15 amazing things to do in Pucón, Chile for every budget
Looking for the ultimate adventure destination in Chile? Look no further than Pucón, a picturesque town nestled in the Andes Mountains, known for its stunning natural beauty and thrilling outdoor activities. There’s no shortage of exciting things to do in Pucón. In this blog post, we’ll cover the 15 best things to do in Pucón, from adrenaline-pumping activities, such as hiking the iconic Villarrica volcano or whitewater rafting on the Trancura River, to relaxing natural hot springs.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just looking to unwind in nature, Pucón has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready to experience the adventure of a lifetime in Pucón, Chile!
How to get to Pucón?
We know Pucón sounds AMAZING. But you’ll need to get there first, before you can dive into any of the activities on offer. Here’s how to get to Pucón.
Overnight (or full-day) buses from Santiago operate frequently to Pucón (~11 hours). If you’re working your way down the length of Chile from North to South, you can also catch a bus from Temuco. From the south, buses run from Puerto Montt and Valdivia.
You can also fly, but this is expensive, and we don’t recommend it as a sustainable option. Direct flights from Santiago or Puerto Montt to Pucón are only available during peak season (December to April). Outside of this season, you’ll have to land at Temuco, which isn’t really near Pucón at all!
Flying won’t save you so much time here, and it’s terrible for the planet! Take a night bus, settle in, and enjoy the journey. If you fancy a treat, grab a first class coach with a fully reclining sleeper seat. You’ll fall asleep leaving the noise and pollution of Santiago and wake up to the natural paradise of Pucón. We don’t think you’ll regret it!
HOW TO GET TO PUCÓN FROM SANTIAGO BY BUS
Travel Time: 11-12 hours
Frequency: Frequent! Overnight and day services travel this route regularly.
Cost: Prices start at $29,000 CLP (£29 GBP, $35 USD). There are many operators that run buses along this route, check here for your options. You might need to change buses in Temuco.
Onward Travel: Not necessary – buses will bring you right into Pucón!
HOW TO GET TO PUCÓN FROM PUERTO MONTT BY BUS
Travel Time: 5-7 hours
Frequency: Several times daily. Buses are less frequent than from Santiago but still leave semi-regularly from Puerto Montt bus station
Cost: Prices start at $8,000 CLP (£8 GBP, $10 USD).
Onward Travel: See above
KEEP THIS MAP HANDY!
With so many incredible sights and activities to experience, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary. That’s why we’ve created a handy map of Pucón, complete with bookmarked locations of the best things to do in the area. From hiking the Villarrica Volcano to relaxing in the thermal baths of Termas Geometricas, our map has got you covered.
You’ll also find recommendations for tour companies and accommodations. With this map, you can easily navigate Pucón and make the most of your trip to this stunning region of Chile.
We know what it’s like to travel on a budget! That’s why we’ve split these trips into two categories: (a) things that must be done as part of an organised trip (usually more expensive) and (b) things that you can do by yourself (usually cheaper, or free!). Chile isn’t cheap. But we hope this helps you plan and budget your Pucón trip a little better.
Top trips from Pucón with a guide
Pucón is full of amazing things to do. Unfortunately, many of these require specialised equipment or knowledge, which means a guide may be necessary! An organised trip can provide essential (and expensive) equipment, organise transport, and keep you safe and informed throughout. However, they do cost significantly more. You’re paying for someone’s time after all!
As a budget traveller, you might have to choose your guided trips carefully. Here are all the activities in Pucón that can’t be done without a guide.
#1 HIKE VILLARRICA VOLCANO
If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure in Chile, hiking Villarrica volcano is a must-do! The volcano is the most popular day trip in Pucón. In fact, it’s so popular, that we’ve written an entire guide just for this! The hike offers a thrilling experience that’s perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors, and is a great way to get up close and personal with a live, active volcano. With breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment that comes with conquering a physical challenge, it’s a journey that you’ll never forget.
The route itself takes about five to seven hours up and down. It involves a steep climb up to the summit, but the mountain views (all the way to Argentina!) and seeing smoke pour off the crater lake at the top make it worth the trek. If there’s enough snow, you’ll be able to slide down on a plastic toboggan, which is (in our opinion) the best way to get down any slope.
