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A local guide to travelling in Chile

What better way to explore a country than by following in the footsteps of the people who know it best? In order to find out the best places to visit in Chile, we asked Chilean travellers to name their favourite places to visit. *

Torres del Paine in Magallanes

The cliffs of Los Cuernos in National Park Torres del Paine

The cliffs of Los Cuernos in National Park Torres del Paine

A national park which features a wide variety of scenery (from mountains to glaciers to forests to lakes), Torres del Paine (‘Towers of Blue’) is a side to Chile that many visitors to the country don’t get a chance to see. Locals, on the other hand, are well versed in the delights of this Patagonian paradise and Chileans travel from all over the country to hike, swim, climb and explore the area.

The eponymous towers are three gigantic rocky peaks and the park’s other attractions include the Grey Glacier, Lake Pehoé, Lake Sarmiento and Nordenskjöld Lake. The park’s azure skies and sapphire lakes are not to be missed, especially at midday, so ensure that you have mountain and lakes views by checking into the Pampa Lodge, Quincho & Caballos.

Pisco Elqui in Coquimbo

The vineyards of Elqui Valley

The vineyards of Elqui Valley

A northern town named after the brandy ‘Pisco’, Pisco Elqui is a great introduction to the country’s winemaking region, Coquimbo. Although pisco is made in a number of South American countries (Peru’s version is a standout), this clear brandy is quintessentially Chilean, so make sure to fit in a visit to one of the local distilleries.

Teetotal travellers are also catered for by the town’s non-intoxicating attractions. The town’s architectural highlights include Nuestra Señora del Rosario – a church with technicoloured windows – and the town’s main square, Plaza de Armas. For unbeatable views of the Elqui Valley stay at the Illa Ylla – these self-catered apartments are only a 4-minute drive from the town of Montegrade, known as the home of Nobel winning poet Gabriela Mistral.

San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama Desert

The Los Flamencos National Reserve

The Los Flamencos National Reserve

Another northern town, San Pedro de Atacama is used by many Chilean travellers as a stopping off point to explore the nearby salt flats. Adventurous travellers can go sandboarding in the desert, trek along the Licancabur volcano or stargaze at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory. And for those that prefer something a little more low-key, the Los Flamencos National Reserve in Salar de Atacama is especially popular and Geysers del Tatio provides some drama, famed for being the largest geyser site in the world.

Travellers hoping to visit the salt flats are advised to set off early in the day, with Lagunas Altiplanicas the closest salt pan to the town, and there’s even another chance to see flamingos if you make it to the Laguna Chaxa. Hostal Illauca de Atacama is a highly rated hotel in the town centre and the staff are happy to arrange tours for their guests.

Hanga Roa

Easter Island's iconic Moai statues

Easter Island's iconic Moai statues

Hanga Roa is probably more familiar to international travellers as Easter Island, one of the most remote islands in the world and home to the iconic Moai statues. Once you’ve marvelled at these gigantic stone heads (and it may take a couple of trips) head to one of the islands’ white sand beaches. Northern beach Anakena tends to be more popular, with water sports, restaurants and palm trees lining the coastline.

Hiking up to Terevaka – the highest point on Hanga Roa – will give you panoramic views of the island and many visitors bike up to Rano (a volcanic crater that looks like a giant took a bite out of the earth). Hareswiss Easter Island Bungalows are the highest rated accommodation on the island and are only 5-minutes walk from the beach.

** The data scientists at Booking.com looked at the top Chilean destinations, visited by Chilean travellers.