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15 Greatest Issues To Do in Puerto Varas, Chile


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Welcome to Puerto Varas, a lakeside metropolis stuffed with adventures, and one in every of my favourite locations in all of Chile! There are such a lot of cool issues to do in Puerto Varas — from waterfall-visiting and German town-hopping to kayaking, procuring, and having fun with stylish eating places!

My husband and I ended up in Puerto Varas on a little bit of a whim — and it ended up being one of many highlights of our Chile Argentina honeymoon!

What makes Puerto Varas so German? Within the 1850s, Germans have been inspired to maneuver right here to develop the land, and greater than 200 households made the journey. (Notice that this was LONG earlier than World Conflict II. These usually are not the identical Germans who fled to Argentina post-World Conflict II.)

We arrived in Los Lagos, Chile’s Lakes Area, after just a few days within the Atacama Desert, and WHAT a distinction it was — rolling hills of farmland, old style timber homes, flowers in every single place, and essentially the most lush, sweet-smelling air.

Puerto Varas is perched on Lake Llanquihue, with views of snow-capped volcanoes within the distance. Chileans come right here for the simple entry to the outside, in addition to the tradition — so you possibly can go onerous or take it sluggish.

I extremely suggest renting a automobile to get pleasure from all that this area has to supply. However even in case you’re coming in by public transit, you’ll discover a lot to like about Puerto Varas. Let’s have a look!

This submit was printed in April 2024 and was co-written by Adventurous Kate and Riana Ang-Canning.

A man sitting on a bench in the town of Puerto Varas. Flowers bloom on the park around him, while in the distance you can see houses built into the lakeside hills.
Puerto Varas’s city middle has a number of good locations to loosen up.

Greatest Issues To Do in Puerto Varas, Chile

Discover the city middle

There’s tons to do within the middle of Puerto Varas. Begin by testing two church buildings, Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón, a 1915 Catholic church that overlooks downtown, and Iglesia Lueterana, a 1924 Lutheran church alongside the lake. 

When you love to buy, Puerto Varas is house to a number of small boutiques and secondhand shops. When you love thrift procuring as a lot as I do, take a look at Loica Liquidadora, a beloved secondhand clothes retailer. When you want sports activities gear, there’s additionally a Patagonia store on the town! 

One of many issues that makes Puerto Varas stand out is its fascinating structure. My favourite was Casa Kuschel, one of many oldest homes in Puerto Varas, a gothic masterpiece that the Addams Household would love.

One other is Casa Gotschlich, a historic German house from the early 1900s. Loads of German-inspired houses and buildings could be seen dotted across the lake.

Talking of German tradition, you’ll additionally wish to take pleasure in some German meals whereas on the town! Germans love their afternoon kaffee und kuchen, or espresso and cake. Right here in Chile, they flip it Spanish and name it kuchenes (KOO-ken-ays)!

An museum building shaped like a house that has a giant cuckoo clock next to it, a boat built into the side of the house, and two VW vans parked next to it.
Visiting the Museo Pablo Fierro is definitely probably the greatest issues to do in Puerto Varas!

Go to Museo Pablo Fierro

You’ll know Museo Pablo Fierro the second you see it — almost everybody stops and stares. Its quirky exterior — that includes bikes, an enormous clock, and half a ship — just about calls for you cease in.

Inside you’ll discover a assortment curated by artist Pablo Fierro that showcases the intersection of the native Chilote tradition and the German farmers who immigrated to Puerto Varas within the mid nineteenth Century.

Not like in most museums, guests are inspired to play and work together with lots of the artifacts on show.

A house sitting at the bottom of a tree-covered hill topped with a cross.
Cerro Philippi, through Sergio Iglesias on Shutterstock.

Stroll or bike Cerro Philippi

Simply north of town middle is Parque Philippi, a lush park providing trails as much as the height of Cerro Philippi. Hikers can take the 0.7 mile (1.1 km) out and again Mirador Cerro Philippi path up the mountain. On a transparent day, you’ll get an awesome view of the volcanoes! 

There are additionally quite a lot of bike trails all through the park. They vary in issue degree, so even novice mountain bikers can benefit from the stunning surroundings.  

People sunbathing on a dark gray lake beach in front of a deep blue lake. One guy is in the lake up to his waist. There's a snowy mountain in the distance.
First heat day of the 12 months? Everybody’s hanging out by the lake!

