When I first told people I was going to South America for the very first time, they excitedly asked, “Where are you going?!” To which I replied, “Chile!”
And I would see it.
Sometimes it would be subtle and sometimes a little more overt – slight confusion or even disinterest. I would then say I’m ending my trip with a few days in Buenos Aires, which often got the reply, “Oh, I would love to go to Argentina!”
This wasn’t the case all the time but it happened often enough that I knew Chile — when compared with other South American countries like Brazil, Argentina and Peru — wasn’t at the top of people’s radars. But it should be.
To put it plainly, Chile is one of the most fascinating, diverse and beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and I only saw a fraction of it. Here are 6 reasons to visit Chile:
1. There’s something for everyone
I genuinely believe Chile has something for everyone. Want a big city? Head to Santiago. Want to hike and be adventurous? Leave downtown Santiago for Cajón del Maipo in the Andes mountains. Want quaint streets and beautiful street art? Go to Valparaíso. Keen to be by the water? Head to Viña del Mar. Love all the wine? Visit one (or more) of the country’s many wine regions. I could keep going on and on. The gist: Chile is incredibly diverse and offers something that everyone will love.
2. It has some of the world’s most stunning landscapes
From Chilean Patagonia's Torres del Paine in the south to the Atacama desert in the north to Easter Island and everything in between, it’s mind-boggling when you think of the array of landscapes and attractions that can be found in one country. Chile easily has some of the most stunning landscapes you will ever see. Some require more effort to get to but it’s more than worth it.
3. The people are very friendly
People can make or break a destination no matter how beautiful the place. If the people aren’t friendly or welcoming, why would you want to go back? Well, that definitely is not an issue with Chile. Everywhere I went and everyone I met was nice and welcoming. I also met a number of people originally from outside of Chile who moved there to start a new life, and they all felt it was a place where they could live and be welcomed.
4. Santiago is a bustling city with many things to do and see nearby
Generally speaking, when people talk about the cities they want to visit in South America, the same places often come up: Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Lima, to name a few. But here’s the deal – Santiago absolutely deserves a first AND second look. The city itself has so much to do, from interesting museums and lookout points to trendy neighborhoods and fun activities. Then there are all the things one can do only a short drive from Santiago. Trust me when I say this city is very much underrated.
5. The food is delicious and underrated
My very first meal in Chile ended up being my favorite from my time there – shrimp and reineta ceviche followed by braised beef with mashed potatoes and ham (so much food but all so good!). It also felt representative of some of the types of foods available to those visiting Chile. This country excels at both seafood and red meat – whichever floats your fancy. Then there are the completos (Chilean hot dogs) and empanadas, which are unlike what you’ll find anywhere else. All this to say: go hungry.
6. All the wine
Last but certainly not least is one of my favorite reasons to visit Chile: the copious amounts of amazing and varied wine. Before traveling to Chile, I knew the country did red wine really well. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve enjoyed a nice glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. What I didn’t know was how much I would enjoy the country's white and sparkling wines as well (and I love white and sparkling wines). I enjoyed some great organic wine, both white and red, at Emiliana, the world's largest organic and biodynamic vineyard, and discovered Carmenère, which is produced predominantly in Chile. I could keep on going, but I'll just end by saying go and try it for yourself.
There's so much more I want and hope to discover in Chile. It's one of those places that I left feeling unsatisfied, not because I didn't like what I saw but because I enjoyed this country and know there's more for me to see. That only means I need to start planning my return. See you again, Chile!
Thanks to Chile Travel for hosting me at Emiliana Vineyards and Valparaíso. All opinions of my experience are my own.