Best Time To Visit Chile

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The tip of South America on the Pacific Coast to the border with Peru stretches 4,300 km (2,700 miles). This is Chile, a long strip of land that covers almost 40 degrees of latitude, so inevitably, this narrow country has a wide range of climate and terrain. There’s no point where Chile is wider than 350 km (217 miles) and at its narrowest, it’s just 64 km (40 miles). Chile shares an eastern border with Argentina and the Andes.

To decide the best time to visit Chile, choose an itinerary and see whether there are any obstacles to your choices. For example, there are cold nights at some times of the year, yet the glacial region in the deep south is one of the main attractions. In contrast, the Atacama Desert is way north, where rain is virtually non-existent. You will have a challenge packing if you intend to visit both north and south extremes on the same trip, but what an experience awaits you!

Chile’s wine is another reason to visit this former Spanish colony which won its independence just over two centuries ago. It is rich in minerals and produces an impressive range of fruit and vegetables, with its grapes putting Chile into the “Top Ten” of world wine producers. Christmas is the high season and has the best weather of the year.

Best Time To Visit Chile

Chile in Winter

best time to visit santiago chile
Snow-covered mountains surround the modern high-rise buildings of Santiago, the capital of Chile.

While the months between June and September are low season, there is always something to do or see in Chile. You might decide to make your base in Santiago, a capital with everything a visitor might want, including landmarks, accommodation, restaurants and entertainment.

You will likely find that prices are at their most competitive in these months, which correspond to the longest school holidays for many northern hemisphere countries.

There are ski resorts close to the capital, but the Andes and the cold weather down south offer other alternatives. Northern Chile is warmer due to its latitude, and with a little research, you can devise an interesting itinerary without worrying about freezing temperatures.

Here are some guideline stats, but remember there are regional variations, especially north to south:

  • June (Sunrise 0745, Sunset 1740, Average Low Temperature 3C (37F), Average High Temperature Average High 16C (61F))
  • July (Sunrise 0745, Sunset 1750, Average Low Temperature 2C(35F), Average High Temperature 15C (59F)
  • August (Sunrise 0720, Sunset 1815, Average Low Temperature 4C (39F), Average High Temperature 17C (63F)

Five Things to Do in Chile in Winter

best time to visit peru and chile
The Valle Nevado ski resort in the snow in Chile in winter.
1- Explore Patagonia

Aysen in north Patagonia is where you can meet Chile’s gauchos, less famous than their Argentinian equivalent, and see the largest lake in the country, Lago General Carrera, with its marble caves.

If you want to avoid people, Aysen may just be the place. Check on the icebergs in San Rafael Lagoon as well.

2- Drink Wine In The Maipo Valley

If you look at the label of a Chilean red, you may find it comes from Maipo Valley.

The Maipo Valley in central Chile is an excellent place for hiking, and its mild Mediterranean climate is ideal for the grapes that grow here.

Maipo mountain is a conical shape, rising to over 5,000 metres (16,500 feet), and is extinct.

3- Go Skiing Near Santiago
when is the best time to visit chile skier on the slopes
If you’re keen on skiing, winter is the best time to visit Chile!

Skiing is popular in Chile, and a few popular resorts attract significant visitors on a dedicated skiing holiday.

Three Valley resorts, El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado are all within 90 minutes of Santiago when the traffic is not too heavy.

It means a day trip is feasible, and you can share a helicopter if you have the funds and lack time.

4- Eat Calapurca

The warming winter cuisine is worth sampling and learning about in more detail.

In the north, the favourite is “calapurca”, a stew that predates even the arrival of the Spanish.

It contains several types of meat, with potatoes, onions, grain and paprika adding the spice.

A rural alternative in a creamy sauce can be made without meat.

Cazuela is the equivalent in central Chile, while Pulmay in the south used to be cooked on leaves in a hole in the ground.

5- Go Stargazing In The Atacama

Southern Hemisphere skies, especially in rural areas, are stunning. Star gazing in places like the Atacama is an experience you will never forget.

Top tips:

best time to visit chile south america
One of the best times to visit Chile to see the ethereal beauty of the Atacama is at dawn. Here’s the El Tatio geyser field.
  • Winter is low season, so you can expect discounts.
  • Some parts of Chile are virtually inaccessible in winter, so take time to research while planning.
  • Prepare for cold nights.

Chile in Spring

when is the best time to visit santiago chile
Plaza de las Armas is a lovely square in Santiago with historic buildings.

In spring, the weather in the south starts to warm up while it is still three months before the high season arrives. It means that crowds are still relatively thin.

The colours of the flowers in places such as Patagonia add to the appeal of Chile’s natural environment; good fresh air and great walking trails.
Chile has numerous national parks and reserves, too many to mention, but the best advice is to do your research to discover hidden gems.

If you arrive by air in Santiago, you should devote some time to experience what the capital has to offer before moving on.

