The city was established in 1768 to function as the capital of the archipelago and held that position until 1982. Founded as bulwark against foreign powers in colonial times, the city played an important role in the Chilean colonization of Patagonia in the 19th century.
Winters are cool and wet with a July average of 7.5 °C (45.5 °F). Precipitation during this time of the year is very high, averaging around 350 millimetres (14 in) and humidity is high, averaging around 87-88%.
Summers are mild with a January average of 15.0 °C (59.0 °F) and during this time, precipitation is lower though still significant, averaging 125 millimetres (5 in) in January. Temperatures rarely exceed 30 °C (86.0 °F). There are 200 days a year that get some rain.
Ancud has several different bus terminals and is served by several bus companies, including Tur-bus, Pullman, Cruz del Sur/Transchiloé, and Queilen. The Terminal Municipal is at the intersection of Avenida Aníbal Pinto and Marcos Vera. The Cruz del Sur bus station is at the intersection of Los Carrera and Los Cavada.
All buses to Ancud from the mainland stop in Puerto Montt. The bus from Puerto Montt crosses over to Chiloé by ferry and costs 4000-5000 pesos. The journey takes about 2 hours. Buses depart frequently from Puerto Montt until around 21:00.
The best way to get around is to rent a car for a day. You can then explore either the nice beaches to the west of ancud, or drive to Castro. Ask at the local gas station for car rentals.
- Fort San Antonio (at the end of Avenida San Antonio, past the intersection with Lord Cochrane). Open 24 hours. A small Spanish fort with a nice lookout over the Bay of Ancud. The fort system of Ancud and nearby the forts of Agüi are one of the four fort systems of colonial Chiloé. The fort system of Ancud is made up of two forts and four batteries. Fuerte Real de San Carlos was built as late as 1824 by orders of Antonio de Quintanilla, the last Spanish governor of Chiloé. The arsenal (polvorín) of this can still be seen at the centre of a small plaza. The battery of San Antonio is the best preserved part of the fort system. Free.
- Churches of Chiloé Museum, Errázuriz 227 (at the end of the tree-lined entryway near the intersection with Chacabuco). Daily 10:00-12:30 and 14:30-17:30. A small museum introducing Chiloé's churches. There are displays demonstrating the various joins used in building the wood churches without nails, as well as cutaway models of many of the island's churches. 500 pesos suggested donation.
- Museum of Ancud, Libertad 370 (near the main plaza and tourist information center). Informative displays about the history of Chiloé. Relatively small but worth a visit. 600 pesos.
- Penguin tours. The most popular excursion from Ancud is a visit to the nearby penguin colony, where in the right time of year it is possible to see Magellanic and Humboldt penguins nesting side by side. They begin returning to the islands to nest around September, with numbers peaking in December-January. They begin to leave once the chicks are hatched in late fall. The colony is 28 km from the town and can be reached by the public bus (Mar Brava). It leaves from the garage at 06:45 and 11:45, returning at 13:00 and 17:00. From there you can hire a boat to take you to the islands just offshore where the penguins nest. There are many tour agencies and hostels offering tours from Ancud. These tours generally include only transport and the boat trip, but sometimes add in hikes and other scenic stops. Make sure you know what you're getting.
- 1 Chepu Adventures Ecolodge, Camino a Chepu Km 13,2 (Chepu Rural - 38.5 km SW of Ancud), ☏ . Eco Tourism Chepu Adventures. Kayak while visiting the charming Valley of the Dead Trees at Chepu Wetlands, an overwhelming landscape of sunken dead logs and nature. Kayak at dawn. Trek to penguin colony. Eco-camping with alternative energy (wind) and solar hot showers. Hosting in suites for 2 persons (cabin type) with private bathroom and bathroom included. Adults only. Ecofriendly activities as kayak at dawn, trekking, bird & mammal watching.
Ancud has two major markets where you can find both food and handicrafts. The Mercado Municipal at the intersection of Arturo Prat and Libertad has two floors of stalls selling regional handicrafts, primarily knitwear, wool products, baskets, and carved wooden items. There is also a restaurant and seafood market here. The Fería Rural y Artesanal on Pedro Montt between Dieciocho and Arturo Prat has local foodsellers on the first floor and handicrafts on the second floor.
