Chiloé is a fascinating mix of protected natural habitats, unique Chilean culture and bracing sea views.
The Chiloé archipelago is an intriguing melange of colourful coastal towns, uninhabited islands and folklore traditions, a place which feels charmingly cut off from mainland Chile. Here, you will find local fishing communities, woodwork shops and shipbuilders, nature walks and boat trips, a handful of colonial churches and plenty of fresh seafood!
Time in Chiloé is best spent getting into the laidback swing of island life, taking leisurely strolls along the coast while admiring the iconic stilted houses (palafitos) and workshops which characterise these port towns. With an interesting history involving 17th-century Jesuit missionaries, an indigenous population, Spanish colonial governance and more besides – there are myriad cultural influences which can be found from the quaint museums to the fish markets and traditional streets. Then, there is the Chiloé National Park and Penguin colony tours, boat trips, remote beaches and even forest walks to keep nature lovers entertained.
Perhaps even more than this, however, the islands and Chilote people are known for their mysterious mythology and legends which centre around great ancient battles, otherworldly creatures, magical powers, sea monsters and princes - to name a few! These ancient beliefs form an integral part of the cultural make-up here, and add an extra element of intrigue for anyone visiting the archipelago.
Discover exquisite examples of the distinctive architecture that Chiloé is known for, in the form of charming churches that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This style – the Chilota School of architecture – blends Jesuit influences from the 17th century with local techniques, using an abundant local source: wood. There are 16 such churches designated with UNESCO status in the Chiloé archipelago, all exhibiting this special design in their own unique ways.
Handicrafts of Chiloé
Chiloé’s cultural tapestry is woven with many folkloric threads, and one fine example of their unique identity is reflected in their handicrafts. Alpaca garments, intricate jewellery, woven baskets and so much more can be found in the crafts markets, the most notable being those in Dalcahue and Castro, tempting you to buy a souvenir or two!
Chiloé National Park
Chiloé is cherished as much for its natural delights as for its cultural gems. This archipelago is ringed with rugged coastline, and covered in beautiful forests that make hiking excursions all the more scenic, particularly within the national park. One striking feature of this protected space is the prevalence of wooden tracks which snake their way through the foliage, meaning less time worrying about your footing and more spent enjoying these pristine surrounds.