Popular Puerto Montt Shore Excursions
Puerto Varas: Located about 12 miles northeast of Puerto Montt, this "City of Roses" is quaint and charming, perfect for a nice walk along the shores of Lake Llanquihue with the reflection of the cone-shaped, snow-covered Osorno volcano always present. There's a great craft market and several cafes to enjoy a nice coffee and a raspberry kuchen.
Parque Nacional Alerce Andino: This national park celebrates -- and protects -- the endangered alerce tree, all but extinct except in this 153-square-mile national preserve. Similar to giant sequoias in California, with some as old as 4,000 years, alerce was used to build houses and other structures in the region, and the forests were seriously depleted. This is a lovely national park, complete with 40 small lakes, and a wonderful place to spend at least part of your day.
Frutillar: This small hamlet perfectly preserves the German and Austrian architecture from the immigrants in the late 1800's; talk about a picture-perfect postcard view! The town edges onto Lake Llanquihue, is filled with flowers and timbered chalets, and if you're lucky, you'll be there for the Semanas Musicales de Frutillar, a series of weekly outdoor concerts (mostly classical, some jazz) held during the months of January and February.
Feria Artesenal Angelmo: The artisan market stretches for blocks and blocks, and is reportedly the best place in all of Chile to purchase Chilotan products (woven items of wool and alpaca) from Chiloe, an island off the coast near Puerto Montt. You have to bargain, but even if you don't, the posted prices are low enough to make you want to empty your wallet. Those cruising in late November or early December should plan on getting the bulk of their Christmas gifts here.
Petrohue Falls and Vicente Perez Rosales National Park: The gorgeous route through this national park on the way to the foot of the Osorno Volcano takes you slightly off the main road to these falls. Created from an eruption of the Osorno several centuries ago, the large volcanic rocks form the basis of the multiple cascades. The falls aren't high or as impressive as Niagra, Victoria or Iguazu, but there are several pathways and bridges that traverse the river, offering incredible photo ops, especially with the ever-present Osorno in the distance (and the sound is nice too). It is for these views that people love visiting this region.
Osorno Canopy Zipline: These have become very popular in places that have rainforests, but is equally impressive here, in the forested land at the foot of Osorno. On the zipline located here, there are 14 platforms and 11 cable rides at an average of 125 feet above ground level. From here, you get spectacular views of not only the treetops but also of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes and of Lake Llanquihue. You must be fit to take this trip, and certainly not afraid of heights!
Editor's note: You can take many of these recreational activities as ship excursions, but if you want to go independently, there is a tourist office kiosk near the tender pier and another one at the main square in town. There, you can learn of what's available and contact tour operators. Or, you can book in advance through an online provider such as Viator, or check Cruise Critic's South America destination boards for operators other members have used. (There are also several independents who show up at the tender dock; they have signs.)