Welcome to Pucón, the adrenalin filled adventure capital of Chile. A popular destination for both Chileans and backpackers. This is a great introduction to Chile’s beautiful lakes district. Nestled under a steaming volcano at the edge of picturesque Lake Villarrica, this town offers plenty to do for both the active traveler and those in need of some relaxation.
There are plenty of opportunities to raft, hike, climb, kayak and much more. The area surrounding Pucón will be your playground all year round. Where else can you ski on one of Chile’s most active volcanos? After your adventures, you can relax in one of the area’s many hot springs, catch some zzz’s at the beach. In town, you can indulge yourself in the many wonderful cafes and restaurants or browse the many shops selling ice cream, chocolates and souvenirs. The town has a variety of quality accommodation for all budgets!
Despite the growing number of tourists, Pucón still retains its small town charm. It is one of the places where you may stay longer than expected.
Things To Do in Púcon
- Volcan Villarrica 2860m: The climb up one of Chile’s most active volcano is one of the most popular activities in Pucón and is well with the effort. It is a full day climb and views at the top are incredible. Before you head down, gaze into smoky bubbling crater at the top. So, grab your crampons and ice axe and get ready for an adventure to remember. Tours and equipment can be arranged at any travel agency in town. Pleased be advised, the last eruption was in March of 2015, climbing trips may be suspended depending on the ever-changing conditions on the volcano.
- Huerquehue National Park: Hop on a bus out of town to Huerquehue National Park where there are many self guided trails for a nice day hike. The paths are very well marked. A recommended route is the Los Lagos Trail which will take you around a few small lakes, a waterfall and a mirador. There are many nice spots for a picnic and it is possible to watch for birds as well.
- Rafting, River Boarding and Canoeing : Trancura, Trancura Bajo and Trancura Alto rivers surrounding Pucón have world class rapids from class I-V. Equipment and guides are top notch for whitewater rafting and many agencies offer trips. You can try whitewater river boarding on a modified biggie board on class I-III rapids. Wetsuit and river board will be provided. You can rent a canoe by the hour or full day and paddle on Lake Villarrica.
- Biking: Good quality mountain bikes can be rented all over town and there are many different routes to take. Grab a map from your hostel or the local tourist agency in town. Caburgua Lake and the Ojos de Caburgua Loop are recommended. It is also possible to bike to the hot springs outside of town.
- Skiing and Snowboarding: If you are here in the winter months between June and October, the slopes outside Pucón is a world class destination for winter fun. Villarrica Volcano offers 20 runs ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced with good infrastructure. You can rent equipment on site.
- Checkout the Cafes and Bakeries: Pucón is well known for its bright and comfortable cafes and bakeries making fresh homemade delights from cakes to chocolates to pies. You can easily spend a good part of the day cafe hopping around town. Some of them have decent wifi.
Places to Sleep in Púcon
- Chili Kiwi Hostel: One of the best places to stay in town. Located right along the lakeshore with great views of the lake from its garden terrace. It has great facilities and common areas. Its dorms have personal reading lights and lockers. The staff are very friendly and it has a general laid back atmosphere. They offer 4-6 bed dorms as well as private doubles.
- Hostal El Refugio: Located close to the main strip in the centre for town. It has a mountain lodge vibe with 3 cozy fireplaces and comfortable common areas. It has hammocks for you to lounge in. They offer 4-8 bed dorms and private doubles as well.
Places to Eat in Púcon
- Trawen :This restaurant has a great selection of food and drinks with in house wifi. They have delicious homestyle breakfasts and great seafood dishes
- Mamma’s Y Tapas: Great place to go out for the night. They have comfortable seating and with a wide selection of food and drinks. There is a club at the back with good music.
Pucón is just a 9 hour bus ride from Santiago. Buses head south towards Puerto Montt and east into Argentina. Tur Bus, Pullman Bus and Busses JAC have frequent departures to destinations in Chile. Busses San Martin and Igi Llaima have services to San Martin de Los Andes Argentina. Closest airport is located in Puerto Montt
Where to go next?
Santiago: Hop on a bus to Santiago, Chile’s busting capital. There are hourly departures including overnight services.
San Martin de Los Andes: Located along the shores of Lago Lacar, is a smaller and quieter version of Bariloche. It is worth a quick stop on the way to and from Bariloche.
Bariloche: A very charming city in Argentina’s Patagonia region. It has lots to do and see in and around the town. Take the bus to San Martin and transfer.
Puerto Varas: – Full of 19th century German architecture, this small charming town is located just 30min outside of Puerto Montt is a great place to enjoy more hiking and water sports. Overnight here is recommended before heading to Puerto Montt to catch the Navimag ferry or airplane.
Puerto Montt: There is not much to see and do but it is a great transit hub. It has an airport with flights to Santiago. Comfortable Navimag ferries leave twice a week for the 3 night scenic journey to Puerto Natales. This is a good alternative to get to Puerto Natales rather by land in Argentina.
About the writer: Kerry Sun is from from Vancouver, Canada and is currently working for UNICEF. Her education background is in international relations and development. She recently returned from an epic 10 month trip backpacking from Belize to Argentina!