Another idea you might like if you have the time is visiting Easter Island with its unique “human carvings.” But it’s not a short trip. Flights from Santiago can take up to six hours, with three flights daily. Think morning flight day one and afternoon return day three. Just a thought!

Here are some guideline stats, but remember there are regional variations, especially north to south:

  • September (Sunrise 0740, Sunset 1930, Average Low Temperature 6C (43F), Average High Temperature Average High 19C (66F))
  • October (Sunrise 0700, Sunset 1950, Average Low Temperature 8C (46F), Average High Temperature 23C (73F)
  • November (Sunrise 0630, Sunset 2025, Average Low Temperature 10C (50F), Average High Temperature 26C (79F)

Five Things to do in Chile in Spring

1- Visit Easter Island
what is the best time of year to visit easter island chile
The best time to visit Chile’s Easter Island is at dawn for a dramatic, colourful sunrise over the Moai stone sculptures at Ahu Tongariki.

Easter Island in the Pacific is famous for its stone monuments, with around 900 oversized human figures carved between the 13th and 16th centuries.

This volcanic island has a population of under 8,000 and is 2,300 miles (3700 km) off the Chilean coast.

You can fly there, but realistically, you would need to allocate a minimum of three days for the journey and exploration.

2- Admire The Flowers In Patagonia

The flowers of a southern hemisphere spring bring colour to Chile at this time of year.

Orchids are often blooming close to waterfalls and streams.

Wetlands regularly show the reds and yellows of common species.

Patagonia is where you can find a wide range of newly opened flowers from mid-October onwards.

3- Explore Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is privately-owned, an ecotourist jewel in the Southern Andes close to the Argentine border.

There is plenty of accommodation in hotels and cabins.

A funicular allows those not keen to hike to reach an area with panoramic views while a brewery serves refreshments in the evening.

The rapids and waterfalls on the Fui River are the highlight for hikers.

4- Wander Around Santiago
best time of year to visit santiago chile aerial view
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Santiago, Chile, for a walking tour of the sights, such as Cerro Santa Lucia in Downtown Santiago.

Santiago, Chile’s capital, takes you back to colonial times with its many landmarks and architecture.

Its metropolitan population of 7 million represents over 35% of the national figure.

Pedro de Valdivia founded the settlement in the middle of the 16th Century, and as with many old cities built in a compact area, it is easy to walk between many of its highlights while gazing at the nearby Andes.

5- Go Wine Tasting In Casablanca Valley
best time to visit chile wine region
Vines in a vineyard producing Chilean wine in the Colchagua Valley near Santa Cruz in central Chile.

Casablanca Valley is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to learn more about and sample Chilean wine.

An organised tour will include several vineyards.

The town and valley are northwest of Santiago, with the valley approximately 30 km (20 miles) long.

Top tips:

  • The weather improves in spring, but you still need warm clothing for evenings.
  • Chile is free of significant crowds, but it is worth booking in advance.
  • Look online for tours if you don’t want to travel independently.

Chile in Summer

best time to visit chile weather Iquique behind a huge dune
Iquique in northern Chile’s Tarapac Region on the Pacific coast is west of the Atacama Desert.

High season has much to recommend it. Prices and crowds may be negatives, but there is plenty to consider across the entire length of Chile. The weather in the south is pleasant and conducive to exploring. The entire coastline has beautiful beaches, and the top resorts offer an infrastructure to satisfy even the most critical travellers.

This period includes the Christmas holiday period and, also in the north, a version of the February Carnival famous worldwide. Carnival is not seriously celebrated everywhere but head north, and you may find celebrations that take something from the indigenous population and neighbouring countries.

Here are some guideline stats, but remember there are regional variations, especially north to south:

  • December (Sunrise 0625, Sunset 2050, Average Low Temperature 12C (54F), Average High Temperature Average High 29C (84F))
  • January (Sunrise 0650, Sunset 2055, Average Low Temperature 13C (56F), Average High Temperature 30C (86F)
  • February (Sunrise 0720, Sunset 2030, Average Low Temperature 12C (54F), Average High Temperature 30C (86F)

Five Things to do in Chile in Summer

1- Explore The Atacama Desert
the best time to visit chile track to pacana monks
The best time to visit Chile’s Atacama desert is in winter.

The Atacama Desert rarely sees rain and it is the driest desert in the world.

It sits on a plateau west of the Andes in northern Chile.

At over 100.000 square km (40,000 square miles), it has no vegetation, yet in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Atacama was woodland.

The closest population lives in coastal towns from where you can arrange to see this fascinating place.

2- Discover The Treasures Of Iquique

Iquique is a stand-alone destination as well as a gateway to the Atacama.

It was a 19th-century mining town (salt petre), but today it is a tax-free port with lovely beaches and a casino.

Its historic centre is also worth exploring, including Arturo Plat Square and the 19th Century clock tower.

3- Go Hiking In Torres del Paine National Park
best time of year to visit patagonia chile
Wild guanaco wandering around the mountains of Patagonia. The best time to visit Chile’s Patagonia for hiking is summer but the shoulder seasons are also good.

