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Population: 29,130 (2002 census)

Elevation: 144 feet (44 meters)

Telephone code: 65

Both literally and metaphorically, all roads in Chilo√© lead to Castro. As Chilo√©‚Äôs largest town, and very much its cultural, geographic, and transportation center, busy Castro gives visitors as good of an introduction to the island as they can get anywhere, and, for many, serves as a base for exploring outlying towns and villages. The city was founded in 1567, and is Chile‚Äôs third-oldest. Castro has had a troubled existence. The city was used by Dutch pirates as a short-lived base for conquering the island in 1600. Earthquakes, fires, and, in 1960, a massive tidal wave (an effect of the highly destructive earthquake which hit Chile‚Äôs south), have ravaged the city but Castro nevertheless retains many vestiges of its past. A great historical and architectural interest, this is the best place on the island to see the palafitos‚ÄĒtraditional, and in some cases, run-down houses on a series of wooden stilts. The church (Iglesia San Francisco), though built relatively recently in 1906, charmingly dominates both the cityscape and the downtown plaza. Castro also has the island‚Äôs biggest concentration and variety of restaurants. Nowhere else in Chilo√© will you have more options for sampling local seafood, nor more choices for branching out when you‚Äôve had your fill of curanto, salmon and clams. The eateries span the gamut from high-end grills and hip caf√©s, to Italian restaurants, and yes, even Chinese food.Castro is also awash in lodging options, which is unsurprising since the city receives the majority of the island‚Äôs tourists. Budget travelers will find relatively clean, centrally located rooms with comfortable-enough beds and hot showers for $6.50 a night (keep in mind, however, that prices increase in peak months). If you‚Äôre looking for something upscale, say a suite overlooking the waterfront, with massage parlor and swimming pool, Castro has that too.Castro‚Äôs location, close to Chilo√©‚Äôs geographic center, means that you‚Äôre never more than a day trip away from any of smaller towns. Transportation across the island is cheap and frequent, making the city a highly convenient base for further explorations.Castro, a bustling urban center, is not jammed with attractions. You could easily see the palafitos and church, enjoy a nice seafood meal, and head to the town‚Äôs craft market, all in less than a day. Still, Castro‚Äôs easy access to city comforts makes it a nice place to spend a few days, or at least to come back to for a drink and a meal after a long day in the Chilo√© countryside.


Other places nearby Castro: Chonchi, Quell√≥n, Dalcahue, Ancud, Quemchi and Tena√ļn.

By Kevin Funk
Originally from the U.S., and now living in wondrously unique Valparaíso, Chile, I've traveled extensively in Latin...
21 Aug 2009

Things to do in Castro

Isla Quinchao

127706Five minutes on a ferry from Dalcahue, and thus within easy striking distance from Castro, Quinchao is one of Chilo√©‚Äôs most visited (and largest) islands, though it maintains a virgin, ‚Äėeven ...
Other Activity
Castro, Chile

Feria Artesanal

127945Though much of Castro’s feria artesanal has the same wood trinkets that seem to be offered at every fair in Chile, the main hall also has a nice selection of wool socks, scarves, hats and jackets, ...
Castro, Chile

Museo Regional de Castro

127946Scheduled to be moved to more spacious (and rather unattractive) digs along the waterfront, Castro’s free local history museum has a lot crammed into a little space. Pay particular attention to the ...
Castro, Chile

Iglesia San Francisco

127947Near the plaza, its faded yellow and purple-tipped spires dominating the Castro cityscape, Iglesia San Francisco will almost certainly be the first thing to catch your eye when you come in to town. ...
Historical Building
Castro, Chile

Museo de Arte Moderno de Chiloé

127948Founded in 1988, and housed inside a series of barns, the Castro art museum (known by its acronym, ‚ÄúMAM‚ÄĚ) focuses on local and national contemporary works. If the paintings aren‚Äôt to your ...
Castro, Chile


127949Chiloé’s answer to Venice, the palafitos, are coastal houses perched on wooden stilts. They are an iconic part of the island’s architecture, and there’s no better place to see them than in ...
Historical Building
Castro, Chile
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