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Overview

From La Serena south to Chillán, Mediterranean Chile's resemblance to California is remarkable, whether it's the endless beaches and headlands, the scattered vineyards and fertile central valley, or the hidden canyons of the Andes. Valparaíso was Chile's Gold Rush port, a World Heritage Site linked to San Francisco in geography and in history and in Isabel Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune. The region can also offer poet Pablo Neruda's homes at Isla Negra and Valparaíso, breaks that bring surfers from around the world to Pichilemu, and wine tasting and even a wine train in the Colchagua valley (just one of half a ...

From La Serena south to Chillán, Mediterranean Chile's resemblance to California is remarkable, whether it's the endless beaches and headlands, the scattered vineyards and fertile central valley, or the hidden canyons of the Andes. Valparaíso was Chile's Gold Rush port, a World Heritage Site linked to San Francisco in geography and in history and in Isabel Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune. The region can also offer poet Pablo Neruda's homes at Isla Negra and Valparaíso, breaks that bring surfers from around the world to Pichilemu, and wine tasting and even a wine train in the Colchagua valley (just one of half a dozen fine wine routes). In summer, there's fine hiking in the coast range and Andean national parks, and a historic copper mining ghost town in Sewell. East of La Serena, the arid uplands around Pisco Elqui are open all year for Taos-style spas, meditation, and mysticism. Perhaps not coincidentally, the area also produces the namesake grape brandy that's the base for Chile's national cocktail, the addictive pisco sour. Near the Argentine border, Portillo is Chile's highest-profile ski resort, but Termas de Chillán is both a ski area and a summertime hot springs resort.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer (October to April), except for urban activities, which are fine all year