We only booked two nights in Puerto Varas, Chile, our shortest stay in one place since we started traveling full-time (which, actually made us chuckle as that used to be our standard length of stay in one place when we traveled on vacations). The small town sits on the edge of Chile’s second largest lake, Lago Llanquihue, situated perfectly to provide outstanding views of the Osorno and Calbuco Volcanos.
When we arrived in Puerto Varas, Chile, both volcanos were shrouded in clouds, but otherwise it was sunny and dry so we took the opportunity to spend time outdoors, which is the best way to spend time in Puerto Varas.
As we were walking the lakefront, the clouds started to lift from the mountain tops. In hopes of gaining a better viewpoint, we found the path to the top of Cerro Phillipi where the wire cross stands above the town. The short walk along the path revealed that Cerro Phillipi is the place young couples go to make out and where high schoolers go to drink beer ( Ahhh, high school…). While the walk was pleasant, the top didn’t provide the views we’d hoped for. However, during the time we spent on the hill, the sky cleared almost completely revealing a stunning sight for sunset.
We woke the following morning to thick clouds, but again no rain. We set out for a walkabout to see the rest of the Puerto Varas, Chile. We headed for the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (Sacred Heart of Jesus Church), a national monument showing off the town’s German influence. It was constructed between 1915 and 1918 with native woods, ulmo and oak, and sheets of corrugated iron. It was inspired by the Marienkirche Church in Germany’s Black Forest. As we approached the church, we detoured through the park to the Gruta de Lourdes below, a peaceful retreat along the main road.
Nearing the church, we noticed that the outside of it was slightly deteriorating and we were suspect of what we would find inside. Quite the contrary to what we were expecting, it was absolutely pristine. It featured royal blue ceiling. The benchs and floors that creaked under the weight of us were made of manio and laurel wood. What struck me most was the scent, which was so familiar that if I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that I was in my grandparent’s church in Ohio.
From the church (along with the stray dogs following us, which we called our Chilean Dog-tourage), we followed the Circuito (walking path) that took us through town, past chic restaurants in historical buildings, a funky museum and to Playa Puerto Chico at end of the lakefront walk.
The long, blustery walk back into town was the only reason we ducked into the casino. Once inside, we couldn’t resist making a small deposit of $2 into a slot machine, which provided about 23 seconds of fun.
The main square, Plaza de Armas, stood empty, but the restaurants surrounding it were starting to fill for lunch. We led the pack into The Office for the fresh-made tomato soup and a jamon y queso panini. After a walk to the pier convinced us the clouds weren’t budging off the mountains, we did another loop through town with stops at the Feria Artesania (Artist market) and the Mercado before heading back to the Hotel Weisserhaus.
We want to know: Have you visited Puerto Varas, Chile? How did you spend your time there?