Lake Villarrica

A year-round destination, this gorgeous lake offers water-based fun in summer and ski trips on the nearby slopes in winter.

Lake Villarrica is a vast body of water stretching more than 15 miles (24 kilometers) across offering beaches, water activities and picturesque vistas. A string of quaint Chilean towns dot the lake’s shores, all great vantage points from which to admire the snow-capped volcano of the same name. Get involved in exhilarating watersports and swim in the pleasantly warm water.

Impress the locals with your knowledge by referring to the lake as Mallalafquén, which is its pre-Hispanic name. Explorer Pedro de Valdivia is believed to have been the first European settler to come across the lake in 1551.

Head to the lake’s shore and look out over the water for spectacular views. Capture photos of the Villarrica Volcano, which is among the most active in the world. It erupted as recently as 2015, after previous eruptions in 1964 and 1971. During times of calm, embark on guided hikes to the crater.

Rent a boat from a tour operator in Pucón or Villarrica and launch onto the water. In summer, activities such as sailing, water skiing and kayaking are popular. If you’d rather stay dry, go hiking around the lake with your family and enjoy a picnic in the scenic surroundings. Many tour providers run fly fishing excursions too.

For more outdoor activities, explore the stunning terrain of the nearby national parks, Huerquehue and Villarrica. Choose from several spas in the vicinity, which use the natural hot spring water that bubbles up near the volcano.

Visit Lake Villarrica between late October and early March when the weather is at its sunniest. Alternatively, head to the nearby ski resort of Pucón in winter.

Drive or take a bus 480 miles (775 kilometers) south from Chile’s capital, Santiago, to reach Lake Villarrica in Chile’s Lake District. On its western shore sits the pretty city of Villarrica, while Pucón lies on the east.

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