Puerto Varas Travel Guide

Plan your ultimate trip to Puerto Varas, a charming town in Southern Chile, with our comprehensive guide. From outdoor adventure to cultural exploration, we cover it all.

Introduction to Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas is a charming town nestled in the Los Lagos region of Southern Chile. It is situated on the shore of Llanquihue Lake and surrounded by stunning landscapes such as the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. With its German heritage and picturesque streets, Puerto Varas is a popular destination for travelers seeking a mix of adventure, culture, and relaxation.

List of Places to Visit in Puerto Varas

Whether you are a nature lover, history buff, or adventure seeker, there is no dearth of things to do and see in Puerto Varas. Here is a list of some must-visit places and attractions.

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Museo Pablo Fierro: This museum houses an extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, and textiles that showcase Chilean contemporary art. One of the highlights of the museum is its display of traditional Mapuche clothing.

  • Iglesia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus: Puerto Varas’s iconic landmark, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a classic example of German colonial architecture. Its striking red color and twin steeples are a sight to behold, especially at night when lit up.

  • Colonial Osorno Museum: Located in a charming old house that dates back to 1860, the Colonial Osorno Museum provides an insight into the town’s history and the region’s indigenous cultures.

Natural Attractions of Puerto Varas: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Llanquihue Lake: The second-largest lake in Chile, Llanquihue, offers a plethora of water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing. The lakeshore also has several beaches and picnic spots for a relaxing day out.

  • Osorno Volcano: One of the most active volcanoes in the region, Osorno, is a popular hiking destination. The trek to its summit takes around six hours and provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

  • Petrohue Falls: This stunning waterfall on the Petrohue River is a must-visit attraction near Puerto Varas. The white water cascades over volcanic rock, creating a picture-perfect scene. One can take a short hike around the falls for a closer view.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas’s stunning landscapes and lush forests make it an ideal destination for hiking and biking enthusiasts. Here are some popular trails.

  • Paso Desolacion: A challenging hike that leads to the heart of the Osorno Volcano. The trail offers breathtaking views of the lake and nearby fumaroles.

  • Alerce Andino National Park: This protected area is home to ancient Alerce trees and various hiking trails. The park also has several campsites for overnight stays.

  • Chamiza Hill: A popular spot for mountain biking, Chamiza Hill has a network of dirt trails that cater to all levels of bikers. The summit provides panoramic views of the lake and surrounding hills.

Best Things to Do in Puerto Varas: Activities and Tours

Whether you are seeking adventure or relaxation, Puerto Varas has plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Here are some of the best things to do.

  • Climb a Volcano: Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes are popular hiking destinations. Several tour operators offer guided treks that cater to all levels of fitness.

  • Go Kayaking: Llanquihue Lake is perfect for kayaking and canoeing. One can paddle around the shore or venture into the lake’s tranquil waters to spot wildlife.

  • Visit Frutillar: A charming town near Puerto Varas, Frutillar, is famous for its German architecture and the Teatro del Lago, a state-of-the-art cultural center that hosts various performances throughout the year.

Week-Long Itinerary for Puerto Varas

To make the most of your trip to Puerto Varas, here is a suggested itinerary.

Day Activity
1 Explore Puerto Varas’s colonial architecture
2 Visit Osorno Volcano and Petrohue Falls
3 Hike in Alerce Andino National Park
4 Kayaking in Llanquihue Lake
5 Take a day trip to Chiloe Island and its National Park
6 Enjoy the cultural scene in Frutillar
7 Relax and unwind at the local hot springs

Food and Drink Scene of Puerto Varas

With its German roots and natural abundance, Puerto Varas offers a diverse cuisine that caters to all tastes. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages.

Must-Try Dishes

  • Curanto: A traditional dish of Chiloe Island, curanto, is a mix of seafood, meat, and vegetables cooked in a hole in the ground with hot stones.

  • Kuchen: A sweet pastry that originated in Germany, kuchen, is a favorite dessert in Puerto Varas. Varieties include apple, berry, and quince.

  • Chupe de Mariscos: A hearty seafood stew made with clams, shrimp, and cheese, chupe de mariscos, is a must-try dish in Puerto Varas.

Local Beverages

  • Mote con huesillo: A traditional Chilean beverage made with wheat and dried peaches, mote con huesillo, is perfect for a refreshing drink on a hot day.

  • Cerveza Artesanal: Craft beer has become popular in Puerto Varas, and several local breweries offer a range of flavors, including IPA, stout, and amber ale.

