The history of Puerto Varas is based closely on its German founders, like Frutillar Bajo. However, many Chileans believe many of its founders were Nazis and are critical of the town. And indeed when strolling through downtown some signs and uses of symbols can be related to such origins.
There is very frequent minibus service from Puerto Montt, and regular bus service from other cities. Tur-bus, Cruz del Sur, and Pullman offer overnight service from Santiago for a very reasonable price. Semi-cama seats lean back halfway, salon cama even more. Snack and breakfast included for a small fee.
The nearest airport is El Tepual (PMC IATA) in Puerto Montt, about 30 km from Puerto Varas, which has regular flights to Santiago, Punta Arenas, Balmaceda and other airports sereved by LAN Airlines, Sky Airline and Aerolíneas del Sur.
There is a railroad station in Puerto Varas, although no passenger trains run south of Temuco, no passenger train service Los Rios or Los Lagos regions
You can take the Lake Crossing from Bariloche, Argentina. This is generally done via a tour agency.
- Sagrado Corazón de Jesus (on a hill). Looks very nice. Was built by the German colonizers, it's the third Catholic church that Puerto Varas has had.
There are many options of day trips and adventures available from Puerto Varas. The Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, including the Petrohué falls and Lake Todos los Santos, is about 70 km from Puerto Varas. Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes are nearby. Mt. Osorno has a road to the base of a chairlift which is open all year round, for skiing in winter and sightseeing in summer. There are also good nearby destinations for trekking, flyfishing, rafting, kayaking and other adventures nearby.
- Casino (on Del Salvador, across the street from the Plaza, near the waterfront).
- [dead link] Fusion, Puerto Varas Cultural Show, Imperial 561, ☏ . Wednesday & Friday 20:00. Cultural show & dinner. A trip back in time, will take you to discover a history of effort, courage and dedication, drawn by German settlers who came to live in southern Chile in the mid-nineteenth century. They left an inerasable mark so far in this corner of the world. Fusion shows the genesis of what is now the local culture, a mixture of German traditions and nature of Chiloe's people, combining dance, music, cuisine and history.
- Danes. A nice restaurant.
- Carmen, on San Francisco. Good family place, very good lunch menus (menu del dia).
- Chamaca Inn (on Del Salvador a few blocks from the plaza). Good place for typical Lakes District foods.
- Barista, Walker Martínez 211. Good sandwiches and pastries.
A good start to find a place to sleep is the Sernatur Office.
- Ellen Haus. Has Internet. Good breakfast included.
- Haus Erika (10 minutes walking out of the center). More expensive but better. It offers more comfort for its price.
- Hospedaje Carla Minte. Great bed and breakfast. Friendly and helpful staff. Good price/quality two minutes from center.
- Hospedaje Don Raul. Great when you are alone and in the house, but the rooms outside are a bit less.
- Hostal Opapa Juan, Arturo Prat 107, ☏ . Comfortable bed with private bathroom, and delicious breakfast.
- Casa Azul, Manzanal 66 (About 5 blocks from the main plaza), ☏ . All rooms have shared bathrooms. Very nice hostel with communal kitchen, free WiFi, hot showers. CLP$22,000 double, CLP$15,000 single, CLP$8z000 dorm.
- 1 Bordemundo (Cabañas Bordemundo), Camino Ensenada 3km (Exit Puerto Varas in the direction of Ensenada. After passing Jumbo supermarket, go 1km further on the left hand side of the road look out for sign), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:30. Bed & breakfast cabins with beach access on Lake Llanquihue, overlooking Volcano Osorno. Cabins CLP$35,000 low season CLP$60,000 high season.
If you see the lady with the burnt face in town, usually wearing dark glasses and a hoodie, give her some pesos. She is having quite a hard time.
Close to this city are the waterfalls of Petrohue, take the bus to Ensenada, some of them continue via Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales until to Lago todo los Santos from where you could take a boat. Or walk back for about 6km to visit the waterfalls. (in January there are annoying but harmless insects in that parque)
Another place to visit is the small city Frutillar; it has a museum of the first colonists in that area. (the city has to parts the part close to the lake is for most visitors
Puerto Varas is a great base for volcano climbing: there are numerous volcanoes in the vicinity including Osorno & Calbuco, a guide to climbing them can be found here