This city and commune is located in the 10th Region of Los Lagos, on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. It is located 70 meters above sea level and has the presence of German settlers who arrived in the area during the years 1852 and 1853. Today it is one of the most important tourist centers of Chile.
It is known as the City of Roses and Volcanoes for its beautiful squares full of roses, beautiful mountain style architecture with a privileged natural environment and natural landscapes and volcanoes like Osorno Volcano, Calbuco, Puntiagudo and Cerro Tronador.
Other attractions in the area include the Saltos del Río Petrohue (Petrohue Falls) within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, Lake Todos los Santos, the Osorno Volcano Ski Center, among others where you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, volcano climbing, mountain climbing, fishing, rafting, etc..
Puerto Varas has a Typical Zone, where you can appreciate the German influence of architectural heritage available to the city. Also in its beautiful streets you can enjoy delicious traditional European style cuisine such as kuchenes, cakes, artisanal jams and handmade chocolates.
Puerto Varas is located near the border of Argentina and you can reach the city of San Carlos de Bariloche through the Paso Internacional Peulla. Also, it is located only 21 kilometers from Puerto Montt, one of the most important fishing centers in southern Chile.
The city of Puerto Varas began to be recognized in 1853 by the Government's determination to annex the uninhabited lands in southern Chile, as Lake Llanquihue, which was considered Territory of Colonization.
The settlement of the area began gradually, mainly by immigrants from Germany and Austria, which established themselves in the area of La Fabrica (The Factory). However, it was not until 1925 that Puerto Varas was appointed an official municipality.
The climate in Puerto Varas is oceanic rain, with heavy rainfall throughout the year, increasing its intensity in spring and winter. It is this climate that provides the beautiful vegetation of the area, known as Bosque Siempre Verde de los Lagos (Evergreen Forest Lakes).
Where to go
Plaza de Armas:
It is located near the waterfront and has a beautiful gazebo surrounded by roses, where cultural events are held throughout the year, such as musical meetings, craft fairs, Book Fairs and Dia del Kuchen (Kuchen Day) among others.
It corresponds to the docks of Puerto Varas, which was built by German settlers in late 1850. There are several, as they were the only connection of the city with other towns, through the navigation on Lake Llanquihue.
Currently in Piedraplen there is a Tourist Office, which is known as the Casa del Turista.
Located in the high area of Puerto Varas and characterized since during Holy Week on the Vía Crucis is represented by small chapels. At the top there is an altar and a viewpoint that allows you to see a beautiful view of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes.
Built in 1951 and has a cross on its summit that has become one of the icons of Puerto Varas. Here we can enjoy a taste of the abundant native flora and a viewpoint with a panoramic view of the city.
Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales: (Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park)
It is located 50 kilometers from the city of Puerto Varas and it is famous for being the first national park in Chile. Inside this national park the beautiful Lake Todos Los Santos, the Osorno Volcano and the Saltos del Petrohué (Petrohué Falls) are found; as well as Cerro Tronador (Tronador Hill), that is located on the border with Argentina.
It has many trails to explore and observe the native flora of its environment with the presence of cinnamon forests, myrtles and coigües among others. Among the most famous are those of Los Enamorados, el Rincon de Osorno and Desolación y el Velo de la Novia. Among the activities that can be performed is rafting, kayaking, sport fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking and mountaineering.
Lago Todos los Santos: (Todos Los Santos Lake)
This lake is characterized by its beautiful turquoise waters, caused by the melting of glaciers, where the mountain range and the exuberant surrounding flora are reflected. Here is a dock where boat tours are done of their surroundings or catamarans sail to Peulla, on the road that connects Chile with Argentina.
In addition to this, it has a camping zone, cabin rentals and a nice sandy beach where dark sand beaches are located and you can take pictures and enjoy a landscape of breathtaking beauty.
Saltos del Petrohué: (Petrohué Falls)
They are waterfalls formed by the waters of the Petrohue River on their way to the Todos los Santos Lake. The waterfalls were formed by the presence of volcanic rocks of an ancient eruption of the Osorno volcano. They have viewpoints where you can observe a beautiful panoramic views of the falls and the landscape, such as the Puntiagudo Volcano.
