From deserts to coastal cities to glaciers, experience the best of Chile’s many varied regions
1. Santiago. Chile’s capital city deserves more than a pit stop. Culture and history are the main attractions, including La Chascona, Pablo Neruda’s former home; the 1805 La Moneda presidential palace; and the hilltop Cerro Santa Lucía park, where the city was founded in 1540. Stay in one of many stylish lodgings, such as The Aubreyboutique hotel, in a 1920s mansion in the bohemian Bellavista district.
2. Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Coastal Valparaíso is a jumble of colorful historic buildings and street art. Funicular railways (ascensores) navigate the city’s steep inclines, adding to the charm. In contrast, the neighboring city of Viña del Mar is a luxury resort town with beaches and surfing that hosts the huge annual International Festival of Song.
3. Patagonia. Encompassing all of southern Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a vast, near-untouched wilderness with mountains, rivers, rare wildlife, and seemingly endless once-in-a-lifetime adventures. Take a cruise or stay at a luxury eco-lodge to explore the forests, fjords, and glacial waters.
4. Atacama Desert. The driest place on Earth is now a resort destination with newcomers like the ultra-exclusive Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa, whose terracotta-colored structure appears to morph organically from a ridge behind it. Popular area activities are hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and the Laguna de Chaxa nature reserve and flamingo breeding ground.