San Pedro de Atacama is norther Chile’s top destination for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts. And with good reason: The surrounding environs are as dramatic as it is varied, incorporating geysers, volcanoes, sand flats, and hots springs all situated on a desert plateau.
If you’re a backpacker that’s into wandering around the high desert, then this is a location you won’t want to pass up.
You can find adventure exploring Rainbow Valley and check out the petroglyphs at Hierbas Buenas. Or you can take a hot-air balloon and view the desert from above.
There are even lagoons where you can sneak a peek at pink flamingoes. Camping, hiking, stargazing, rock climbing, nature watching, and more is all on the agenda in this desert wonderland.
San Pedro de Atacama knows its audience too: There’s no shortage of amazing hostels to stay at in the city center, offering great and affordable places to get a good night’s rest and meet fellow travelers to go on adventures with.
Here’s a peek at a few of the better ones.
- There’s an outdoor terrace with a barbecue area
- It has an outdoor “chill-out” area with hammocks and lots of comfy seating
- There’s a covered cave area with cushy platforms for relaxing on
Hostal Rural is an excellent hostel located centrally within Sad Pedro. It’s within walking distance of many of the city’s main attractions and isn’t far from the Puritan Natural Springs and Rainbow Valley.
It’s a very relaxed environment that caters to backpackers and those folks you might call hippies.
The hostel has its own bar where travelers can mingle and have a drink and an area filled with hammocks for relaxing.
The staff is courteous and helpful, and every night they host events such as barbecues or tours where travelers can mingle and get to know one another.
Backpackers San Pedro
- There’s an outdoor patio area with sunbeds and hammocks
- It has a refreshing pool to cool off in
- It has its own in-house tour agency with package deals
As the name would imply, this is another hostel that’s geared towards nomadic backpackers.
This charming hostel offers all the usual amenities, along with two full-size kitchens for preparing your own food, an outdoor patio area with sunbeds and hammocks, a bonfire pit, and a refreshing pool.
They also have their own in-house tour agency, so you don’t have to go far to plan an exciting adventure. It is a great location, sitting only a quarter of a mile from the city center, so you’re close to the many shops and restaurants that San Pedro has to offer.
Rural La Florida
- It has a nice common area with a ping pong table
- A delicious breakfast is provided, free of charge
- A free computer is available that you can use for booking tours or other travel plans
Rural La Florida is a fantastic little place with everything you could want from a hostel. It’s wonderfully located, being only a one minute walk from the city square.
The staff is friendly, helpful, and knowledgable about the surrounding areas, offering tips for places to visit and things to see.
The hostel has a cozy little common area where you can gather with your fellow travelers and relax, play cards, or play a game of ping-pong.
This place also has a nice little book exchange, so if you’re an avid reader, you can swap your material out for something new. And if you’re staying here and manage to climb out of bed by 10 a.m., you can enjoy a free breakfast that’s surprisingly delicious.
- It has an outdoor area with round tables for socializing
- It has a great barbecue area with everything you need for a cookout
This is another hostel with a fantastic location. It’s minutes away from the main square, with easy access to plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops that San Pedro has to offer.
This hostel has a much quieter and cozier atmosphere than some of the others, which lends itself well to socializing with your fellow travelers.
The staff are all bilingual and always eager to help. If you’re looking for a hostel that’s calm, quiet, and quaint, then this is the one for you.
Sol Atacama Hostel
- outdoor terrace with a nice barbecue area
- a common area with beer pong tables
- If beer pong isn’t your thing, it also has got ping pong tables
Sol Atacama is another hostel that’s focused on socializing. It’s geared toward younger travelers that want to make friends, socialize, and share their travel stories.
It’s also a great budget hostel as it’s more affordable than the others, but still has all the amenities you’d expect, including nice, comfy beds.
It has a great common area with tables set up for playing beer pong. It’s a fantastic little hostel for getting to know your fellow travelers.
Chill Out Backpackers Hostel
- It hosts frequent parties and barbecues
- It hosts ping pong competitions and the occasional DJ
- There’s a grocery store less than a minute away
Chill Out Backpackers Hostel is one of the most eventful hostels in San Pedro. For starters, it’s got all the usual amenities in spades: Comfy beds, a full-size kitchen, and spacious common areas with lots of tables and seating.
In addition to the usuals, this place hosts frequent barbecues, parties, ping pong tournaments, and even has the occasional surprise DJ, making this a great place to have fun and meet new friends.
The staff is easy-going, fun, and helpful, and they’re multilingual too: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian are all common tongues at this place. If you want a hostel with an upbeat vibe, a vibrant atmosphere, and lots of extra activities, look no further than this one.
The San Pedro Scene
Once you’ve settled into your hostel, made a few friends, and planned a few excursions into the desert, you’ll want to check out San Pedro proper. It’s a quaint town full of culture and good vibes.
There are plenty of places to try out some authentic Chilean food and other cuisines. Try out Baltinche’s for some of San Pedro’s best cuisine. If you’re looking for some fresh-baked deliciousness, try out Franchuteria, which widely considered to be San Pedro’s best bakery. And if you’re in the mood for a dessert in the desert, give Babalú a whirl, where you can get deliciously rich icecreams made from ingredients you won’t find anywhere else.
For culture enthusiasts, there’s a famous Catholic church in the San Pedro city center that’s worth checking out. The Church of San Pedro de Atacama was constructed in the 17th century during the Spanish colonial period. It’s a beautiful adobe-style church that’s worth a visit.
Be sure to also check out Museo de Meteorito: San Pedro’s own meteorite museum. San Pedro de Atacama is known for its “moon rock,” and this quaint little museum, housed in geodesic domes, features an ever-expanding collection of meteorites that have been collected from the surrounding areas.
San Pedro de Atacama is an unforgettable destination full of culture, great cuisine, and endless adventure. If you’re planning a trip to Chile, and you don’t have it on your list, you might want to consider paying this gem a visit.