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Chile Travel Guide
Last Updated: August 30, 2023
Chile is one of the most slender and longest countries in the world — it’s just 150 miles across at its widest point! From the snow-capped volcanoes of Patagonia and blistering heights of the Andes to world-class wineries and Maoi sculptures of Easter Island , there are a lot of wonderful things to see in Chile.
Traveling to Chile was one of the best experiences I’ve had in South America. It just constantly blew me away. It’s one of the most developed South American countries (the capital, Santiago, is a tech hub for the region), the people were awesome, the food was incredible, and the scenery made me feel in awe of nature.
Not only is there lots to do but the country is budget-friendly, which really rounds it out as a must-see destination.
Use this travel guide to Chile to plan your visit, save money, and make the most out of your trip!
Table of Contents
- Things to See and Do
- Typical Costs
- Suggested Budget
- Money-Saving Tips
- Where to Stay
- How to Get Around
- How to Stay Safe
- Best Places to Book Your Trip
- Related Blogs on Chile
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Chile
1. See Easter Island
Easter Island, located 3,540 kilometers (2,200 miles) off the coast of Chile, is the most isolated inhabited island on earth and home to the Rapa Nui Polynesian indigenous people that have lived there since 300 CE. Named after explorer Jacob Roggeveen’s ‘discovery’ of the island on Easter Sunday in 1722, this protected UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its Moai sculptures (the iconic big faces dotted all over the island). However, there is so much more to the island, including thousands of archaeological sites, volcanic craters and tunnels, pristine beaches, and excellent diving. To explore this magical place, hike around the dramatic cliffs and extinct volcanoes around the Moai archeological sites or around the spectacular Rano Kau crater and the Ana O Keke Cave. Or go sun yourself on Anakena’s beautiful white coral sand beach or Ovahe, a secluded pink sand beach hidden in a little cove with sparkling turquoise waters.
2. Discover Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine lies between the Andes and Patagonian steppe and is made up of snow-clad mountains, glacier lakes, and some of the best hiking in Chile. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful and desolate regions on the planet. There is no end to the scenic views here, including the three rugged, towering peaks of Central, Monzino, and Dagostini as well as the Southern Ice Fields. Be sure to wander around the enchanting Sarmiento Lake and see the Amarga Lagoon and the giant Salto Grande Waterfall. Admission is 29,250 CLP for up to three days for foreigners.
3. Explore Santiago
Chile’s capital is a thriving city and home to a third of the country’s entire population. Founded in 1541, this vibrant capital offers gorgeous panoramas, great restaurants, tasty locally-produced wine, and of course, Barrio Bellavista’s nightlife. There are quite a few must-see attractions in the city: Parque Metropolitano (a large urban park) as well as Cerro San Cristóbal, where you can hike around taking in beautiful views of the city, shouldn’t be missed. The Museum of Human Rights is also a must-visit site, as it chronicles the dark years of Pinochet when thousands of people ‘disappeared’ at the hands of his violent regime.
4. Marvel at San Pedro de Atacama
Located in Chile’s Norte Chico northern region, San Pedro de Atacama is one of Chile’s hottest tourist towns. Literally. Sitting at 2,400 meters (7,874 feet), the ancient town is in the driest desert in the world (it reportedly hasn’t seen rain since 1870). But the rock formations here are stunning, and it’s the perfect place to stargaze. This little town with adobe houses and dirt streets only has 5,000 inhabitants but plenty of tourists visit up to explore the stunning valley landscapes, the Atacama Salt Flats, and the Chaxa and Miniques Lagoons. Don’t miss the famous beautiful jagged geological formations of Valle de la Luna and Valle de la Muerte valleys that can be reached by bicycle from town.
5. Visit colorful Valparaiso
Nicknamed the “Jewel of South America,” this colorful city near Santiago is a mesh of bohemian bars and Victorian architecture along a coastline of sheer cliffs. The laid-back atmosphere and beauty of the area have inspired generations of writers and poets, including poet Pablo Neruda. Be sure to bring your camera because the whole city is painted in vibrant Insta-worthy colors. Take the Ascensor Reina Victoria funicular up to the Concepcion neighborhood and have a cocktail on the hilltop overlooking the city as you try some of the delicious local seafood dishes. Also, be sure to check out two of Chile’s top beaches nearby, the upscale Viña del Mar and the super cool Reñaca.
Other Things to See and Do in Chile
1. see the san marcos cathedral.
The same architect who was responsible for the Eiffel Tower, Alexandre Gustav Eiffel, designed San Marcos Cathedral. The cathedral is in Arica, Chile’s northernmost city, and was built to replace the original cathedral destroyed by an earthquake in 1868. The new cathedral was commissioned in 1876 and is a rare example of Gothic architecture in South America.
2. Get tipsy on a wine tour
Chile’s vineyards have been producing world-class wine for over 400 years. There are plenty of tours available around the country as vineyards stretch the entire length of Chile. I think the best wineries are located near Santiago. Expect to pay around 15,000-20,000 CLP for a basic tour, though fancier tours at more prestigious vineyards can easily be over 55,000-100,000 CLP per person. Most tours last 4-8 hours.
3. Hike a volcano
Chile is home to the world’s tallest active volcano, Ojos del Salado, which lies in the Andes near the Argentine border. Villarica and Osorno are also popular volcanoes (and both lie close to lakes). Most volcanoes in the country have thermal spas at their base too. Experienced hikers can do the trip on their own, though there are plenty of guided tours available for travelers looking for a group tour. Most multi-day tours span 10-14 days and cost millions of pesos. For day trips like the Cajon de Maipo, Osorno Volcano, Termas Colina, and Petrohue Falls, expect to pay 32,000-56,000 CLP per person.
4. Valle de la Muerte
Also known as “Death Valley,” this is an astounding place to hike, go horseback riding, or even go sandboarding. Located in the northeast of the country near San Pedro de Atacama, there are also guided moonlight walks that take you out over the rocky martian landscape. You can rent a sandboard for around 8,300 CLP or go on a sandboard tour for 23,000 CLP per person which includes transportation. There are even tours that sandboard at midnight, using spotlights to light the way (they have a DJ too!). If you’re looking to hike, check out the Corniza Trail. It’s a 7-hour loop that’s relatively easy (many families do it).
5. Santuario de la Naturaleza Valle de la Luna
Also located near San Pedro de Atacama, the “Valley of the Moon” is an otherworldly landscape that is home to stones and sand formations that have developed an extraordinary texture due to thousands of years of winds and flooding. The rock formations look like the surface of the moon, hence the park’s name. It’s a great place to go hiking — just don’t forget to bring water as it can get quite warm. Tours are available for around 26,000 CLP per person.
6. See the El Tatio geysers
A popular tourist attraction, these geysers are incredibly beautiful and well worth a visit as they make up the largest geyser field in the Southern Hemisphere (and they are the third largest in the world). You have to get up around 4am as all the tour companies aim to get you there by sunrise and it’s a 90-minute drive from San Pedro de Atacama. But it’s worth the effort! Bring a swimsuit as there are thermal pools nearby. Tours cost around 33,000-38,000 CLP. You can visit without a tour (admission is 15,000 CLP) but you’ll need to rent your own vehicle to get there.
7. Museo de Bellas Artes
This museum is one of the best in the country. Located in Santiago, it’s home to a wide display of fine art, sculptures, photography, paintings, and digital media. Built in 1910, the building is somewhat small but the architecture is equally as impressive as the collection within (it was built in the Beaux-arts style and has a very Parisian feel to it). Admission is free.
8. Mingle among the wealthy in Viña del Mar
Considered a Chilean Miami, this city next to Valparaiso serves as a hotspot for casinos, upscale cafes, and seaside restaurants. Even if you don’t have money to burn, it’s an interesting place to spend an afternoon people-watching as you wander the beach promenade. You’ll find lots of world-class restaurants here. If you’ve got some money to burn, stay a night!
9. Tour Pablo Neruda’s homes
One of the world’s most famous poets used to call Chile home. With homes in Valparaiso, Santiago, and Isla Negra, this Chilean icon stuffed a lifetime of knick-knacks, literature, and interesting maritime architectural pieces into his three abodes. All of them are open to the public. Even if you’re not a huge fan of his work, his homes alone are an interesting glimpse into Chilean culture as Neruda is a cultural icon and one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. Admission to each home costs around 7,000 CLP and includes an audio-guide system in multiple languages.
10. Get off the beaten path
Some lesser-known treasures worth visiting in Chile are Frutillar (a beautiful lakeside community in southern Chile’s Los Lagos Region), Lonquimay (another gorgeous lakeside town in the Malleco Province of southern Chile’s Araucanía Region), Caleta Tortel (a rugged seaside town with wooden walkways instead of streets in the heart of Patagonia) and Coyhaique (a less pricey Northern Patagonia city that’s a hub for great nature adventures). If you’re looking to beat the crowds, be sure to visit some of these lesser-known destinations.
11. Swim in the world’s largest pool
If you’re looking for some luxury, head to the Crystal Lagoon, home to the world’s largest swimming pool. It’s located at the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, just west of Santiago. The pool is the size of twenty Olympic swimming pools and is the biggest recreational swimming pool in the world, requiring 66 million gallons of water just to fill it! A 1-2 bedroom apartment rental here costs 70,000-120,000 CLP per night.
Chile Travel Costs
Accommodation – Hostel dorms start around 9,800 CLP per night and private rooms come in at around 22,000-30,000 CLP. Free breakfast and free Wi-Fi are common, and many hostels have self-catering facilities if you want to cook your own food.
Budget hotels are inexpensive in Chile with prices starting at 25,000-35,000 CLP per night for a basic double or twin bed (though expect to pay closer to 55,000 CLP for a nicer budget hotel). Many budget hotels include free breakfast and free Wi-Fi (though not all, so be sure to double-check).
Airbnb is available in the larger cities, with prices as low as 16,000 CLP per night for shared accommodation. If you want a private home or apartment, expect to pay at least 45- 60,000 CLP.
For those traveling with a tent, camping is possible. There are a handful of campgrounds scattered around the country where you can pitch a tent for as little as 5,300-6,000 CLP per night but some with lots of amenities and proximity to the beach are as much as 35,000 CLP.
Food – With an extensive coastline, Chilean cuisine relies heavily on seafood. Cod, salmon, shrimp, lobster, prawn — there are tons of options available. BBQ meat (including alpaca) is particularly popular in the north. Other popular Chilean dishes include churrasco (steak sandwich), machas a la parmesana (clams baked with white wine, parmesan cheese, and butter), and chupe (a hearty seafood stew), and empanadas.
Overall, food in the country isn’t too expensive, though prices get a lot higher the further south you go due to higher transportation costs. Most places in the country offer a set menu for lunch with a starter, main, and drink for about 7,000 CLP. A steak dinner with wine and an appetizer costs around 35,000 CLP while a fast food combo meal (think McDonald’s) costs around 6,000 CLP.
A latte or cappuccino costs 2,300 CLP while a domestic beer can be as cheap as 3,000 CLP. Bottled water is 850 CLP.
Grocery shopping can save you a lot of money if you have access to a kitchen. Expect a week’s worth of groceries to cost around 25,000 CLP depending on your diet. This gets you basic staples like pasta, rice, quinoa, vegetables, and some meat.
As everything must be shipped south, food prices in Patagonia are about 30% higher than elsewhere in the country.
Backpacking Chile Suggested Budgets
How much does it cost to visit Chile? That depends on a few different factors, specifically, what you plan on doing while you’re here as well as your travel style.
On a backpacking budget of 36,000 CLP per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook your own meals, use public transportation to get around, and visit a few museums. If you plan on drinking, you’ll need to add 5,000-8,000 CLP per day.
On a mid-range budget of 105,000 CLP per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, take buses between destinations, eat out at street stalls and cheap restaurants serving local cuisine, take the occasional taxi, drink at the bar, and do some paid excursions like guided hikes and wine tours.
On a “luxury” budget of 205,000 CLP per day, you can stay in a hotel, hire a rental car to get around, do some guided tours, drink as much as you want, and eat out at nice restaurants for every meal. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in CLP.
Chile Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Chile can be an expensive place to visit, especially if you’re doing a lot of tours and activities. The size of the country also means you can end up spending a lot on transportation. Here are some tips to help you save during your visit:
- Buy wine at the supermarkets – Surprisingly, buying wine from vineyards can be more expensive than in the supermarkets. Buy from the supermarkets if you’re on a tight budget.
- Take the bus – Bus service is inexpensive and efficient here. Night buses are comfortable and a good way to save on a night’s accommodation (they often have lie flat beds).
- Buy food from La Vega Market – La Vega Market in Santiago sells everything you could possibly need and all sorts of local ingredients from Chile and Peru. Shop here for your veggies, fruits, and to get an authentic experience.
- Eat at the local fish markets – In the coastal cities, the local fish markets are usually the best place for a seafood meal. Though the restaurants look cheap and thrown together, they’re delicious!
- Shop around – Haggling is not common and vendors stick to their guns even when called out for price discrimination. So, if you’re quoted an inflated price for being a tourist it’s best to just move around and find alternatives where the prices are already set and visible. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your time and energy.
- Ride in a micro or colectivo – Regular buses are for intercity transportation. “Micros” are intracity, and “colectivos” are taxis that drive a specific route once they get four people in the car, and charge a very low rate. If you want to go somewhere, chances are there’s a micro or colectivo that can get you close — just ask a local and they’ll know where to point you.
- Stay with a local – Chile doesn’t have a huge Couchsurfing community, but you can still give it a shot and try to find a host (and get a local friend and a free place to stay). Just be sure to send your requests early!
- Take a free walking tour – There are some great options available when it comes to free walking tours in Santiago, such as Tours 4 Tips or Free Tour Santiago . If you want to explore the city while learning about its history, architecture, and people then be sure to take a free tour. Just remember to tip at the end!
