Puerto Varas – Important Numbers:

Hospital: 652 232 336
Ambulance: 131
Fire Department: 132
Police (Carabineros): 133
Forest Fire hotline (CONAF): 130
Investigations Bureau: 134
Maritime Search and Rescue hotline: 137
Aerial Search and Rescue hotline: 138

General Advice of Puerto Varas:
Carry your personal documents such as a Passport or National ID card on hand at all times.
Camp only on authorized sites.
In spite of the fact that Chile is a relatively safe country, you should practice discretion when handling personal ítems such as wallets, handbags, camera or other valuables in public.
Discrete use of flashy jewelry would avoid the unpleasant experience of being robbed. It is recommended that you do not walk alone at night, especially on the lake front.

Language in Puerto Varas:
Chile’s official language is Spanish.  Throughout the majority of the regions and cities it is possible to communicate in English.

Climate and Seasons of Puerto Varas:
Summer (December 21st to March 20th) .
Fall (March 21st to June 20th).
Winter (June 21st to September 20th).
Spring (September 21st to December 20th).

Keep in mind that through tout Chile’s southern cone the temperatures drop significantly and are accompanied with heavy rainfall during the Winter season.  While temperatures rise during the summer months there is significant rainfall.  Remember to take along adequate rain gear as well as warm clothing.

Puerto Varas Buses and Taxi Information:
In Puerto Varas there are no taxis with meters, so always agree rates in advance. (It is not customary to leave tips).
While the majority of Taxis in Puerto Montt have posted rates or meters it is important to agree rates for longer trips.
Private local taxis known as “colectivos” take up local routes within the respective towns.  Rates are $500 pesos during the day and $600 pesos at night and are clearly posted in the vehicles.
Small minivans travel between Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, among other towns, every few minutes and cost $800 pesos.  Waiting times are a bit longer (between 10 and 30 minutes) for minivans to the towns of Frutillar, Llanquihue and Ensenada.

Driving in Chile:
Speed limits are posted using international formats.  120km/h is the limit on the highway while on single lane highways limits are posted at 100km/h.  Within the city limits speeds are set at 60km/hr.  Argentinean driver licenses are recognized in Chile while all other drivers must have an international driver license, especially for visits of more than 3 months.

Car Rental Agencies require a valid driver license along with another form of ID and an internationally recognized credit card to rent for a minimum of 24 hours.  Minimum age requirements vary from 21 to 25 depending on the agency. If you choose to cross the international borders you must notify the agency with as much anticipation possible, in order to complete the necessary forms.

Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay can travel with only their national ID cards.  All other countries require valid passports and associated visas.

The Chilean Peso ($), one of the more stable currencies in South America is found in $20,000, $10,000, $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 bills.  Coins are valued at $500, $100, $50, $10 and $5.

Due to links with both the Euro and the dollar, exchange rates are in constant flux. We recommend buying in local currency due to the fact that merchant exchange rates for dollars and Euros tend to be undervalued in comparison to Banks and Exchange rate offices. To see current Exchange rates press here.

Office hours at Puerto Varas:
Generally, businesses and merchants change business hours according to the tourist season.
Off season hours: Monday to Saturday 9am to 1pm; 3pm to 6pm.
Peak Season:  Monday to Saturday 9am to 1pm; 3pm to 8pm.    Business hours vary between establishments. Some businesses remain open during the lunch hour duing the peak season.

Banks: Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm.
Supermarket: Monday to Sunday 9am to 10pm.
Municipality:  8am to 1pm and 3pm to 4pm.

Bars and restaurants legally serve alcohol until 4am on Monday to Thursday and Sunday.  On Fridays and Saturdays the bar is open until 5am.

Electricity in Puerto Varas:
Appliances operate on 220 volts and 50Hz cycles.  The majority of transformers accept standard North American plugs. Laptops usually do not require transformers.  Adaptors for 3 to 2 prong plugs are locally sold.

