Located in the beautiful Chilean Lakes District, Puerto Varas is a small, but bustling town nestled on the shore of Chile’s second largest lake, Lake Llanquihue. Puerto Varas and the surrounding towns such as Llanquihue and Frutillar feel more German than Chilean due to the flood of German immigrants in the 1800’s and you’re more likely to find German food on the menu than traditional Chilean dishes.
We arrived early one morning after a 12 hour bus ride from Santiago and were greeted by the clouds and rain that would only let up one out of the four days we were there. After exploring the town the first day, we decided to rent bikes and ride over to Frutillar on our second day in town. This turned out to be a decision we regretted as we were caught in multiple downpours and some hail during the 20-ish mile hilly ride. Once we arrived we ate some German food and caught a bus back to Puerto Varas without even exploring Frutillar.
On the third day our luck changed and the skies cleared so we caught an early bus to the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park to hike around the Osorno volcano. This would normally be an easy hike but the trail is now covered in ash due to the recent eruption of the nearby Calbuco Volcano. This makes it feel like you’re hiking in soft beach sand, but at least it does make for a better leg workout. The day was beautiful and the hike offered wonderful views of Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes and Lake Todos los Santos.
The rain returned with a vengeance on our final day in town so we spent the day relaxing and walking around town. We did find a small food truck pod where we ate the only good tacos we found in South America and we met a guy who lives in Puerto Varas but competed in a swim meet in my hometown of Bainbridge, GA when he was a child. Small world.
Puerto Varas is a place we’d definitely like to return to one day – especially since we had such bad luck with the weather. It has a fun, laid-back vibe and would be a great place to hangout for a few days in warm weather when you could get out and enjoy the lake.