where to stay in Puerto Varas: Set in a traditional German mansion, Estancia 440 Hotel Boutique (Decher 440, $72,000 CLP/$100 USD double) is elegantly rustic (with plenty of modern touches) and lots of communal spaces, from a small kitchen, to a terrace with sun lounger, hot tub and sofa room beneath the house.

Where to stay on a budget in Puerto Varas: The wonderful Compass del Sur (dorm $14,000 CLP/$22 USD, double $39,000 CLP/$61 USD), with its cosy sitting room with wood fire, breakfast room and huge new kitchen, it’s my personal favourite when I’m in town. Their owners are very knowledgeable about activities to do in the local area and bedrooms are large, most of which now have their own private bathroom after extensive renovations in 2017.

Days Seven to Eight: Valdivia

Catch a bus from Puerto Varas bus to Valdivia (three hours, $5,000 CLP/$7 USD) and join a tour of the fascinating (and not for the claustrophobic) Museo Submerino O’Brian, where you get to enter the Scottish-designed submarine and learn about life on board.

Across the river, the Museo Anthropologico has a series of exhibitions on Mapuche silverware and pottery, plus information about important historical figures from the city.

The Botanic Gardens and Parque Saval are both beautiful places for stretching your legs and enjoying the lush greenery of the city.

The next day, visit the harbour early in the morning for the fish market and to meet the resident population of sea lions, likely lazing on platforms next to the market in the hopes of some breakfast.

Then take a bus to Niebla and explore the Castillo de Niebla, which was once an important fort used by the Spanish to defend against attacks and part of the old barracks have been turned into museums about the region’s history and indigenous people.

From here, you can take one of the passenger boats across to pretty Isla Mancera or Corral to explore other Spanish forts.

One of the main Chile tourist attractions that you’ll find in Valdivia – thanks to its German heritage – is its beer, so it’s only fair that you stop and sample some of the best.

Kuntsmann – the largest brewery, located on the road to Niebla – has a restaurant and brewery tours.

I personally think the food and beer at El Growler in Valdivia is significantly better. They are super busy most evenings so make sure you get there before 8pm or book if you want a table.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Boarding one of the local passenger boats to reach Corral.

Where to stay in Valdivia: Set in the owner’s family home, charming Tejas del Sur (Las Arrayanes 490, $68,000 CLP/$95 USD double) offers excellent value for money, with modern bedrooms, personalised service and a lovely patio and garden where you can watch the hummingbirds sipping from the flowers in summer.

Where to stay on a budget in Valdivia: Valdivia’s best hostel (admittedly there aren’t a huge amount of options, but this place is wonderful) is the really homely Airesbuenos (dorm $11,000 CLP/$17,000 USD, double $32,000 CLP/$52 USD), whose focus is on being environmentally-friendly (they’ve got solar panels to heat the showers and have a strict recycling policy), their breakfasts are excellent (yogurt and muesli followed by bread and local jam) and they even have a resident duck.

Days Nine to Twelve: Pucón

Take a bus to Pucón (three hours, $4,700 CLP/$7 USD) from the bus station in Valdivia.

Pucón is one of Chile’s best-known adventure destinations thanks to a range of highlights, including an active volcano that you can hike up, accessible national parks and a whole host of other activities to get your pulse racing.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Volcan Villarrica rising out of the background.

One of the best day trips you can take from Pucón is to nearby Parque Nacional Huerquehue, a one-hour bus ride from the town with Buses Caburgua (they have their bus station at Uruguay 540).

There are five trails in the park, the most exciting being the Sendero Los Lagos, which goes past a pair of impressive waterfall and ends with glorious views across the lakes at the top of the mountain.

The most challenging (and with the best vistas) is Sendero San Sebastian, where you’ll see not one, not two but NINE volcanoes and 14 lakes from the top. Uh, yes please!

It’s also impossible to visit Pucón without hiking up Volcán Villarrica, the snow-topped volcano that dominates the landscapes surrounding the town and is easily one of the top Chile attractions for visitors.

It’s a tough climb (you start around 6-7am from Pucón and are at the crater by lunchtime), but not one that requires technical expertise; you will need to go with a guide unless you have all of your own equipment (ice axes, crampons etc.).

