The Localist

Puerto Varas

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Puerto Varas is a beautiful small city located in the Region de los Lagos (Region of the Lakes) of Chile. Situated right next to the Llanquihue Lake and right in front of the Osorno Vocano, this city is quite special. During the mid 1800s, the Chilean government promoted colonization of the southern regions of the country, and many German families settled in this area in those days. This explains Puerto Varas’ architecture, gastronomy and its people.

I love to visit the beautiful Puerto Varas for its incredible natural sites like the Saltos del Petrohue (amazing waterfall and rapids for rafting), and Lago Todos Los Santos (a beautiful blue water lake). If you’re adventurous, it’s a place where you can try volcano climbing, trekking or skiing. If you like nature, there are several national parks around the area to visit, like the Alerce Andino, with more than 50 lakes and ponds within its 400 square kms.

There is a huge variety of hotels and restaurants in Puerto Varas. You can go to 5 star hotels or rent rooms with local families, who’ll serve up huge delicious breakfasts with German sausages and kuchen or apple strudel. A nice place to stop by is El Barista, a family owned coffee/restaurant/bar with a very diverse clientele (families having dinner, foreigners drinking local beer, old people sharing a hot chocolate).

The south of Chile is green. It rains a lot. Bear that in mind if you want to travel to that region. Although I would argue that not many things can beat a rainy day sitting next to a wooden fire oven while baking homemade bread, the rain will limit your chances to take part in outdoor activities.

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If you happen to be around the area and you like horses, I highly recommend you visit Haras Tronador, in Purranque. One hour away from Puerto Varas, this place breeds lipizzan horses. There’s no tourist program, but you can drop in to watch the horses exercise daily, in a place with crystal lamps and classical music. This place is truly out of a fairy tale.

How to get there? From Santiago you can get a flight to Puerto Montt (half hour car ride away from Puerto Varas), or you can take a night bus (takes 12 hours). Depending on the time of the year, you can find cheap airfares.

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