- Stay at a Hola Hostel – Hola Hostels is a network of hostels predominantly in South and Central America. They offer 10% off to their members, as well as other local discounts for food and activities. Joining is free, and their hostels are also committed to environmentally sustainable practices.
- Travel in the shoulder season – Prices in the country are cheaper outside of the high season (which is November-March). This includes admission to parks like Torres del Paine, which charge double during the busy summer months. Beat the crowds and save some money by skipping the high season.
- Bring a water bottle – LifeStraw is a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter that you can use instead of buying single-use plastic bottles. It removes bacteria, parasites, micro plastics, and other contaminants so it’s perfect for cities as well as if you’re out hiking in nature.
Where to Stay in Chile
Hostels can be found in all the major destinations across Chile. Here are my recommended places to stay if you’re on a budget:
- Hostal Forestal (Santiago)
- Poker Hostel (Santiago)
- Hostal Po (Valparaiso)
- Hostal Rural (San Pedro de Atacama)
- Kona Tau (Easter Island)
- Chili Kiwi Lakefront (Pucon)
How to Get Around Chile
Public transportation – Public transportation, especially in Santiago, is reliable and affordable. In Santiago, you need to purchase a refillable bus pass (BIP Card) for your journeys as individual tickets are no longer available. The card costs around 1,550 CLP with the average ride costing around 700 CLP (prices vary depending on the time of day). BIP cards need a minimum initial credit of 1,000 CLP. You have to pay for your card and top-ups in cash; non-Chilean credit cards are not accepted.
Bus – For intercity travel, buses are the cheapest way to get around — and they are nice too! Reclining seats are common and many even recline almost all the way down. Additionally, some night buses even have a curtain between the seats so you can have a little privacy from your neighbor. The best companies to use are Turbus and Pullman.
Expect to pay at least 38,000 CLP per person from Santiago to Antofagasta. From Santiago to Valparaiso, bus tickets cost around 6,000–10,000 CLP each way. For something like the cross-country journey from Santiago to Punta Arenas, expect to pay at least 60,000 CLP for the 40-hour bus ride (this is an incredibly long distance so you have to change at Osorno or choose flying).
Train – Traveling by train in Chile is virtually non-existent. Much of the tracks have been left to decay beyond repair outside the central region of the country. Trains link Santiago with Curico, Talca, Linares, and Chillan with air-conditioned cars but that’s the extent of Chile’s train infrastructure. You can visit trencentral.cl for the available routes and prices.
Flying – Flying around the country is surprisingly affordable. Expect to pay around 28,000-35,000 CLP for the two-hour flight from Santiago to Antofagasta. Prices are similar for trips from Santiago to:
- La Serena (one hour)
- Calama (two hours)
- Arica (two hours forty-five minutes)
- Concepcion (one hour)
- Puerto Montt (one hour forty minutes)
For a flight between Santiago and Puerto Natales, expect to pay around 40,000-55,000 CLP. Round-trip flights from Santiago to the remote Easter Island cost around 240,000-300,000 CLP.
Car rental – Driving in Chile is much easier (and safer) than driving in other South American countries. Many of the highways are well-maintained thanks to their liberal use of toll roads. While driving in Santiago can be a little chaotic, once you get out of the city things generally become much easier. Expect to pay around 178,000 CLP for a one-week rental. Drivers need to be at least 21 years old.
For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .
When to Go to Chile
Since Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the summer months are December, January, and February. With landscapes ranging from desert to tundra, the weather and temperatures can vary tremendously here. Expect daily highs around 28-30°C (82-86°F) in Santiago, while the highs in Torres del Paine are closer to 13°C (55°F).
Winter is not a particularly great time to visit as the temperatures can drop below freezing, with snowfall common in certain regions. Daily lows reach -15 °C (5 F), making it rather unpleasant to be out and about during the day. Unsurprisingly, you can see why most travelers visit during the summer.
Fortunately, the shoulder season is also a fantastic time to visit Chile as you’ll be able to beat the crowds and save yourself some money. It’s an especially good time to visit if you plan on visiting Torres del Paine as there will be fewer hikers here and the park admission will be much cheaper. November and March are usually included in the high season, so aim for late October or early April. The weather won’t be perfect, but it’s a good compromise for travelers looking to dodge the crowds.
How to Stay Safe in Chile
Chile is considered a safe destination and generally ranks as one of the safest on the continent. That said, crimes still do occur so you’ll want to take some precautions during your trip. The most common crimes in Chile are petty theft and bag snatching. Since these are crimes of opportunity, you’ll always want to make sure your possessions are secure. Be extra vigilant when riding the bus and when you’re in areas popular with tourists.
When taking the bus (especially the night bus) make sure you don’t have any valuables in your checked bag. Additionally, keep any valuables secure and out of reach from any would-be pickpockets.
If you’re enjoying the nightlife of Santiago, keep an eye on your drink as drink-spiking can occur.
Be sure to read about the common travel scams to avoid here .
Earthquakes are also common enough in Chile that you’ll want to make sure you are prepared should one occur. Know where your emergency exits are in your accommodation as well as any local evacuation locations for major emergencies. If you have a map downloaded on your phone, save the location of the nearest hospital and airport as well, just in case.
If you need emergency services, dial 113 for assistance.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Chile Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
Chile Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts ( Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of TNN+, you can get 15% off your purchase )
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
- What I Pack For My Travels
- The Ultimate List For Female Travelers
- How to Choose and Buy the Right Backpack
Chile Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Chile travel and continue planning your trip:
Is Chile Safe to Visit?
How to Travel Easter Island on a Tight Budget
18 of the Best Spots in Patagonia
Patagonia: Thoughts on Getting Offline and Trying to Camp
12 Ways to Save Money in Argentina
16 Amazing Photos from My Visit to Torres Del Paine
Get my best stuff sent straight to you, pin it on pinterest.
- Where To Stay
- Booking Resources
- Related Blogs
The Ultimate Chile Itinerary For Ten Days and Two Weeks
By Author Steph Dyson
Posted on Last updated: 6th October 2023
With the piercing peaks of the Andes prominent in the north, glacier-riddled national parks of the south, and fertile, wine-growing valleys of the center, it’s fair to say that Chile has jaw-dropping geographical diversity oozing from every pore.
It’s for this very reason why planning a Chile itinerary for ten days or more of travel might seem a bit of a headache.
What's in this article:
How to use this Chile itinerary
Luckily, Chile has one of the best transport systems in South America, meaning you can – and should – zip between its diverse regions if you’re on a short trip.
Staying here longer? Even better; you’ve got plenty of time to really get under the skin of a country I’ve come to love over the past year and a half.
This Chile itinerary focuses on the things to do in Chile broadly, but you’ll find plenty more details about where to go in Patagonia in the following:
- Four itineraries for one and two weeks of travel in Patagonia
- An itinerary for three or more weeks in Patagonia and free e-book download )
Looking for guidance about what to take with you on a trip to Chile? Check out our detailed Patagonia packing list , as well as our guide to what to pack for South America more generally.
Recommendations for travel in Chile and using this Chile itinerary:
- As a vast, sprawling country, there are plenty of things to do in Chile; it’s always better to slim down your travel itinerary, take it slow and really dig deep into a place than scratch the surface with a whistle-stop tour of all the top attractions. In the latter, you’ll also spend too much time traveling between places which, let’s face it, is not the main idea of a holiday or even longer-term travel.
- Travel in Chile is expensive and while this post doesn’t delve too deeply into how you can travel Chile on a budget, consider booking cheaper types of accommodation, such as local alojamientos or hospedajes (cheap B&Bs) or cabañas (cabins) if you’re in a group, many of which aren’t available to book via hotel booking websites.
- Chile is a safe place to visit. Despite protests breaking out across the country in 2019 and 2020, the situation has since calmed. Parts of Santiago are less safe than others (for example, avoid Downtown at night) and the use of Uber or official taxis firm is highly recommended, but once you get out of the city, you’ll find Chile a safe and welcoming place to travel .
- There is a wealth of good hotels and guesthouses across the country. Some of the best had a profound impact on my trips around the country, which is why I’ve pulled together my absolute favorites into this guide to the best hotels in Chile (just 31 of them!!).
- Plenty of hostels and the previously mentioned accommodation types also have kitchens, making it easy to self-cater. Bear in mind that Chile has some excellent restaurants and some surprisingly good local cuisine (even if it might not seem like it at first glance) so make sure to factor in some time and money for eating out!
- Alternatively, camping is relatively easy throughout the country , so pack camping and cooking equipment (see my recommendations in this post about packing for Patagonia ) and use that as a way of seeing Chile on the cheap.
- These Chile itineraries for ten days and two weeks rely on the fact that you will take some long-distance transport to travel between the regions. Yes, flights can be expensive, but if you plan ahead, you can get a good deal with Sky Airline (the low-cost airline) and LATAM (the more upmarket airline). I generally compare prices on Skyscanner and then book directly through the companies themselves.
- Additionally, Jet Smart is Chile’s answer to Easyjet in Europe and has some extraordinarily low fares, although, they don’t yet offer flights to all of the cities and they’re often at slightly more awkward hours. However, they’re definitely worth checking out, particularly as they’re starting to offer direct flights between cities in Chile without having to go through Santiago, which can significantly reduce your flight time (you can see their full list of destinations here ). Be aware that you always have to pay an extra fee for both hold baggage and cabin baggage and they will charge you if you go over the weight limit for either.
- Buses are also an inexpensive and reliable way of traveling through Chile, with long-distance, overnight buses making it easy enough to travel from Puerto Montt to Santiago or Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama in reasonable comfort (although prices of flights, if booked a few weeks in advance, are generally as cheap as bus tickets for these routes). Aim to book a couple of days in advance; websites such as Bus Bud , Viaje en Bus , and Recorrido are really helpful, while you can book off the cuff at the bus terminals in all towns and cities.
- Renting a car is also a great way of traveling. I’ve personally driven through a lot of Chile and it’s much faster than taking buses and gives you the freedom to explore beyond the main tourist destinations. Driving in Santiago is somewhat terrifying and you find drivers don’t pay a lot of attention in most cities and even in rural areas, so you’ll want to keep your wits about you. However, of all the countries in South America, Chile (and Argentina) is definitely the safest place to rent a car. There are lots of tolls on the highways, so make sure you’ve always got cash and download Maps.me for maps available without internet. I always book using Rental Cars , as I find they have the best prices (even better than going directly with companies generally) and have insurance documents in English. Always double-check your insurance documents to ensure your insurance is valid for driving on unpaved roads if you plan on exploring the Carretera Austral , as this is not always guaranteed.
- Uber and other ridesharing apps such as Easy Taxi, do work in Chile. Uber used to be illegal, but now isn’t. Uber is generally a reliable and safe way of traveling around cities (and better than hailing a cab, which will often try and rip you off or scam you).
- Oh, and I lived in Santiago for close to three years and wrote a guidebook about Chile (you can learn about the project here and buy the book here ), so rest assured that these itineraries stem from some pretty extensive exploration and travel.
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Chile Itinerary for ten days of travel
Day one: santiago.
Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP ; no need to book in advance), Uber or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the centre of town).
Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.
Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural (Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre , the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.
Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles, and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilizations across Latin America.
You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile’s history: the Pinochet dictatorship.
Finally, read this article about the best things to do in Santiago , this piece about day trips you can’t miss from Santiago , and then listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.
For dinner, you’ve got various options:
- Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with some of the best Chilean wines at Bocanariz .
- Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria , a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
- Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró .
- For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio .
Where to stay in Santiago: Stay overnight in Santiago’s first ‘ecoHotel’, Carménère Eco Hotel (Santander 292, double room $155,000 CLP ($196 USD)), which is equally appealing to environmentally conscious travelers and those seeking an authentic Chilean wine experience from their own hotel. It’s in the heart of the hip Barrio Italia, surrounded by a wealth of bars and restaurants and excellent transport links.
Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget, ordered by neighborhood.
Days Two to Five: San Pedro de Atacama
Head back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) , from where domestic flights leave from a separate terminal. Take a two-hour flight to Calama .
Transfer services at the airport are timed to leave after flights arrive, so hop on one (one hour 30 minutes) or hire a car and drive to San Pedro de Atacama , one of Chile’s top tourist attractions.
Spend the next two days exploring the region’s top sites, including Piedras Rojas, Lagunas Altiplanicas and Geisers del Tatio, and spend an evening stargazing and learning what ancient Andean cultures believed lay in the night sky.
For more detailed information and inspiration for San Pedro de Atacama read this post on adventurous places to visit in and around San Pedro de Atacama .
Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama: If you’ve got a bigger budget or are traveling in a couple, stay at Ckuri Atacama (double $63,000 CLP/$80 USD; minimum two-night stay); it’s definitely the nicest accommodation you’ll find in San Pedro. Their three double rooms include private bathrooms, large double beds, a small breakfast area with fridge, cutlery, and plates (breakfast isn’t included – so go and check out Pananderia Franchuteria (Calle Gustavo Le Paige) in town for Chile’s best croissants and other delicious French pastries!).
Where to stay on a budget in San Pedro de Atacama: For smaller budgets, Hostal Lackuntur (dorm $15,000 CLP/$19 USD, double $47,000 CLP/$60 USD) is ideal. It’s got a decent kitchen, loads of hammocks, and a very welcome swimming pool. Its location a few blocks north of the town also ensures it’s nice and quiet during the evenings.
Days Six and Seven: Valparaíso
Return to Calama and take a flight to Santiago. Buses leave from the Terminal Alameda (Av. Alameda 3750) and the Terminal San Borja (San Borja 235) in the city center for Valparaíso (two hours, $3,000 CLP/$4 USD), a historic harbor city set across 42 hills and home to a wealth of street art.
