Chile is the number one place for nature lovers and thrill seekers. It’s a country filled with contrasts: dramatic landscapes that range from the Atacama Desert to the mysterious Easter Island or the Patagonian ice fields. Explore with this Chile travel guide.
The people, the scenery, the wines, the street food — it’s all just too good to ignore. Venture to Chile for unspoilt beaches, lush valleys and the imposing Andes Mountains to discover.
Not sure how to visit Chile? I’m taking a deep dive into what you need to know for your Chile trip. This Chile travel guide covers every aspect of your journey – where to stay, what to pack, suggested itineraries and practical tips to know before you go.
I’ll be frank: the best time to visit Chile depends on the region you’re visiting (it is a long country after all). But southern hemisphere springtime (September to November) is a foolproof choice for mild weather and fewer crowds.
Travel to Chile between November to February for outdoorsy weather and June to August for snow sports. June to September is also fabulous for stargazing.
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Ever wondered what it would be like to visit the driest place on earth? Welcome to the Atacama Desert, a gorgeous destination famed for stargazing and its mind-bending landscapes. Stay at Nayara Alto Atacama.
Santiago, the capital city, is the beating heart of the country’s old colonial core and a fantastic base for your Chile vacation. Witness epic street dancing, experience buzzing nightlife, and visit iconic attractions like the Central Market and Plaza de Armas. Stay at The Place.
Why not stay in a picturesque wine region known for tranquil hiking trails and horseback riding? Enter Elqui Valley, a mountain village and top destination for a serene atmosphere. Stay at Reset Elqui.
Patagonia is a region at the southernmost tip of South America, making it the most southern land a human can walk on Earth. Its otherworldly beauty encompasses verdant rainforests and glacial fjords. Stay at Explora Patagonia.
Chile Visitor Guide: What to Do During Your Chile Trip
Top Things to Do
Let Your Hair Down in Santiago
Chile’s bustling capital, Santiago is the perfect excuse for your “livin’ La Vida Loca” moment. Experience a bohemian atmosphere at the famous nightlife district of Bellavista, your playground for the night. With art galleries, bars, clubs, and restaurants galore, I recommend Galindo, Borago, and Bocanariz for stellar food.
Go on a Star-studded Trip in the Atacama Desert
The otherworldly Atacama Desert is the prime spot for stargazing, thanks to its clear skies and high altitude. Its Mars-like landscape dotted with barren desert and bright cacti transforms into a dazzling display of the Milky Way when the sun plunges.
‘Un-wine’ at Elqui Valley
Elqui Valley is a haven for wine connoisseurs and nature lovers. Rest and meditate amongst majestic hills, verdant vines, and crystal-clear waters. Start your day by exploring Pisco Elqui, a charming village, venture to the coast to see penguins and sea lions at Isla Damas and end it with a wine-tasting tour.
Hike the W Trek in Torres Del Paine
If you’re a fitness junkie with an urge to take a challenging hike, climb incredible heights while facing unpredictable weather? If this sounds like your thing, then hike the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, which takes four-five days to complete.
Photograph the Wooden Churches of Chiloe Island
Tour the Chiloe archipelago to capture Latin America’s most significant group of wooden structures. These encompass 70 colourful wooden churches showcasing European and local craftsmanship and serving as symbols for the Jesuit Order.
Visit Easter Island
Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited island on earth and a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its Moai sculptures.
Seeing these iconic megalithic structures and embracing the culture of the Rapa Nui Polynesian indigenous people of the island should be on top of your bucket list.
Go Kayaking at Chile’s Lakes District
The Chilean Lakes Districts boast 12 main lakes interwoven with volcanoes, mountains, and waterfalls. And kayaking is the ultimate way to experience these lakes. The best part? The waters are so calm you don’t need to be an expert kayaker.
Catch Gnarly Waves at Arica
Seeking a thrilling adventure? Why not surf the most famous wave in Chile? El Gringo, the Chilean Pipeline in Arica, is renowned among experienced surfers. However, this famous surfing town offers abundant swells, including La Isla, El Brazo, and Arenillas Negras.
Suggested Chile Itineraries
Having a kick-butt itinerary allows you to explore the best of a country. As your trusted Chile travel planner, I’ve made things easier by creating itineraries for the top geographical destinations in the country.
Wonders of the Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama – Valle de la Luna – Laguna Chaxa – Laguna Tebinquinche – Piedras Rojas – Lagunas Miscanti & Miniques – El Tatio Geysers – Guatin Canyon
Explore the best of the Atacama’s sceneries with this adventurous itinerary.
See the Lakes District
Pucon – Puerto Varas – Conguillio National Park – Puyehue National Park – Vicente Perez Rosales National Park – Cochamo Valley
Tranquil sceneries and stunning national parks in the Lakes District.
Torres del Paine National Park – Los Glaciares National Park – Tierra del Fuego
Witness the wonders of Chilean Patagonia.
Cerro San Cristobal – Museum of Fine Arts – Santiago Cathedral – Museum of Pre-Columbian Art – Cerro Santa Lucia – Lastarria Market – Drinks & Dinner at Bocanariz
See the best of Santiago in one day.
2 Weeks in Patagonia – National Geographic Expedition
Santiago: Vina Del Mar, Valparaiso, Casablanca & Reñaca Tour
The Marble Caves are the most visually stunning, luminous caves worldwide. These intricate caves formed over thousands of years in Lake General Carrera. Although well-known, it’s hard to reach them, ergo an untouched, hidden gem.
Piedras Rojas, Atacama Desert
Found in the sought-after Atacama Desert, Piedras Rojas is a little gem off most tourists’ radars. As its name suggests, Piedras Rojas (Red Rocks) are red volcanic rock formations providing a dreamy, lunar-like backdrop for photography.
Visit one of Chile’s most unique wine regions, home to the highest concentrations of old vines in the Americas. Most tourists overlook this enchanting wine region, adding to its appeal. Itata Valley is a breath of fresh air, offering jaw-dropping scenery and delectable local wines.
Ski Portillo, Valparaiso
Tucked between the majestic Andes mountain range, Ski Portillo is a one-of-a-kind ski resort, overlooked by tourists who flock to better-known resorts. The resort sits without a town or village on the edge of Inca Lake, which mirrors the snow-capped mountains behind them.
How to See the Best of Chile for Free
It’s possible to travel to Chile on a budget, especially with free activities or tours. Wander throughSantiago’s vibrant markets, admire street art in Yungay, or watch the sunset at Cerro San Cristobal.
Hiking lets you see a country’s natural beauty without breaking the bank. Torres del Paine, Paine Grande, and Cuernos Lookout are among Chile’s best hikes.