Chile is a popular destination for gay vacations due to its unique geography, which allows travelers to visit volcanoes, enjoy beautiful beaches, ski or snowboard the Andes and spend a night on the town in Santiago’s gay district all in the same day. Chile is a country rich in landmarks and varied landscapes including the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, the penguin colony at Mirador de Chepu, the Easter Island statues, Elqui Valley in La Serena (which is steeped in legends about extraterrestrial activity) and exquisite architecture and churches that dot the cities, countryside and coastline.
Because of Chile’s unique blend of historic, natural and cultural attractions, visitors have many options for planning gay trips, including skiing or snowboarding trips to Andes resorts, Vina del Mar family beach vacations, wine tasting tours, pilgrimages to important Catholic sites and churches, exploring the wilds of Patagonia and learning of ancient island cultures, or urban adventures in Chile’s capital, Santiago.
While Chile will certainly not soon be mistaken for a bastion of gay rights, the macho Chilean culture that is deeply influenced by the military and Catholicism is slowly becoming more welcoming to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The center of gay culture in Chile lies in Santiago, where folks on a Chilean gay vacation will find the most acceptance and the highest concentration of gay-owned and gay-friendly establishments. The Barrio Bellavista, a trendy neighborhood with quaint cafes, shops, eateries and clubs is home to the majority of Santiago’s gay clubs, bathhouses and hangouts. While you will not see rainbow flags hanging from balconies or couples holding hands walking down the street, you will see gay magazines displayed in newsstands and couples enjoying espresso at cosmopolitan sidewalk cafes.
A night on the town in Bellavista or anywhere in Santiago generally begins with dinner around 9 or 10pm, as is customary in many Latin countries. In Bellavista, a night often begins at a gay-owned restaurant, such as Capricho, a well-known Spanish eatery, followed by dancing or drinks in local gay clubs and bars. Bellavistas gay clubs range from the usual fare expected in most larger cities, to bawdier options with live sex shows, and partying often goes until the sun comes up. Santiago also has several saunas (bathhouses), including one trendier, slightly more expensive option with mostly professional clientele. Folks considering visiting Santiago’s saunas should keep in mind that Chile, like the U.S., is struggling with HIV and should always remember to play safely to ensure a safe gay vacation.
Santiago’s central location in this long, narrow country makes it an ideal choice as a home base for exploring all that Chile has to offer. Because it is also the most welcoming location as a gay travel destination, Santiago is a popular choice for gay vacations. When planning a gay vacation to Chile, working with a travel agency well-versed in gay tours in this region will assist you in designing a memorable vacation that is safe, fun-filled and meets your travel needs whether you are traveling as a group of single friends, a couple or a family.