This includes La Sebastiana, the beautiful ship-inspired house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda (well, one of his three), elderly acensores (which are also UNESCO heritage monuments), and a colourful skyline of brightly-painted houses, cobbled streets, and vivid graffiti.
Read all about our favorite things to do in Valparaíso for more information about the city.
If visiting over the summer (be warned: it gets rammed full of Chilean holidaymakers), be sure to hop on a local micro ( bus) and head around the coast towards Viña del Mar where the best beaches are.
The easiest to access is Playa Caleta Abarca as it’s right on the main road that passes through the city, while nearby Reñaca also has a pretty beach.
Viña del Mar is also home to the brilliant Museo de Arqueología e Historia Natural Francisco Fonk , which houses a collection of artifacts from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – including a 2.9-meter tall moai statue – and is well worth a visit.
Valparaíso has a reputation for being unsafe at night, so you’ll want to stay in either Cerro Alegre or Cerro Concepción. Wherever you stay, avoid the bus station at night, and stick to areas with plenty of street lights.
Where to stay in Valparaíso: Winebox (Baquedano 763, $99,000 CLP/$125 USD double) is a truly unique hotel, built entirely from 25 recycled shipping containers. What’s more, they have an urban winery in the basement and a wine bar cum restaurant on the roof (which is open to the public). It’s actually on Cerro Mariposa, so you’ll need to take local colectivos (shared taxis) or taxis to get into the centre at night.
Where to stay on a budget in Valparaíso: For smaller budgets, the pint-sized Puerta Escondida (Templeman 549, $79,000 CLP/$100 USD double room) is a welcoming B&B in the heart of Cerro Concepción. It gets booked up fast, so be sure to reserve in advance.
Days Eight and Nine: Santiago and Colchagua
Return by bus to Santiago and you’ve got two options for exploring another of Chile’s top attractions: vineyards (which, in our opinion, make Chile the best country in South America for wine ).
- For bigger budgets: rent a car and drive to winery Casa Silva, just north of San Fernando.
- For smaller budgets: take the bus from the Terminal Santiago ( Av. Alameda 3850) operated by Nilahue to Santa Cruz (3 hours, $7,000),
1. For bigger budgets
One of the most awarded wineries in the country and on the northern tip of the Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva not only has a wonderful setting (think rolling hills covered with neat rows of vines and a colonial-style bodega overlooking their polo field) but also an excellent restaurant.
Where to stay: I stayed in their gorgeous accommodation, Hotel Casa Silva (double $181,000 CLP/$210 USD) and spend a day eating in their two fine restaurants, wine tasting in their wine shop, and wandering their vineyards.
You can stay one day at Casa Silva, and then on the next, drive to Santa Cruz, the main town for the Colchagua wine valley, and spend an afternoon exploring some of Chile’s top vineyards (see below).
2. For smaller budgets
Take a bus to Santa Cruz where you can rent mountain bikes, complete with panniers, from Casa Suiza ($40,000 CLP/$51 USD double, $19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm) to explore the local vineyards of the surrounding Colchagua Valley at your leisure.
For all budgets
All of the wineries in the Colchagua Valley offer tastings, tours and many even have fine-dining restaurants (in beautiful settings, surrounded by vines), so I strongly suggest you aim to have lunch at one of the restaurants.
The valley is also known for its carménère wine , a grape similar, and for a long time, confused with Merlot, so make sure you sample plenty while you’re here.
My favorite is Montes , which lies ten kilometers north of Santa Cruz. It’s a renowned winery (they age their wine to the sound of Gregorian chant in an amphitheater-shaped cellar) with tours (from $10,000 CLP/$14 USD), tasting (from $2,000 CLP/$3 USD per glass) and the truly sensational Fuegos de Apalta restaurant.
I had the best steak of my life in their dining room, which surrounds a circular iron grill where you can watch the chefs at work. It doesn’t come cheap (expect to pay $20,000-$24,000 CLP/$28 USD-$34 USD per main) but their lomo liso (sirloin) and entraña (skirt steak), washed down with a Cabernet Sauvignon is an experience you’ll never forget.
Other wineries to visit from Santa Cruz include:
- Boutique winery Laura Hartwig , which you can easily walk to for a tasting as it’s on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. They produce very small quantities of wine each year and while it can sometimes be hit-and-miss, they often strike gold. You can sample glasses for just $1,000 CLP/$1.5 USD).
- Eight kilometers east of Santa Cruz, Viu Manent is a winery set within a beautiful old hacienda. Their star grapes are Carménère and Malbec and they have tours of the vineyard via horse-drawn carriages (from $15,000 CLP/$21 USD) as well as tastings (from $12,000 CLP/$17 USD) and great food in their restaurant Rayuela Wine & Grill ($9,000-$14,000 CLP/$13-$20 USD mains).
Where to stay in Santa Cruz: Hotel TerraViña (Camino a los Boldos, $166,000 CLP/$210 USD double) has a charming location overlooking rows of vines from cast-iron balconies and a swimming pool. The added boon is they’re a short walk through the vines to the Laura Hartwig winery, which can be reached by a short vine-lined path.
Where to stay on a budget in Santa Cruz: Small budgets will enjoy staying overnight in Casa Suiza (Los Libertadores 199, $40,000 CLP/$51 USD double, $19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm). There are plenty of places for unwinding, including a grassy garden, plus kitchen access, and owners who run cycling tours to tiny boutique wineries.
Day Ten: Santiago
Spend a final day in Santiago. Dedicate at least three hours to exploring the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), an excellent museum dealing with a grizzly topic: the Pinochet dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990.
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If you want to learn first-hand about the Chilean love of the sanguche , head to La Fuente Alemana for a traditional churrasco (beef or pork sandwich) – just ask them to go easy on the mayo. Alternatively, sample some other key Chilean dishes in Santiago with the help of this guide to Chilean food .
Head over to nearby Barrio Lastarria ( barrio means neighborhood) and take the short hike up to Cerro Santa Lucia for views across the city and the omnipresent Andes Mountains beyond.
For even more impressive cityscape views, take the funicular up to Cerro San Cristóbal in Parque Metropolitano (don’t walk; there have been reports of muggings of people hiking up the hill and those straying from the trails).
Finally, listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.
Return to the airport and fly home.
Chile itinerary for two weeks of travel : Santiago and the Lakes District
Arrive at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance, Uber, or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the center of town).
For more inspiration, read this article about tourist attractions you can’t miss in Santiago .
Where to stay: Splurge on your hotel and stay overnight at the foot of Cerro Santo Lucia in Hotel Magnolia (Huérfanos 539, $276,000 CLP ($350 USD) double) in the heart of the Barrio Lastarria and surrounded by a wealth of bars and restaurants, plus excellent transport links.
Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget (including much more affordable than Hotel Magnolina), ordered by neighborhood or learn about other things to do in Santiago .
Days Two to Five: Chiloé
Fly from the domestic terminal in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) to Aeropuerto El Tepual (PMC) (one hour 40 mins), the airport just outside of Puerto Montt .
Outside the airport, buses for the bus station in central Puerto Montt (30 mins, $2,500 CLP/$3.5 USD) are run by Andrés Tour and leave a short while after flights land.
Need more inspiration?
You’ll find even more detailed itineraries, off-the-beaten-path gems, hiking routes and accommodation, restaurant and tour recommendations to suit your travel style in my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.
In the bus terminal, there are plenty of companies selling tickets to Ancud, on Chiloé Island (2.5 hours including the boat crossing, $5,000 CLP /$7 USD).
Alternatively: Rent a car from the agencies at Aeropuerto El Tepual and drive to Chiloé Island. While public transport on the island does connect most destinations, it can be painfully slow and infrequent, so a car grants you significantly more flexibility and will allow you to get to destinations faster and therefore see more. Puerto Montt airport has some of the cheapest car rents in Chile (from $30 USD per day) and you can book using Rental Cars , who provide insurance documents and all contracts in English.
In Ancud, stop at the brilliant and free Museo de las Iglesias which explores how Chiloé’s most famous buildings – the brightly colored wooden churches, of which 16 are UNESCO World Heritage registered – were constructed.
If the season’s right (September to March), spend the afternoon at the Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñhuil where the rare Humboldt and less rare but still wonderfully cheeky Magellanic penguin have a colony.
You can take a tour from town with 13 Lunas (Los Carrera 855), who charge $15,000 CLP/$21 USD per person (and an additional $5,000 CLP/$7 USD for an English-speaking guide).
Alternatively, hop on a local bus marked for Puñihuil (40 mins, $2,000 CLP/$3 USD) from the Terminal Rural (Colo Colo 318). These leave four times daily from Monday through Friday and at 1pm and 1.30pm on Saturdays; they drop passengers and then leave for the return journey around 10 minutes later.
When you arrive at Puñihuil, you’ll need to get on the next boat with Pingüineras Chiloé ($7,500 CLP/$10.5 USD), a cooperative of fishermen who take tourists out on their boats to see the penguins (note that you are not allowed off the boat).
Where to stay in Ancud: A 15-minute drive or taxi journey southwest from Ancud, Paihuen Yurts (Camino a Lechagua, $60,000 CLP/$84 USD two-person yurt) have one spacious canvas yurt hidden in the forest, with its own private hot tub down a short path to the river. The setting is serene and the facilities are superb, with a complete kitchen, plus a modern bathroom with a good shower. I loved my stay here!
Where to stay on a budget in Ancud: 13 Lunas Hostel ($19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm, $28,000 CLP/$43 USD double) is a really comfortable and beautifully decorated hostel right opposite the bus station, a two-minute walk from the harbor and with big, comfortable dorms, plenty of communal space including a huge kitchen and a terrace overlooking the bay. Avoid the beds downstairs as they’re dark and most don’t have windows.
The next day, hop on a bus to Castro , the capital of Chiloé and famed for its vibrant palafitos: colorful, traditional fishermen’s houses on stilts that line the harbor overlook the bay at two places, just off Calle Ernesto Riquelme and another accessed by Calle Puerto Montt.
However, the best place to appreciate them in all their colorful glory is across the river from Calle Ernesto Riquelme at Mirador Gamboa .
Another unmissable stop in Castro is at the Feria Artesanal (Lillo s/n, just before the harbor), a craft market where you can find both local woolen crafts to buy and a cheap lunch of empanadas (stuffed with seafood or cheese and prawns) or huge plates of fish.
Nip out the back to meet the resident sea lion population, who’ll also be fighting over their lunch – scraps of fish thrown into the sea by the fishermen.
Where to stay in Castro: If you fancy finding out what it’s like inside a palafito, stay at the brown-shingled Palafito 1326 (Ernesto Riquelme 1326, $79,000 CLP/$100 USD double). Rooms are spacious, with crisp white linens and those overlooking the water have a balcony from which you can watch the ocean.
Where to stay on a budget in Castro: La Minga Hostel (dorm $16,000 CLP/$20 USD, $25,000 CLP/$40 USD double) is a proper backpacking hostel (run by the wonderful Camila, a Brazilian and former backpacker herself) that is small but perfectly-formed. Rooms are fairly tiny and there aren’t that many bathrooms to go around, but it’s got a really sociable atmosphere without being a party hostel. Camilia also has great local knowledge and can help with suggestions for local things to do.
Spend the rest of your time on Chiloé exploring the churches; my favorite was definitely Tenuan , which you could reach by bus from the terminal in Castro (one hour 10 mins, $1,600 CLP/$2 USD).
If there’s a group of you, take a wander along the shore and you can try negotiating a small boat to take you to Isla Mechuque, which also has its own church and a small museum and is supposed to be stunning.
Cucao, a one-hour bus journey (again from the local bus terminal in Castro), is one of my favorite places on the island and has the mind-blowingly beautiful Palafito Cucao ($55,000 CLP/$130 USD double).
Not only is this place hugely comfortable (it has lovely double rooms), it’s the living room area and outdoor terrace with views across Lago Cucao that make this place one of the most sensational places I’ve ever stayed in Chile.
I even saw a giant otter swimming past one day. They can also arrange horseback riding and trekking tours to nearby Parque Nacional Chiloé and its stunning, practically untouched nearby beaches.
Palafito Cucao is close to the Muelle de las Almas , a destination that has shot to fame in Chile in recent years.
While it is beautiful – it’s an art installation shaped like a pier that appears to jut out over the cliff edge and into the ocean on a desolate hillside – it’s now so overrun that much of the magic is lost.
If you do want to go, make sure you get here as early as possible in the morning, as 45-minute queues for photos with the muelle are unfortunately common.
Days Five and Six: Puerto Varas
Return by bus to the bus terminal in Puerto Montt and then take a small micro (a blue local bus) from the terminal to Puerto Varas (20 mins, $1,000 CLP/$1 USD).
This lovely lakeside town sits beneath the shadow of Volcán Osorno, but rest assured, it hasn’t erupted since 1869.
There’s not a whole lot to do in the town, although the somewhat eccentric collection of artwork and accumulated bric-a-brac in Museo de Pablo Fierro , run by enthusiastic owner and artist Pablo Fierro is definitely worth an hour of your time through.
For hikers, the best way to stretch your legs is by taking a local micro (minibus) from the corner of El Salvador and San Pedro in the center of the city (all local buses leave from here) to Petrohué on the banks of Lago Todos los Santos where there are a handful of treks.
Paso Desolación , which goes around the edge of the volcano and takes around eight hours return (23km/14.2mi), while a shorter, 11km (6.8mi) route takes a path along the edge of the lake before heading back in a loop and offering views of the volcano and the valley, with a walking time of around three hours.
Don’t miss the Museo Pioneros Petrohué ($2,000 CLP/$3 USD), which is run by Petrohué Lodge and details the various “pioneers” who ventured to this once remote part of the Chilean lakes district across history, including explorers and German settlers.
If it’s not open (which it probably won’t be), nip into the Expeditions Office next door to ask to be allowed in.
