Pucon is an enchanting destination in the south of Chile eclipsed by the infamous active volcano Villarrica and surrounded by lakes, waterfalls, and thermal springs. Pucon is one of the most picturesque places to go in Chile’s lake district and still off-the-beaten-path. Below we share how to get to Pucon, the top 3 things to […]
Pucon is an enchanting destination in the south of Chile eclipsed by the infamous active volcano Villarrica and surrounded by lakes, waterfalls, and thermal springs. Pucon is one of the most picturesque places to go in Chile’s lake district and still off-the-beaten-path. Below we share how to get to Pucon, the top 3 things to see there, plus tips on other things to do in Pucon.
The closest airport to Pucon is Araucanía Airport in Temuco. From Santiago, the flight to Temuco is quite short and costs around $60 USD. From Temuco to Pucon, you can easily book a shared transfer from the airport to your hotel for $15 USD. If you want more freedom for your trip, you may want to consider renting a car – this is the most preferred way of transportation for travelers.
If you’re a backpacker or looking to save some money, there are daily overnight buses from Santiago to Pucon. The 10-hour ride is a lot cheaper (around $15) and pretty seamless if you can sleep the whole way there. To get to the bus station in Santiago, take line 1 (the red line) to the Universidad de Santiago station. This station is directly under the terminal of buses where you will find Pullman Bus as well as a number of other local companies that have frequent buses to Pucon.
Although Pucon may seem like a small city in the south of Chile, it’s packed with tons of things to see and do. We recommend spending at least 3 days in this beautiful town, especially if you like outdoor adventures. Here are the top 3 must-see things to do in Pucon:
1. Enjoy views or even climb Villarrica Volcano
You’ll be able to enjoy views of the majestic Villarrica Volcano with its snow-capped peaks from town. But if you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, you can do a full-day hike to the Villarrica Volcano. This is by far the most popular and unique activity offered in the area. If you’re visiting during the winter months, you can also go skiing or snowboarding around the base of the volcano.
2. Relax by the two large lakes surrounding Pucon (Villarrica and Caburga)
You’ll likely see one of the two lakes on your way into town. Lake Villarrica is located next to Pucon and is easy to walk to from the town center. Here you can find some of the famous black sand of Pucon, and although the water is extremely cold, there are kayaks and boats for rent in the summer. The lake in itself is a peaceful refuge for tourists and a great place to sunbathe or have a picnic.
3. Relax at the thermal springs (or ‘termas’)
If you’re looking for some warmer water, relax in one of the natural hot springs just outside of town. Located in a tranquil forest setting, the hot springs are set up with a series of pools of different temperatures, from frigid cold to hot. However, do expect the hot springs to be a bit crowded especially during the afternoon as that’s when the large tour buses arrive.
A number of local agencies in Pucon can help you arrange any of the above activities when you arrive, though we recommend checking availability and booking in advance, especially if you’re traveling during high season (December to March).
If you’re looking for something different and trying to avoid the typical tourist spots, Pucon has plenty of things to do. Check out the below video of some of the adventure activities available and our recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences for your trip to Pucon.
Mapuche Community Tour
Stay with a local indigenous family and learn about their customs. You can go on hikes and choose from a number of outdoor activities. This is especially popular with travelers who are interested in sustainable tourism and want to get an insight into the raw side of local life in Chile. The Mapuche community tour is an incredibly economical yet unique choice.
Ojos del Caburgua & Huerquehue National Park
Don’t miss out on the beautiful Ojos del Caburgua (Eyes of Caburgua), a waterfall close to Lake Caburga. Although popular with locals, not many tourists know about this spot and the tranquil trail leading through the forest. Speaking of trails, if you’re a nature lover, Huerquehue Park is the perfect place to spend a day hiking.
Ziplining & Canyoning Adventures
If you’re into adventure sports, you can visit the Trancura River and zip your way through the forest on a Pucon Canopy Adventure. Ziplining is a favorite activity with Chileans here especially during the summer time. The highest zip line is 500 meters tall and passes above the Trancura River. Or, go on a canyoning tour with a local. You’ll climb down waterfalls, hike through a beautiful ravine, and enjoy a day in secluded nature.