Calm down on the shores of Lake Llanquihue

Puerto Varas hugs the shores of Lake Llanquihue, Chile’s second largest lake. On a pleasant day, you’ll discover locals and vacationers having fun with a stroll or chilling out with a beer by the water. There’s a little fishing pier known as Muelle Piedralplen with a number of benches for having fun with the view.

Not quite a lot of swimming occurs at Lake Llanquihue, as Puerto Varas not often will get heat sufficient for individuals to courageous the water. However in case you occur to go to throughout a very scorching stretch of summer season, get pleasure from a dip!

I used to be in Puerto Varas in early December, Chile’s late spring. It was overcast and lightweight jacket climate till the ultimate day, when the solar got here out, the volcanoes revealed themselves, and some intrepid of us jumped into the water!

A restaurant with people sitting at a wooden bar, and big wood stoves reaching down from the ceiling.
It’s important to hit up Mesa Tropera for the pizza — or the beer!

Eat at Mesa Tropera

Once we instructed Chileans we have been coming to Puerto Varas, lots of them stated the identical factor: “You MUST go to Mesa Tropera.” With that many endorsements, we needed to go!

Mesa Tropera is a pizzeria and cervecería (beer bar — and right here it’s a craft brewery). It’s perched proper on the lake, with large home windows overlooking the volcanoes within the distance.

And along with actually good pizza (by far the most effective I had in Chile), additionally they serve fascinating tartares (not simply beef, however salmon, octopus, and artichoke) and fascinating fusion dishes, like Italian pasta dishes with Patagonian lamb. The beers are good, too!

I’ll be sincere — Chilean meals isn’t the best, however Puerto Varas has quite a lot of good eating places that I loved. Listed here are some I like to recommend:

La Vinoteca — This wine bar and store lets you purchase your wine at retailer costs, however they’ll open and serve it to you. In addition they have an unbelievable octopus appetizer with roasted potatoes, leeks, and cheese. It’s a bizarre combo, but it surely works!

La Chalota: When you’re in search of a hipster brunch in Puerto Varas, that is the place. They’ve tons of yummy baked items and I extremely suggest their shakshuka. 

Japon del Lago: When you’re within the temper for Japanese meals — or Peruvian-flavored Nikkei delicacies, frequent in Chile — it is a good sushi spot. We went twice as a result of we beloved their tuna tiradito a lot! 

Dharma Espresso: I all the time say wherever I journey I’ve to seek out the most effective espresso on the town. In Puerto Varas, that will be Dharma Espresso, with scrumptious flat whites and good lake views.

A rushing waterfall with bright teal water. It's surrounded by cliffs topped with yellow flowers, and in the background, a conical snow-capped volcano.
I beloved my go to to Petrohué Falls, simply down the highway from Puerto Varas.

Go to Petrohué Falls

Petrohué Falls (Saltas de Petrohué) is an absolute MUST go to throughout your time in Puerto Varas. These speeding waterfalls are completely gorgeous, particularly on a transparent day, when Osorno Volcano rises completely behind them!

A brief path will take you to those chute-style waterfalls and strolling trails within the space will will let you expertise them from totally different viewpoints. We additionally noticed some lovable foxes, who beloved hanging out on the cafe space. (Please don’t feed them. It’s not good for them.)

My prime advice is to time your go to for a transparent day — it’s so a lot better when the volcano rises behind the falls.

Petrohué Falls is a couple of 45-minute drive from Puerto Varas.

A mountain rising up behind a rushing river surrounded by forest.
Exploring Vicente Perez Rosales Nationwide Park is likely one of the extra enjoyable lively issues to do in Puerto Varas.

Go to Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales

Vicente Pérez Rosales Nationwide Park is Chile’s oldest nationwide park and residential to the well-known Petrohué Falls, superbly inexperienced Lake Todos los Santos, and the snow-capped Osorno Volcano. When you’ve obtained time for extra than simply the falls, visiting the entire nationwide park is usually a blast!

To discover this epic park, you possibly can head out on this guided climbing tour. Out of your resort in Puerto Varas, you’ll drive up into the park, stroll round volcanic craters, get pleasure from a scenic espresso, and hike by means of the forest to the Petrohué River and Emerald Lake.

Or head throughout the nationwide park to the city of Peulla on this present day journey. You’ll drive alongside the lake to the city of Ensenada, go to Petrohué Falls and Petrohué River, take a catamaran throughout Todos Los Santos Lake, get pleasure from lunch in Peulla, after which get pleasure from an exercise of your selection within the afternoon, comparable to horseback using, fishing or climbing.  