This is the main location in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. It is located on the shores of beautiful Todos los Santos Lake and is a starting point to start to explore the natural surroundings. From here we can find ancient forests, exuberant vegetation such as ferns, as well as waterfalls and trails where all kinds of recreational activities such as sport fishing, hiking, rafting, climbing and much more take place.
It is another of the rural locations in the commune of Puerto Varas, which is located 47 kilometers from the city. It is located on the east side of Lake Llanquihue and is surrounded by the Osorno Volcano on the east and the Calbuco Volcano on the south.
It is the starting point for various adventurous tourism activities in the area, like climbing the Osorno Volcano, rafting in the Petrohué River, kayaking the Lago Todos los Santos River, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and many other activities. During the summer it is used as a nice bathing spot.
It has an infrastructure of tourist services and comfortable accommodations like cabins in all price ranges, plus restaurants to sample the local cuisine, such as fish and roasted lamb "on a stick" (al palo).
In this area, during the month of April, the "Fiesta de la Murta" is carried out, native fruit of the area that is used for medicinal and culinary purposes in all types of preparations.
Volcán Osorno: (Osorno Volcano)
The Osorno Volcano or Peripillán in huilliche language, is a stratovolcano with over 2600 meters of altitude, with a majestic cone visible from all locations that are located on the shores of Lake of the same name. It is opposite the town of Frutillar, being separated from it by the lake.
It has the Ski Center of Osorno on its slopes, allowing you to enjoy snow sports during the winter.
You can also do climbing towards its summit, which lasts about 6 hours and must be performed in the company of a local guide, always moving through the authorized paths, because it has dangerous cracks in the route to the summit. You must use suitable clothing for this tour, water, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent is highly recommneded, especially in the summer.
Lago Llanquihue: ( Llanquihue Lake)
It is the second largest lake in Chile with an area of 860 square kilometers and depths greater than 350 meters. On its banks are Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Ensenada and Llanquihue. It allows you to practice navigation, sport fishing, kayaking, swimming and all kinds of recreational activities.
This beautiful city is one of the most beautiful in the south of Chile. It faces Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano and is surrounded by exuberant green forests. It has a nice dark sand beach and transparent waters, during the summer it becomes a bathing spot where water activities are done.
It has beautiful streets and gardens decorated with roses and beautiful European style houses. It is especially known for the presence of cafés and restaurants serving the best of German cuisine such as fruit strudels, kuchen, strawberry and raspberry jams, among other preparations.
It is famous for the Semanas Musicales de Chiloe (Musical Weeks of Chiloe) performed in the Teatro del Lago, a beautiful cultural center built in wood that allows you to observe a beautiful view of Lake Llanquihue while enjoying musical concerts of different styles, from classical music to modern jazz.
It has a beautiful pier decorated with wood and iron from where you can take beautiful pictures of the surroundings and observe the beautiful landscapes.
In addition, Frutillar has the Museo Colonial Alemán (German Colonial Museum) and its epic mill, where you can learn the history of the settlers who came to this city 150 years ago.
In this town we can see the beautiful German architecture of itshouses, which now operate as lodging and entertaining peaceful streets. It features heritage buildings, the Museo del Colono a Chocolate Factory and Cheese House, where you can taste the delicious German-style snacks.
This dynamic port is located in the Seno de Reloncaví. Its main economic activity is salmon farming and tourism. Among its attractions is the Feria de Angelmó (Angelmó Fair), the best place to enjoy fresh fish and seafood, plus purchase local handicrafts with beautiful and colorful fabrics.
Puerto Montt is the arrival point of cruise ships and the place from where ferries depart to the island of Chiloe, beginning the adventure of visiting the Chilean Patagonia.
Various shops, squares full of roses, a beautiful German-influenced architecture and exquisite cuisine of European flavor, plus surroundings of stunning natural beauty, Puerto Varas is an attractive city in each one of its corners and it's worth taking walking tours.
