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I’ve heard so much about Pucon and Villarrica that I’ve felt almost forced to visit them. I can’t even tell you how many times locals have asked me the exact same question: Have you been there yet?” So, when the opportunity came, there was no doubt about where I was heading. After all, there must be a good reason everybody recommends them, right? Here, I mention all the best things to do in Pucon and Villarrica. Hold tight and read on!
Pucon and Villarrica are located at the shores of the Lake Villarrica, and almost 500 miles away from Santiago de Chile, and 26 hours away from San Pedro de Atacama. Both towns, Pucon and Villarrica are 35 minutes apart.
Although it isn’t an inexpensive destination, Pucon is known among backpackers and adventure travelers. Its nickname “Chile’s adventure capital” gives you a clue about what to expect from Pucon.
It is not relevant what time of the year you choose to visit it. The city and surroundings have lots of activities to enjoy year-round.
Chile has four seasons, and summertime starts from December to February. Therefore, it is convenient for people living in the northern hemisphere! When the North is in winter, head to Chile to enjoy Pucon and Villarrica.
Villarrica is beautiful, and it has a lot of services and attractions that make it an international destination. From Villarrica departs numerous tours to the Volcano, expeditions, and horseback tours.
GET TO PUCON
If you are in Santiago, you can get a flight straight to Pucon. The city has its airport, but it regularly works during the summer. On the other hand, Temuco Airport (Aeropuerto de la Auracania) is located over an hour away from Pucon, and it operates year-round. If we compare prices, Temuco is way cheaper than Pucon Airport.
There are shuttles available connecting Temuco Airport with Pucon. Although, expect long lines to get into the shuttles.
If you want to skip the lines for public shuttles and save time, there’s the option to hire a private transfer from Temuco to Pucon. When you get a private shuttle, it will be you and your party with a driver that will take you safely in a van to town. We found the service super convenient and we did reservations here.
There are around 500 miles between Santiago de Chile and Pucon. Did I mention it? Buses are the cheaper option, and they usually depart by night. Hope you don’t mind to sleep on a bus! It will take over 10 hours to get there, and the bus ticket is just $20 per person.
* By Car
It’s easier and more comfortable to drive your own car, but you need to be aware that driving in South America could be a real challenge. Leave Santiago through Central Highway and take Route 5 South.
There many hotels in the area, from budget-friendly to luxurious hotels. We’ve enjoyed a couple of options, and we are definitely fond of each one. Check our selection:
Pucon: The Hostal French Andes is a great option and very popular among backpackers and couples. Some rooms have a Japanese style like a capsule where you’ll have everything you need in a tiny small space. Guests can cook their meals in the communal kitchen, and there is rental equipment available to ski.
Located right in the center of Villarrica, Hostal y Cabanas Don Juan offers travelers nice accommodation. Solo travelers love this place.
* Mid-Price Hotel
The Mirador Los Volcanes Lodge & Boutique in Pucon offers fantastic wood cabins with fully equipped kitchens. It is quiet with amazing views of the Volcano. Most importantly, you will be able to enjoy an indoor pool and free breakfast. Yeeeyy!
Hostal Cutipay located in front of Lake Villarrica. It offers outstanding views of volcano Villarrica, great coffee, and a breakfast buffet.
* The Nice Hotel
The Nice hotel is not budget-friendly but worthy. Enjoy Pucon is great, and so far, our favorite in the area. Enjoy Pucon has a casino, heated swimming pools, and you can choose a room with a lake, volcano, or pool view.
Hotel Casa Marron in Villarrica is 16 miles away from Pucon. It’s clean, excellent service and location: a la carte Breakfast, beautiful bathroom, and spacious rooms.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PUCON & VILLARRICA
* Enjoy a Geothermic Bath
Why is this my first suggestion to do in Pucon? Because It’s Epic! A day-trip to the Geometricas Hot Springs in the fantastic National Park of Villarrica Volcano will blow your mind and heal your body, your spirit, your soul. Everything!
Whether it’s snowing or raining, the pleasure to immerse in these thermal waters is immeasurable. I love thermal pools, but here they took it to the next level. There are 17 hot springs plus two waterfalls. How cool is that? Just to help you understand how amazing it is to have 17 hot springs available to enjoy, think about this; You soak in the healing waters and admire the beauty of the park, you don’t like the company? You don’t like the temperature? Choose another hot spring, the pools have a different range in temperature. Easy cake!
It is important to make a reservation because if there are too many visitors, they can close the park. Tourists can enjoy the area without crowds and making a negative impact on the environment. Make reservations here.
* Sightseeing City Tour
Nowadays, Pucon and Villarrica are the most famous tourist areas in Chile. After traveling for so many hours to get there, I think, it was my duty to get to know it in detail, right?
When you opt for a tour with an expert guide, you get to explore more in deep the secrets, history, or dirty stories of the place. Who doesn’t like gossip? The guide will pick you up from the hotel and drive you around Pucon and Villarrica. I visited the Mapuche Museum, Cathedral, a fabulous craft market full of souvenirs, fantastic handmade products, and many others. This tour is trendy, so make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time here.
* Eating in Pucon
We found that Pucon has a great selection of restaurants with roast meats and grills, Italian and Chilean Barbecue, etc. Some of those restaurants are El Fogon and La Maga that specialize in Uruguayan cuisine. La Maga serves enormous portions, and dishes are delicious, exceptionally good steak grilled to perfection.