Volcan Villarrica took our breath away, in the best possible way. Although it’s expensive, if you only have the time or budget for one guided activity during your time here, you should definitely choose Volcan Villarrica!
Cost: There are so many tour operators in Pucón that offer guided hikes up Villarrica Volcano. We went with Zenit Travel and had an amazing time. The cost for a guided hike ranges from £80 to £120 GBP ($100 to $150 USD) per person, which includes transportation, equipment rental, and a guide.
How to get there: You really need a guide for this one. Your guide will pick you up at your hostel in Pucón and take care of all the logistics from there.
Volcan Villarrica dominates Pucón’s skyline and is an amazing day hike
#2 GO WHITE WATER RAFTING OR KAYAKING ON PUCÓN’S RIVERS
The area around Pucón is home to several rivers, making it one of the top destinations for adrenaline-pumping watersports. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, there are options for all levels of experience. As you paddle down the rapids surrounded by the stunning scenery of the surrounding forests and mountains, you’ll feel the rush of the water and the thrill of the adventure. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife like the majestic Andean condor or the playful river otter.
The Trancura River is the most popular spot for rafting and kayaking in Pucón. For those who are new to rafting or kayaking, there are several beginner-friendly sections of the river that offer gentle rapids and beautiful views. More experienced paddlers can tackle the more challenging rapids, including the Class IV-V rapids of the Lower Trancura. Kayaking is also popular on the Liucura River, which offers calmer waters for a more relaxing day trip.
Cost: The cost for a rafting or kayaking trip in Pucón ranges from £40 to £80 GBP ($50 to $100 USD) per person, depending on the duration and the type of trip. There are several tour operators in Pucón that offer rafting and kayaking tours, we recommend Kayak Pucón.
How to get there: Unless you’re bringing your own boat to Chile, you’ll have to splash out (pun intended!) on a guided tour. They’ll pick you up at your hostel, or you can meet at their office in Pucón.
#3 RIDE HORSES THROUGH THE COUNTRYSIDE IN PUCÓN
Horseback riding is a unique and memorable way to explore the beautiful countryside around Pucón. Horse riding tours in Pucón will typically take you through scenic forests, pastures, and mountain trails, providing views of the surrounding volcanoes and lakes. Many tours also include stops at local villages and farms, allowing visitors to experience the local way of life and learn about the history and culture of the region. Maybe you’ll even try some local food!
Cost: The cost for a horseback riding tour in Pucón ranges from £25 to £65 GBP ($30 to $80 USD) per person, depending on the duration and the type of tour. Some of the most popular destinations for horseback riding include the Villarrica National Reserve and the Caburgua Lake area, depending on the tour operator, you might have to factor in the entrance fees for those too. There are several operators in Pucón that offer horseback riding tours, but we recommend Antilco Horse Trekking.
How to get there: Join a tour and let them take care of everything! They’re supplying the horses after all.
Horseback riding is a great way to experience Chile’s natural beauty
#4 SWING THROUGH THE TREES ON A CANOPY TOUR
A canopy tour is an exciting way to explore the beautiful landscape of the region from a bird’s eye view. After strapping into a harness, you’ll be flying through the trees on a zipline, feeling the wind on your face, and enjoying the stunning scenery around you.
Cost: The cost for a canopy tour in Pucón ranges from £30 to £65 GBP ($40 to $80 USD) per person, depending on the length of the tour. The best way to do this activity is to organise a trip directly with Canopy Bosque Aventura.
How to get there: Bosque Aventura is just outside the city, you can walk, cycle, or take a taxi.
#5 VISIT THE INDIGENOUS MAPUCHE COMMUNITIES
The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. Many Mapuche communities offer guided tours of their villages, including traditional Mapuche meals and demonstrations of their traditional dances and crafts.
Visiting their communities near Pucón is an authentic experience that allows you to learn about the rich culture and history of the Mapuche people. You’ll be able to chat with the locals, hear their stories, taste their traditional dishes, and see how they live their daily lives. It’s a great way to gain insight into Mapuche customs, beliefs, and way of life, and to appreciate the importance of preserving their heritage. You’ll also be supporting local communities, which is a great way to travel sustainably and give back!