Some of the places that we recommend visiting in the city is the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), which was founded in 1853 by German and Swiss settlers who came to the south. It is located on a hill and is one of the emblems of the city.
Another interesting place in the city is the Philippi Park, which features a view point where you can see the Llanquihue Lake and a panaromic view of the city. There are trails and centers of adventure sports, where you can canopy. The cross which is lit at night on its summit is one of the characteristics of the city.
Strolling along the waterfront overlooking Llanquihue Lake is a beautiful tour that allows you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the Osorno Volcano. Here we also find plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars to enjoy a drink and sample the rich southern cuisine. Casino Puerto Varas is another entertainment area which is also located in this area.
While in Puerto Varas you should taste the German pastries in one of the cafes that are found in the downtown area of the city. A comforting hot drink with a piece walnut kuchen or any kind of cake is ideal to refuel and continue your journey through this beautiful town.
In Puerto Varas there are 10 declared National Monument houses, which were built after the expansion of the city in 1909, with the arrival of the railroad from Puerto Montt. Some correspond to old houses, temples and churches.
These beautiful houses are located in the upper area of Puerto Varas, where the railroad is located. Some of them are the casona Alemana (German house), house Kuschel house, Maldonado house, Jupner house, Yunge house and Gotschlich house, to name a few. All stand out for its architecture of one or two floors, gothic shingles and native wood coatings, which shows the fusion of European styles and Chilota building designs from the area.
While in Puerto Varas it is a must to see its natural surroundings. Taking the Ruta Internacional 225 (International Route 225) to the east, we find the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, which offers scenic beauty and one of the biggest attractions in the area: the Saltos del Petrohue (Petrohue Falls). In this area you can go hiking, horseback riding, and rafting in the waters of the Petrohue River, among other activities.
Further east, the town of Petrohue is found, with a pier in front of the beautiful Todos los Santos Lake, with its turquoise waters. From there you can enjoy boating trips that allow you to tour its waters or a catamaran that that starts in the popular Cruce de Lagos, linking Chile to Argentina through Peulla port, located 86 kilometers away from Puerto Varas.
Puerto Varas is a kind of neuralgic point of the 10th Region, which gathers around some of the most important places in the area such as Puerto Montt, Frutillar, Puerto Octay and Ensenada among other places.
In Puerto Varas we find two money exchange houses, banks and ATMs. In the case of visiting rural towns like Ensenada, it is recommended to carry cash.
The city has public transportation consisting of small buses that take you to the main attractions and places near Puerto Varas like Puerto Montt, Frutillar and Petrohué. There are also taxis.
Another option is to rent a car, which offers the possibility to explore the area more freely.
The telephone code of is Puerto Varas 65. To call from abroad you must dial the code of Chile, 56, then the code of Puerto Varas, 65, and then the telephone number.
Where and what to eat
The gastronomy of Puerto Varas has a strong German influence in their preparations, especially in baking, and is recognized for their kuchen, pies, cakes, cookies, handmade chocolates and jams from local fruits such as strawberries and myrtle.
Also highlighted are the delicious preparations of fish and seafood, especially salmon that is brought from Puerto Montt. There are famous meat dishes such as beef, lamb, pork and also some more exotic ones, including deer and boars.
The German influence is also found in other products such as craft beers of excellent quality and rich European style hams and sausages. The cheese and preserves are other delights that can be tasted in this area.
To eat good it is recommendeded to eat the bars and restaurants facing the waterfront, where many dishes for all different tastes are found, plus tables and drinks to enjoy a night out.
If you want to try the best of German pastries, it is worth taking a journey through the different cafes in the downtown area of the city, where guests can enjoy a hot chocolate with a piece of kuchen or tea with a ham sandwich accompanied by German sauces.
Frutillar, Puerto Octay and Petrohué also offer attractive preparations, especially sweets and chocolates. Be sure to try a breakfast with homemade bread and eggs to start the day full of energy.