Pucón is a small touristy town in the middle of the southern lake district in Chile. Extremely popular both with Chileans and foreigners for its nightlife and the beautiful views of volcan Villarrica. The city center is a backpacker's Disneyland, filled with travel agencies that will offer you any kind of day trips imaginable. If you don't like it crowded, you'll be better off in the nearby town of Villarrica. January and February are the busiest months.
Buses travel between Santiago and Pucón daily, many overnight. Tickets are scarce in summer, buy yours sufficiently ahead of your intended departure time.
You can also take the bus from Valdivia, it takes 3hrs.
Pucón's airport operates only during summer (for regular flights); the flights from Santiago are expensive. The closest airport for the remainder of the year is Temuco, to which airlines do the flight in about one hour from Santiago or Puerto Montt. Temuco is about 1.5 hours away by road.
Driving from Santiago takes approximately eight hours and involves the passing of seven road tolls on the ruta 5, CLP$ 1600 each. The road from the turnoff to Pucón is paved and in good shape.
Mainly Taxis to places out of town, the town itself is small enough to walk. Cycling is easy as they have put in cycle lanes along the main road. There are plenty of collectivo buses too and small public buses.
From Pucon's center there are stunning views of Volcan Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile.
- Climbing Volcan Villarrica. Snowcapped Villarrica looms majestically over Pucón at 2,840 meters (9318 feet) above sea level. Climbing to the top is non-technical and, on clear days, easy. Thousands of people make the climb each year, most of them in January and February, taking in the spectacular views of Volcans Llaima, Choshuenco, Quetrupillán, Lanin, and Lonquimay in the horizon. Crampons, ice axe and/or trekking poles and warm windproof clothing are essential equipment year round. To be allowed to climb without a guide you officially need to register with Conaf (in town), have your equipment checked and show proof of membership in a mountaineering organization in your home country. Climbing without permission at peak season would seem to be tricky as (in early 2009 at least) Conaf had people stationed at the top of the ski lift. A very early start would be required to be sure of avoiding them. Most people start from the skiing area, where you can take the ski lift for the first 300 meters. You can also start from near the refugio, at the Mirador Los Craters. From there the climb is longer, but for those carrying skis or snowboards, that means more riding when descending. Getting to the ski area or Mirador Los Craters is easy hitchhiking. Taxis in Pucón will gladly take you there as well. Most of guided excursions begin at around 7am but some agencies offer an earlier 5am start and you will get to reach the volcano alone with your team, avoiding the big crowds that arrive later. Agencies will provide equipment and transportation and cost around Ch$35,000. Note that most guides won't go further up after 2pm so get up early and don't waste too much time on your way up. Be sure to check how much money you'll get back if the climb is canceled due to bad weather.
- Skiing and snowboarding. The skiing area on Villarrica is open May until the beginning of October. Rent equipment in Pucón, or on the drive up to the ski slope. The highlight of the resort is its amazing views over the lake. It has 4 chairs and 3 T bar lifts. The resort area goes from 4,527 ft to 5,314 ft, making a total drop of approximately 800 feet. The backcountry possibilities of the resort are great: with the help of a local guide you can ski to the Villarrica Volcano's summit, 9200 feet above sea level. The Volcano often has good snow conditions up until November and the duration of the climb and descent is aproximately 9 hours, for advance skiers in good shape, but it's really worth the effort.
- Golf. In "Peninsula", a residencial area downtown, there is a well maintained golf course with views of the Villarrica volcano and the lake surrounding the course. The course is officially for members only.
- Horse back riding. This is a popular way to see the Mapuche settlements like e.g. Quelhue in the area. Tour agencies selling these tours are located all over the town. Check the conditions of the horses, as not all of them in good shape. Rides to "Salto el Claro" are in parts beside paved roads. Trustfull agencies are at Ecole and Politur.