Where to Stay in Puerto Varas: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, Puerto Varas has plenty of accommodation options. Here are some recommendations.

  • Hotel Patagonico: A five-star hotel overlooking Llanquihue Lake, Hotel Patagonico, offers luxurious rooms, a spa, and an excellent restaurant.

  • Weisserhaus Hostel: A cozy and budget-friendly hostel, Weisserhaus, is in the heart of Puerto Varas and offers dorms and private rooms.

  • Hostal Boutique Casa Kalfu: A charming guesthouse that combines traditional architecture with modern amenities, Hostal Boutique Casa Kalfu, is located near the lake and has stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

What to Buy in Puerto Varas: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

From unique handicrafts to artisanal food products, Puerto Varas has plenty of options for souvenirs and gifts. Here are some suggestions.

  • Lenga Wood Products: Lenga wood is a type of hardwood that grows in Southern Chile and is famous for its quality and durability. One can find various products made from lenga wood, such as cutting boards, bowls, and kitchen utensils.

  • Handmade Jewelry: Local artisans make jewelry that reflects Chilean culture and indigenous motifs. One can find earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made from silver, copper, and semi-precious stones.

Local Culture and Customs of Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas has a unique blend of German and Chilean culture, reflecting its history and geography. Some customs and traditions to keep in mind are:

  • Punctuality: Chileans are punctual, and it is considered rude to be late for appointments or meetings.

  • Kaffeeklatsch: Inspired by the German tradition, “Kaffeeklatsch,” or coffee and cake time, is a popular custom in Puerto Varas. It is an opportunity to enjoy sweet treats and catch up with friends and family.

Best Time to Visit Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas has a mild climate throughout the year, but the best time to visit is between December and March when the weather is warm and sunny. However, it is also the peak tourist season, so accommodation and activities may be more expensive.

Do’s and Don’ts of Puerto Varas

Here are some essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during your visit.


  • Try Local Cuisine: Chilean cuisine is diverse and flavorful, so make sure to sample some local dishes and beverages.

  • Respect Local Customs: Chileans are proud of their culture and values, so make sure to respect their customs and traditions.


  • Litter: Keeping the environment clean is crucial in Puerto Varas, so make sure to dispose of trash appropriately and avoid littering.

  • Over-tip: Tipping is not mandatory in Chile, so avoid over-tipping, especially in informal settings.

Safety and Health

Puerto Varas is a relatively safe destination but, like any place, requires caution and care. Here are some tips to ensure your safety and health.

Safety in Puerto Varas

  • Watch Out for Pickpockets: As with any tourist destination, pickpockets are active in Puerto Varas, so make sure to keep your valuables secure.

  • Stay Alert in Nature: Hiking trails and outdoor activities can be dangerous if not undertaken carefully. Always follow the instructions of local guides and take necessary precautions.

Health in Puerto Varas

  • Drink Safe Water: Tap water in Puerto Varas is safe to drink, but if you are unsure, stick to bottled water.

  • Protect Yourself From the Sun: With long hours of sunshine, it is crucial to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing when outdoors.

Getting to Puerto Varas: Transportation Options and Logistics

Puerto Varas is accessible by air, road, and water. Here are some options to reach the town.

Airports Near Puerto Varas

  • El Tepual Airport: Located in Puerto Montt, El Tepual Airport is the closest airport to Puerto Varas. Several national and international airlines operate flights to and from this airport.

Bus Stations Near Puerto Varas

  • Puerto Montt Bus Terminal: Puerto Montt’s main bus terminal is a 30-minute drive from Puerto Varas. Buses from Santiago and other cities in Chile arrive at this terminal.

Other Options

  • Ferry: Naviera Austral provides a ferry service from Puerto Montt to Chiloe Island and other destinations in Southern Chile.

How to Get Around in Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas is a small town, and most major attractions are within walking distance. Taxis and buses are also available for traveling within the town and nearby areas.

Where to Go Next from Puerto Varas: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

If you have more time to spare, there are several nearby destinations and excursions that you can take from Puerto Varas. Here are some suggestions.

  • Bariloche, Argentina: A picturesque town in Argentina known for its Swiss-style architecture and stunning lakes.

  • Vicente Perez Rosales National Park: A stunning national park that has several hiking trails, waterfalls, and natural hot springs.

  • Puyehue National Park: A protected area that houses the Puyehue Volcano and several hiking trails.


Puerto Varas is a true gem in Southern Chile, offering something for everyone. With its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and delicious cuisine, it is an ideal destination for a memorable vacation. Plan your visit to Puerto Varas using our guide and make the most of your trip.