Castro is the capital of Chiloe Island. It is located on the island's eastern coast, halfway between Ancud in the north and Quellon in the south, and is a convenient base for exploring the island of Chiloe.
There are two bus terminals in Castro. The main bus terminal is at the intersection of Sotomayor and Esmeralda, near the main plaza. Here you can find frequent connections to Puerto Montt (about 2 hours) on the mainland. There are several buses a day to Santiago (16 hours, usually overnight) as well as most major cities on the way. All of these buses stop in Ancud on the way, and the ferry crossing is included in the price.
You can find local buses (micros) at the Terminal Municipal, located a few blocks away from the main bus terminal at San Martin and Aldea. Buses to Dalcahue (1 hour), Achao, and Chonchi stop here. The bus to the Chiloe National Park stops here as well; there are several companies leaving at different times of the day.
You can also enter with a rental car. There is a fee for the ferry, but having your own transport is a very convenient way to explore Chiloe.
Castro itself is very small and can easily be navigated by foot.
The tourist office in the main plaza is quite helpful and can furnish you with a map of Castro which has a suggested walking tour on it. The tour takes 2-3 hours depending on your pace. The tourist office is open daily 9am-6pm.
- Palafitos. Castro is known for its collection of wooden houses on stilts. There can be found in several places. There is a long line of them along the eastern coast, north of the Plazuela del Tren (just north of the Mirador Costanera). These are the Palafitos Montt, and are best seen from the water; you can find tour boats near the port. There is another viewing point at the northern end of the Palafitos Montt which does not require you to take a boat. Finally, you can see a different row of palafitos from the Plazuela Henriquez at the southwest corner of Castro.
- Iglesia San Francisco, (right on the main plaza). free.
- Plazuela del Tren, (Just north of the port). A small plaza right by the waterfront with an odd collection of old trains. There are also a few of these trains by the Feria Artesanal Lillo.
- Cementerio Parroquial, (Entrance off Riffart, by the athletic field). Some of the tombs here are quite grand and ornately decorated. It is actually a pleasant place for a stroll. Free.
- Feria Campesina Yumbel, (At the intersection of Alcalde Manuel Muñoz and Yumbel, northwest of the hospital). A bustling fruits and vegetables market. There are also household goods and fish stalls here.
- Feria Artesanal Lillo, (On the waterfront, just south of the port). An excellent collection of hand-knitted woolen goods and handicrafts.
Most of the restaurants and cafes in Castro are concentrated along the Calle Blanco, running from the southern end of the plaza down to the waterfront.
There are tons of lodging options in Castro, so you should have no problem finding a place to stay by just walking around and asking.
- Palafito Hostal, Calle Ernesto Riquelme 1210 (Castro), ☎ 56/65 531008, . The Hostal is situated in one of the taditional quaters, the “Palafitos de Gamboa”, where the houses have a typical construction of wood on the waterline.
- Hospedaje El Mirador, Barros Arana 127, ☎ 065 633 795. Convenient location but a bit protected from the bustle of downtown. Easy walk from Cruz del Sur bus station. Very clean, economical, nice basic breakfast. Some rooms with bay views.
Castro is a good base for visiting some of the smaller islands off the eastern coast of Chiloe, such as Quinchao Island (where the towns of Curaco de Velez and Achao are located).
Quehui Island is an attraction for visitors, 2.5 hours by public boat, leaves Castro at 4pm daily from the rampa. Overnight accommodations and tours are available from Turismo Quehui (http://www.turismoquehui.cl/home_ingles.html).
From Castro it is easy to reach Quellon at the southern end of Chiloe, where ferries depart for Chaiten and Puerto Chacabuco on the mainland.