An alternative choice is a guided bike tour that visits Petrohué Falls, Lago Todos los Santos, and Osorno Volcano.

An old-fashioned German-looking timber house surrounded by lush gardens with shrubbery.
Frutillar is essentially the most great German village in Chile!

Spend a day in Frutillar

On the west facet of Lake Llanquihue lies the lovable German city of Frutillar. This small city seems prefer it was plucked straight out of Bavaria! I couldn’t imagine we have been nonetheless in Chile.

There are two components of city — Frutillar Alto and Frutillar Baja — and also you wish to head to Frutillar Bajo, the gorgeous a part of city proper on the lake. You’ll wish to {photograph} all the pieces in sight!

Admire the beautiful structure, the blooming gardens, the good downtown outlets, and pay a go to to the Frutillar German Colonial Museum. When you time your journey proper, you may additionally be capable to attend the annual Semanas Musicales music pageant, which takes place in late January and early February.

Once you begin to get hungry, I like to recommend Membership Alemán de Frutillar, the place we loved a pleasant schnitzel and these unbelievable potatoes with cheese and bacon, together with some German Chilean beer.

And since you should cease on your day by day kuchenes, as German Chileans name it, head to Casa Rosalba for kaffee und kuchen. They make scrumptious espresso-based drinks in addition to apple strudel and cheesecake, and you may get pleasure from views from its excessive perch on a hill. It’s cozy and beautiful.

To get to Frutillar from Puerto Varas, you possibly can drive (25 minutes), take the bus, or go to as a part of a day tour. Today tour from Puerto Varas stops at each Llanquihue and Frutillar.

Brightly painted small houses in Puerto Octay, set on an overgrown hillside.
Puerto Octay is only a nice spot to stroll round.

Go to different cities on the lake

Frutillar is simply one of many cities round Lake Llanquihue that you simply’ll wish to go to when you’re in Puerto Varas. Two different cities you possibly can take a look at are Puerto Octay and Llanquihue. 

Puerto Octay is splendidly low-key city, simply 45 minutes from Puerto Varas. There’s not a ton to see when it comes to sights, however it’s a stunning city to stroll round and odor the roses (actually, we walked previous a home with a HUGE rose backyard on the nook of Costanera Pichi Juan and Muñoz Gamero). 

In Puerto Octay, simply stroll across the city, together with the large hill with a cemetery overlooking the lake. I extremely suggest lunch at Restaurant Willhause (scrumptious and refined German meals, and I had a terrific salmon) and low and cake at Cafe Meson Carpintero. They’d unbelievable cream puffs and possibly the most effective flat white I had in all of Chile! 

You can too go to the city of Llanquihue, which is simply quarter-hour from Puerto Varas. It’s not the prettiest city on the lake, but it surely’s price a fast cease to see the German historical past and native dairy farms. When you’re not driving, you possibly can go to Llanquihue and Frutillar on this half-day tour

People whitewaterrafting down a river in Chile.
Rafting in Chile, through Jose Ignacio Retameal on Shutterstock.

Go rafting or kayaking 

Being within the lakes area of Chile, Puerto Varas is likely one of the finest locations to expertise water sports activities. When you’re feeling adventurous, head out on a rafting tour down Rio Petrohué. 

This half-day guided rafting tour could have you navigating by means of Class III rapids as you see volcanoes within the distance. Need a fair larger adrenaline rush? This rafting tour contains Class III and Class IV rapids! 

Or in case you favor one thing a bit extra laidback, you possibly can go kayaking. Paddle by means of the plush vegetation and swamp forest of the Maullín River on this kayaking tour or spend half a day kayaking round Laguna La Poza, whose calm waters are good for households or freshmen. 

Kate and Charlie, in matching Patagonia jackets (his yellow, hers hot pink), standing next to a tall, skinny waterfall surrounded by mossy green cliffs.
Charlie and me in entrance of Salto Las Cascadas!

Go to Salto Las Cascadas

When you’re within the temper for extra waterfalls, pay a go to to Salto Las Cascadas. That is the antithesis of the well-organized Petrohué Falls expertise — it’s only a dust highway to a makeshift parking zone, adopted by a path by means of the woods, till you attain a waterfall.

