Reasons Why Frutillar Should Be a Must-Visit on your Chilean Checklist

Why Frutillar Should Be a Must-Visit on your Chilean Checklist

Plus, meet Caitlin!

Greetings from Santiago de Chile! My name is Caitlin McNamara, and I’m the latest addition to the ever-expanding team here at Amity Tours as your new Senior Travel Expert. Whether you have a question about an upcoming planned adventure or are looking to design your own tailor-made travel experience, I’m here to help! I’ve been fortunate enough to study, work, and create so many wonderful memories here in Chile since 2015, and by far my favorite aspect has been being able to share my love for everything this tiny country here at the end of the world has to offer with guests from all over the world (bonus points if you’re also from the Midwest! 😄)

As such, part of my role here at Amity is to highlight the “need to know” about what your travel experience will look like, be it a bike and hike adventure in the driest desert in the world or an exhilarating journey on e-bikes through some of Patagonia’s most iconic landscapes. Given that one of our most popular tours is through the idyllic Lake & Volcano District in southern Chile, I thought there’s no better place to start than introducing one of the region’s lesser known but must-see destinations on your visit: the charming city of Frutillar.

Much like Puerto Varas, one of the region’s most beloved attractions, Frutillar is known for its German colonial heritage, lakeside landscape, and stunning views of the Osorno Volcano from nearly every angle as you walk along the main coastal road. I was lucky enough to visit twice: the first time back in March of this year to finalize my permanent residency in Chile (but that’s a story for another day!), and again this past October ahead of meeting up with the rest of the team in Pucón for our Annual Guides Training. On both occasions, I fell madly in love with all the hidden and not so hidden gems it had to offer. If you’re planning a trip to the region and are looking a place to spend a day to explore, there’s truly something here for everyone! Take a look at my top 5 personal recommendations for things to do while you’re in town:

1.) Teatro del Lago.

Frutillar is known of the “City of Music” and was the first Chilean city (not to mention the southernmost city in the world) to be declared part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2017. Many international musicians who come to Chile will insist on adding Frutillar to their tour list, with even some only visiting this city during their time in the country. Nearly all of these performances take place at the Teatro del Lago (Theatre of the Lake), which was built in 2010 and hosts the biggest classical music festival in Chile every summer. Located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, it’s become a stunning addition to the lakeside views and a destination in and of itself when visiting the city. If you’re lucky like I was, you can take in a performance of classical music, opera, or maybe even an international concert during your stay, or take part in a guided tour throughout the theatre’s amphitheater, concert halls, multipurpose salons, and exhibition areas. There’s also a lovely walkway that wraps around the outside of the theatre with places to sit and take in the scenery, as well as a coffee shop and restaurant to have a meal with a view after your visit.

2.) Museo Colonial Alemán.

For history lovers, the German Colonial Museum is a great way to learn even more about the rich heritage of the area while immersing yourself in beautifully maintained gardens and restored buildings that date back to the arrival of the first migrants in 1856. The museum opens daily and is home to an original family home, warehouse, and water mill filled with artifacts, furniture, and machinery from the era. At times during my visit, I honestly forgot I was in Chile! I recommend coming during a quieter moment when the museum first opens to really be able to enjoy the serenity and be transported to a Frutillar of yesteryear with only the sound of the birds and gentle stream of water from the mill for company.

3.) Cancagua

While all of us here at Amity love to get the blood pumping with invigorating bike circuits and a nice challenging hike, we also love to rest, recoup, and rejuvenate in style! When I first visited Frutillar in March, I wanted to treat myself to a relaxing day of self-care to celebrate finally being recognized as a Chilean permanent resident, so I took the advice of the woman running the B&B I was staying at and checked out Cancagua, a gorgeous retreat center tucked away on the edge of Frutillar Bajo. As it turns out, it’s also one of the Amity team’s favorites, too! Here, you can book half day or full-day programs involving massages, yoga, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and my personal favorite, the spacious geothermal and aerothermal hot tubs. I opted for a deep-tissue massage and hot tub experience and was not disappointed: after a wonderful massage, I had my own private sustainable hot tub big enough for 10 people that was immersed within the trees and had a fantastic sunset view of the lake below. You can also indulge in a charcuterie or veggie board as you unwind during your 2.5 hour soak, and if you’re like me, you also won’t miss the opportunity to try one of the nice local craft beers they offer either! This is a great option for guests looking for a little well-deserved pampering during an otherwise very active adventure, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion during your time in Chile.

4.) Food & Drink.

Much like our attitude toward relaxation, here at Amity we also know the importance of incorporating excellent local food and drink into our adventures, and the gastronomic offering while exploring Frutillar is no exception. During both of my visits, I was able to try some of the city’s top-rated spots that suit nearly all palates and budgets, and I can honestly say that none of them disappoint! If you’re looking for a place with a view for a romantic dinner, look no further than right where we started at the Teatro de Lago at Fuga del Lago, a restaurant specializing in nikkei fusion cuisine and excellent wine and craft cocktails. Be sure to try the tofu chaufa even if you’re not a vegetarian, it’s a delicious way to get your veggies after a long day of cycling or hiking! For a relaxed lunch option in a trendy environment, the Biergarten Tropera will hit the spot with its variety of local artisanal beer, pizza, and appetizers to share on spacious wood tables surrounded by craft beer artwork from all over the world. For meat lovers, there’s no better place than Restaurant Asado Patagón, which is just a stone’s throw from Cancagua. The owners are friendly locals who will almost certainly attend you themselves and explain the history of the property (the colonial house behind the restaurant is from the 1890s) while serving you a glass of recommended local wine. One important tip: come hungry! Each menu option comes with a choice of protein, salad, side, dessert, and drink, not to mention the delicious homemade sopaipillas to start you off. Based on my experience, I recommend this one once you’ve done all you’re hiking and exploring for the day, because the only thing I wanted after finishing my meal was to curl up for a lakeside snooze!

5.) Kuchen

You cannot talk about Frutillar without giving well-deserved attention to its shining star: kuchen! This German-style cake is the first thing that comes to mind for most Chileans when they think of Frutillar, and with good reason: it’s for sale practically everywhere you go, and it’s absolutely delicious. Kuchen is a type of sponge cake filled with fruit and often topped with a crumbly streusel, and for many families it’s a staple for tea time (known in Chile as la once). The best part? Almost everyone in Frutillar, tourists and locals alike, will order a big piece to-go from one of the many kuchen shops and munch away as they stroll along the lake. Well, when in Rome, so for both of my visits I chose a yummy berry kuchen with streusel and indulged in this classic sweet treat while sitting by the glistening water of Lago Llanquihue. Warning: this will almost certainly attract the attention of the local (and very hungry) birds, so be sure to not take your eye off your cake as you enjoy! Not that I’m talking from experience, of course…😜

I hope this gives you plenty of inspiration as you plan your trip to Chile, as well as many good reasons to make sure Frutillar is one of the highlights of your itinerary. Feel free to get in touch if you have any other ideas or questions, and I can’t wait to hear from you soon!

¡Buen viaje!

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