Catch the bus back from Petrohué and stop at the Saltos de Petrohué ($4,000 CLP/$6 USD) to see the raging, crystalline waters of the Río Petrohué churning over the rocks with a backdrop of the volcano. You can also raft down the class II and IV rapids of this river with Ko’Kayak , a local kayaking and rafting specialist operator.
For a more relaxed afternoon, hop on a bus to Fruitillar (from the same place in Puerto Varas) to try locally baked kuchen , a German dessert brought, and cooked, by the German descendants who started this town.
Alternatively, book a sea kayaking tour with Ko’Kayak out into the Chilean fjords for dramatic, volcano-studded landscapes.
There’s also a really good museum, the Museo Colonial Alemán , with its collection of artifacts brought over from Germany with the settlers and the history of founding the different towns around the lake.
There’s also Frutillar’s elegant, lakeside theatre, Teatro del Lago (they have performances from all across the globe and the building is renowned for its acoustics).
Where to stay in Puerto Varas: It’s definitely pricey, but the location right on the shores of Lago Llanquihue of AWA ($350 USD double) makes this a truly remarkable place to stay. Bedrooms are huge, while the restaurant serves up delicate dishes showcasing local ingredients – all with a serving of volcano views.
Where to stay on a budget in Puerto Varas: The wonderful Compass del Sur (camping $17,000 CLP/$21 USD, $24,000 CLP/$30 USD dorm, $54,000 CLP/$68 USD double), with its cozy sitting room with wood fire, breakfast room, and huge new kitchen, it’s my personal favorite when I’m in town. Their owners are very knowledgeable about activities to do in the local area and bedrooms are large, most of which now have their own private bathrooms after extensive renovations in 2017.
Days Seven to Ten: Pucón
Take a bus to Pucón (five hours, $17,500 CLP/$22 USD) from the bus terminal for Buses Jac in Puerto Varas.
Pucón is one of Chile’s best-known adventure destinations thanks to a range of highlights, including an active volcano that you can hike up, accessible national parks, and a whole host of other activities to get your pulse racing.
One of the best day trips you can take from Pucón is to nearby Parque Nacional Huerquehue , a one-hour bus ride from the town with Buses Caburgua (they have their bus station at Uruguay 540).
There are five trails in the park, the most exciting being the Sendero Los Lagos , which goes past a pair of impressive waterfalls and ends with glorious views across the lakes at the top of the mountain.
The most challenging (and with the best vistas ) is Sendero San Sebastian , where you’ll see not one, not two but NINE volcanoes and 14 lakes from the top. Uh, yes please!
You can also stay within the park, either camping (there are various places, including Camping Olga ($18,000 CLP/$23 USD for two people, minimum two-night stay) or at the basic Cabañas Tinquilco ($50,000 CLP/$63 USD per night; minimum stay four nights between December and March.
It’s also impossible to visit Pucón without hiking up Volcán Villarrica , the snow-topped volcano that dominates the landscapes surrounding the town and is easily one of the top Chile attractions for visitors.
It’s a tough climb (you start around 6-7am from Pucón and are at the crater by lunchtime), but not one that requires technical expertise; you will need to go with a guide unless you have all of your own equipment (ice axes, crampons etc.). Bear in mind, this trail is packed with other tourists, so can feel like you’re queuing up the side of the mountain, rather than hiking it.
Patagonia Experience is the most recommended of all the agencies in the town. Expect to pay upwards of $80,000/$132 USD.
And don’t miss Termas Geometricas , some really beautiful hot springs located on the southern flanks of the volcano. Unless you’ve got a car, you’ll need to take a tour ($35,000/$58 USD) – but it’s worth the cost as you get to spend an afternoon relaxing in these stunning pools.
Where to stay in Pucón: Another personal favorite, if you’re willing to splash some cash, is the Maison Nomade B&B (double $90,000/$120 USD – but email them as they can offer cheaper prices), which is a few kilometers away from Pucón but has glorious views of the volcano from their huge garden, a swimming pool, beautiful modern rooms decorated with the handicrafts that Carolina, one of the owners, makes, plus a kitchen for guests. Alain, the other owner, also runs an orientation meeting to help you decide what you plan to do during your stay (and he knows the region like the back of his hand).
Where to stay on a budget in Pucón: Having visited this place recently as part of my research for Moon Chile , I can back up the general consensus that Chili Kiwi (dorm $20,000 CLP/$25 USD, $49,000 CLP/$67 USD hobbit hole) is one of the best hostels in Latin America. I stayed in both a hobbit hole and a treehouse (the hobbit hole was a bit roomier and had its own tiny private terrace, which was a nice touch), but they’ve genuinely thought of everything here: from their private bar to their three kitchens, huge lockers for people who’ve checked out but need somewhere to store their bags and just the enthusiasm of the owners and the staff who can answer practically any question you have about travel in the region (and beyond). It’s not a party hostel, but it does attract a youngish crowd.
Days Eleven to Thirteen: Parque Nacional Conguillio
From Pucón, get an early bus to Temuco (one hour forty minutes) and catch the 10.30am Nar Bus to Parque Nacional Conguillio (leaves from the Terminal Rural de Temuco only in January and February, two and a half hours). It’ll drop you off right at the campsite and main ranger office for the park.
From here, there are a number of different day hikes to take that pass through the park’s incredible ancient scenery of thousand-year-old Araucania trees, black lava flows from looming Volcán Llaima, and gloriously blue lakes.
Travel tip: The park is actually quieter and more beautiful to visit in November and December, when the weather’s warming up, or in April, to see the forests turn shades of autumn yellows and golds. The easiest way to get here in these months (or a faster means than taking the bus in high season) is hiring a car from the rental agencies in the arrivals terminal of Aeropuerto Araucanía (ZCO) in Temuco. You can get to the airport with a taxi (around $15,000 CLP/$21 USD from the bus terminal in Temuco).
You can get hold of maps from the ranger station here. The bus returns back to Temuco at 1pm (soon after it arrives).
Out of season, your only options are to take a taxi from nearby Curacuatin or rent a car in Temuco .
There’s a small shop at the campsite, but otherwise, you’ll need to bring food with you (unless staying at La Baita , who can prepare meals for you).
Where to stay in Parque Nacional Conguillio: There are a number of campsites run by Sendas Conguillio . The best of these, if you’re traveling in a pair or alone, is Camping El Estero ($6,500 CLP/$11 USD pp), which you cannot book (but there is normally space). If you’ve got a vehicle, La Baita (double $90,000 CLP/$150 USD) is spectacular, with stylish, wooden bedrooms, cozy communal living room with wood fire, and hot tubs. Outside of the summer, the prices are cheaper (but they’re closed in June).
Fly from Temuco airport to Santiago or take the bus overnight (eight hours).
Chile itinerary for two weeks of travel : The highlights
Days Two and Three: Valparaíso and the Casablanca Valley
Either hire a car or hop on a bus from the Terminal Alameda (Av. Alameda 3750) and the Terminal San Borja (San Borja 235) in the city center to Valparaíso (two hours, $3,000 CLP/$4 USD), a historic harbor city set across 42 hills and home to a wealth of street art.
This includes La Sebastiana , the beautiful ship-inspired house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda (well, one of his three), elderly acensores (which are also UNESCO heritage monuments), and a colorful skyline of brightly-painted houses, cobbled streets, and vivid graffiti.
If visiting over the summer (be warned: it gets rammed full of Chilean holidaymakers), be sure to hop on a local micro ( bus) and head around the coast towards Viña del Mar where the best beaches are.
The easiest to access is Playa Caleta Abarca as it’s right on the main road that passes through the city, while nearby Reñaca also has a pretty beach. Alternatively, you can drive further north to the pretty beaches of surf-town Maitencillo , secluded and beautiful Cachagua , or exclusive Zapallar .
The following day, head out to the Casablanca Valley , Chile’s premier white wine-producing region. A bus to Casablanca and then a taxi can take you around some of the best wineries, including Casas del Bosque (which has a brilliant restaurant), Viña Mar (which is known for its sparkling wines, Bodegas RE (which produces unusual blends), and Emiliana (an organic, sustainable winery).
Alternatively, drive south via Isla Negra (the prettiest of poet Pablo Neruda’s houses) to reach the Valle de San Antonio , where first-rate wineries offer outstanding wines and stunningly-located accommodations.
The best are Matetic and Casa Marin , the latter of which produces delicious sauvignon gris.
Where to stay in Valparaíso/nearby: Winebox (Baquedano 763, $99,000 CLP/$125 USD double) is a truly unique hotel, built entirely from 25 recycled shipping containers. What’s more, they have an urban winery in the basement and a wine bar cum restaurant on the roof (which is open to the public). It’s actually on Cerro Mariposa, so you’ll need to take local colectivos (shared taxis) or taxis to get into the centre at night. Alternatively, stay in La Casona ($774 USD double) Matetic winery’s stylish 10-bed hotel, set within the vineyard and with a welcome swimming pool or at the more affordable Bungalow Miramar ($167 USD one-bedroom bungalow) that has sweeping views across the vineyards of equally brilliant Casa Marin.
Days Four to Seven: Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Head back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) and take a six-hour flight west across the Pacific Ocean to Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Having captivated archaeologists and tourists alike for decades, Rapa Nui – while still being part of Chile – lives and breaths the Polynesian culture of its inhabitants: the Rapanui.
After landing on the runway of Matavari International Airport (IPC) , take a transfer with your hotel into Hanga Roa, the island’s only town and the location of most lodgings.
Spend the afternoon snorkeling off Playa Pea on the lookout for Green Pacific, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles, before catching the sunset at Ahu Tahai, where various ceremonial platforms known as ahu play host to the angular stone heads (moai) for which the island is famed.
The following day, head out to Parque Nacional Rapa Nui , where the majority of the moai are located. New rules mean you’ll need a guide, who can show you around key locations across the island.
Don’t miss Rano Raraku , the volcanic crater and quarry where the moai were carved, or nearby Ahu Tongariki . With 15 moai statues, it’s the largest of the platforms and ideal for sunrise.
Read our guide to visiting Rapa Nui for more detailed information about getting to the island, as well as recommendations for what to do and where to stay , and the best time to visit Easter Island .
Where to stay in Rapa Nui: The stunning sea views from certain suites and bungalows make Hotel Boutique La Perouse ($210 USD suite; $288 bungalow) an excellent choice for accommodation on Easter Island. Situated right at the heart of Hanga Roa, but with a tranquil setting, this is a great place to relax after a day of touring the island, while a delicious breakfast will ensure you’ve got the fuel you need.
Where to stay on a budget in Rapa Nui: If price is your number one factor when it comes to finding accommodation on Easter Island then look no further than Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana ($57 USD double room with shared bathroom, $14 USD camping). Offering private rooms (some with shared bathrooms), it’s hard to quibble over the price here, which grants you clean and spacious bedrooms – some with mini-fridges – and a sociable atmosphere among the other guests staying here.
Days Eight to Nine: Punta Arenas
Fly back to Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) and then hop on a flight to Punta Arenas, a three-hour flight south.
The gateway to Patagonia, Punta Arenas is where the first colonizers landed in southern Chilean Patagonia and is home to some of the best wildlife-watching opportunities.
You’ll have time for at least one tour. Head out to Isla Magdalena for a half-day visit to the 120,000-strong Magallenic penguin colony that resides on this island.
Alternatively, take a tour with Solo Expediciones to Parque Marino Francisco Coloane (Francisco Coloane Marine Park) to catch a glimpse of the many species of whales that come here to breed, including humpbacks and sei whales.
At the end of your second day, hop on a public bus to Puerto Natales (three hours).
Where to stay in Punta Arenas: Easily the smartest choice in Punta Arenas is the luxurious La Yegua Loca ($160 USD double), where antique wooden furniture rubs shoulders with superb views of the Strait of Magellan. Don’t miss the restaurant on the ground floor, which specialises in local specialties such as king crab.
Where to stay on a budget in Punta Arenas: Budget digs don’t get much better than the family-run Hostal Aventura Austral ($57 USD double), which has small but comfortable rooms and brilliant hosts.
Days Ten to Fourteen: Torres del Paine National Park
Unless you’re planning on hiking the W or the O Circuit , the best way to explore Torres del Paine National Park is with a rental car .
From Puerto Natales, head north along Ruta 9 and then northwest along the Y-290 to enter Torres del Paine National Park from its southern entrance, where you’ll get the best views of the Los Cuernos mountains that dominate the park.
Over the next few days, you’ve got time to hike the park’s ubiquitous route up to Mirador Las Torres where you’ll stand beneath the three sky-spearing shards of granite after which the park is named.
Day hikes and shorter routes to viewpoints abound in the national park, with the steep climb up to Mirador Ferrier for 180-degree views across the park and the short meander along Sendero Mirador Cuernos for dazzling views of Los Cuernos among the best.
Read our guide to day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park for detailed route information.
There’s plenty more to do in Torres del Paine, including tracking pumas , with the park believed to be home to the highest concentration of these big cats in the world.
The best way is on a two-day tour with Chile Nativo (use the referral code “Worldly Adventurer” for a 5% discount), which takes you along some of the paths most frequented by the cats and has a close to 100% success rate for seeing them.
Return to Puerto Natales and then fly back to Santiago.
Where to stay in Torres del Paine National Park: With its cluster of 20 deluxe yurts, Patagonia Camp ($2,160 USD double all-inclusive for two nights) sits pretty on the southern shore of Lago Toro as a top luxury accommodation option just 15 kilometres from the park entrance. There’s no TV or internet connection in the rooms, but who needs WIFI when you’ve got a private terrace with panoramic views, and even a jacuzzi in the suites?
Where to stay in Torres del Paine National Park on a budget: Restaurant costs within Torres del Paine have skyrocketed with the park’s popularity. Stock up on food in Puerto Natales and head to Cabañas Lago Tyndall ($110,000 CLP ($160 USD) four-person cabin), which is situated on a bend in the Río Serrano and a short drive from the southern entrance to the park.