You can also visit the Mapuche Museum in Pucón. It’s small, but it’s full of special antiquities of the Mapuches. It was sadly closed for repairs when we visited.
Cost: The cost for a Mapuche community tour in Pucón ranges from £20 to £60 GBP ($30 to $80 USD) per person, depending on the length of the tour and the activities included.
How to get there: Again, another activity that you’ll need to join a tour for. There are lots of operators in Pucón to choose from and they’ll organise transport.
Visiting the Mapuche is a great way to learn about the rich culture Chile’s indigenous populations.
#6 TAKE A BOAT TOUR AROUND LAKE VILLARRICA
Lake Villarrica is a beautiful and scenic lake located at the heart of Pucón. It’s a popular place to chill out for locals and tourists alike.
Taking a boat tour is a relaxing opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes and landscapes. Some of the most popular boat tours include the Sunset Cruise, which takes you on a leisurely cruise around the lake at sunset, and the Full-Day Cruise, which includes stops at several of the lake’s islands.
Cost: The cost for a boat tour of Lake Villarrica ranges from £15 to £30 GBP ($20 to $40 USD) per person.
Getting there: The lake is right next to Pucón city centre. It’s so close that you can walk to it.
Top trips from Pucón (without a guide!)
We’ve been there. Budget travel is hard and often requires compromises. If you’re on a budget or prefer more flexibility in your itinerary, exploring Pucón on your own can still offer plenty of exciting and rewarding experiences. Here are our favourite things to do in Pucón where a guide is optional, not essential!
#7 RELAX IN PUCÓN’S HOT SPRINGS
Pucón is known for its natural hot springs, and a soak in one of these relaxing pools is the perfect way to unwind after a long day of hiking or exploring.
One of the most popular hot springs in the area is Termas Geometricas. Nestled in the heart of a lush forest at the foot of Pucón’s mountains, these natural hot springs are the perfect place to unwind and soak away any stresses and aches (particularly after a day hike up Volcan Villarrica!).
Here, you can enjoy a series of beautifully designed hot pools, tucked away between ferns and waterfalls, with varying temperatures between 38°C to 46°C. The pools are connected by simple redwood walkways and little bridges. It’s a beautiful place to spend a day, but at 48’000 CLP (£48 GBP, $55 USD), it doesn’t come cheap.
Budget travellers might want to head to Termas Los Pozones, which only costs 8’000 CLP (£8 GBP, $10 USD). It’s smaller, with fewer pools than Termas Geometricas. But it’s just as beautiful and the vibes are similar. Other cheaper options include Eco Termas Rio Blanco, an eco-friendly resort and Termas Pucón Indomito, both of which offer a ‘resort-style’ experience.
Cost: Admission to most hot springs in Pucón ranges from £8 to £25 GBP ($10 to $30 USD) per person, depending on the location and the time of day. Some hot springs, such as Termas Geometricas, are a little more expensive and may require reservations in advance.
How to get there: The cheapest way to get to Termas Geometricas is usually as part of a tour group – your transport won’t cost much more than the ticket price for the hot springs! You can get to Los Pozones by public transport, with four buses leaving daily from Pucón.
Termas Geometricas is a peaceful place to relax after a few days of being active
#8 SWIM IN THE CRYSTAL CLEAR LAGOON OF OJOS DEL CABURGUA
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly day trip, look no further than Ojos del Caburgua! These twin waterfalls are a sight to behold, with crystal clear water cascading down the rocks and into a turquoise lagoon. The setting is absolutely magical, with lush green vegetation and towering mountains in the background. You can swim in the lagoons, hike the forest trails, or enjoy a picnic in the peaceful surroundings.
Cost: Admission to Ojos del Caburgua is around £4 GBP ($5 USD) per person, and the park is open year-round. A DIY trip is an easy, and a budget-friendly option. If you’re taking a tour, this will increase the cost of this day trip.
How to get there: The lakes are easily accessible from Pucón by bicycle, making this a great budget-friendly day trip for under a fiver! There are also several tour operators in Pucón that offer guided tours to Ojos del Caburgua, shop around to find the best one for you.