You’ll set out on a 30 minute stroll by means of the forest and alongside the speeding Rio Blanco Las Cascadas till you attain a tall, skinny waterfall, good for picture ops.

Las Cascadas is on the east shore of Lake Llanquihue, a couple of 90 minute drive from Puerto Varas. I feel it is smart to go to these falls as half of a bigger journey to the Petrohué Falls and Osorno Volcano, that are additionally east of the lake. 

A tall, snow-capped conical volcano against a bright blue sky.

Expertise the gorgeous Volcán Osorno

Volcán Osorno is likely one of the most lively volcanoes in all of Chile’s Andes Mountains and a definite pure magnificence within the tenth area of Los Lagos. It stands 8,700 toes (2,650 meters) tall and has erupted eleven occasions in recorded historical past, most just lately in 1869.

Whereas nonetheless thought of lively, Osorno Volcano is now probably the most visited locations within the Lakes area. You may go to as a part of this tour seeing each Volcán Osorno and Petrohué Falls, or this tour which incorporates Osorno Volcano, Calbuco Volcano, and Llanquihue Lake

When you’re feeling actually adventurous you possibly can ski on the Osorno Volcano Ski Middle or mountain climb on this in a single day guided climbing journey. Climbing an lively volcano is an expertise I feel each journey traveler ought to have! (Although I didn’t do it right here, I did it just a few occasions in Sicily.)

A young man fishing in a clear green river in Chile.
Fishing in Chile, through Shutterstock

Go fishing within the Maullin River

When you like to fish, you’ll want to present it a strive within the Lakes Area! When you’re trying to fish close to Puerto Varas, take a look at this personal sport fishing tour. From right here, you’ll head out to Llanquihue and fish for brown and rainbow trout on the Maullin River. 

Get pleasure from a full day of fishing by means of the mangroves and lunch on the banks of the river. This personal tour is ideal for fishing fans, households, and teams. 

A lake with mountains rising up behind it in Chile.
Alerce Andino Nationwide Park, through Shutterstock

Go to Alerce Andino Nationwide Park

Alerce Andino Nationwide Park is a temperate rainforest recognized for its lakes, wetlands, and alerce timber that develop over 147 toes (45 meters) tall and 13 toes (4 meters) extensive. At a bit over an hour from town of Puerto Varas, Parque Nacional Alerce Andino makes an ideal day journey out in nature.

Be part of this guided day tour to the nationwide park the place a information will take you alongside the paths and share extra concerning the park’s biodiversity. 

Brightly colored houses on stilts in still water in Chiloe, Chile.
Conventional stilt homes in Chiloe, Chile, through Shutterstock

Go to Chiloé Island

Chiloé Island is a part of an archipelago in southern Chile. The island is known for its historic Jesuit church buildings, which have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Website, and houses that sit on stilts out within the water.

The Chiloé archipelago can also be a pure paradise recognized for its gorgeous landscapes and fascinating wildlife, together with whales and penguins.

Chiloé has tons of issues to do, particularly in case you love the outside, and is best visited for just a few days — however it may be achieved as a day journey from Puerto Varas. Simply know that the drive is 3.5 hours every method to town of Castro. If that’s cool with you, go for it!

You can too go to Chiloé on a guided tour from Puerto Varas, leaving the lengthy day of driving to another person. 

A tall wooden building in Puerto Varas with a few boutiques on the ground floor.
Patagonia in nearly-Patagonia!

How A lot Time to Spend in Puerto Varas

I feel three days is sufficient time to discover Puerto Varas and Lake Llanquihue. However in case you’re hoping for a extra laid-back and stress-free journey — or in case you want a break in the midst of a busy Chile itinerary, like me — Puerto Varas is a good place to remain for some time.

I spent nearly per week in Puerto Varas, each sightseeing and getting some work achieved, and it was good. I beloved the calm setting, the fabulous eating places, and the truth that costs have been a lot decrease than they have been in Patagonia.

The beauty of Puerto Varas is there’s loads to take action you’re not bored, however you don’t really feel strain to do ALL THE THINGS (like in San Pedro de Atacama). You may actually take your time, decelerate, and benefit from the metropolis.

A type of days needs to be spent exploring the points of interest across the lake. In a single day, in case you have been formidable, you might drive across the lake clockwise and go to Llanquihue, Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Salto Las Cascadas, and Petrohué Waterfalls earlier than coming again to Puerto Varas.

