Castro is the capital of Chiloé Island. It is a city of 42,000 people (2012) on the island's eastern coast, halfway between Ancud in the north and Quellon in the south, and is a convenient base for exploring the island of Chiloe.
There are two bus terminals in Castro. The main bus terminal (actually the terminal of the Cruz del Sur company) is at the intersection of Sotomayor and San Martín, one block north of the northeast corner of the main plaza. Here you can find frequent connections to Puerto Montt (about 2 hours, 6,000 pesos) on the mainland, as well as Quellon in the south of Chiloé (2 hours, 2,000 pesos). There are several buses a day to Santiago (16 hours, usually overnight) and in most major cities on the way. To Argentina, buses to Bariloche depart on Wednesdays and Sundays, but you need to change buses in Puerto Montt (12 hours, 6,000+13,000 pesos). All of these buses stop in Ancud on the way, and the ferry crossing is included in the price.
You can find local buses (micros) at the Terminal Municipal, located a few blocks away from the main bus terminal at San Martin and Aldea. Buses to Dalcahue (30 minutes), Achao, and Chonchi stop here. The bus to the Chiloe National Park stops here as well; there are several companies leaving at different times of the day.
You can also enter with a rental car. There is a fee for the ferry, but having your own transport is a very convenient way to explore Chiloe.
Castro is very small and can easily be navigated by foot.
The tourist office in the main plaza is quite helpful and can furnish you with a map of Castro which has a suggested walking tour on it. The tour takes 2–3 hours depending on your pace. The tourist office is open daily 09:00-18:00.
- Palafitos. Castro is known for its collection of wooden houses on stilts. There can be found in several places. There is a long line of them along the eastern coast, north of the Plazuela del Tren (just north of the Mirador Costanera). These are the Palafitos Montt, and are best seen from the water; you can find tour boats near the port. There is another viewing point at the northern end of the Palafitos Montt which does not require you to take a boat. Finally, you can see a different row of palafitos from the Plazuela Henriquez at the southwest corner of Castro.
- Iglesia San Francisco (right on the main plaza). free.
- Plazuela del Tren (just north of the port). A small plaza right by the waterfront with an odd collection of old trains. There are also a few of these trains by the Feria Artesanal Lillo.
- Cementerio Parroquial (entrance off Riffart, by the athletic field). Some of the tombs here are quite grand and ornately decorated. It is a pleasant place for a stroll. Free.
- Feria Campesina Yumbel (at the intersection of Alcalde Manuel Muñoz and Yumbel, northwest of the hospital). A bustling fruits and vegetables market. There are also household goods and fish stalls here.
- Plaza de Armas. The central town square with its well-kept park, the town hall, and the church has always been the middle of Castro. The square is surrounded by many shops, banks, bars and restaurants.
- The Regional Museum of Castro (Museo Regional de Castro), Esmeralda 255, ☏ . M-F 09:30-13:00, 15:00-18:00; Sa 09:30-13:00; extended hours in Jan Feb including Su 10:30-13:00. It exhibits many objects made in Chiloé, samples of ethnography and archaeology.
- The Museum of Modern Art of Chiloé (Museo de Arte Moderno de Chiloé), Parque Municipal de Castro (4-km walk from Plaza de Castro, or by collective taxi on line 2), ☏ . Open only during exhibitions, daily 10:00-17:00 (Jan Feb to 18:00). It houses an important collection of contemporary art.
- Feria Artesanal Lillo (on the waterfront, just south of the port). An excellent collection of hand-knitted woolen goods and handicrafts.
Most of the restaurants and cafes in Castro are concentrated along the Calle Blanco, running from the southern end of the plaza down to the waterfront.
- Café Blanco, Blanco 268 (half a block east on the southern side of Plaza de Armas), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A cozy little French café with a tremendous selection of coffees and teas. Generous portions of delicious cakes, sandwiches and small meals are served. Locals come here for their afternoon once (snack). Wine and liquors also available. Coffee from 1,000-2,000 pesos, cakes 2,000 pesos, sandwiches 4,000 pesos.
There are tons of lodging options in Castro, so you should have no problem finding a place to stay by just walking around and asking.
- Palafito Hostel, Calle Ernesto Riquelme 1210, ☏ . The hostel is in one of the traditional quarters, the “Palafitos de Gamboa”, where the houses have a typical construction of wood on the waterline.