Andiamo is an Italian restaurant on Av. Bernardo O’Higgins 630 in Pucon. Excellent service and amazing food. Florentini is another Italian restaurant with excellent dishes, although its prices are not budget-friendly, it is well worth to visit.
Don’t forget to enjoy the Chilean wine, all restaurants have a great selection.
* WaterSports in Lake Villarrica
Lake Villarrica is an excellent place to spend your day. You can practice all kinds of watersports, jet skis are available for rent and the necessary equipment, Kayaks, stand up paddles, etc. You’ll find excellent restaurants and hotels on its shores.
* Trekking Huerquehue National Park
Explore for a day the Huerquehe National Park, which is located 33 miles away from Pucon. This a fantastic tour ideal for nature lovers and adventurous travelers. Hike trails and admire the beautiful lagoons, look for Chilean Condors and Culpeo foxes. The park is famous for its network of trails, some of them are The Lakes (7 hrs), San Sebastian (2 days), or Nirrico (1 hour).
* Horseback Ride Tours
There two types of horseback tours, a full-day tour and a multi-day trip.
A full-day Horseback ride tour is fantastic. You will have the chance to be guided by an expert in the area and ride well-trained sure-footed horses through virgin rainforest, cross a river, visit an indigenous community, and enjoy a traditional lunch with new friends. I think there is a huge difference when you explore an area with your horse, it’s like being totally connected to mother nature.
A multi-day Horseback ride tour is a lifetime experience that will guide you for six days long through the Patagonian rainforest, pampa, and the vast volcano Sollipulli. Visit the Lago Caburgo, the Araukarien forest, the massive glacier in the crater of the sleeping volcano, and so on. The adventure is endless.
* Climbing Villarrica Volcano
Climbing Villarrica Volcano is a must-do tour. Think about it! Villarrica volcano is one of the main active volcanoes in Chile, and you can’t pass the opportunity to add it to your resume.
This is the Ph.D. for hiking, even for first-time hikers like me. There will be plenty of time to take awesome pictures. The walk will be slow but steady, and you will have a stunning landscape to observe the city of Villarrica and Pucon, Lake Villarrica, La Llaca Volcanoes, Lonquimay, the Sierra Nevada, etc. This tour has a level of difficulty of moderate. Great for me!
There are many other tours available with a medium level of difficulty, but we haven’t tried those.
The Epic Sign
The reason I call it an epic sign is because it tells you what to do or how to behave in case of a volcanic situation. If you hear the alarms sound five times, it means, you have to get ready, pack your stuff, and find a vehicle to leave the area. BUT, if the alarm is constant, You’d better leave IMMEDIATELY.
After reading this sign and see the word “Immediately” in capital letters, I thought about it a lot. I kept myself thinking, “if a volcano is waking up, LEAVE! No packing, no nothing. Leave!” I guess this sign hit my head hard, took me out of my dream, and brought me back to reality. A volcano is something serious. So I guess it is important to follow the instructions precisely.
* Whitewater Rafting
Trancura river is located 52 minutes away from Pucon, I found Trancura one of the most important and fun rivers in Chile. Trancura river is very popular among tourists, mainly because anyone can go kayaking, fishing, and rafting.
Don’t worry about pics, because the tour guide will be in charge to get those amazing photos and videos, and they do a great job!
* Explore The Eyes of Caburga
Drive 45 minutes Route S-905 to the area of Lake Caburga famous for its warm waters. You’ll also find two water springs emerging and forming a fantastic lagoon named the Blue Lagoon.
* Yoga Retreat
If you love Yoga as much as we do, then you’ll definitely love this Yoga retreat. Enjoy 11 days of self-discovery in Pucon. Meditation, yoga sessions, healing, and tons of adventure. Stay in beautiful and cozy cabins, enjoy morning and sunsets yoga classes, meditation sessions, waterfalls, sightseeing, canyoning up and rappelling, views of the forest, Horseback Riding, A night of Star Gazing, Art Classes, and much more.
* The Route Seven Lakes or Siete Lagos (Spanish)
The seven lakes area is surrounded by volcanos, Quetruprillan, Villarica, Lanin, and Mocho Choshuenco. In Seven Lakes or Siete Lagos (Spanish), you’ll find hot springs, and all sorts of water sport activities such as sailing, kayaking, or rafting.
It takes over half an hour driving South from Villarrica to Siete Lagos. The lakes to explore are Lago Pellaifa, Lago Calafquén, Lago Pullinque, Lago Pirihueico, Lago Neltume, Lago Panguipulli, and Lago Riñihue.
* Explore Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve
The Andes Mountains surrounds The Biological Reserve Huilo Huilo, and it is an ecotourism project and part of the Valdivian Temperate rain forest that extends from chile to Argentina. Departing from Villarrica, It takes 1 h 35 minutes to get there approximately.
Huilo Huilo has lots of hiking trails with different levels of difficulty, rivers, lakes, islands, the most extended zip line system in South America, gorgeous waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.
Huilo Huilo has very distinctive hotels such as Montana Magica, Cabanas del Bosque, and Nothofagus Hotel and Spa. Cabins and lodges for backpackers; Hostal Salto El Puma that gives you free access to Salto La Leona.
Enjoy everything that Pucon and Villarrica in Chile have to offer. See you next time!
Pictures courtesy of Dr. Yoli Teran. Travelers: Luis, Yoli, Luis E., & Diego