- Quepuca, Pudeto 277 (Go up the stairs 2 doors down from Botica cafe.). A women's cooperative that sells local handicrafts. Mostly knitwear and yarn, but somewhat different than what you'll find at the local markets.
- retro's pub at Maipú 615 is the best place for completos (sandwiches, try the ones with palta = guacamole), lunch, pizza, tea/coffee, dinner (tasty meat and fish, and great desserts and kuchen made by Marcela) and a drink with friends. Very frequented by the local population of all ages. Open from 11:00 until 02:00. The owners also organize curanto (native chilote meal baked under the earth) for groups on weekends at the beach.
- Casamar is a superb restaurant and bar of modern architecture overviewing the sea, at night with a big video screen, good music and fantastic food and drinks.
- La Candela across from the Plaza de Armas at Libertad 599 is a fantastic restaurant. Don't visit Ancud without stopping in for either lunch or dinner or dessert (or all three).
- Pedersen Salon de Te Down the road from La Candela there is a small cafe which also serves sandwiches and desserts. The native dessert derived from European influences called "Kuchen" (also the word for cake in German) can be sampled at its best here. Inexpensive.
- Kuranton At the port, nice and inexpensive local where you can eat the famous Curanto meal.
- . Close to the mole in Arturo Prat street (red-white entrance, second house behind the big blue one) is a fisherman's pub. It looks a bit shabby but the fish dish with potatoes, salad and bread for CLP$2000 was good. (Feb 2012)
- El Chilote Mena, Pudeto 318, ☏ . Open late. Decent Chilean food and drink.
- Retro's Pub, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The place for Pisco Sour or other cocktails at night. And for the next morning a good address for black coffee. Open from 11:00-02:00. Good music and TV screen.
- CasaMar, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A local restaurant, pub and event center (dance floor). It's the place to celebrate weddings or New Year's Eve. At the corner between Errazuriz and Costanera.
- Cafe Arte Nerudiano, calle Maipu 650, second floor, ☏ . Cosy and arty coffeeshop/bar with balcony on the second floor of a wooden gallery in the centre of town. Wifi is available and the owners, a Chilean/Belgian couple speak a variety of languages. The cafe has a permanent art exhibition. Specialities are the delicious pisco sour and several other cocktails, sandwiches and cakes. The atmosphere is very intimate and romantic at night.
- Hostel TerraMar, downtown and up a steep hill. No breakfast.
- Hostal Lluhay. Near the docks at 458 Lord Cochrane Ave. Sits high from the road to provide wonderful views of the quaint city and harbor. Breakfast included. There is internet and a sitting room with a grand piano and traditional decoration. Many lodging options. Inexpensive.
- Hostal Mundo Nuevo. Costanera (S. Allende) 748. A very nice and clean hostel with a views at the sea. they speak English, German and Spanish.
- Hospedaje Austral, Anibal Pinto 1318, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Cabin-esque single/double rooms with simple breakfast and kitchen is available at request in the owner’s place downstairs. The owners are really lovely (and Lorenzo the dog is quite friendly), and can recommend you good places to visit. Wifi included. From 7,000 pesos pp (July 2012). It's a bit removed from the center but it’s only 3 houses down from the bus terminal Municipal (ask the driver).
- Hospedaje Kreisel, Prat 350 (opposite Unimarc Supermarket), ☏ . Family run; no WiFi. 6000 pesos.
- Hospedaje Kristian, Pudeto 450 (Close to the terminal), ☏ . Run by a lady, friendly, clean, with breakfast. Price for a single room 8000 pesos. With TV, no WiFi. (Feb 2012)
- 13 Lunas Hostel, Los Carrera 855, ☏ . Backpacker hostel across the street from the Cruz del Sur bus station. Clean dorms with comfortable beds and shared bathrooms, free WiFi, breakfast included, laundry service (1500 pesos per kilo), friendly English-speaking staff. 12,000 pesos for 4-bed dorm, 11,000 pesos for a 6-bed dorm.