Beyond the postcard: the various facets of Puerto Varas
María José Catalán
The city, located in the lakes region in southern Chile, also has extremely good food, an active cultural scene and recently arrived young residents
In the pace of the lake
Chile had been independent for less than 30 years when, in 1853, German colonists were encouraged to occupy the area close to Lake Llanquihue. It was the beginning of Puerto Varas, a postcard sight in southern Chile, surrounded by the imposing volcanoes Osorno and Calbuco and characterized by the German style and architecture.
The natural attractions that surround the city are its trademarks. In the summer, a good tip is to enjoy the lakeside beach at Llanquihue or go trekking in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. In the winter, the best option is to go skiing on the volcano Osorno. In addition, taking a stroll on the avenue that stretches along the lake, a constant reminder of the local beauty, is always a great activity.
To eat and drink
The successful interaction with Germany can be seen in the Puerto Varas cuisine. In such places as Club Alemán (San Jose 415), a local institution, dishes with “dual citizenship,” like chuleta kassler with chilota potatoes, are the most popular. In others, like La Marca (Calle Santa Rosa 539), the Chilean identity is the highlight, with varied beef cuts and a considerable cellar.
Among the new arrivals, a good example is Barista (Walker 211), a small café with sidewalk tables, where it’s common to be attended by young foreigners. At the plazas, food trucks offer such options as kebabs, burgers and vegan food. Standing on stilts over Lake Llanquihue, Mesa Tropera (Santa Rosa 161), opened in early 2016, is a kind of “brewpub-pizzeria-tartareria” that’s always crowded.
New initiatives involving arts and culture include organic food markets and new museums. The Centro de Arte Molino Machmar (CAMM, Av. Gramado 1.100), an old mill that was restored, is home to an art gallery, a café, a room for volcanological experiments, and a co-working space.
Another interesting proposal is the independent movie theater -1 cine. It came about when three friends started projecting their own movies and national productions in an underground locale. They’re now installed in a room at city hall, where they screen movies three times a week. Puerto Varas is striving to become a world-class city.
LATAM has direct flights to Puerto Montt departing from Santiago, Punta Arenas and Balmaceda.