#9 GO HIKING IN THE VILLARRICA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Villarrica National Reserve is a huge nature reserve, named after the iconic Villarrica Volcano, which is one of the main attractions within the park. Here, you can explore serene forest trails with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, and lakes, as well as stunning views of Villarrica Volcano itself. The park is great for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like the elusive pudu deer or the Andean fox.
Cost: Entrance to the Villarrica National Reserve costs around 3,000 Chilean pesos (approximately £3 GBP or $4 USD) per person.
How to get there: The reserve is around 16 km (10 miles) southeast of Pucón. There are several buses that run between Pucón and Curarrehue, stopping at the entrance to the reserve. Buses leave regularly from Pucón’s bus terminal and the journey takes approximately 45 minutes. You could also drive, or hire a bicycle in Pucón and cycle. This is another great activity if you’re on a budget!
If you’d like to splash out on a guide, it’s easy to find a tour operator in Pucón. Tours usually include transportation and a guide who can provide information about the flora, fauna, and geology of the area.
Ojos del Caburgua
#10 SKI OR SNOWBOARD DOWN AN ACTIVE VOLCANO
Have you ever wanted to ski or snowboard down an active volcano? Well, now’s your chance. Pucón boasts an excellent winter sports scene, with the slopes of Villarrica Volcano a popular destination. Skiing or snowboarding offers a unique opportunity to explore the beautiful mountainside in a way that few other activities can match.
The ski resorts in the area are well-maintained and offer a variety of runs for all skill levels, from beginners to experts.The ski season usually runs from June to October, so you’ll have plenty of time to hit the slopes and enjoy the fresh powder.
Cost: The cost for a lift pass Villarrica Volcano Ski Center ranges from £25 to £55 GBP ($30 to $70 USD) per person, depending on the time of day and the duration of the ticket. Equipment rental is available on-site, and there are several ski schools in the area that offer lessons for beginners.
How to get there: The Pucón Ski Center is located within the Villarrica National Park. See directions for #4 Villarrica National Park. You can also arrange private transport with the ski centre
#11 GO WILDLIFE WATCHING AT HUILO HUILO BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is a protected area home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including endemic species. It’s located in the middle of the Valdivian rainforest, one of the world’s few temperate rainforests. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in nature while supporting sustainable tourism and conservation efforts. With numerous hiking trails and a series of stunning waterfalls and hot springs surrounded by snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes, you’ll never get bored!
Cost: Admission to the reserve ranges from £8 to £15 GBP ($10 to $20 USD) per person, depending on the activities included.
How to get there: You can get there by bus! There are several tour operators in Pucón that offer guided tours of Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, including Huilo Huilo Tours. Overnight stays in the reserve’s lodges start at around £80 GBP ($100 USD) per night.
Taking a stroll around Pucón city is a great free activity
#12 TAKE A STROLL THROUGH PUCÓN AND RELAX ON THE SHORES OF LAGO VILLARRICA
Pucón is really not a classic South American town. It’s clean, calm, and full of little luxuries like fancy bakeries and coffee shops. A stroll around the shores of Lake Villarrica (preferably accompanied by a coffee and pastry) is one of the best ways to spend a leisurely few hours in the town. The best bit? It’s completely free!
The town is relatively small and easy to navigate on foot, with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to stop and explore along the way. The main street, Fresia, is lined with colorful buildings and leads to the Lago Villarrica, which is a lovely place to relax. Walking along the beach and soaking in the views of the Villarrica volcano is a must-do activity. There are also several parks and green spaces in the town, including the Los Riscos trail, which offers a scenic walk through a forested canyon.
How to get there: If you’re in Pucón, you’ll already be set to explore the city.
#13 WALK, KAYAK, OR PADDLEBOARD LAKE VILLARRICA
If you want to take to the water, there are plenty of places to rent a paddleboard or canoe and enjoy a lazy afternoon exploring Villarrica Lake. If you’re staying in Pucón in summer, we recommend paddling around the peninsula to one of three private beaches. Only people with accommodation on the peninsula have access to these beaches. But if you arrive by kayak, canoe, or paddleboard then you are allowed to relax there too.
