If you go to Patagonia from Santiago by land, you won’t be disappointed.
Santiago is the capital of Chile and it’s a great starting point to explore the country. From there you can go up north to see the Atacama desert or head south towards Patagonia. If you have a couple of days to spend in the city, you can take a walk around Plaza de Armas, then head to Plaza de la Constitución to see the Palacio de la Moneda, seat of the President of the Republic of Chile.
The day after cross the Parque Forestal to get to Barrio Bellavista, a vibrant neighborhood with cafes and restaurants. It’s also easy to get around with metro. The bus station is located at the metro stop U. de Santiago. There you can buy tickets for different destinations. To give you an idea of price, we paid around $5 with one way with Turbus to go to Valparaiso. Turbus is a cheap and reliable bus company for all destinations in Chile.
Where to stay: Casaltura The Boutique Hostel conveniently located in the heart of downtown. Wi-fi doesn’t work well, but overall good value.
Valparaiso is around a one-hour bus ride from Santiago and it’s the perfect second stop for your Chilean trip. It’s a world heritage site where you can admire colorful graffiti and clifftop homes. The bus stop is located in the lower part of the city, you can take a cab or the funiculars to reach the higher part. The higher part is the one where you want to be to enjoy spectacular views and immerse yourself in the unique colorful scenery.
Where to stay: Puerta Escondida Bed & Breakfast one of the top stays of our RTW trip. Located in the picturesque graffiti area. Breakfast is delicious.
Where to eat: There are a couple of lovely places that I recommend for food: El Peral is a cafe with a view where food and juices are delicious. Cafe con Gracia is a small cafe that offers delicious Sangria, sandwiches, tapas and cakes. At El Internado you can taste delicious tapas and enjoy a good young atmosphere.
From Valparaiso, we headed to Concepcion. There is not much to see in Concepcion, we chose to go there because it seemed like a good intermediate stop on our way to Puerto Montt.
The bus trip from Valparaiso to Concepcion should take 7 hours based on Google maps but the bus does a lot of local stops. It became a 10-hour trip. If you take a bus in Chile don’t rely on the distance from Google maps, most of the time it will take a couple of hours more so remember to be flexible with your plans.
Concepcion is not a touristy town and we liked it for this reason. It’s walkable and the University is worth a stop because there is a Pinacoteca with paintings of local artists and a huge mural dedicated to the rise and history of Central-South America.
Where to stay: Hostal Concepcion walking distance from the center. Good value and very nice host.
Next stop was Pucon. It’s a touristy town because of its famous hot springs and volcanoes. Local buses take you to the hot springs. There are a couple of hot springs located close to each other and it takes around 30 min to get there from the bus station in Pucon.
We went to Quimey-Co because it was raining that day and they have covered pools. The best hot springs in the area are Geometricas. There are agencies that organize the day trip for you but the trip takes 2 hours and the cost is around $40 per person.
Where to eat: Recommended restaurants in Pucon: Ecole (vegetarian) and Trawan (good creative food and cocktails).
Where to stay: Hostal La Tetera cozy mountain cabin style. The bathroom is shared but always clean. Good breakfast.
Our last stop before Patagonia was Puerto Montt. The reason why we chose this location was because we found cheap flights to get to Punta Arenas (the southernmost city in Chile-Patagonia and good starting point to explore the region). Just one bus company goes to Puerto Montt from Pucon, the name is Jac and you can buy tickets at Jac bus station located downtown.
Where to eat: We didn’t spend much time in Puerto Montt, but if you pass by, I can recommend the restaurant Qavah for good lunch menu.
Where to stay: Hotel Le Mirage walking distance from the center. Nice staff and good value.
This itinerary is based on the cheap flight that we found from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas. Starting in Santiago, this is the cheapest itinerary that we could plan to get to Patagonia.
I highly recommend you to check different locations in Chile to get to Patagonia so you can plan your trip accordingly. We made our way from Santiago to Puerto Montt by land, then flew to Punta Arenas and made our way back north to El Chalten by land.