Patagonia Experience is the most recommended of all the agencies in the town. Expect to pay upwards of $80,000/$132 USD.

And don’t miss Termas Geometricas, some really beautiful hot springs located on the southern flanks of the volcano. Unless you’ve got a car, you’ll need to take a tour ($35,000/$58 USD) – but it’s worth the cost as you get to spend an afternoon relaxing in these stunning pools.

Where to stay in Pucón: Another personal favourite if you’re willing to splash some cash is the Maison Nomade B&B (double $90,000/$120 USD – but email them as they can offer cheaper prices), which is a few kilometres away from Pucón but has glorious views of the volcano from their huge garden, a swimming pool, beautiful modern rooms decorated with the handicrafts that Carolina, one of the owners, makes, plus a kitchen for guests. Alain, the other owner, also runs an orientation meeting to help you decide what you plan to do during your stay (and he knows the region like the back of his hand).

Where to stay on a budget in Pucón: Having visited this place recently as part of my research for Moon Chile, I can back up the general consensus that Chili Kiwi (dorm $10,000 CLP/$16 USD, hobbit hole $32,000 CLP/$52 USD) is one of the best hostels in Latin America. I stayed in both a hobbit hole and a treehouse (the hobbit hole was a bit roomier and had its own tiny private terrace, which was a nice touch), but they’ve genuinely thought of everything here: from their private bar, to their three kitchens, huge lockers for people who’ve checked out but need somewhere to store their bags and just the enthusiasm of the owners and the staff who can answer practically any question you have about travel in the region (and beyond). It’s not a party hostel, but it does attract a youngish crowd.

Days Twelve to Fourteen: Parque Nacional Conguillio

From Pucón, get an early bus to Temuco (one hour forty minutes) and catch the 10.30am Nar Bus to Parque Nacional Conguillio (leaves from the Terminal Rural de Temuco only in January and February, two and a half hours). It’ll drop you off right at the campsite and main ranger office for the park.

From here, there are a number of different day hikes to take that pass through the park’s incredible ancient scenery of thousand-year-old Araucania trees, black lava flows from looming Volcán Llaima and gloriously blue lakes.

The park is actually quieter and more beautiful to visit in November and December, when the weather’s warming up, or in April, to see the forests turn shades of autumn yellows and golds. The easiest way to get here in these months (or a faster means than taking the bus in high season) is hiring a car from the rental agencies in the arrival’s terminal of Aeropuerto Araucanía (ZCO) in Temuco. You can get here via taxi (around $15,000 CLP/$21 USD from the bus terminal in Temuco). .

You can get hold of maps from the ranger station here. The bus returns back to Temuco at 1pm (soon after it’s arrived).

Out of season, your only options are to take a taxi from nearby Curacuatin or rent a car in Temuco.

There’s a small shop at the campsite, but otherwise you’ll need to bring food with you (unless staying at La Baita, who can prepare meals for you).

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
An aerial view of the picturesque Laguna Arco Iris

Where to stay in Parque Nacional Conguillio: There are a number of campsites run by Sendas Conguillio. The best of these, if you’re travelling in a pair or alone, is Camping El Estero ($6,500 CLP/$11 USD pp), which you cannot book (but there is normally space). If you’ve got a vehicle, La Baita (double $90,000 CLP/$150 USD) is spectacular, with stylish, wooden bedrooms, cosy communal living room with wood fire and hot tubs. Outside of the summer, the prices are cheaper (but they’re closed in June).

Fly from Temuco airport to Santiago or take the bus overnight (eight hours).

Changes you can make to this Chile itinerary for two weeks:

  • Replace Chiloé with a few days on Easter Island. Be aware that flights, accommodation and food are not cheap (although I’ve written a guide about how to visit Easter Island on a budget) and it’s worth setting up an alert on Skyscanner to see when flights drop in price.
Traveling to Chile? You need these two detailed travel itineraries to help you plan a two week or 10 day trip around Chile. Insider tips, hotel and restaurant recommendations and travel guidance included. #Patagonia #chile #pucon #sanpedrodeatacama #atacamadesert #worldlyadventurer #chiletravel #southamericatravel #adventuretravel #travelitinerary #travelplanning

20 of the Best Books About South America to Add to Your Reading List
← Previous
Two Months Backpacking in Peru: A World Away from Cusco
Next →