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Things to Do in Puerto Varas

A smaller, less accessible port town than nearby Puerto Montt, scenic Puerto Varas overlooks Llanquihue Lake and the snowcapped peak of Osorno Volcano in Chile’s Lake District. Dubbed “the City of Roses,” the town is known for its traditional German-style architecture and cuisine.

The Basics
Puerto Varas is an ideal spot for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and sport fishing. The port town is a starting point for full- and half-day excursions into the surrounding countryside, including trips to Osorno Volcano, the Green Lagoon (Laguna Verde), and Petrohué Waterfalls. Most tours include pickup and drop-off from area hotels.

Puerto Varas is a cultural gem as well, with Chilean-German traditions and distinctly German architecture such as the red, wooden spires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church (Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús). Opt for a cultural tour to further explore the area’s German influence and visit the historic village of Frutillar. To avoid the hassle of renting a car or navigating public transport, opt for a guided 4-day tour of Chile’s Lake District with round-trip airport transfers included.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Puerto Varas is an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Dress in warm layers, as it can get chilly throughout the year.
  • The city is also well known for its German-accented cuisine; be sure to try the tasty kuechen (cakes).

How to Get There
Located on the shores of Llanquihue Lake in southern Chile, Puerto Varas is accessible by land from Puerto Montt. The drive takes about 30 minutes along a well-traveled road, and you can take a minibus, rent a car, or hire a taxi. There are also regular ferry connections up and down the coast, and buses throughout the region. The airport in Puerto Montt offers connections from Santiago and other Chilean cities.

When to Get There
You can visit Puerto Varas year-round, but the most popular time to go is from February to April, when the weather is cool and dry. Visit in winter for fewer crowds and better skiing conditions.

What to See Around Llanquihue Lake
Set at the base of Osorno Volcano, Llanquihue is Chile’s second largest lake, and a popular destination for hiking, sport fishing, kayaking, and sailing. While in Puerto Varas, consider exploring the lakeside towns of Frutillar, Ensenada, and Puerto Fonck.
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Llanquihue Lake
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31 Tours and Activities

The town of Puerto Varas sits on the banks of Llanquihue Lake in Chile’s magnificent Lakes District. The lake itself, the second-largest lake in the country after General Carrera Lake, sits at the base of the near-perfect conically shaped Osorno Volcano, adding to its already picturesque qualities.

The shores of the 336-square-mile (870-square-kilometer) lake share a German heritage, yet each attracts visitors for a different reason. Puerto Varas is the lake’s adventure capital, while Frutillar on the western banks of the lake appeals to Chilean tourists on summer holiday. The charming Bavarian-style town of Puerto Octay offers remote accommodations on the north shores of the lake, and rustic Ensenada on the eastern banks sits at the entrance to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.

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Calbuco Volcano
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5 Tours and Activities

The Calbuco Volcano, one of two snow-capped volcanic cones rising above the town of Puerto Varas on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, is also one of Chile’s most active volcanoes with 36 confirmed eruptions — 13 recorded since 1893. In April 2015, Calbuco erupted three times in a period of eight days. While not a perfect cone like neighboring Osorno Volcano, the sight of Calbuco is equally magnificent. Calbuco Volcano is located within Llanquihue National Reserve. Some of the best views of the peak can be seen while trekking through the park.

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Things to do near Puerto Varas