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Chiloe Island

AttractionsMuseums and Art GalleriesToursCulture & History ToursFood & DrinksNature & Adventure Tours
Are you planning a trip to Chile? Do you want to visit the island of Chiloé? After reading this guide about what to do and see in Chiloé you will not hesitate to include it in your itinerary.

We wanted to visit the island of Chiloé several years ago and had never been there (the last trip to Chile was to Puerto Varas), but this time we made it. And we liked it so much that we want to share with you this guide to travel around the island and know everything there is to do and see in Chiloé.
We recommend it. We suggest you visit the tourist office of each of the places you visit, because there you will be given good maps and you will have detailed information of the things to do and see in each place of Chiloé. Many times, each town has small places, such as wetlands or trails, which are not so well known.
The island of Chiloé has three large cities: Ancud in the north, Castro in the center and Quellón in the south, joined by a main route that is Route 5. It is a very busy route for trucks and that was the only thing we did not like about the trip around Chiloé.
One possibility to organize the tour is to stay in the three cities and tour around the nearby attractions from each of them. Another option is to stay in Castro, which is located in the center of the island and is the largest city, and from there see the rest of the island, as that is where the buses leave for all destinations. The choice of each option will also depend on the time we have to tour the island, on which is the point of entry to the island (if you arrive by plane to Castro or if you arrive by ferry from Pargua to the north of the island) and on how we are going to tour the island (by urban buses or private car). The easiest and most comfortable way to travel around the island is by car, either our own or rented, because it allows greater flexibility in schedules and the island is not so big, allowing us to reach several places in one day. Although all the points are connected by urban buses, not all the routes have good frequency, especially in low season.
One of the things you can do and see in Chiloé is the route of the Churches of Chiloé Island, which includes 16 churches that were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2002. These Chiloé churches are characterized by a similar wooden structure. They have a rectangular building with a gabled roof, a portico with false arches (usually between 3 and 5 arches, but some have as many as 7 or 9) and a tower with a bell tower, which is usually octagonal with two or three bodies. The predominant material used in construction is cypress or coigüe wood and they are covered with larch shingles, like many of the houses on Chiloé Island.
If you are traveling with children to Chiloé, you can look up the drawings of the churches on the web and print them out. Every time you see one you can paint it in the colors that that church has in reality. You can also ask the children to draw the one they like best. Tahiel chose Castro's because of the colors.
The main attraction of the city of Castro are its palafittes: houses built on stilts or pillars that are fixed to the ground of calm water bodies. The first palafittes in Chiloé date back to the 19th century. On the island of Chiloé, the palafittes have the particularity of having two fronts: one that faces the sea, where they used to 'park' the small boats, and another that faces the street. In Castro, there are two places where the palafittes can be seen: those in the northern area of the city, known as Pedro Montt's palafittes, and those in the southern area, popularly called Gamboa's palafittes. Besides visiting the palafitos, there are two markets, the main square with its church, a very picturesque promenade, some museums and the pier from where several excursions leave.

 Palafitos in Castro on Island of Chiloé, Chile
A few kilometers away from Castro (almost if you dare you can walk, although going along the side of Route 5 is not a good idea), there is the small town of Nercón where its heritage church and the colorful cemetery located next to the church stand out. We recommend that you go inside to see the interior of the church and the details hanging from the ceiling.
When we are asked what to do and see in Chiloé, we do not hesitate for a minute: the pier of souls. The trip we made to the Wharf of Souls was, for us, one of the most beautiful on the island. We liked everything. From the journey from Castro to Curaco, along Routes 80 and 850; the walk of about 50 minutes until we reached the pier, and the pier of the souls itself. Therefore, we believe that this is one of the best excursions that can be made and seen in Chiloé.

Muelle de las Almas, Chiloe, Chile 

Of course, everyone has their own experience and may have different opinions, but we really liked it: the green and undulating relief, the coastal cliffs, the immensity of the sea, the colorful houses dotting the landscape, the loose animals and the work of architect Orellana Rivera who wanted to materialize in an object (the pier) one of the most famous legends of the Huiliches, a Mapuche people from the south of Chile.
On our way back from the Soul's Wharf adventure, we took another detour off Route 5 to visit Chonchi, its church, walk along its waterfront and have a snack at some coffee-shop. We loved finding a café (Elisa's window) where we were offered drawings and pencils to paint with Tahiel. These are small details that change the time of the parents.
Even though we were only in Chonchi for a few hours, we really liked the peaceful atmosphere and the colors of their houses.
Are you taking notes on everything there is to do and see in Chiloé? We continue with more ideas for you to finish organizing your trip. One place we were really looking forward to because of the legend we had heard was the island of Aucar, very close to Quemchi. So the day we traveled from Castro to Ancur we took a detour to have lunch in Quemchhi and visit the island of Aucar. This island is characterized by being very small, being linked to the mainland by a wooden bridge of 500 meters and having only a church, a cemetery and a botanical garden. It is also called 'The island of the sailing souls'. In Quemchi you can have lunch at reasonable prices, walk along the waterfront and visit the museum of Francisco Coloane, the writer who made the island famous.

Isla Aucar Quemchi Chiloé


Chiloe Island

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