San Pedro de Atacama: Quaint, unhurried, and built of adobe brick, San Pedro de Atacama has drawn travelers the world over who have come to experience the mellow charm and New Age spirituality that waft through the dusty roads of this town. Its location in the driest desert in the world makes for starry skies and breathtaking views of the weird and wonderful land formations that are just a stone's throw away. A distinctive collection of adobe hotels, which embody so effortlessly the concept of rustic chic, completes the town's lost pueblo ambience..
Putre: At a breathtaking 3,500m (11,500 ft.), splendidly backed by the double summits of the 5,775m (19,000-ft.) Taapacá Volcano, this tranquil Aymara village is a compelling vision of Andean culture. With 17th- to 19th-century stone portals flanking doors at many houses and a charming central square, it's a pretty place, reminiscent of pre-colonial Inca villages. Putre is the gateway to Chile's altiplano, and many tiny colonial villages nearby are still well off the beaten track..
Pucón: Not only was Pucón bestowed with a stunning location at the skirt of a smoking volcano and the shore of a glittering lake, but it's also Chile's self-proclaimed adventure capital, offering so many outdoor activities that you could keep busy for a week. But Pucón also has plenty of low-key activities if your idea of a vacation is plopping yourself down on a beach. You'll find everything you want and need without forfeiting small-town charm (that is, if you don't come with the Jan and Feb crowds). Rough-hewn wood restaurants, pubs, and crafts stores fill downtown, blending harmoniously with the forested surroundings.
Frutillar & Puerto Varas: Built by German immigrants who settled here in the early 1900s, these neighboring towns bear the clear stamp of Prussian order and workmanship, from the crisp lines of trees to the picturesque, shingled homes and tidy plazas ringed with roses. If you're lucky, you can still catch a few old-timers chatting in German over coffee and küchen (cake). Both towns feature a glorious view of Volcán Osorno and a lakefront address, a picture-postcard location that makes for an excellent boardwalk stroll. If that isn't enough, both towns also offer above-par lodging and a few of the best restaurants in the country.
Futaleufú: Nestled in a green valley surrounded by an amphitheater of craggy, snow-encrusted peaks, Futaleufú is made of colorful, clapboard homes and unpaved streets, and is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest villages in Chile. The population of 1,200 swells during the summer, when the hordes descend for rafting adventures on the nearby Class V river; but it hasn't changed the town's fabric too dramatically, and locals rarely saunter past a visitor without a tip of the hat and a "Buenas tardes."
Caleta Tortel: This remarkable little logging town near the very end of the Carretera Austral is an unreal, S-shaped place suspended somewhere between the steep slopes of a cypress forest and the pistachio green waters at the mouth of the Baker River. Wood-shingled houses cling precariously to the hillside, and cypress wood walkways and boats are the only way to get around. Cars are banished to a lot at the end of the Carretera Austral -- even the fire truck is a boat, just like in Venice. Hiking trails and fishermen's boats can take you to even remoter spots, including glaciers.
Puerto Natales: Set on the stunning shores of the Ultima Esperanza fjord, with the rugged steppe to the east and giant mountains to the north and west, this Patagonian outpost is a modern mecca for adventurers. Nestled within the wind-ravaged streets are cozy cafes, lovely inns, funky bistros, and bookstores, and nature-lovers can head into or out of one of the finest pieces of wilderness in the world, nearby Torres del Paine National Park. You may think it's just a jumping-off point, but you'll find Natales to be friendly, warm, and rich with memory-making moments.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.