When you solely have someday in Puerto Varas altogether, I might spend most of your time within the city and do a facet journey to both Frutillar or Petrohué Falls. You may in all probability do each in case you began early and ended late (double-check the Petrohué Falls opening hours first, although).

However once more, I actually loved having extra time to loosen up in Puerto Varas. I feel you’ll get pleasure from just a few extra days right here, too.

A tree and flower-filled park on a pier leading out to a bright blue lake.
Puerto Varas is a simple drive from Puerto Montt airport.

Find out how to get to Puerto Varas

The easiest way to get to Puerto Varas is to fly into Puerto Montt, hire a automobile, and drive to town. You may fly on to Puerto Montt from different cities in Chile, together with Santiago and Puerto Natales. From Puerto Montt, it’s a 30-minute drive by means of stunning farmland to Puerto Varas.  

Personally, I wouldn’t suggest spending a lot if any time in Puerto Montt itself. We visited briefly to choose up an Apple Watch charger and have been glad we determined to spend extra of our time in Puerto Varas. 

You may additionally go to Puerto Varas as a part of a Chilean highway journey. To the southwest you might have Chiloé Island, recognized for its historic wood church buildings; 4 hours north of Puerto Varas lies Pucón, an awesome place for climbing and water sports activities; and to the south, you might have the gorgeous landscapes of Patagonia! 

When you’d wish to increase your highway journey to go to extra of South America, you possibly can head east previous Cerro Tronador on the border of Argentina to the favored lake city, Bariloche. Bariloche is a 4.5 hour drive from Puerto Varas — although remember that this border crossing can get busy with vacationers attempting to go to each Chile and Argentina in a single day. 

A greenhouse in a little German village in Chile surrounded by flowering trees and gardens.
I beloved this greenhouse within the city of Frutillar. Visiting Frutillar is likely one of the finest issues to do in Puerto Varas.

The place to Keep in Puerto Varas

Listed here are my picks for the most effective locations to remain in Puerto Varas primarily based in your funds: 

Prime Rated Luxurious Lodge in Puerto Varas: Lodge AWA is a beautiful, fashionable property with lake and volcano views, complimentary breakfast, and a hearth in each room. In addition they have a restaurant, pool, sauna, spa, scorching tubs, and a hammam on website! Whereas not central on the town, it’s onerous to beat these views! 

Prime Rated Mid-range Lodge in Puerto Varas: Lodge Cumbres Puerto Varas presents a compromise between luxurious facilities and a central location, all with stunning views of the lake and mountains. Right here you’ll discover a scorching tub, sauna, spa and restaurant, all inside strolling distance of among the metropolis’s most important points of interest. 

Prime Rated Funds Lodge in Puerto Varas: MaPatagonia Hostel is ideal for funds vacationers in search of a bit allure. Sleep in a personal or dorm room on this restored German house, prepare dinner within the shared kitchen, and loosen up within the stunning backyard out again.  

Discover offers on locations to remain in Puerto Varas right here.

A boy standing on a sandy beach in front of a lake.
Puerto Varas is nice to go to through the southern hemisphere’s summer season.

Greatest Time to Go to Puerto Varas

Excessive season in Chile is from December to March, when the Los Lagos area enjoys essentially the most sunshine and the least rain. Nevertheless, as a result of Puerto Varas is on the sting of Patagonia, it nonetheless experiences among the wild climate the area is understood for.

We visited in December and regardless of it being the start of the height summer season season, we needed to put on our coats most days. We solely had one actually heat day proper on the finish. So even in case you go to through the southern hemisphere’s summer season, deliver a coat! 

Even with the marginally colder climate we skilled, I might nonetheless suggest visiting Puerto Varas on the tail ends of peak season: early December or late March. That means, you get the most effective likelihood of good climate and barely smaller crowds. 

Kate in a leopard print top and black hiking pants standing on a rock in front of a rushing teal river.
Me loving life on the paths at Petrohué Waterfalls!

Is Puerto Varas Price It?

I had an absolute ball in Puerto Varas! This was one of many final locations we added to our itinerary, and I’m so glad we determined to return right here as a substitute of someplace else in Chile.

When you’re on the fence about visiting Puerto Varas and you like the thought of an journey city on the lake with tons to discover, I feel you’ll get pleasure from your self right here. Go and have the most effective time!

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Have you ever been to Puerto Varas? Any tricks to share?