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Chile’s Top 5 Major Ports

icontainers_news_1a50488895.svgPorts & Routes
Updated on 28 Dec 2023
4 min read
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Chile rests at the southernmost tip of South America, snaking up alongside the West coast of the continent. Economically speaking, Chile’s location on the Pacific ocean makes it a hotspot for international trade. It also helps that Chile is the world’s number one copper exporter—and the demand for copper is at an all-time high.

Here’s a closer look at five of the biggest ports in Chile and all they have to offer in the world of international shipping, tourism, culture, and more.

1. Port of Valparaíso

The city of Valparaíso is a cultural and architectural treasure, accented by incredibly steep hills, beautifully decorated houses, and streets full of one-of-a-kind artwork. In fact, the city is considered to be Chile’s “cultural capital”, and their historic district was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2003.

Through an intrinsic maze of cobblestoned alleyways, you’ll find the port of Valparaíso. The port is just 140km from Santiago and rests on Chile’s central coast. Valparaíso is one of the busiest ports in Chile as it’s an important cultural center and a major trading center. It’s also the biggest container port in the country. The majestic mountain range that overlooks the shores doesn’t hurt to look at either.

2. Port of San Antonio

As one of the largest ports in Chile, San Antonio is ranked as the 13th busiest port in all of South America. The city itself is mediterranean-esque in climate and endlessly green hills. Being so close to Chile’s capital city, San Antonio also features beautiful and modern high-rise buildings that overlook the Pacific without being too close. (If you can picture Miami but with hills, you’ll have a good idea of how the city looks).

Situated as one of the central seaports in Chile, and so close to the capital, this port is well known as a major seafood trading district.

3. Port of Punta Arenas

The city of Punta Arenas is located right in the heart of Patagonia. With its snowcapped mountain landscape, modern architecture that mesh with an old-urban vibe, the city has been a timeless destination for adventure seekers worldwide throughout time.

Resting on the edge of the Strait of Magellan in the Southernmost city in Chile, this is arguably the most visited of all the seaports in Chile. It’s the second of the only two Free Ports in Chile and it offers everything from museums to restaurants to cruises and has recently seen an increase in petrochemical trade.

4. Port of Iquique

Pronounced e-key-kay, this Chilean seaport is the only other Free Port in the country. Located on the Northern coast, it’s one of the most historical ports in Chile thanks to the country’s victory over Peru in what is known as the 1883 Wasr of the Pacific.

While it’s a smaller port compared to the others, its economic significance has been a longstanding trading center. The city of Iquique is known for its white sandy coastline, aquatic sports, and duty-free status—which attract thousands of tourists each year.

Since 2014, the Iquique Terminal Internacional (ITI) has been curating plans to expand the port’s docks in order to make room for larger trading ships. The plan is to turn this small sea port into a hub, creating a direct bridge to the Asian markets and to rival the biggest ports in Chile. Currently, the expansion concessions are being extended to the year 2030. Once the project is finally completed, the port of Iquique will become an influential trade hub.

  1. Port of Arica

The Port of Arica also lies on the Northern coast of the country and shares a close by border with Peru. To the south, the city of Arica meets the Atacama Desert. Arica has a vast archaeological and ancient history while offering a beautiful and sunny landscape full of modern activities.

Amidst the ancient battlefields, sand dunes, national parks, colonial buildings, and churches, Arica is known to be the greatest of agricultural seaports in Chile. While other ports have gained notoriety for their seafood, Arica is well known for its exports of citrus fruits and locally produced olives from the Azapa and Rio Lluta valley farms.

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