Our complete guide to what to do in Torres del Paine National Park is packed with plenty more information about how to visit this incredible place, while our detailed Patagonia itineraries contain recommendations for exploring Southern Patagonia, plus how to combine a trip to Torres del Paine National Park with Argentine Patagonia, including the Perito Moreno glacier and hiking capital, El Chaltén.
How to amend this two-week itinerary
Rather than heading to Rapa Nui, you could spend three days in the Atacama Desert. San Pedro de Atacama is the region’s main hub and jumping-off point for Mars-like scenery and wildlife-packed protected areas, such as the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos.
We’ve got a full guide to what to do in San Pedro de Atacama , while, if you want to avoid the hassle of organizing your trip, EcoChile Travel can help you plan a four-day trip to the region , including visits to local indigenous communities to learn more about the unique culture of the region. Mention Worldly Adventurer for a 5% discount off the tour.
FAQs about visiting Chile
How many days do you need in chile.
Chile is a vast country, extending 4,270 km (2,653 mi) from tip to toe and packed with superlative natural landscapes, world-renowned wineries, and remarkable cultural destinations. As a result, the minimum amount of time you want to spend in Chile to truly get a feel for the country is ten days.
How can you spend seven days in Chile?
Seven days isn’t much time to see this huge country. However, with just seven days, you could spend one in Santiago enjoying the city’s fine restaurants and exploring its museums and street art , before heading out to the Casablanca wine valley to sample the country’s tastiest white wines or to the historic coastal city of Valparaíso .
From there, you can fly three hours south to Punta Arenas, the southernmost settlement in continental South America, where you can see penguins and whales.
Afterward, continue to Puerto Natales (three hours north by vehicle), the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park . Spend three days in this beautiful protected area kayaking to glaciers, hiking to lofty mountain peaks, and even catching sight of pumas. Then, fly back to Santiago and then home.
Which is the best month to visit Chile?
January and February mark the hot summer months in Chile, but also the busiest times for tourism. If you want to explore the sights of Patagonia and other popular places around the country without the crowds, the months of November and March are the best times to visit Chile . Expect slightly cooler temperatures but quieter attractions!
Tuesday 23rd of July 2019
Great article. I love this piece of writing. Thanks
Thursday 13th of June 2019
Thank you for your detail guide and the itineraries of 10 and 14 days. My husband and I are planning to go to Chile 10/11 days on late October or early November. I had planned to go to Ecuador but considering the high altitude that we probably couldn't stand.
There are so many blogs on Pinterest just telling me how great the attractions there but very few itineraries provided. So happy that I found yours
Here I have a few questions for the 10 days itinerary: 1) Any tours around the hostels to the attractions @ San Pedro de Atacama (my husband hates driving on vacation and I don't have a license)? 2) any other suggestions for the day 8 to 9 if not going to the vineyard? Thank you in advance!
Friday 21st of June 2019
Hi Sarah, yes you can find tour companies for destinations around San Pedro de Atacama on the main drag in the town - there are loads of them! Try and negotiate several tours with one company as this will help you get a discount. Whipala Expedition and 123 Andes Chile Conectado (both have websites) are recommended companies. There are plenty of other destinations to visit in San Pedro. Check out this article for more ideas! Enjoy your trip :)
Chile Travel Blogs
Welcome to the home of all my chile travel blogs.
From visiting the Atacama Desert and exploring El Valle De La Luna, to the cosmopolitan city of Santiago, the incredible vineyards of the Colchagua Valley and the vibrant colours of Valparaiso, find out the best places to travel to in my Chile travel blogs.
The Best Luxury Hotels In Santiago, Chile
From skybars and rooftop pools, to Michelin starred dining and incredible spas, find out the best luxury hotels in Santiago, Chile.
Santiago is a sophisticated city with plenty of great accommodation options – no matter what your budget. But, if you’re looking for something special, then you’ve come to the right city! There are several luxury hotels in Santiago, with incredible views, impressive amenities and service you’ll never forget.
REVIEW: Su Merced Hotel, Santiago, Chile
Budget friendly and centrally located, Su Merced Hotel is a great option for a stay in Santiago, Chile.
It was an emotional day. I was coming to the end of my adventures in Chile. Just one night remained… and here I was checking into Su Merced – a boutique hotel in the centre of Santiago. I stumbled across the hotel during an intense hotel research session. It had great reviews. Sitting just outside the top 10 of ALL the hotels in Santiago on Trip Advisor , it seemed to have won people over. Guests were returning time and time again and I just had to find out why.
Located in Lastarria, moments from The Singular (a wonderful hotel I stayed in just a week or so before), the area is perfect for a few days exploring the city. In amongst the grand historic buildings, cool cafes, and lush parks, it’s a great spot, and architecturally – the hotel had been an exciting project.
REVIEW: The Singular Hotel, Santiago, Chile
Stylish décor, a rooftop swimming pool and one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a while. Welcome to 5 star luxury courtesy of The Singular Hotel , Santiago.
Arriving at The Singular Hotel is a bit like going to visit one of your oldest friends. They welcome you with open arms, ask how your journey was, and leave you to relax on a comfy sofa while they fetch you drinks and treats. It sounds strange to say it, but I felt like I’d been here before.
Top 5 Places To Go Wine Tasting in Chile’s Colchagua Valley
The Colchagua Valley in Chile is lush, green, and all about wine! Find out the best Colchagua wine tours to make the most of your trip to the region.
Best places to go wine tasting in the colchagua valley: lapostolle.
Architecture and wine – a marriage made in heaven at Lapostolle in the Colchagua Valley.
After our adventurous journey to Viña Montes (which, if you haven’t read about it already, involved walking along the hard shoulder and hitchhiking!) we decided our trip to Lapostolle should be a more civilised affair.
We picked out our best outfits and hopped on board a private minibus from Santa Cruz’s central plaza, to Apalta – a land of lush vineyards. After meeting Lapostolle’s charming PR Manager Diego, we were taken on a private tour of the gardens, vineyards, stunning boutique hotel and of course, the winery itself. I’d heard this was one of the best places to go wine tasting in the Colchagua Valley… I hoped it was true!
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Chile Travel Blogs
These are all of my chile travel blogs at an adventurous world.
Chile is a photographer’s paradise, it really is. With the Atacama Desert in the north you’ve got some landscapes that are truly out of this world. Then there’s the Alps of Chile in Pucon and Puerto Varas, and that’s even before mentioning Patagonia, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I spent a month travelling around Chile in 2016 and I hardly put my camera away; it’s definitely one of my favourite countries to photograph. A couple of my highlights were visiting Valle de la Luna , the Valley of the Moon, and seeing the lagoons of the Atacama Highlands . I told you these landscapes were something else!
If you’re looking for some Chile travel advice and information then make sure you read all of my Chile travel blogs!
The Best Wineries in Chile You Need to Visit
Looking for the best wineries in Chile? From the world renowned Concha y Toro to magical Montes, these are the vineyards you need to visit!
The Definitive Guide for the Torres del Paine W Trek
Are you looking at doing the epic Torres del Paine W Trek? From whether to go on a tour to which route to take, this is my guide to the W Trek in Patagonia!
The Most Beautiful Hiking Hotels in the World
Do you love hiking? Then get ready to be blown away – these are the most beautiful hiking hotels in the world to spark your wanderlust! Happy hiking everyone!
Wine Tasting in the Colchagua Valley, Chile
The number one activity in the Colchagua Valley is wine tasting, and you can’t visit this part of the world without trying a few glasses (or bottles!) of wine.
Hiking to the Top of Volcan Villarrica, Chile
Are you thinking of hiking Volcan Villarrica in Pucon, Chile? Then check out my guide packed full of info all about the Villarrica volcano hike!
Learning All About the Mapuche Culture in Chile
Learning all about the Mapuche culture is a must while you’re in Pucon, and you certainly couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting to do it in.
White Water Rafting in Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas has become bit of a paradise for water lovers, and with fast-flowing rivers it offers some of the best white-water rafting in the world.
Atacama Desert Tours: Exploring the Lagoons of the Atacama Desert
There are few places around the world that truly take your breath away, but the Altiplanic Lagoons is one of those places that’ll leave you breathless.
A Tour of Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, Chile
This is what it’s like going on a Valle de la Luna tour in the Atacama Desert. Just get ready for the most beautiful landscapes in Chile!
Taking a Magical Tour of the El Tatio Geysers
If you’re heading to northern Chile then you’ve simply got to take a tour of the El Tatio geyers, a place that will take your breath away. I really love this place!
Best Time to Visit
Weather & Climate
Airports in Chile
Best Santiago Hotels
One-Week Itinerary for Chile
Best Places to Visit in Chile
Top National Parks
Guide to Chilean Patagonia
Guide to Valparaiso
Guide to Vina del Mar
Best Wineries in Chile
Things to Do in Chile
Things to Do in Santiago
Your Trip to Chile: The Complete Guide
South America’s skinniest country spans a volcano-fringed desert, fertile wine valleys, pristine fjords, and glacier stippled mountain ranges making it the ultimate destination for adventure travelers. This guide to Chile is a one-stop-shop for planning, covering everything from must-see places, tantalizing local cuisine, and money-saving tips to help you squeeze the most out of your trip.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: Most trips are timed to make the most of fine weather in Patagonia in the south, with the austral spring, summer, and early autumn (October through April) good months for clear, warm days.
- Language: Chileans speak Spanish but thanks to their penchant for slang and dropping constants at the end of words, bringing a phrasebook is recommended even for advanced Spanish speakers. Most tourist-fronting businesses have good English, as do younger Chileans residing in Santiago.
- Currency: The Chilean peso ($ CLP) is the official currency of Chile.
- Getting Around: Chile has an extensive infrastructure of increasingly low-cost flights that connect most cities across the country and, if booked in advance, are often significantly cheaper than buses. However, most inter-city flights are indirect and pass through the capital, so expect to spend plenty of time in Santiago’s domestic terminal. For local travel, affordable and comfortable bus services cater to short and overnight journeys, while Santiago’s excellent Metro/subway system is an easy and cheap means of exploring the capital. Hiring a rental car is an excellent option in Chile, particularly for exploring Patagonia.
- Travel Tip: Chile is a vast country packed with far more than you can see in a short period of time. We know it’s tempting to cram a whole month’s worth of activities into a far shorter time period, but we strongly recommend stripping your trip down to just a small number of destinations. You’ll spend far fewer hours on flights or overnight buses and come away wowed by the deep and unforgettable moments you’ve had the time and space to experience.
Things to Do
Chile’s remarkable diversity of landscapes and culture means you’re guaranteed to find plenty to fill an action-packed vacation. The north is home to the Atacama Desert, with its world-class stargazing and otherworldly landscapes; Santiago brims with fine museums, trendy new restaurants, and a burgeoning street art scene; the Central Valley is a place of rolling vineyards and classy boutique hotels; while the Lakes region is volcano country, where the intrepid can summit a fiery giant. In the far south, Patagonia is a place of pristine national parks and outdoor adventure, while west across the Pacific brings you to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a UNESCO World Heritage site dotted with statues of long-lost ancestors.
On a first trip to Chile, don’t miss the following:
- Spend a day exploring coastal Valparaíso ’s tumbling, street art daubed hills, dining on freshly-caught fish in its trendy eateries, and learning about the life and loves of the much-adored Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda.
- Strap on your hiking boots and discover Patagonia’s most striking wildernesses in Torres del Paine National Park . Clamber up to glassy lagoons or paddle a kayak across icy waters filled with bobbing icebergs to admire vast glaciers. Head out by boat to visit chattering Magellanic penguin colonies or learn how to be a cowboy at a sheep ranch before dining on local specialties of spit-roasted lamb and king crab.
- To appreciate a completely different side to Chile, take the six-hour flight across the Pacific to Rapa Nui—a Polynesian island home to almost 900 moai (stone statues) —to tour these sacred sites, dive into warm, crystalline waters, and sample tuna ceviche.
Get more inspiration with our guide to the top destinations to visit in Chile , the best things to do in Chile , and the best things to do in Santiago .
What to Eat and Drink
Chile might not be known for its dining scene, but prepare to be surprised. This is a country with a tradition of asado (barbecue) and expertly-cooked seafood, while growing indigenous culinary influences promise truly inventive flavors.
Santiago is a hub of increasingly fine dining, with a handful of restaurants that showcase unusual Chilean ingredients now on the world’s best restaurant lists. But it’s not all fancy: traditional markets and no-frills food trucks in the capital are great places for classic Chilean meat and fish stews and savory empanadas. In the south, Chiloé Island is proud of its traditional seafood dishes including curanto (a seafood stew cooked underground), while Patagonia lays claim to juicy lamb roasted for hours over an open fire.
Chile is home to two main alcoholic drinks: wine and pisco. A large proportion of the Central Valley is stippled with vineyards, with Colchagua and Casablanca the most sought after, for their red carménère and white sauvignon blancs respectively, and both offering tours, tastings, and even top dollar dining. Further north in the Elqui Valley, moscatel grapes are fermented to become the grape brandy, pisco, which is best sampled in the zingy cocktail, pisco sour, which any self-respecting bar across the country can whip up.
Learn more about what to eat with our list of must-try Chilean foods .
Where to Stay
Chilean accommodations run the whole gamut of basic campsites to exclusive five-star hotels, with plenty of family-run B&Bs, boutique hotels, and rental cabins in between.
Santiago is home to a wealth of affordable B&Bs and small hotels located right in the heart of the tourist districts of Lastarria, Bellavista, and Italia, granting quick access to the metro, as well as excellent restaurants, bars, and shops on your doorsteps. In more rural parts and in national parks across the country you'll find increasingly stylish chalet-style cabins. They are a hallmark of Chile and a great option for self-catering, with many built to include hot tubs. In Chiloé, you’ll want to stay in an oceanside palafito (a traditional fisherman’s dwelling on stilts) for the best sea views.
