On the western coast of Chile's Lago Llanquihue sits the town of Frutillar. German manors, cafes, restaurants, hotels, churches, and shops line Frutillar's beautiful promenade opposite the lake.
The shops, cafes, and restaurants have signs in both German and Spanish, showing Frutillar's German heritage. Signs for Kuchen (German cake) are found in every cafe and restaurant in Frutillar.
You won't see high rise buildings or dirty streets here. The main road facing the lake offered views of the clear blue waters and the snow-capped Osorno Volcano.
Frutillar is known as a City of Music. German immigrants brought their passion for music with them when they settled in Frutillar. In every summer since 1968, the town has hosted a 10-day event called the Frutillar Musical Weeks (Semanas Musicales). This event features local and international classical music artists. You can see music sculptures in the garden facing the lake. Here are two examples:
But the most impressive musical building is the Teatro del Lago Sur. It is the southernmost opera house in the world. For Frutillar, Teatro del Lago Sur is a massive building. The theater was completed in 2010. It has a 1,000-seat concert hall and smaller halls inside the building. At the time of our visit, Yo Yo Ma was scheduled to perform. We visited this world-class performance center and took a few photos:
We visited a boutique hotel called Ayacara, located just across the street from the lake. This would be the best hotel to stay in if you are looking for a comfortable and luxurious place with the best views, and a short walk from the theater. There are only eight rooms in this boutique hotel, which was once a private home.
This German-inspired building with a huge clock in front is the O'clock Restaurant. It is a cozy spot for lunch, coffee or beer.
German settlers started coming to this area in the 1800s. It started with nine families at the bank of the Bueno River. The man behind the growth and development of Frutillar was the German-born Bernard Eunom Philippi. He was a sailor, military man, and traveler. Frutillar's main street is named after him.
Most immigrants who came to this region were farmers, craftsmen, and merchants from the Hessen, Schlesien, Wurttemberg, Bohmen, Westfalen, Brandenburg and Sachsen regions in Germany. They settled along Lake Llanquihue and in Frutillar. One historic site to visit to learn about the early German settlers is the Museo Historicio Aleman (German Colonial Museum). It is a museum with reconstructed houses, a water-powered mill, a farmhouse, graves, a blacksmith's house and gardens.
- Frutillar is easily accessible by local bus or cab from Puerto Varas. It costs 600 Chilean pesos one way if you take the local bus from Puerto Varas. Take buses with the "Frutillar" sign in front. We took the bus from San Jose Street near the corner of San Bernardo.
- Stop by the Tourist Information Center on San Jose Street for maps and information. We found the staff there to be more knowledgeable than the ladies in the main Tourist Information Center by Lake Llanquihue. Get information on local buses to Frutillar, Puerto Octay, and Osorno.
- You can combine your trip to Frutillar with Puerto Octay. Check the bus schedule from Frutillar to Puerto Octay and plan your trip according to the schedule. We missed the bus and had to wait another two hours for the next bus to Puerto Octay. Instead of taking the bus, we took a cab to Puerto Octay. It cost 10,000 Chilean pesos, which was not bad for a party of four. The pricing was inconsistent because another driver quoted 12,000 Chilean pesos.
Frutillar is worth a visit if you are visiting Puerto Varas.
Note: The original article was written on April 16, 2013. This is an updated version.