Valdivia has been classified as the “Pearl of the South” and the “Beer Capital of Chile". Thanks to its public spaces, order and cleanliness — in addition to nature, gastronomy and culture — it has positioned itself in the 21st century as one of the best cities to live in and visit in Chile.
Valdivia is capital of the Los Ríos Region and the province of Valdivia. It is 850 km south of Santiago at the confluence of the Calle Calle, Cau-cau and Cruces rivers, and 15 km from Corral Bay. In 2017, Valdivia had a population of 166,000 people.
It was founded in 1552 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, under the name of "Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia". It was one of the first cities to be founded in Chile. During the colonial era, it was considered "the key to the southern sea" , a strategic enclave for access to the Pacific Ocean. Fortifications were built to protect it from enemy attacks or attacks by indigenous people in the area.
In 1960, the city, along with the rest of southern Chile, was affected by the most powerful earthquake recorded in human history, which reached 9.5 on the Richter scale. The event is known in Chile as "Valdivia earthquake".
- Twice daily one-stop flights by LATAM Express Airbus A318/320 to/from Santiago for CLP$75,000 (Internet fare). The airport is about 35 km north of Valdivia. Numerous shuttles await the flights and take you into the city for CLP$5,000.
- Daily flights from the country's cheap airline, SkyAirline, are also available to and from Santiago. www.skyairline.com/english
- Most of the city is fairly walkable, though if you need to go somewhere like Teja Island, it is recommended to take a cab. Fares start at around CLP$50 for most taxis.
- Buses have a regular schedule up until 8PM for most destinations. Fare is CLP$450 (as of October 2017).
- "Colectivos" (or shared taxis with fixed routes) are also helpful for navigating the city. Always best to ask the driver for directions. Fare is CLP$500 during weekdays, and CLP$550 during weekends.
- The bus to Niebla is AR$600 and goes hourly. The subsequent ferry for a passenger to Corral is AR$730 with the car ferry and AR$1,000 with the passenger ferry, which start at different places. Inquire with the bus driver.
- The town has a cool little fish market by the river side where you can feed Sea lions and Pelicans with titbits or snacks that you can buy from the fish mongers.
- Take a stroll through General Lagos St. There's a nice selection of German-styled houses that have been preserved in the past years and most if not all of them, have a plaque indicating the erection date and the current usage of the house.
- Loads of tour operators offering boat tours to various ruined 17th Century Spanish forts. The cruises stop and allow you to explore the ruins or walk in the forests. Most tours go to the Pacific Ocean at Corral and stop for a 30-minute visit here. Tour lasts about 5 hours. Ticket price includes a good quality meal and indoor seating. Tour guide narration in Spanish only. Beverages not included in the price. The boats depart from the same area as the fish market.
- FicValdivia. October. In October the city's annual film festival FicValdivia is held which is regarded internationally by many as more important than the Santiago Film Festival due to its diverse range of programming including quite a lot of experimental cinema.
- A good opportunity for a day or 2-day hike is the nearby 1 Oncol National Park and Cerro Oncol.
- Reserva Costera Valdiviana Trail (green). Distance: 40-50 km, mostly flat. Duration: 2-3 days. Grade: Easy to medium. Recommended: comfortable boots and strong cloths against the spike bushes along the trail.
This is a picturesque trail which leads through lush and beautiful eucalyptus forests for most of its first half along Sendero del Diablo and Sendero Colun. Later you will cross the dune towards Playa de Colún and along the beach there. The last 10-20% of the trail is along the beautiful coast with cliffs and grassland. There exist many camping opportunities along the way, see OpenSteetMap.
To get in, take the bus from Valdivia to Niebla for AR$600, the vehicular ferry to Corral for AR$730, and a local bus or hitchhike to Chaihuín.
Download coordinates: GPX, KML.
- Marzipan and German desserts at Chocolateria Entrelagos (downtown-at one block from the central square). Another good option is Chocolateria Peumayen, located almost next-door to Entrelagos
- Charming trinkets with illustrations of the cities Sea Lions
- Beer lovers have a nice option at BeerStore Valdivia (Los Robles Av, at Isla Teja, next to "Cafe La Negra")
- During January and February there's a feria at Niebla on the coast. Seafood stalls and folk music and dancing until 23:00. Delicious empanadas de mariscos and other asado and seafood. 40 or 50 food stalls and free entry provide a great evening of entertainment. Buses run to and from Valdivia and at closing there are several buses available.
- Curanto. This is a large serving of steamed shellfish served with a boiled sausage, boiled chicken leg, and potatoes. It is not always on the menu but try looking for restaurants with a large sign on the sidewalk or in the window that states "HOY CURANTO".
- Despensa Sureña, aka La Ruta Culinaria, at the corner between the streets Arauco and Esmeralda serves simple and cheap, but excellent, lunch for about CLP$2000.
- Yang Cheng - a long established Chinese restaurant with an extensive menu.
- Villa Santa Clara Restaurant, Lord Cochrane 855 (Follow the big signs to Villa Santa Clara from the bus stop Puelche). A really nice and secluded place in Niebla. "Parillas", fine wines, fresh fish and a very fair priced "Buffet de Mariscos" (shellfish) on Friday nights. The restaurant is situated in a pleasant garden with Cabañas nearby.
Valdivia is popular in the region and throughout Chile for its draught beer, cerveza artesanal. Some of these beers are famous beyond the borders of the city. So, the city is a good place to go to a pub. A pint costs CLP$3000 as of Mar 2018.
- Ultima Frontera is an alternative/student bar, always packed, great decoration in a building under very big trees and wide food menu. Located on the corner of Pérez Rosales and Yerbas Buenas 787.
- Cervecería Kunstmann [dead link] for those who love beer you can visit the restaurant in the factory, 10 minutes from the centre.
- There are. dozen places for dancing or drinking in "Calle Esmeralda", a short central street.
- Airesbuenos, García Reyes 550. Located in the centre of the city, it’s affordable and clean. It is run by new management now and feels more like a business rather than a hostel to relax.
- Hostel Prat, 595 Prat, with a great view of the Calle Calle river (it's across the street) is convenient to the bus terminal and to downtown. The rooms are a bit dark and the beds have seen better days and the bathrooms are small. Friendly staff and a good breakfast. CLP$20,000.
- Hotel Dreams, Carampangue st. is also recommended but a bit on the expensive side.
- Pucón and Villarrica – Just northeast, on the eastern shore of Villarrica Lake. Popular for hiking to the nearby Villarrica vulcano and Huerquehue National Park.
- Frutillar and Puerto Varas – 100-150 km south, popular tourist destination due to its German history and nearby Osorno vulcano.