In the south, long-distance treks through isolated national parks mean lodgings in campsites or hostel-style accommodation, although many parks are now home to at least one five-star hotel, generally tucked deep into the wilderness and offering outstanding, lavish accommodation. In more remote parts of Patagonia, sheep and cattle ranches, many of which are still operational, also provide comfortable, sometimes rustic lodgings—all with the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Patagonian barbecue feast.
Santiago’s one international airport, Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez, is the hub for all flights into the country with a record-setting 24.6 million people passing through the airport in 2019. Most U.S. airports have connections with Santiago, with many offering direct flights in the summer months. These include American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines.
If flying from within South America, budget companies including Sky Airlines and Jet Smart, as well as regional mainstay LATAM, provide the most frequent connections from hubs such as Lima in Peru and Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Rickety buses also provide an overland connection to Chile from Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, although adventure cruise ships from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas in Patagonia in the south are a far more daring means of crossing the border.
For domestic travel, aim for budget carriers Jet Smart and Sky Airlines where possible and plan to book at least a few months in advance for the cheapest fares. If you do, you’ll often find that three-hour flights between cities are the same price, if not cheaper, than 12-hour bus journeys.
Culture and Customs
- Chileans greet family, friends, and visitors alike with a kiss on the right cheek (for women greeting women and men greeting women) or a brief one-arm hug (for men greeting men).
- Much the same as other South American countries, punctuality is not a national strength, and Chileans are known for arriving to social occasions late—although most tour operators and all transport companies pride themselves on their punctuality, so be sure to arrive on time for paid excursions or risk being left behind.
- In restaurants, a 10 percent tip is added to your bill though you’re under no obligation to pay it if the service doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Uber and other ridesharing apps are illegal but widely used in Chile with 85,000 Uber drivers across the country in 2019. Despite the technical illegality, rideshares are a convenient means of getting around and avoiding being scammed by yellow taxi cabs (an unfortunately common occurrence in the capital). Avoid using an Uber from Santiago’s airport to the city, however; police regularly impound Ubers operating here, so you’re better off arranging an official airport shuttle instead.
- In popular destinations such as Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Patagonia, prices rise considerably in January and February, so avoid these months for a chance to secure cheaper deals on airfare, hotels, and tours.
- Santiago’s excellent Metro is the fastest and cheapest means of exploring the capital - just keep a close eye on your belongings as pickpockets do operate here.
- Book domestic flights at least a few months in advance to secure the best deals. This is particularly the case for Rapa Nui (Easter Island), where prices can triple closer to the departure date.
- If traveling to Patagonia, take plenty of US dollars with you. Paying in this currency at hotels and tour agencies can save you up to 10 percent off the advertised price.
- Bringing US dollars to switch at exchange houses will also save plenty of cash as ATMs can charge up to US$10 per withdrawal, and these can often be capped at a maximum of US$150 each.
- Request small bills where possible when receiving change. Most national parks accept cash only and may refuse to change large, 20,000 peso notes. If hiring a car, you’ll also want small bills for toll booths on the highways.
Chile Travel. " Currency. "
History.com. " Easter Island ." February 28, 2020.
Arturo Merino Benítez Airport. " Santiago Airport Projects Passenger Traffic to Drop From 24.6 Million to 9 Million by 2020. " September 8, 2020.
Reuters. "Chilean Bank Ordered to Open Uber's Accounts to Taxman." October 15, 2019.
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Chile Travel Guide
Looking for an in-depth Chile travel guide ?
Then you’re in the right place!
Once you start to read about Chile, you’ll quickly realize why it’s one of the top destinations for travelers in South America.
From its incredible natural wonders to its vibrant culture to its delicious cuisine, Chile has so much to offer travelers of all kinds. Whether you’re strolling through cities like Santiago and Valparaiso or trekking the Andes Mountains and glaciers of Patagonia, you are sure to have an amazing time in Chile.
If you’re planning a trip to Latin America, this country on the Pacific coast should be high on your list of places to visit.
Chile’s natural wonders are considered its main attractions, drawing in tourists from around the world ready to see these incredible sights.
The country is home to 41 national parks, making up 20% of the country’s territory and ranging from snow-peaked mountains to remote seaside landscapes.
One of the country’s top parks is Torres del Paine National Park, located in Patagonia. Known for its jagged, snowy mountains, turquoise waters, and incredible glaciers, you’ll find some truly one-of-a-kind sights here.
Up north in the Atacama Desert , you’ll find Los Flamencos National Reserve with spectacular desert views, cool lagoons and, of course, herds of colorful flamingos.
Further south, you can hang out in the Chilean Lake District, a beautiful mountainous region often likened to those found in Switzerland and Germany. Here you’ll find Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, Chile’s oldest park, featuring gorgeous waterfalls, volcano views, and a temperate rainforest.
Chile’s amazing scenery and well-maintained roads make it the perfect country for road tripping. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, rent a car and drive the Carretera Austral, the country’s most famous highway.
This scenic route through Patagonia stretches over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and features lush mountain views and impossibly fresh air. There are tons of great places to stop along the way, including the Puyuhuapi Hot Springs, Queulat National Park, and more.
Sticking to public transport? Consider taking a bus through the Andes Mountains into Argentina. You’ll enjoy amazing scenic views throughout the trip and tickets cost as little as $20 per person one way, making it a great way to see the country on a budget.
Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Chile in South America.
Note: This ultimate guide to Chile travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Use this Chile travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!
Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.
Plan the ultimate trip to Chile with the help of these guides!
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Traveling In South America
These guides share Chile travel advice as well as tips for exploring South America in general!
14 Essential Tips For Backpacking South America
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Best Chile Tours
Explore local culture with a Chilean tour guide through these unique excursions:
- Valparaíso Region Tour – Viña del Mar from Santiago
- Half Day Sailing Magdlena Island Penguin Colony Punta Arenas October to March from Magallanes
- 5-Day Torres del Paine W Trek from Puerto Natales
- Private Easter Island Full-Day Tour
- Cajón del Maipo and Embalse el Yeso from Santiago
- Full-Day Wine Tour from Santiago with Sommelier Guide
- Inca Lagoon in Portillo Andes Mountains – Arqueologic Park & Wine Tasting from Santiago
- Kayaking in Huerquehue National Park (sunrise / sunset) from Pucon
- Astronomical Tour with Guide and Pick Up to San Pedro de Atacama
Click here to browse the best Chile travel hotels!
Prefer self-contained stays?
Click here to check out unique local rentals !
You can also use this map to search for local stays:
Renting A Car In Chile
Need a rental car for your Chile trip?
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Chile Travel Insurance
It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Chile tour. When visiting Chile — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.
In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Chile travel itinerary.
Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks .
Chile Travel Guide FAQ
Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Chile .
Q: What are the best places to visit in Chile?
One of the top places to visit in Chile is the country’s capital city of Santiago . This vibrant city in the Andes mountains has tons to offer travelers of all kinds, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, unique cultural experiences or some culinary exploration.
Santiago’s location in between the mountains and the Pacific coast make it the perfect home base for those looking to do some skiing in Valle Nevado, hiking in Cajon del Maipo, or sunbathing at the beaches Concon; each destination is a short drive or bus ride away from the city!
Art lovers will want to check out the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, featuring a vast collection of Indigenous art from across Latin America, and the colorful neighborhood of Bellavista, once home to renowned poet Pablo Naruda.
You’ll also find tons of great wineries in the area serving up the bold red varietals for which the country is well-known.
Chilean Patagonia ‘s gorgeous landscapes also attract tons of travelers every year. This area in southern Chile offers tons of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, from hiking glacier-topped mountains to seeing penguins in their natural habitat.
Torres del Paine National Park and Tierra Del Fuego National Park are two of the area’s top attractions and for good reason.
At Torres de Paine , you’ll find breathtaking mountain views while hiking the “W Circuit,” a six-day trek that will test your mettle while taking you to some of the park’s most iconic sights. It’s known as one of the best hiking trails in the world !
And at Tierra Del Fuego National Park, you can hop on the “End of the World Train,” a former prison transport line that offers incredible views, no hiking experience needed.
In northeastern Chile, you’ll find San Pedro de Atacama , an arid desert town with much to explore.
In Mars Valley, or Death Valley, you’ll find incredible desert views and rocky hills that make for one-of-a-kind sunsets. The area is home to tons of hiking trails, but one of the coolest things to try is sandboarding.
The desert’s dry climate gives the sand a powdery feel, so you can fly down the hills just like you do on the ski slopes.
Looking for some R&R? The Atacama Desert is also home to some amazing thermal hot springs where you can rest your bones after your long travels.
The small town of San Pedro de Atacama is also worth checking out itself, with cool mud-brick buildings and lots of shops and cafes to explore.
Q: Is Chile expensive for tourists?
Chile is considered one of the most expensive destinations in South America for tourists. As Chile is one of the most developed countries in South America, things are generally more expensive and prices are comparable to those you’d find in European destinations.
That said, there are many deals to be found in Chile and it’s very possible to travel through the country on a budget.
The average traveler spends about $102 USD per day in Chile on food, transportation, accommodations, activities, and other travel expenses.
Q: What is the best way to travel around Chile?
The bus is generally considered the best way to get around Chile. The country’s long-distance bus routes are known for being comfortable, punctual, and affordable.
Chile’s bus companies also travel to an extensive list of destinations, so you’ll probably be able to get where you need to go — even if it’s a bit off the beaten path.
If you’re traveling overnight, spring for a salon cama or premium bus service with seats that fully recline or fold flat. Breakfast is usually included on these routes and you’ll arrive feeling refreshed after traveling in comfort.
If you’re heading to more remote locations or just want the freedom of traveling on your own schedule, renting a car in Chile may be the way to go.
Chileans are safe drivers and your main safety concerns on the road are stray animals and pedestrians who tend to use the road as a sidewalk.
Do note that Santiago does have vehicular restrictions based on smog levels in an effort to combat air pollution. If you’re visiting the city, you may want to stick to using public transportation to get around.
Q: Is Chile safe for travel?
Chile is one of the safer destinations in South America. Violent and petty crime levels are generally low, although pickpocketing, bag snatching and mugging, do happen in more urban areas.
Remember to stay aware of your surroundings at all times and keep any valuables close to you and out of sight to avoid pickpockets . It’s also best not to flaunt any obvious signs of wealth, particularly if you’re visiting more tourist-heavy areas.
The risk of natural disasters in Chile is a bit higher than in other destinations thanks to its active earthquake zone and volcanoes. Keep an eye on the news for any natural disaster warnings and evacuation notices and brush up on your earthquake safety protocols before your trip so that you’re extra prepared for anything.
Q: What do I need to know before going to Chile?
If you speak Spanish, you might notice that Chile’s version of the language is a bit different than what you’re used to. Every Spanish-speaking country has its own dialect and vocabulary, so some of the phrases and pronunciations you’ll hear may be new to you.
If you’re regularly conversing with locals, you’ll likely adjust to the dialect quickly and may even pick up a few new words.
For non-Spanish speakers, it’s definitely helpful to learn a few phrases in the language before your trip. Only around 10% of Chile’s population can converse in English, so you’ll probably need to know at least a little Spanish to communicate with locals. Plus, learning and using the local language shows respect for a destination’s culture.
As is the case in many Latin American destinations, meals start late in Chile. Most restaurants don’t open for lunch until 1 PM and you may find yourself sitting down for dinner long after sundown. Adjust your schedule accordingly; early risers may want to sleep in a bit to compensate for the late nights.
Looking to travel between Chile and Argentina? You’ll find that the Andes Mountains make this a bit difficult in certain spots. You’ll have to take a boat to travel into Argentina from certain spots in Patagonia like Villa O’Higgins and public transport options between the two countries are nonexistent here.
At the mountain crossings in the north, you’ll find that most buses and cars stick to those on the main highways. Paso de San Francisco is probably the most scenic route, but can take some time to travel. If you’re short on time, consider flying from one country to the other.
Q: How many days should you spend in Chile?
Most experts suggest spending 7 to 10 days in Chile to get a good idea of the country. This length of time will give you enough time to visit some of the country’s top natural wonders, cities, and wineries with ample travel time to get to each destination.
Q: What is the best month to visit Chile?
While the weather in Chile can vary greatly from place to place, October through March (Chile’s summertime) is generally considered the best time to visit. During this time, you’ll find warm and pleasant weather throughout much of the country.
This is also Chile’s peak season for tourism, so you may want to visit in those shoulder months (September through October and March through April) to avoid crowds at major attractions.
If you’re visiting in the peak of summer (December through February), you’ll definitely want to book your accommodations well in advance, as things book up quickly during this time.
Q: Do I need a Chile travel visa?
Visitors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union do not need a visa to visit Chile.
Visitors from South American states including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay simply need to show their national ID upon arrival in Chile and do not need a passport to enter the country.
Visitors from Australia do need a visa to enter Chile and can apply for an e-visa online.
It’s recommended to view your country’s Chile International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit rules and Chile Travel Requirements. You can also contact the Consulate General of Chile.
Q: Where is Chile?
Chile sits along the western seaboard of South America. It shares borders with Peru and Bolivia (north), Argentina (east), and the Pacific Ocean (west).
Q: Are credit cards accepted in Chile?
Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around Chile, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency. Note that you’ll often likely spend less when paying cash as many Chilean businesses pass credit card fees onto the customer.
Q: Can you drink the tap water in Chile?
The tap water is safe to drink in most places in Chile outside of San Pedro de Atacama. That being said, it’s always a good idea to double check with your hotel to be safe. Moreover, Chile’s tap water has a high mineral content, so drinking it for long periods of time is not advised.