Whitewater Rafting in Trancura River
Pucón is one of the best rafting spots in Chile. The nearby Trancura river offers class II and class IV rapids and its white-water rafting is a perfect day out for the whole family. You’re bound to get an adrenaline rush as you fight the rapids and float down the river.
We’ve booked trips for travelers all around the world and apart from things to do in Pucon, we’re often asked for lodging recommendations. Many of our staff members have visited Pucon and have stayed at different hostels and hotels. Here are our favorite places to stay when visiting:
Chili Kiwi Backpackers
An ideal hostel for backpackers, Chili Kiwi offers an easy-going atmosphere and a bar serving craft beers. They also organize outdoor activities for guests at an additional cost. The hostel is clean and quiet and offers comfortable beds.
With a beautiful sun-filled common room, Okori Hostel is another perfect spot for your Pucon getaway. The hosts are very friendly and offer some great local tips. You’ll get comfortable and clean beds, access to a huge kitchen, and a nice fireplace to warm up after a long day.
Mirador los Volcanes
Owned and operated by a lovely local couple, Mirador los Volcanoes offers great views of the Villarrica Volcano. It’s a perfect choice for families as each of the three cabins comes fully equipped.
With an impressive modern design, Maki Hotel offers spacious and stylish rooms. It’s located on a quiet street just a couple blocks from the center of Pucon. They also offer a great breakfast, with vegan options.
Hotel Casa Solaria
This boutique hotel is located in the center of Pucón and offers lake-view rooms. The service is right on point and the room is filled with beautiful details. Plus, the breakfast offered is absolutely delightful.
Perched on a hill with stunning views over a lake, Antumalal is an absolute treat. The rooms offer beautiful vistas and some even have a wood fireplace. The hotel has a wonderful garden with hidden waterfalls.
&beyond Vira Vira
With suites starting from $525 USD per night, Vira Vira is a luxurious and remote getaway located in a beautiful park with natural lagoons. This eco-focused resort also houses a working farm and cheese factory.
Over the years, as Pucon has become a hotter destination for Chileans and foreigners alike, the restaurant scene has also grown. You can find some great restaurants, cafes, and pubs in town, most located on the main street, Avenida Bernardo O’Higgins. Here are a few of our favorite places.
La Trattoria da Pietro
Although you wouldn’t expect a good Italian restaurant in Pucon, surprisingly La Trattoria serves up an authentic homemade fare. They offer delicious pizzas and perfectly cooked homemade pasta. A perfect place to grab a warm and hearty meal before your trek up the volcano.
297 Cafe Bistro
One of the best spots for coffee in town, 297 Cafe offers travelers a cozy atmosphere. With a three-course daily lunch menu and good Wi-Fi, it’s a great place to grab a quick bite and people-watch.
Vegetarian options in Chile are a bit harder to come by, especially in a smaller town. Luckily, Ecole! offers delicious vegetarian and vegan fare including gnocchi, lasagna, and curry bowls. Meals are affordable and, the best part, they have homemade desserts.
This local pub offers up artisanal beers and flavorful burgers made in house. With friendly staff and great service, it’s also the perfect place to meet other travelers. Try the different types of local beers on tap from breweries all over Chile.
If you’re looking for nightlife, keep in mind, Pucon is a small town. There are just a handful of bars where almost everyone eventually ends up. Mamas y Tapas is open the latest and also has a nightclub at the back of the bar, which gets pretty lively on the weekends and has a good vibe. However, it only really gets going after midnight, even on a Saturday night.
Chile was voted the world’s top country to visit for 2018 by Lonely Planet. Alongside the multitude of vineyards and beautiful bohemian coastal towns like Valparaiso, southern cities like Pucon are why Chile earned its prestigious name.
For travelers looking to connect with the countryside of Chile, Pucon is the ideal destination. Although you could easily explore the town in 2 or 3 days, we recommend taking your time and planning a longer trip to this city and the surrounding region. This way, you will see the captivating scenery, get to visit the volcanoes and hot springs, as well as have time to pack in all the extra adventure activities you might want, from horse-riding to rafting to snowboarding. Consider trying something new, like learning about the indigenous Mapuche people and culture or going on a short camping or hiking trip in one of the surrounding national parks. Whatever you choose to do, we hope your trip to Pucon is an exhilarating experience.