- Hike past the waterfalls and gurgling brooks in the Huerquehue National Park. Doing this will enable you to get to know the strange Araucaria (monkey puzzle) tree, as well as other native vegetation such as Coigües and Lingues. The trails pass view points where you can while away the time namedropping volcanoes and Andean peaks. Bring food and water because you might want to stay the whole day.
- White water rafting and kayaking is a possibility in the glacier-fed Trancura River. Trancura Bajo offers third-degree rapids, good for beginners. Trancura Alto offers fourth-degree rapids and might require a little more courage. Tour agencies in the town will take you there.
- Fishing. Guided fly-fishing excursions are held on the tranquil Río Liucura and the more turbulent Río Trancura. Both rivers offer scenery and trout.
- Visit the Volcanic Caves at Villarrica Volcan.
- Antilco Horse Farm. They have a couple options to stay in, a guest house that has two separate rooms sleeping a total of five people and a small cabana for two. They are very cosy self catering and slightly out of town, they will come and pick you up. Also outstanding horse riding and trips from there. Getting there is fun, you head over a small bridge on a dust track and then follow the river until you find their property. I would advise a taxi or emailing them for a pick up, which they do pretty much daily at one pm from the town centre.
- [dead link]Jack Trout Fly Fishing, ☎ (Cell), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fly fishing wading and drift boat excursions on the Rio Trancura, Licura, San Pedro & all Lake District rivers since 1993.  . Single day or multiple day guide trips.
Has all the fly fishing gear and accepts all major credit cards.
- [dead link]Rumbo Sur 360 Montañismo (Climbing Volcanoes and Mountains), Caupolican 635 Pucon (Colo colo 361), ☎ . Great tours and experienced guides for climbing, scaling, reppelling or hiking the mountains and the most spectacular active volcanoes in the south of Chile.
- Amity Tours (Amity Tours), ☎ . Founded in 2003, Amity Tours is a family owned company and was created due to the immense opportunities for diverse and attractive programs that can be offered in The Lake & Volcano District (Chile and Argentina). They believe that this enchanting area located between the mountains and the sea is a largely unspoiled zone that has been ignored by local tour operators in the region for too long.
Amity Tours has programs exploring the ancestral roots of the region, together with local specialized guides. In this light, they offer hiking trips in the National Parks, road cycling, volcano-climbing, horse-back riding, insight into the local flora and fauna, ethnic discovery, trips to hot springs, and skiing on active volcanoes. The owners are amazing and very hospitable. They offer something most large tour operators do not... creativity!
- Thermal Springs Los Pozones, Km.36 Pucón - Huife Alto (there is a bus that leaves from Pucon (calle Palguín 555) at 1:30pm and comes back at 6:30pm (Ch$2800 return trip)), e-mail: email@example.com. 5 natural pools next to the river, water around 30-40ºC with a beautiful setting, especially during winter (snow around you). Ch$4000.
- Seeking South Day Tours/Llama Trekking, Fundo el mirador del Claro s/n, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tour Company Hiking in National Parks in the Lake & Volcano Distrcit Private and Day Tours Conguillio, VIllarrica and Huerquehue National Parks Seeking south it's a guide owned company, we believe in sustainability, in all kinds, enviromental, economic and social, that's why we try our best to reduce our impact in all the activities that we perform, sharing proftis with everyone involved. Our office for example it's all in renewable energy, solar and wind power.
- Ecole, Urrutia St. a good vegetarian restaurant
- La Maga, Fresia St (close to Pucón Square and Church). Mouthwatering Argentinian Barbeque. Book ahead in summer.
- [dead link]Latitude 39, Geronimo de Alderete 324, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Cool southern Californian couple, Rob and Monica moved to Pucon in 2007 after travelling through in 2004. They set up Latitude in 2008.
