Destination guide: Puerto Varas, Chile
Puerto Varas is known as the City of Roses and is considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Chile. You can see a heavy German influence there, especially in the houses and tea rooms situated on the shore of Lake Llanquihue. The region’s lakes captivate visitors, who are also amazed by the view of the Osorno and Antillanca volcanoes.
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Two menacing, snow-capped volcanoes, Osorno and Calbuco, stand sentinel over picturesque Puerto Varas and its scenic Lake Llanquihue like soldiers of adventure, allowing only those on a high-octane quest to pass. Just 23km from Puerto Montt but world’s apart in charm, scenery and options for the traveler, Puerto Varas has been touted in the past as the ‘next Pucón, ’ but unlike its kindred spirit to the north, Puerto Varas been able to better manage its rise as a go-to destination for outdoor adventure sports, and, as a result, avoids some of the tourist-package onslaught that besieges Pucón.
There is great access to water sports here – kayaking and canyoning in particular – as well as climbing, fishing, hiking and even skiing. While Puerto Varas gets packed in the summer, it receives many more independent travelers than Pucón. It basically shuts down in the winter except for a few hearty skiers and mountaineers.
But Puerto Varas offers much more than just outdoor sports. It’s a friendly town with some decent bars, restaurants and accommodations. With all of the conveniences of Puerto Montt just a short trip away, Puerto Varas is a top choice for an extended stay and also makes a good base for exploring the region. The scenery is changing here, though – ground has broken on two new five-star hotels – so the verdict is still out on whether the quaint town can maintain its interesting juxtaposition of German heritage and contemporary Chilean adrenaline.
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