12 Most Charming Small Towns in Chile

Martina Rosado
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Isla Negra


The island itself is small, and in 1973, the mayor declared it totally inaccessible. However, they were wrong, and it turned out that is one of the most populated islands in the world. However, there is still plenty of breathing room here and no one ever has to line up at the market. A few minutes into the town, you’ll feel as if you’ve entered another world; it’s truly one of the most charming parts of the world.

It’s located in front of picturesque Laguna San Rafael, a lake situated south of the city of Iquique in Isla Grande. Laguna San Rafael has a typical shoreline area with natural vegetation, and the warm water is perfect for swimming; however, the water temperature is 38-40 degrees Celsius, which is still comfortable for swimming.

Laguna San Rafael also has a scenic waterfall with a small waterfall with a height of about 1.5 meters. However, it is not recommended that they do not go into the lake and swim in the surrounding area because the water is oligotrophic; that is, it is relatively poor in organic materials (which is an essential part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem)


Chile’s famous for being a great place to visit for a few days, a month, a year or even the rest of your life, but it’s also got some amazing pockets of small towns worthy of a little more time and attention. We spent quite some time tracking down some of the most charming and enticing neighbourhoods Chile’s quaintness has to offer, and here’s what we found.

In fact, you’ll find several of these places on our list of the World’s Most Charming Small Towns.

  • Agua Santa. This is a small town 30 km south of Castro, with an air of peace and serenity about it. Get to the back of the town to explore this beautiful countryside and enjoy the views.
  • Santa Catarina Lake. Just a short drive from Castro, this beautiful lake makes for one of those trips that whets the appetite for more. Thankfully, the town of Santa Catarina is just down the road with all you could ever want for out in the country. You can explore the town, and then on the way back to Castro, follow the lake north, along the Pan-American Highway.


“ I lived in Frutillar for three years. During my time in Chile, it was the most charming and loyal town I have ever known. People are welcoming and friendly. The town center is quiet, clean and comfortable. Frutillar is more than a town; it’s a way of living, a way of life.


Located on the northern coast of Chile near the border of Argentina, this small town offers some spectacular views. It’s a national park and a beautiful spot for a vacation. We saw mountains and beaches and lots of wildlife.

Every year on December 8th, the town celebrates its patron saint to commemorate the day his remains were found after being tossed into the sea by early explorers. Another significant celebration happens during the carnival of Puyuhuapi, which also includes lots of dance competitions.

Puerto Varas


Caleta Tortel


Zapallar is a small town in the Maule Region which does not seem to have a tourist guide as such. The main reason for this is probably that the town is really so small that you can walk around in less than an hour.

This municipality is located in a hilly area of Talca Province. It is situated between the Cerrillos mountain range and Purillo valley in the North-Eastern Chile. The town has a total population of some 3.000 inhabitants.

Zapallar is small, but mighty. It is a charming little place just about as far away from any other place you can be without being really too distant.

Surrounding the town is a wonderful forest. The beauty of this place becomes visible as soon as you enter it. The town is really well built with all the streets paved and the main road leading directly to the center, where you find an attractive square surrounded by restaurants, bars and shops.

It is just that kind of a town you feel right at home in. The only kind of a place that can be compared to it is maybe the town of Bariloche in Argentina.

There is a hidden level to these towns. It is their charm and the fact that one cannot really tell just by looking at them how cosmopolitan and modern they are.



Putre is located in the central region of Chile, 180 miles south of Santiago. Located in the Andes, Putre boasts an elevation of about 1,500 m (4,900 ft), creating a cool climate despite being located in the Southern Central Zone.

Putre is the home of many attractions, such as the Parque Natural de la Magdalena Mountains, the Laguna Salada Lago Grande Nature Reserve and the small Magellanic village of Tortel.

Putre’s history dates back to pre-colonial times, as it was inhabited as a small camp; in 1585, Pizarro founded the town of San Josecito. In 1652, San Josecito was renamed as Santiago de Putre, and the city’s state of preservation was reflected in a privilege bestowed upon it by the Viceroy of Peru, the Duke de Osuna.

Santiago was incorporated into Chilean territory in 1889, and finally in 1960, Putre became a separate municipality, independent from the larger city of Vina del Mar.

With an area of 42.2 square miles, Putre is one of the smallest Chilean municipalities. However, it is a beauty.

That’s why I like to visit this small town.

Puerto Natales

If you have been spending most of your vacation time exploring Peru but haven't given much thought to Chile's southernmost city, then you might want to reconsider. A visit to Puerto Natales is an affordable, efficient, scenic way to get to know this community that developed from its years as a seaport.

Situated at the end of the Magellanic Gulf and near Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales offers free ranger-led tours of the park, if you don't want to hire a private guide. During summer, enjoy white sand beaches with the rare snow-topped Mount Paine in the background. Or, spend your time afield on the trail of the flamingos and penguins that call this area home.

An added bonus is that unlike many destinations, the city doesn't suffer with beach-bum-like crowds. To the contrary, you can usually find yourself nestled inside the many restaurants and pubs, near the water on the north side of the peninsula. There, you can watch the sun go down while listening to the waves of the sea.

Puerto Natales offers accommodations at many standards; however, most visitors will opt to camp in Torres del Paine National Park. If you're not quite a VIP, but you'd rather not sleep in the dreaded dome tent, then a condo in Puerto Natales will also help detract from the camping experience.


San Pedro de Atacama

Sharpen your eyesight and prepare your electronic gadgets for interference because San Pedro de Atacama is based in the driest desert on earth! No thanks every time you write the word weather. This city is not only the driest area in the world but also the highest at 4,110 meters.

Science is like magic cause what goes inside goes outside and what goes outside goes inside. San Pedro de Atacama is a place where science was born, and where magic still resides. The city itself is famous for its rocks inside the ground that look like birds…the “toilets” of the Atacama Desert.

This city has Sky Walk, a path that covers the entire width of the observatory in which they can see the stars from the city.

Finally, a city without clouds. The average cloud cover lasts a total of 3 days and comes when the trade wind blows from the east. The “dry season” lasts from May to October and the rainy season from December to April.