- Pizza Cala, Lincoyan 361, ☎ . Some of the best brick oven pizza in town. Also has a full bar with Int'l TV sports
- Restaurant Parque Antumalal, Km 2 Camino Pucón-Villarrica, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale restaurant at Hotel Antumalal with views over the lake. Prior reservations only, no walk-ins.
- Viva Peru, Lincoyan 372 St, ☎ . Amazing Peru food - try the fish.
- Mamas and Tapas Bar Restaurant. Great Place, Good Food (tacos!) and Music
Ohiggins 597 Pucon Chile - Fono +56 45-449 002 - mail email@example.com.
- La Bicicleta, Palguin 361, ☎ . Owned by friendly Chilean, Jose. Nice, relaxing, with wooden decks and views of volcano. Central, close to O'Higgins Street. Choice of doubles, singles and dorms. CLE10,000.
- Cabañas Akubra, ☎ . Owned by Chilean-born Australians.
- Dome (km9 Pucon - Villarrica), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 to 4 persons, "fully-equipped".
- Grand Hotel Pucon. A large hotel right on the lake shore with great views of the lake or volcano. It is likely the oldest and most famous hotel in town and it shows. While clean, the rooms, bathrooms, and facilities are very dated. The staff speaks a little English. USD150.
- [dead link]Hostal El Refugio, 540 Palguin (Opposite Pullman Bus Terminal), ☎ . Warm and friendly hostel, excellent place for meeting other travelers as a result of the inviting communal areas. Facilities include a well-equipped kitchen, several fireplaces, free Internet and tea and coffee all day. The owners and staff are extraordinarily friendly and a wealth of information. Both dorms and privates (even one with private fireplace). Dorm, CLE10,000; double, CLE11,000.
- [dead link]Hostal RumboSur, Colo Colo 361 (2 blocks from TURBUS bus station. From O´Hoggins make a right onto Colo Colo St, continue 50 m until the big yellow house), ☎ . Check-out: 11:00. This charming updated farmhouse has views of the mountains and the Villarica Volcano. There is an option for private suites for families or groups, or spacious dormitory-style rooms. All have comfortable extra-long warm beds and central heating for the cold winter nights. CLE9,000+.
- Hotel Antumalal (Km2 Camino Pucón-Villarrica, 2km south of the city centre), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel and spa nestled in 5 hectares of private gardens on the Villarrica lake edge. The unique setting merges natural beauty with style and personalized service.
- Hotel y Cabañas Kernayel, Av. Camino Internacional 1395, ☎ , . Nice place for a nice price. The cabañas are really great.
- [dead link]Nativa Hostel, calle Palguín 695 (2 doors from JAC bus station), ☎ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. The hostel has a spacious and cozy living room with TV, DVD, sound system, and free Internet. The rooms have comfortable and clean beds that include pillow, sheets, and blankets. Storage for luggage. The kitchen and dining room are fully equipped for you to cook and eat comfortably. The bathroom is clean and has toilet paper, 24-hour hot water for the showers. You will only have to bring your own towels. Open air terrace with a BBQ and beach chairs on the second floor. CLE10,000.
- Paradise Pucon Hostel, Colo Colo 92, ☎ . This lovely little hostel is in a quiet neighborhood a short walk from town. Close to the beach on the lake, lots of common space, including a cozy fireplace for winter and hammock for the summer, this hostel offers great, personalized service. The friendly staff can help you with travel arrangements.
- Portal Pucon. Excellent place with views of the lake for an excellent price (2 bedroom, 1 bath cabañas). Cabana, USD72.
- [dead link]Tree House Hostel, General Urrutia 660 (Central location. A 5-minute walk from the main bus terminal, 1 block from the main street, 4 blocks from the beach), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hammocks, coffee, DVDs, maps, reliable Villarrica volcano guides, and a wooden tree house with a nice view of the crater.
Should Pucon start to feel a bit too touristy, hop on a mini bus and make the 20 minute trip to the little city of Villarrica. It has a population of about 46 000 and escapes the tourist trappings of Pucon.