Q: What is the local currency in Chile?
The local currency in Chile is the Chilean peso.
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Updated: January 12, 2021
Welcome to Chile! This land of volcanoes and glaciers, geysers and deserts, has pushed itself to the forefront of travel lists everywhere, and for good reason. Where else can you see sights as spectacular as we have in Torres del Paine , Aysén , or San Pedro de Atacama ? Even its capital city, Santiago , is boosting its way through magazines as a culinary hot spot, with restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.
As solo travelers, though, our needs are somewhat different, because we know that we face potentially higher accommodation costs and greater security concerns. But fear not, intrepid reader! Chile is a remarkably easy and safe country to traverse on your own, as you will see below in this guide to Chile, made just for you: the solo traveler .
Chile is generally a safe country, particularly when compared to other countries in the Americas. However, in saying this, you should keep your wits about you anywhere in the country, just as you would elsewhere in the world.
Be careful at night and always watch your belongings as petty theft and pick pocketing are not unheard of. A further known method is for someone to spill something on you and for a second person to come over and "help you," but instead grab your bag while you're distracted. Also make sure you lock your car doors and never have valuables displayed inside the car (including when you are inside).
In October 2019, there was a series of protests in Santiago and other cities around Chile, as well as some incidents of vandalism and violence. The event eventually led to the decision to rewrite Chile's constitution, a decision that we hope will bring more opportunities and equality to all. Occasionally there are still demonstrations today in a few of areas in the cities, as well as escalated incidents, so it's best to avoid these places while traveling. Stay plugged into the local news or ask one of our Cascada Travel Designers to learn more.
During times of COVID-19, we also recommend revising all of the country's updated travel rules and restrictions prior to your trip. You should make sure to bring a mask and always listen to the local health guidance. To learn more about safety in Chile during COVID-19, check out this blog post .
Speaking the Language
T he official language is Castellano Spanish , so that means that you will notice a few differences if you are used to the Spanish of Spain. Like every country in the world, Chile has developed its own linguistic traits and characteristics, and first-time visitors will probably experience a steep learning curve. Chileans speak rapidly and do not enunciate, tending to swallow whole sounds and using sayings that are unique to them. For example, the word complicado will be pronounced "complicow" and cómo estás will be said as "cómo estay." Few people outside of the tourist hot spots speak English, especially in rural areas, and many things (such as signs, menus and even museum displays) are not translated. We recommend that you learn the basics before you leave and attempt to communicate with the locals in their own language.
The languages of the indigenous peoples are not official languages of Chile, though you may come across Mapundungun (language of the collective Mapuche) around the Lakes District or on products; this language is being revived but the first language of most people in Chile is Spanish.
Deaf travelers will be pleased to note that Chilean Sign Language is used by roughly 21,000 people and is a recognized language, with the news and governmental programs subtitled or interpreted on screen. It is linguistically similar to French and German Sign Language.
Food and Restaurants
Traditional foods typically consist of various soups, stews and lentil dishes. Meat, particularly asado (Chilean barbecue) is also very popular all year. For extra flavor, you need to add a dollop of pebre (similar to pico de gallo) and if you are not a fan of table salt you should ask that your salad comes "sin aliño." Notable foods include the sopaipilla (fried pastry snack), empanada (fried or oven baked filled pastry), cazuela (meat stew), pastel de choclo (corn pie), curanto (seafood and meat dish from Chiloe) and sweet treats such as mil hojas (fine pastry layers with dulce de leche sauce), torta de tres leche (cake made with sweetened milk) and alfajores (biscuit with dulce de leche).
When it comes to restaurants, you can sometimes get away without making a reservation. Although it's helpful to make one on a Friday or Saturday night or if the place is high-end or popular. Many restaurants are open for lunch between 12 to 4 PM, then closing until dinner when it re-opens around 7 PM. A lot of places also have a weekday set lunch that is cheaper than choosing individual dishes from the main menu. Tipping of 10% is typically expected.
Santiago is also a bit of a rising star when it comes to gastronomy, with Ambrosia, Borago and 040 acclaimed worldwide. For our personal recommendations on where to eat in Santiago, check this post out .
Preparing for the Weather
The weather in Chile can vary greatly from North to South, so it's important to understand the conditions of the area you are visiting.
In the Atacama Desert in the northern part of the country, there are warm days and cold nights. The city of Santiago is hot, dry and bright in summer and has cool winters where you'll need a warm jacket. In the South, generally the weather becomes wetter and colder. But in Patagonia , you should also come prepared from unpredictable weather and strong winds. In general, it's helpful to bring plenty of layers to Chile!
Quick Travel Tips
Arrival - Tourists will fill out a flimsy piece of paper on arrival in Chile - do not lose this ! This tourist card you will need to exit the country and if you misplace it you should head to the nearest international police station (PDI); in Santiago this can be found at General Borgoño 1052. Citizens of the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa and EU citizens do not need a visa to enter Chile and will receive a tourist stamp upon arrival for 90 days; you may need to show proof of onward travel. Latin American travelers can enter using their National Identity Card (carnet).
Book Full-board at Refugios - When you are on your trekking adventure in Torres del Paine, it will save you a lot of hassle if you book this option when you stay at the trekker's accommodation in the park. This means that you will receive breakfast, dinner and a packed lunch to take with you on your hike.
Communication - The Internet is a part of life now, and most cafes and hotels will have a good Wi-Fi connection (unless they are promoting a digital detox like at our hotel EcoCamp ). You can also find stores selling inexpensive sim cards and chargers across Chile, especially in metro stations.
Currency - The currency is Chilean pesos. Some places in rural areas do not accept cards, so it's helpful to have extra cash on hand.
Making New Friends - Join the Discover Chile Facebook group, formed for travelers and expats who speak English in Chile. This is your go-to place to get your travel questions answered and meet new people. Additionally, there are meet-up events and Spanish/English language exchanges in Santiago.
Keep Your Friends and Family Informed - It's always a smart idea to share your itinerary with a friend or family member prior to traveling!
In Santiago, you can get around easily using the underground metro system. To use this, you'll need buy an inexpensive, multi-use "Bip!" card and top it up with money prior to using the system. This card is also used on the local buses.
From Santiago , you can travel to anywhere in Chile (and to other places South America) with the main bus terminal being around the Estación Central. It may seem overwhelming here, what with the throngs of people and general clamor, and you should certainly keep an eye on your belongings. There is a multitude of overnight bus options of varying degrees of comfort to choose from. Main bus companies include Pullman, Turbus, JAC, and Cruz del Sur, and most are double-decker. Some buses have Wi-Fi and most others play a movie or two. For more information, read this excellent blog.
Flying is the fastest way to travel anywhere, which is actually a pretty big deciding factor when you consider just how huge Chile is. LATAM is the main airline and smaller airlines include Sky or Jetsmart.
Taxis are also available everywhere in Chile (just flag one down), recognizable by their yellow roofs and orange number plate (if it isn’t orange, it isn’t legal). They use a meter, and generally, you should keep an eye on this. Uber is also used throughout the larger cities, as is Cabify and Beat , while there are local apps like EasyTaxi that calls the nearest local taxi from your phone. Please bear in mind that Uber is not legal in Chile and you will be advised to sit in the front seat because police checks can happen. You are also advised not to use Uber to or from the airport as this area is monitored very strictly.
Where to Stay
The Dominica Hostel is well-located beside all the bars and restaurants of Bellavista, meaning you don’t have a long walk home at night. Rooms are simply furnished with common areas to mingle with other travelers, plus there is free wifi and a TV in the living room.
El Hotel Meridiano Sur is a quaint hotel located in Chile's popular Providencia neighborhood. It is walking distances from restaurants, bars and entertainment in Manuel Montt.
The Aubrey is a beautiful boutique hotel set in a restored building, also in the Bellavista neighborhood, but a step up price-wise from the Dominica Hostel. It gets top marks for being bilingual (it’s owned by Australians), has a heated pool and - best of all - it has on-site entertainment in the form of the Piano Room, so you don’t have to go out at night.
Buy your locally made gifts in Barrio Italia , a quick walk from either Santa Isabel or Irarrazaval metro stations. This is a beautiful neighborhood reaching out from its main thoroughfare, Avenida Italia, that sells local designs and which also boasts delicious restaurants, cafe and vegan food joints.
Head up Cerro Santa Lucia , a central city viewpoint that has historical importance too, being the site where Pedro de Valdivia declared the city of Santiago into existence, plus it’s right beside the happening neighborhoods of Barrio Lastarria and Barrio Bellas Artes.
Take a quick look around the Plaza de Arma s (it's obligatory) including inside the grandiose, Metropolitan Cathedral , then pop into the Museo de Arte Pre Colombino , considered the best of its kind in South America.
The WineBox, is owned by a Kiwi winemaker and Chilean architect. Built entirely from recycled shipping containers, this is a passion project that has to be known to be understood, defying all explanations by bringing something completely new to the table. The great thing about WineBox is that they see a great mix of guests, and they regularly host events and gatherings.
The Nómada Eco Hostel is a little bit famous for its social barbecues, plus it has a great common area to mix and mingle. They are also holders of a sustainability certification, which is always a plus.
The hills of Valparaiso are beautiful, with views that stretch across to neighboring Viña del Mar and the ocean. Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion are the most built-up, each dotted with curling alleyways, little stores, cake shops, restaurants, and lookouts boasting epic vistas. The hills of Valpo, as it is affectionately known, are mostly residential, with most of the action taking place in El Plan, the busy downtown area in front of the port. This area has a much grittier, visceral feel to it and, while attractive and interesting, you should keep your eye on your belongings here. To get to/from El Plan, ride on the funicular train which clings to the hillsides.
Hostel Pangea is a great place to stay for those looking for somewhere budget to stay. Rooms are clean (shared or private) and the hostel provides a decent breakfast consisting of a warm sandwich, juice, cereal, tea/coffee.
For higher-end travel, Lodge Altitud is a highly recommended option that comes with swimming pool, Wi-Fi, and a good breakfast. They also offer a tour to their guests to point out places of interest and travel tips.
Overall, the Atacama is a spellbinding destination, and you should not leave without making the early start to the El Tatio Geyser and the Valle de la Luna .
NOTE: The Atacama is mining territory, with a kind of rough and tumble quality. While this area is safe, you should definitely keep aware of your surroundings.
Chilli Kiwi Hostel in Pucon proudly states that they are made by backpackers, for backpackers. Their dorms are spacious and clean, and they have some seriously cozy common areas including a garden terrace (with a tree house!) where you can also chill out in a hammock, as well as a fully stocked kitchen.
Hotel Bellavista in Puerto Varas is a good step-up from a hostel that looks out across the Llanquihue Lake and comes with an indoor pool and room service (great for those nights when you just want to take some "me time." Its excellent location close to the town and casino makes it a convenient spot for solo travelers.
Pucon is the adventure capital of Chile, and it has a vibe similar to Queenstown in New Zealand. This is a beautiful little town with some of the best food that you can find anywhere in Chile, featuring local southern ingredients such as trout and wild pig. From here you can find local outfits to take you to climb volcanoes or visit hot springs, or you can relax on the beach or go for a kayak on the spotless lake.
Puerto Varas is similar to Pucon , with an incredibly clear lake and lots of nearby adventures. You can also visit the nearby Puerto Montt , a working city (tourists head to the Angelmo restaurants), Frutillar (with the famous wooden theatre), or the island of Chiloe .
Of course, we wouldn’t be a business worth our salt if we didn’t mention EcoCamp Patagonia , the Cascada-owned and operated glamping experience down in the heart of Torres del Paine . It’s also much more than simply glamping - to get what we mean, you will just need to book!
In Punta Arenas , Hostel Keoken is a cozy guest house featuring wifi and cable tv in the rooms, a shared kitchen, and an excellent location just a short walk to the Punta Arenas boardwalk.
Take on one of the best hikes in the region, like the W or the Paine Circuit . It's a fun and active way to see the best of Torres del Paine National Park with expert guides by your side (check out our full guide on the W Trek for more information about that multiday hike!)
Grab your camera and snap some photos of the region's unique wildlife, like pumas, condors, foxes, guanacos and more!
Practice yoga! In fact, EcoCamp has an awesome Yoga Dome where free classes are offered daily.
Wander down to Tierra del Fuego , where you can take on the southernmost trek of the world , visit penguins and more.
You can also contact us so we can organize the trek you’re looking for!
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Updated October 4th, 2022
We are very happy to announce that there are currently no travel restrictions in Chile. Together with the above mentioned, it is mandatory to comply with the following requirements:
- You only have to present the vaccination certificate issued in your country when boarding to Chile. Those who do not have their vaccinations must present a negative result in a PCR test dated less than 48 hours from departure to enter Chile. Those who are under 18 years of age do not have any requirements to enter Chile
- A negative PCR upon arrival is not compulsory any more but diagnostic tests will be carried out randomly at the entry point to Chile. Confirmed cases shall be isolated according to the general health regulations.
- Medical insurance covering any expenses caused by COVID-19 is not compulsory any more
- The use of a face mask is voluntary
In case you have any questions, we will be happy to help you!
The Team at Cascada Expediciones & EcoCamp Patagonia
Chile Travel Guide 2023 [From My 6-Month Solo Chile Trip]
Covid-Related Travel Update, July 2023: Chile is open to international tourists. Visit the Chilean government’s official website for travel-related information and regulations. Don’t forget to read the government’s rules to be followed in public spaces here . My guide to Chile visa would be helpful for Indian citizens.
What does this Chile Travel Guide contain?
- Where is C hile?
- How did I decide to travel to Chile? What inspired me to visit Chile?
- What is English Open Doors program? – Volunteering in Chile.
- But why should you travel to Chile or South America? What is so special about Chile?
How is the landscape of Chile?
What are the natural disasters of chile that you should be worried about while traveling in chile.