Puerto Varas Fishing Permits:
Mandatory permits are sold throughout the zone, in fishing gear businesses, tour agencies or can be directly bought from the Municipality on San Francisco 413, in Puerto Varas.
Telephone: 065 321303.

Calling Codes, and Communication by Telephone to, and from Chile.

From other countries calling to fix numbers you must dial a carrier code +56 (Chile’s national code)+65 (the local code.)
Example: 00(56)(65)2222222.
From other countries calling to Cellphone or Mobiles numbers you must dial a carrier code +56 (Chile’s national code) +9 (the local code.)
Example: 00(56)(9)22222222.

From within Chile, between regions you must mark the region code + the phone number.  For example, to call Puerto Varas from another region mark the following:

From land lines you must mark 9 before dialing any cell phone number.  Ex: 9-97197680.

Dialing from another cell phone does not require this dialing code even though you may be calling from a different region.  Simply mark the 9 digit cell phone number when dialing from another Chilean cell phone.

Where is Puerto Varas Located?

Located in the Patagonia, At 20 km of the southern capital city of  Puerto Montt, the lake front city of Puerto Varas forms part of the Tenth Region, also known as The Lakes Region.

Latitude South -41,3264885 – Longitude West -72,988205

Getting There

How to get to Puerto Varas:

By Plane:
The closest airport is found in the city of Puerto Montt.  From there you can take a 25-minute taxi ride into Puerto Varas for around $18.000 Chilean pesos. Most hostels and hotels have transfer service that you can request upon making your reservation.
Also available are buses, which are conected with the flights and are managed for a company called Andres Tours, and make the last stop at the bus terminal in Puerto Montt.  The service costs around $2.500 pesos. From there you can continue traveling to Puerto Varas by boarding any of the local buses which leave from the terminal every 5 minutes or so and costs around $800 pesos. If you are travelling relatively heavy and are in a hurry to arrive we do not recommend this last option.  The trip lasts around half an hour to Puerto Montt and then another half an hour to Puerto Varas. Keep in mind that the last bus leaves Puerto Montt at 10 p.m.

By Bus:

Travel within Chile is possible via companies such as Buses JAC, Pullman Bus, Turbus, Bus Norte, ETM, Cruz del Sur, to name a few of the more reputable companies.  From Argentina, from San Carlos de Bariloche or Villa La Angostura, Andesmar, Bus Norte and Turbus provide more frequent services.  All of these companies have direct service to Puerto Varas. Of course, schedules are subject to change depending on the date or time that you chose to travel.  Keep in mind that the last bus leaves Puerto Montt at 10p.m.

By Car:
Although not the most scenic, the Route 5 otherwise known as the Panamerican Highway is the fastest route to travel by.  From Osorno to Puerto Montt the 89 km stretch of highway may be the most convenient but is not the only option.

We recommend one of two options for those seeking a more scenic arrival.  Both start off on Route 215 from either Osorno or Bariloche, Argentina via the town of Entre Lagos, where you can steal glimpses of Lago Puyehue.  From the Route 215 you will follow the route to the right if you are travelling from Osorno or to the left if travelling from Bariloche, Argentina.  This route leads you into another unpaved road heading toward Lake Rupanco- well known for its excellent beaches and water sports as well as its fly fishing activities.  Followiing the main road you will have two options: Puerto Octay (to the right) or Las Cascadas (left.)  Any of the alternatives that you may choose will be an excellent choice.

Vía Puerto Octay (Bahía and Puerto Norte of Lago Llanquihue): The end of the XIX century buildings stand out in this small town.  Following the paved road toward Quillanto another road, unpaved, leads to the old port, Los Bajos, whose ruins you can still visit.  Still further on you will come across the town of Frutillar.  Frutillar is not only renowned for the characteristic view of Volcanoes Osorno, Calbuco, Tronador and Puntiagudo  from the towns beaches but also boasts an Event Center as well as the  home to its  concert events that take place in the Teatro del Lago.   Continuing along the coastal route that winds along Punta Larga , which leads first to Totoral Bay, you will eventually arrive to the city of Llanquihue (not to be confused with the lake of the same name.)  The Vicente Pérez Rosales Avenue runs into Route 5, otherwise known as the Panamerican Highway, leaving you only 10 kilometers short of the 180km trip.

