When I went to Chile for the first time (many years ago), I had no idea what to expect. Since then, I have been there several times, and this is a country to fall in love with. So I did. I visited cities and places like Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Chiloè, Santiago, El Quisco, Rancagua and in the north, La Serena, just to mention a few. For me, Chile is hallmarked by a rich history, nice and friendly people, great diversity and just really delicious food and wine. I also love the “feria artesanal” (handcraft market). One is to be found in almost every city. The landscapes change so radically from the south to the north, so it is kind of like visiting many different countries in one. If you don`t feel like driving, I really recommend to take the bus from city to city (I was surprised how good the quality of most buses are and some rides include service like free breakfast and tea/coffee. The prices are also very reasonable).
Chile has experienced various natural disasters over the last few years, but despite this, the spirit and joy of the people keep on shining, giving visitors a feeling of hope and a positive approach to the future. Feel inspired!
Let`s start with the cities and then talk about the food! Some of my favorites are:
Viña del Mar
For me, this city is the most posh city that I visited in Chile. And I mean that in a positive way. Viña del Mar is situated beautifully close to the ocean – making it one of the top destinations for beach holidays in Chile, with guests coming from all over the world.
One of the hallmarks of Viña del Mar is the flower clock called “Reloj de Flores”. This was made in 1962, when the World Cup was hosted in Chile (with Viña del Mar being one of four host cities).
In Viña del Mar and the surrounding cities, they like building monuments with flowers (check out the picture library to see the monument of the Reñaca Beach, recommendable for a day excursion!).
Excursion tip (15 min. drive): Valparaíso (a beautiful place with impressive and colorful houses lined up like pearls on a row on the steep mountain hills). You should try the cable-car ride up to the museum “Museo Naval y Maritimo”, showing the history of the Chilean Navy.
Close to the volcano Osorno lies Puerto Montt, a port city in the southern part of Chile. The handcraft market and restaurant area Angelmo is a true highlight. The fish restaurants are lined up close to each other, and the fish dishes are just amazing. Close to the Angelmo fish market, the handcraft booths offer great souvenirs and a nice atmosphere – also a nice opportunity to interact with the locals!
Excursion tip (approx. 1,5 hour bus ride from Puerto Montt): take the bus to Frutillar, where you will see Osorno close up. Spend the day at the beach followed by dinner in one of the restaurants close by. In Frutillar you can also visit the beautiful theatre and its restaurant (at least just to have a glass of champagne!).
Puerto Varas is a small place, but one of my big favorites. It is situated half an hour from Puerto Montt and it is well worth a visit. The reason is simply the atmosphere! I love to stroll around, have tea and cake and later dinner with typical, Chilean dishes like the Cazuela or Empanadas, and visit the handcraft market (of course!).
OK, it is time to talk about the food! The Chilean kitchen is a surprise of tastes, moods and culinary inspiration. Not to miss, of course, is the Empanada (filled with meat and the “pino” mixture, cheese, mussels or whatever the heart desires). Here are some impressions to whet your appetite:
Ok, so now we`re all hungry:-)
When it comes to accommodation, the best tip is sometimes simply to rent a cabin on sight and negotiate for a good price. You can also search online, for example on the Visit Chile homepage.
My special tip:
Chile is a country where it is a great advantage to speak a little spanish. Interact with locals (they are mostly very helpful and open minded) to get secret little tips for good restaurant and nice things to discover. Be ready for spontanious thinking and surprises you did not see coming in advance!
Dare to make your dreams come true – the journey starts with a single step!
– Charlotte –