There’s a magical duality about the views from Puerto Varas. On the one hand, the distant peak of Mount Osorno looms darkly, soaring up beyond the clouds like an immense, pointed sentry keeping watch over the landscape. On the other, the flat, glassy waters of Lake Llanquihue sit serenely, a silent mirror reflecting the volcano and sky.
It was against this backdrop – at once menacing and tranquil – that German settlers founded the town back in 1853. The legacy of these first European residents is visible today, with many houses still carrying the quaint gables and turrets that came across the pond with them.
For modern-day visitors, the atmosphere in town is relaxed and hospitable, with a lot of cosy restaurants serving hearty meals to weary adventurers. But let’s face it, if you’re coming from outside, it’s not because of the town itself.
No, the pull of Puerto Varas lies in that boundless backdrop of wilderness and the possibilities it harbours. If you’re into adrenaline rushes, take on the mighty mountains and volcanoes, whether careering down on skis, whooshing downriver in a raft, or hiking up to the summit. And if you like your adventures more sedate, take to the waters in a rowing boat and drift along, surrounded on all sides by the blue expanses of water and sky.
When to go?
When to go to Puerto Varas very much depends on what you’re after. Winter’s best for snow-based fun, and it’s also when you’ll find the town at its quietest. However, summer brings warmer weather that’s perfect for hiking – and even stretching out on some of Lake Llanquihue’s freshwater beaches.
Hotel Cabaña del Lago Puerto Varas
Where to stay?
Hotel Cabaña del Lago Puerto Varas – Puerto Varas, Chile
Perched overlooking Lake Llanquihue, this hotel gets rave reviews from Booking.com guests for its prime location. Take your pick from rooms and apartments, most of which have views stretching out over the water. If that doesn’t inspire you to go for a jaunt on the hotel’s free bikes, nothing will!
Estancia 440 Hotel Boutique
Estancia 440 Hotel Boutique – Puerto Varas, Chile
The charm of Estancia 400 hits you well before you step through the door. This cute B&B has a German-influenced exterior that has guests swooning. It also scores highly among Booking.com guests for the hearty breakfast laid on by the welcoming hosts.
Hotel Cumbres Puerto Varas
Hotel Cumbres Puerto Varas – Puerto Varas, Chile
Booking.com guests all agree that this lavish hotel is ideal for a bit of post-adventure pampering. You can curl up on a sofa in the airy lounge, or go all in with a long, relaxing spa session. There’s also a professional masseuse and a spa pool that looks out onto the lake.