Vía Las Cascadas: This lakeside beach town’s extensive beach are notable for their black volcanic sand and is only the first stop before reaching the town of Ensenada.  A bit after driving on the paved stretch of the road, you will notice a side road on the left hand side.  This road leads up into the Volcano Osorno’s Ski Center where you can enjoy the winter season or enjoy the birds eye view from the Center’s lifts during the off season.  If you simply choose to continue on directly without the side trip to the Ski Center, the route 225 towards Ensenada on the right hand side winds along the lakeside until Puerto Varas completing the 180km trip.  If you are up for more travelling take the path on the left hand side toward Todos Los Santos Lake and Petrohué Falls.  The 20km excursion off the main route is a pleasant trip.  Return by the same route to end up at Puerto Varas.

By Boat:
The 13 hour trip from Bariloche is one of the more beautiful options for connecting the dots between these two towns.  Since the time and side trips may take you from hours to days depending on your tastes and disposition we recommend you visit the page heading Activities/Travel Zone where you can study the details in the Lakes Crossing Section.  The stetch of land and lakes is traversed by 3 boats and 4 bus trips and is coordinated by one tour operator that we can organize for you.

History of Puerto Varas:

Although there is no official date marking the beginning of Puerto Varas’ history, its founding as a town is commonly associated with the arrival of the first German colonist at the end of 1852.  We have compiled some of the more notable events throughout the history of the city.

Between October 1853 and 1864 the Camino Alerce joined Puerto Montt and the southern lake front of  the Llanquihue Lake.
On Saturday, January 6th 1872, Father Francisco Enrich S.J officially blessed and dedicated  the first Sacred Heart of Jesus temple, whose construction was initiated in 1870 in the Plaza de Armas. In1890 this Catholic church was destroyed in a fire.

In order to promote social meetings and a sense of camaraderie among the families of its members, the first German Club was formed on the 1st of October, 1885.  Meetings were held in the Hotel Llanquihue and were chaired by the club’s first president Fernando von Bischoffshausen.

On the 30th of October 1897 the President of the Republic Federico Errázuriz Echaurren conceded the title of “Villa” via decree 4838 in response to Senator  Ramón Ricardo Rozas’ request. At the time of the decree the town numbered over 500 people.

On January 22, 1915, under the direction of Edmundo Niklitschek and with the corroboration of Bernardo Klenner along with Adalio Morales, construction of   The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was initiated. Ancud’s Bishop Reverend Antonio Castro inaugurated the church on November 22, 1915.

The Commune of Puerto Varas was established by presidential decree 8583 by President Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and was until then part of the Commune of Frutillar.  At the time of that decree on the 30th of December, 1927 the city registered 15,059 inhabitants.

On Sunday, the 22nd of May, 1960 at 3:10p.m. Calbuco’s violent eruption  registering 8.9 on the Richter scale, left its mark on Puerto Varas as well as  the rest of southern Chile.  The quake left behind numerous victims as well as wide spread damage throughout the city.

On the 30th of January 1970 the renowned Grand Hotel and Casino of Puerto Varas opened its doors.  Croupiers were brought in from Viña del Mar’s Casino in order to train local staff. In 2000 this long standing tourist attraction inaugurated its modern premises on Del Salvador Street.

The scenic town of Puerto Varas was touched once again by tragedy on the 7th of May 1995.  Due to torrential rains during a period of various days the drainage system along with an embankment collapsed between Puerto Varas and Ensenada,  leading to 27 deaths as cars fell into the resulting abyss, one by one.

On the 12th of March 2006 an early morning fire completely destroyed the Hotel Colonos del Sur, which for more than 15 years formed part of the scenic downtown landscape of the town. Fortunately, all 92 guests were quickly evacuated by the local fire brigade as  well as hotel staff members.