What to see in Chile
San Pedro de Atacama
Tourist attractions San Pedro de Atacama
Situated on a high plateau in the Andes mountain range, San Pedro de Atacama is an isolated town known for its breathtaking landscapes. Surrounded by deserts, salt flats, volcanoes and geysers, this town is a jumping-off point for adventures into some of northern Chile’s most enchanting natural wonders. Furthermore, 330 nights a year of clear skies allow visitors to admire with extraordinary clarity the brightness of the stars that twinkle overhead in this isolated place.
Visiting San Pedro de Atacama also gives you the chance to understand the customs and lifestyles of the local community, who live in this seemingly inhospitably environment. The Atacamenos people originally settled around a nearby oasis, and are known for their traditional crafts of basketwork and pottery ceramics.
Located a lofty 2,400 meters above sea level, this little town of adobe houses is one of the most popular destinations in Chile. From the Altiplano lagoons of Miscanti and Miniques to the reflective salt flats of the Atacama Desert, a trip to San Pedro de Atacama is an unforgettable highlight of any tour of Chile.
To travel to San Pedro de Atacama, the nearest airport is Calama, around 100 kilometers from the town. Domestic flights from Santiago and other major destinations connect San Pedro de Atacama with the rest of the country.
Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama
Most travellers who visit San Pedro de Atacama do so as part of a tour of the larger Atacama Desert area. Exploring Los Flamencos National Reserve is one of the best things to do in San Pedro de Atacama, an amazing natural environment covering a total area of 740 square kilometers of the dry puna ecoregion of the Central Andes. Within this diverse reserve, you’ll find some of Chile’s most striking sights including the Salar de Tara and Salar de Atacama salt flats, the Piedras Rojas rock formations, altiplano lagoons and the mesmerising Valle de la Luna. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Valle de la Luna is one of the best things to see in San Pedro de Atacama. Carved by wind and water over thousands of years, this otherworldly landscape is similar to the surface of the moon, nestled within the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on planet earth!
If you want to experience the power of nature in action, one of the best things to see in San Pedro de Atacama is the El Tatio Geyser Field, the highest geometric field in the world, where water and steam shoot out of the earth. This volcanic geothermal field is an unbelievable sight where you can watch in awe as water columns of up to 10 meters spurt out of the geysers. The best time to visit is in the early morning when the geothermal activity is at its peak.
Back in the charming town of San Pedro de Atacama, there are a couple of sights to visit once you’ve explored the surrounding landscapes. Plaza de Armas is at the heart of the town and is a hub for the local community. On the western edge of the square is the Church of San Pedro de Atacama, dating back to the Spanish colonial period. Thought to be one of the oldest churches in Chile, it was constructed from traditional adobe materials and finished in an elegant, simple style.
If you’re looking for traditional local crafts, one of the best things to do in San Pedro de Atacama is to visit the Pueblo de Artesanos Craft Village, where you can admire the authentic basketwork and pottery arts of San Pedro’s artisans. One of the best places to buy traditional souvenirs, Pueblo de Artesanos is located next to the bus station.