Torres del Paine National Park in the deep south features some iconic settings.

Three giant granite peaks, the Paine Massif, regularly promote the park and compelling reasons to visit.

Visiting this time of year provides wonderful hiking opportunities with restricted campsites available for the adventurous.

4- Celebrate Christmas

Christmas in Chile is typical of Catholic countries in particular.

Advent, nine days before Christmas, is important, while Christmas Eve is present time, with a turkey dinner and midnight mass.

Dinner incidentally is likely to be late evening before church.

Accept every time if you get an invitation to sit down and eat with others.

5- Go Surfing 

Arica, a port city in the north is famous for its beaches and excellent surfing conditions.

“The City of Eternal Spring” attracts significant visitor numbers. The Morro Arica hill is a wonderful vantage point for the region.

Famous landmarks include San Marcos Cathedral, Gothic in style and designed by Gustaf Eiffel and the war museum, Museo Historico y de Armas.

If you have time, go up into the nearby Andes to Chungara Lake and Lauca National Park.

In the Chilean version of Carnival in February, Carnaval Andino con La Fuerza del Sol combines catholic, Spanish and indigenous traditions.

Top tips:

  • High season means crowds are starting to grow, so book to avoid disappointment.
  • Take care with your valuables in crowded settings.
  • Pack light cotton for day wear, but you’ll still need something warmer at night.

Chile in Autumn

best time to visit torres del paine chile
Autumn color along the trail in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

The deep south bears close examination as the high season moves into the shoulder season. In the days before the Panama Canal, Cape Horn’s weather was a common problem for shipping wanting to cross from one ocean to the other. Punta Arenas attracts significant tourism each year, with daytime temperatures warming.

Likewise, further up the coast, Valparaiso is a port city with plenty to attract visitors heading out of Santiago. There is plenty to do on this stretch of beaches and ocean, with many visitors heading to the coast during the Easter holidays. Water sports and game fishing opportunities are available for those wanting more than just a relaxing time on the beach.

Here are some guideline stats, but remember there are regional variations, especially north to south:

  • March (Sunrise 0740, Sunset 2000, Average Low Temperature 10C (50F), Average High Temperature Average High 28C (82F))
  • April (Sunrise 0710, Sunset 1810, Average Low Temperature 8C (46F), Average High Temperature 23C (73F)
  • May (Sunrise 0730, Sunset 1750, Average Low Temperature 5C (41F), Average High Temperature 19C (66F)

Five Things to do in Chile in Autumn

1- Discover Historic Punta Arenas
chile best time to visit
A historic building in Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas on the Brunswick Peninsula in the deep south of Chile began as a tiny penal colony in the mid-19th century.

A small settlement existed from the 16th century, but serious growth is a far more recent event, with a population today of over 100,000.

It is the gateway to the Antarctic, but that is for another day.

The cathedral and the statue of Magellan, after whom the nearby straits are named, are two highlights of a city whose economy involves sheep, cattle and tourism.

2- See Pygmy Blue Wales In Chiloe National Park
what is the best time to visit chile
Panoramic view of the coast in Parque Nacional Chiloe. The best time to visit for whales is autumn.

Chiloe National Park in the bottom third of Chile sits on the island of the same name, where there is a chance to see resident pygmy blue whales in the fjords.

Other whale species, including humpback and southern right whales, are annual visitors and can be seen from the shore.

3- Wander Around Valparaiso
best time to visit valparaiso chile
The best time to visit the Chilean city of Valparaiso is at dusk, when the UNESCO World Heritage city takes on a fairytale like aura.

Valparaiso nicknamed the “Jewel of the Pacific” is a port city at the midpoint of Chile.

Its importance reached its height before the building of the Panama Canal, yet today its commercial importance remains.

You will find excellent food and accommodation while enjoying a city that is Chile’s bohemian capital, a place of hills with recent restoration making its architecture a highlight.

4- Explore Patagonia

Patagonia, in general, is beautiful in April, with the trees a mixture of red, orange and yellow.

Sunset is relatively early, but days are long enough to enjoy the natural environment.

There are well-established trails and plenty of local advice about where to head for the best experiences.

5- Go Fishing
best time of the year to visit chile
Cannons on the jetty of San Juan Bautista on Robinson Crusoe Island, one of three main islands making up the Juan Fernandez Islands 400 miles off the coast of Chile.

Fishing enthusiasts will love the opportunity provided by the rich waters of the Pacific and the rivers and lakes onshore.

There are wild king salmon runs, best illustrated by the Rio Petrohue in central Chile.

If you prefer game fishing in the Pacific, take a look at Robinson Crusoe Island in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago due west of Santiago.

Top tips:

best time to visit santiago de chile
Cascada de las Animas in Cajon del Maipo near Santiago, Chile.
  • Ensure you pack according to your itinerary with suitable footwear.
  • Enjoy pleasant daytime temperatures, but things do change later in the day.
  • Plan in advance for the best way to enjoy the natural environment.

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.