Cost: Walking is free! Renting a kayak or paddleboard is about £5 GBP ($6 USD) an hour.
How to get there: The lake is right next to Pucón city centre. It’s so close that you can walk to it.
Kayaking on Lago Villarrica
#14 EXPLORE HUERQUEHUE NATIONAL PARK
Huerquehue National Park is a must-see for anyone exploring the natural beauty of the Chilean Lake District. There are so many good day hikes here! We love the Los Lagos Trail, which takes you past several glacial lakes, and the San Sebastián Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. If you have your own tent (or hire one!) you can also camp overnight in the park.
Cost: To enter the park, you have to pay a fee of around £8 GBP ($10 USD) per person. If you get there by yourself, this works out to be a budget-friendly trip. If you take a tour, this cost will increase.
How to get there: The park is located about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Pucón. From Pucón, you can take a bus from the main bus station to the town of Caburgua, which is located near the park entrance. The trip takes around 30-40 minutes and the bus fare is relatively cheap. Once you arrive in Caburgua, you can take a taxi or walk to the national park entrance.
#15 SWIM IN SALTO DEL CLARO WATERFALL
Salto del Claro is a hidden gem in the middle of the forest, surrounded by stunning rock formations and lush vegetation. The waterfall itself drops 70 meters into a crystal-clear pool, creating a mesmerizing mist that adds to its enchanting atmosphere.
You can hire a bicycle to cycle here, or it’s a two-hour walk (each way) from Pucón. After a brief hike through a beautiful forest trail (about 30 minutes), you’ll arrive at the falls, where you can take a refreshing swim in the cool, clean water or just relax and take in the breathtaking scenery.
How to get there: Hire a bicycle, take a taxi, or walk from Pucón.
When’s the best time to visit Pucón?
We’re firm believers that there’s no ‘best time’ to visit a destination. All seasons are beautiful and bring something a little unique and special that makes no two adventures the same.
The summer months in Pucón – December to February – are when the weather is at its warmest and driest, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and exploring the nearby national parks. The winter months – June to August – are also popular for skiing and snowboarding in the nearby Villarrica volcano, but be prepared for colder temperatures and more rainfall.
We visited in winter (June) and had a great time! Bring your outdoor spirit and a sense of adventure, and you’ll be fine.
Q: Where is Pucón, Chile?
A: Pucón is a city located in the Araucanía Region of southern Chile. It is ~780 kilometers (485 miles) south of Santiago, the capital of Chile, and ~100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Temuco, the regional capital.
Q: Is Pucón in Patagonia?
A: Pucón is not located in the Patagonia region of Chile. It is located in the Araucanía region, which is further north than Patagonia. However, Pucón is still a popular destination for those looking to explore the natural beauty of Chile and the Andes mountain range.
Q: Is Pucón worth visiting?
A: Yes, Pucón is definitely worth visiting! It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chile, offering a wide range of activities such as hiking, skiing, hot springs, rafting, and more. The town is situated in a beautiful location surrounded by lakes, forests, and mountains, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Pucón also has a vibrant nightlife scene, a variety of dining options, and plenty of opportunities to learn about the local culture and traditions
Q: Is Pucón safe?
A: Pucón is generally considered a safe destination but you should always take standard safety precautions, such as keeping an eye on personal belongings and staying in well-lit areas at night. We found the vibes better here, than in other large cities like Santiago and Valparaiso.
Q: Do you have any tips for hiking Pucón Volcano Villarrica?
A: Yes! We’ve written a whole guide to this. You can read it here.
Q: What are the biggest attractions in Pucón, Chile?
A: The biggest attractions of Pucón, Chile include the Villarrica volcano, which offers hiking and skiing opportunities, as well as stunning views of the surrounding area. The nearby Villarrica National Park provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, rafting, and horseback riding. Other popular attractions include the Geometricas hot springs, the Ojos del Caburgua waterfalls, and the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. Pucón also offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs catering to both tourists and locals.
Q: What to pack for Pucón?
A: The weather in Pucón is variable. Layers are key here, you might be wearing shorts during the day but you’ll want long trousers and a jumper at night. We’ve written a full guide to what to pack for each region of Chile here if you’d like more detail.
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