Rob and Ange revisited Frutillar on 31st December 2010.

Strongly influenced by the colonization of German families over 150 years ago, Frutillar is a small German style town within Chile. Located on the shore of the biggest Chilean lake Llanquihue and right opposite the magnificent snowcapped Volcán Osorno it is a truly captivating lake resort of Chile.

For many people's expectations of South America they often find it too clean and organized! The German influence is visible at every step – names like Kaiserseehaus or Frau Holle can be seen everywhere and restaurants offer "Onces Alemanas" with apple strudel. A number of houses have signs saying they sell the yummy Kuchen (a type of big tart).

But be careful! Frutillar has two parts to it that are almost completely separated – Frutillar Bajo (Low Frutillar) and Frutillar Alto (High Frutillar). The lower area surrounds you with picturesque beauty, while the higher part situated up a steep hill is just a chaotic pile of houses and shops. Buses and other transport usually enter through the high part so don't feel disappointed, the nice part is just below on the lake edge.

When to Go

Frutillar, like the rest of southern Chile, is very different during summer and winter. Nice days start somewhere from the beginning of November but even during the middle of summer you can't be sure if it won't be cloudy or with the photogenic Volcán Osorno (Osorno Volcano) covered by fog. During winter you would have to be really lucky to catch a clear blue sky as it rains a lot during these colder months as it does in most parts of the South of Chile.

If you enjoy classical music, the best time to go would be during January and February when the traditional Frutillar Music Festival is held. Many people travel to this town specifically for this music event that has been held here since 1968. The festival hosts singers and musicians from the entire country and sometimes an international performer or two. They play all kinds of music from chamber to jazz. You must pay for individual concerts, with the more expensive ones being played at night.

What to Do

Reserva Forestal Edmundo Winkler, also known as Bosque Universidad de Chile, is a small natural reserve, is located within the town across from the Museo Colonial Alemán (German Colonial Museum). It is a nice way to spend the morning within the small gardens which contain over 60 species of trees as well as many different types of shrubs and flowers including some really beautiful hydrangeas. During the summer, university students give guided tours of the park.

Museo Colonial Alemán (German Colonial Museum) recreates the colonial way of life for the many Germans that came to establish themselves in Frutillar over 150 years ago. There are four main buildings including a mill, the grain house (including carriages on display) blacksmith workshop, and the family house of that time. These are set in lovely gardens.
Ava Vicente Pérez Rosales (No Number)
Phone: (56-65) 2421-142
January-February: Monday to Sunday 9am-7.30pm
March-December: Monday to Sunday 9am-5.30pm
Entrance Fee: CLP$2000 (Dec 2010)

Teatro del Lago (Theater of the Lake) is the recently constructed building (2005), which is now an icon of the town, built out on the lake. This is where concerts and performances are held along side art exhibitions.

Not only can you take a relaxing walk along the Frutillar lake shore, the town is a good starting point for many day trips where you can go to Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Puerto Octay or Osorno.

Volcán Osorno on the other side of the lake is a great possibility either alone or with an organized tour. Be aware that climbing the Osorno Volcano requires an official guide (about 200USD per person) or official permission emitted by CONAF. If you have a car, you can easily arrive to the upper part of the mountain from where the chair lift starts. It is used during winter for skiing and during summer to take tourists near the peak of the volcano. You can also rent a taxi in Ensenada, a small pleasant village by the lake at the bottom of the volcano.

Another option is to travel to the beautiful Lago de Todos Los Santos with its sky blue waters. On the way to Lago de Todos Los Santos you can stop at the Saltos de Petrohué – a wild cascade on the river Petrohue. If you don't have a car it would be easier to go on this trip with some of the local travel agencies. Usually they include a lunch and a stop at a farm where they breed llamas. The tours start from Frutillar, Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt.

Where to Stay

There are many options, from the cheapest camping grounds to luxury hotels.

In Frutillar Bajo there are many small hotels most of which are Bed & Breakfast inns.

Hostería Winkler
Av. Philippi 1155
Phone: (56-65) 2421-388
Low Season from US$18
High Season from US$28

Hostería Trayén
Av. Philippi 963
Phone (56-65) 2421-346
Low Season from US$18
High Season from US$22

Tía Clarita
Vicente Pérez Rosales 701
Phone (56-65) 2421-806
Low Season from US$9
High Season from US$13

Recommended: Hospedaje on Vicente Perez Rosales 881. Just one block from the beach it has a VERY friendly and helpful owner Myraya. She always does everything possible to make people happy and for breakfast she serves homemade cake.

History of Lake Llanquihue

Llanquihue means "hidden place / port" and it was a valid name until quite recent times. The lake was discovered for the first time by Pedro de Valdívia in the year 1552. Six years later García Hurtado traveled to Chiloé and confirmed its position. But after the town of Osorno was abandoned by its citizens in 1604 due to a Mapuche rebellion, the lake disappeared from history especially when the population living on the shore of the lake moved away due to volcano activity from the nearby Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes.

The place was rediscovered by Bernardo Philippi in 1842. The government designated the area for colonization. The first people that came in 1852 were German colonists that inhabited the area around Puerto Octay. Six months later, another German group came that inhabited the zone from Puerto Varas to Frutillar. Until the end of 19th Century most of the coastal areas were inhabited. The contact and trade between the different groups of colonizers was achieved by navigating the lake. In 1872, the first steamboat started crossing the lake on a frequent basis.

How to Get There

It is very easy to get to Frutillar from all directions. Many buses go from Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas and it is even possible to travel directly to and from Santiago easily. The only problem is that big buses come only to the high part of Frutillar Alto. You need to take a taxi or cheap colectivo (shared taxi) to get to the beautiful lake area which can also be walked in 15 or 20 minutes (it's all downhill!).

There are local buses that regularly go between Frutillar and Puerto Varas (CLP$800 - Dec 2010), Llanquihue (CLP$700 - Dec 2010) and Puerto Montt (CLP$1200 - Dec 2010)

By Air: There is no airport in Frutillar (other than a private runway) and most people fly into Puerto Montt and then take a bus or other transport from there.

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