- # 1 of the Places to Visit in Chile.
- # 2 of the Things to See in Chile
- # 3 of the Best Things to do in Chile.
- # 4 of the Best Places in Chile.
- # 5 of the Places to go in Chile.
- # 6 of the Places to See in Chile.
- # 7 on your list of Where to Go in Chile.
- # 8 on the list of What to See in Chile.
- Chile is far. What about the long flights and the insane timezone shifts?
- How to stay connected with family?
- Didn’t I feel homesick or lonely that far away from my home country and friends?
- What about the rough Latin American Spanish? What language do Chileans speak?
Why do I say that Chile people are the nicest?
Is chile expensive on a traveler’s budget what is the cost of travel in chile, how much did the tickets cost for the flight to chile, what about the tourist visa for chile.
- What is the best time to travel to Chile?
- What to pack for Chile?
- How to move around in Chile?
- How should you carry money when you travel to Chile?
- Is Chile Safe? This Backpacking Chile guide is updated for the current uproar in Chile.
How is Chilean food?
Now let’s get real – the drinking scene of chile..
While watching the traditional Balinese Ramayana performance in Ubud where men and women dressed as Ram, Sita, and Ravan danced around the fire, my close friend Anish asked me that why haven’t I published a comprehensive Chile travel blog, yet.
You would find the occasion of the question strange, but he was concerned that even though I was on a long South America travel trip (nine months), alone, and indulged in the continent’s culture intricately, I didn’t write about it enough.
I pen down my cultural experiences, the people I meet, and the places I travel to, but a lot of my travel stories are still hiding in the folders. Like we never serve our curries without garnishing them with garam masala and coriander, I have to add final touches to these stories, too, before publishing them.
This massive backpacking Chile guide is one such postponed piece. I was traveling in Chile for around six months as a part of a longer nine-month journey through South America, solo, and returned to India in 2017.
Since then I have been writing and traveling, full-time from around the world, as you all know.
Recently after traveling in Southeast Asia (again) relentlessly for two months, I am staying put for a month now and editing a good bunch of my content; most of my writing is about to come out of its closet before I move onto further adventures.
Assuming that we both do justice to this ambitious travel guide to Chile, let us continue.
Update July 2023 – Now I have written most of the South America content, so feel free to indulge here .
Where is Chile?
Chile, the world’s narrowest country, is located at the western edge of the South-American continent. Chile country leads our way up to the end of the world, for the southernmost tip of Chile, Cape Horn, is the last inhabited place that gives way to South Antarctica, a no man’s land.
The extreme south of Chile or Patagonia is mostly devoid of humans due to its cold and inhospitable climate, and the temperature stays low throughout the year. Even the Spanish conquistadors were not able to colonize this part of Chile, a country that they had conquered in entirety.
Would you be now amazed if I tell you that the northern part of this long country is the driest desert of the world, Atacama , which we all studied in our Geography classes?
Have you ever seen such geographic contrasts within a country before? (I know the Himalayas and the Thar desert, but this is a rhetorical question.)
To answer a popular Google question:
- Is Chile in South America?
Yes. Chile is a country in South America.
How did I decide to travel to Chile? Or What inspired me to visit Chile?
As Chile is a long way from India and isn’t a popular destination amongst Indian travelers, yet, many people ask me why did I go to Chile.
Until a friend of mine, who also went to Chile to teach English with the English Open Doors program (EODP) that I volunteered for later, mentioned Chile, I didn’t even know that the country exists. Or maybe I knew, but I had forgotten the petite country thriving on the extreme edge of the South-American continent for here in India we don’t hear about Chile often.
Drooling over the Chile pictures of my friend and accepting that the creative English writing programs I had applied to (a story best told another day) would reject me, I applied to EODP. As part of EODP, I had to teach English in Chile for four months in exchange for food and accommodation.
Fast forward a couple of months — I was rejected by the English writing programs and was selected by EODP. To pursue my travel dreams , I quit my investment banking job (that inspired me as much as spinach inspires a cat) and finally called home to disclose my plans to my parents. As soon as they heard about my decision of traveling to Chile to volunteer, my tiny world was struck by so much chaos that even Ved Vyas would have felt ashamed of not adding more family drama to the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Escaping the parents-induced guilt fire by a few inches, I booked a one-way ticket to Santiago, months before applying for a Chile visa .
And when I applied for the visa, the program requested the Chile consulate to approve my visa on priority so that I could join at the earliest. By the time the Chilean embassy in Delhi sanctioned my visa, I still didn’t have much Chile travel information as I had been busy traveling in Southeast Asia and seeing off my Indian friends for I didn’t know when I would see them again.
When I arrived at the Mumbai airport to board my 36-hour flight to Santiago, I had sold most of my belongings, packed the rest in bags, and released myself from a two-year failed relationship.
After a two-hour agonizing phone conversation with my mother about the men she thought I should have married, I pushed my loaded trolley towards the Emirates counter at the Mumbai airport. I remember knowing back then that I wasn’t coming back soon.
While my family lost it, I rollerbladed into a new life.
In July 2016, I landed on the remote Southern island Chiloé where I had to teach English to the government school students. While I was surprised by Chilean customs and the people, most of the islanders were perplexed with my brown complexion and kohl-eyes for they were seeing an Indian for the first time.
Though I didn’t know about Chile much, I had always found the South-American culture intriguing. When I heard the Latino prisoner group chatter away in Spanish in Orange Is the New Black, I had goosebumps. Later when I learned Spanish while living in Chile, I fell in love with the language.
Please note: I have also prepared a list of 50 best things to do in Chile . Do give the article a read for an exhaustive list of experiences Chile has to offer.
Leaving aside all the troubles that I faced in traveling to the other end of the world (of which you would hear much about in this Chile travel guide), my South America trip is one of the best journeys of my life. Even today, after having returned from the continent for over a year over two years, I reminisce over the days I spent there and cry with nostalgia whenever I hear anybody speak Spanish. I wept for about an hour when I wrote this list of common Spanish phrases for travelers visiting South America.
So to answer your question – I wasn’t searching for a big inspiration. I wanted some changes in my life, and Chile happened.
But why did I stayed on in Chile even after the program ended? My celebrity-like status in the Chilean countryside might have prolonged my Chile trip but that’s a rant (show-off?) for another day.
What is the English Open Doors program? Volunteering in Chile.
English Open Doors Program or “Ingles Abre Puertas” (EODP) is a volunteer program run by the government of Chile in coordination with the United Nations(UN). EODP has given a boom to Chile Tourism.
As part of the program, I had to teach English to the students of a government school, and, in return, the program hosted me in Chile. The program provided me accommodation with a Chilean family, food, free visa, a tiny stipend, a certificate of teaching English as a second language(ESL), and health insurance during my entire stay in Chile.
Where was this government school and who were these students? I didn’t come to know until the day I arrived in Chile.
I had filled up a form wherein I mentioned that I would prefer south Chile over north and that I was okay with villages or remote locations. As EODP mentioned during the application process, all the volunteers were assigned a location as per their preferences, mostly, and then they were sent to a school within that location, which could be remote and icy or warm and metropolitan. But this assignment happened close to the program dates.
The day I had to board my Chile flight, I received an email from the program which said that I had to teach in a school in Castro on the island of Chiloé in southern Chile.
When I Googled Castro, I saw gorgeous, rainbow-like pictures in which colorful stilt houses fringed the shores of a turquoise-blue ocean.
I beamed. It looked like my sort of place, and it was.
All of this sounds good.
But why should you plan a trip to Chile or South America? What is so special about the place?
I grin whenever someone asks me this question.
Though notorious for criminal activities and drug trafficking, South America (SA) has Windows-wallpaper-like landscapes, warm and caring people, and ancient culture. And the Latin-American countries I visited — C hile, Peru, and Bolivia — have none of the horrendous crime problems.
How do I know? I spent nine months in these three countries alone with only one disturbing incident (of mobile snatching in Santiago ) that can happen in any part of the world. Had I been more aware, I could have easily avoided that incident, too.
So let us keep aside the safety angle for a while, and I would write about traveler’s safety in Chile amongst other travel tips for Chile later.
But is it worth to travel to this remote continent that is known for rough Spanish, bold Latin-American people, long flights, unknown geography, seemingly high cost of living, and who knows what else?
For those who haven’t been to SA, these are fair questions.
Let me resolve your doubts one by one.
My friend, you are in for a treat.
An Indian artist in Pushkar told me that Chile is like a river that flows unhindered and pure from the north to the south on the western edge of South America. The gigantic Andes mountains shade the country from the eastern sun, while the rowdy Pacific runs parallel to the entire west coast of Chile.
Chile is essentially a thin strip of land sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains.
Pablo Neruda, a famous poet from Chile, said the following about the Pacific ocean, that cradles Chile all her life, day and night,
Del brazo sumergido que levanta una gota
no queda sino un beso de la sal. De los cuerpos
del hombre en tus orillas una húmeda fragancia
de flor mojada permanece. Tu energia
parece resbalar sin ser gastada
parece regresar a su reposo.
Of the sunken arm that throws up a drop of water
nothing remains but a kiss of salt. Of the bodies of mankind
along your shores a misty scent of wet flowers is all that lasts.
Your energy seems to slip away without ever being
exhausted, it seems to circle back into your calm.
Also Read: Peru – In the Golden Foliage of Poetry and Pictures.
The Chilean landscape is still largely untouched by commercialism, hotels, giant corporates, smoky factories, or urbanization. Though there are ethical issues of salmon fisheries, mining, and water privatization that the Chilean citizens are fighting the present government for, Chile is rich in natural beauty.
Llamas and vicunas grazing freely in open pastures, horses and donkeys chilling next to high azure lakes, furry dogs sprinting through rain-ridden streets, giant volcanoes backdropping mundane towns, deserts as vast as oceans, vast white salt-flats, and salt lakes, lakes as blue as clear summer sky bedazzling throughout the country, nights so starry that you would spend years counting the stars, dense forests being protected by the local people, rivers sometimes as white as ocean froth for they are flowing straight from glaciers, long beaches next to wooden cottages and tall buildings, snow-capped peaks visible from crowded cities, graffiti covering uninteresting walls, and people smiling and laughing.
Families still have farmlands, people live on picturesque islands, herd cow, and make wine at home, artists are respected, cherry trees and apples fill the courtyards, and shore-side residential hills are filled with graffiti. Are we dreaming?
I have not even mentioned the treacherous icy mountains, sinewy fjords, and the deep-blue glaciers hung atop hills of the South.
If you don’t have goosebumps by now, then either you are devoid of emotions, or maybe I am a terrible writer. Let us believe the latter is true, for a lot of travelers agree that Chile is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world.
All the natural beauty comes with its own hazards.
Situated at the triple junction of the Geologic plates , Chile suffers frequent earthquakes, which also sometimes cause tsunamis and floods because of the long coast that runs along with the entire country. Due to this frequent shaking of Chilean earth, high volcanoes have sprouted out of the land and now stands tall at almost every turn of Chile.
While walking around, I was surprised by the omnipresent tsunami, earthquake, and volcano evacuation signs. But soon I got used to them. Many earthquakes struck Chile when I was there. At such times, the house shook, the roads were blocked, the government stopped the ferries, and all my friends from Chile called me to check where I was and if I was okay.
Though we could feel that the house was shaking, Chileans were pretty cool about the mild tremors for they have seen much worse.
So do not worry much about these calamities because the people of Chile know how to deal with them. The government takes precautionary actions. Tsunamis are expected in case of strong earthquakes but such strong tremors aren’t frequent at all. All the earthquakes that I felt during my 6-month in Chile were pretty minor. Volcanoes are active but most of them aren’t close to eruption. Otherwise, how could we climb the active Volcano Villarrica?
We can never control nature. So when I travel to a country that is prone to natural disasters, I just tell myself that whatever has to happen will happen irrespective of where I am.
Please decide if you want to visit Chile as per your point of view.
We have discussed the Chilean landscape, but that wouldn’t make much sense without understanding Chilean geography.
The Geography of Chile – Along with the top things to do in Chile .
As per Chilean administration, Chile is divided into 16 regions, and each one of them has its own administrative rules, geography, climate, culture, food, and specific things to do and places to see.
But for this Chile attractions guide, I would divide the country into four main divisions that I think describe Chile’s geography best. And to make the guide an easy read, I will combine the geography with the best places to visit in Chile from each region.
The North of Chile
The Northern end of Chile is the Atacama desert that marks the boundaries of Chile from its neighbors, Peru and Bolivia. When I visited the Atacama, the surreal landscape of this part of Chile blew my mind.
Snow-capped volcanoes play hide and seek with you as you drive along the dusty roads that wind through the Atacama. This driest desert ironically hosts salt and freshwater lagoons. Pink flamingos settle around these dazzling blue beauties, which are not the only water bodies as hot natural geysers and thermal pools are strewn throughout the desert. Deep moon-like valleys, that were once under the ocean, shine white amidst the arid land. Also, the Atacama puts up the stariest show at night.
The entire desert is at a minimum height of 2500 m and shamelessly adds nauseated drama to the already crazy journey of world travelers who visit Chile.
Please note- Though the things to do in Chile list is numbered, the numbering doesn’t signify any priority or order in which you should visit these Chile destinations.
# 1 of the places to visit in Chile, South America
Chill in the quaint san pedro de atacama (antofagasta region as per chilean administration) — this tiny village is a gateway to the atacama desert..
The houses in the village are made of abode, a mixture of mud and other organic material, and so is the village church that was constructed by the Spanish conquerors in the 17th century. Next to the church is the Plaza de Armas or the main square where you can sit at twilight and sip wine at one of its many posh restaurants while watching the budding jugglers throwing around clubs whose ends are on fire.
You can only guess how cool this wifi-enabled main square is until you see it yourself.
Though thousands of tourists travel in Chile and visit the Atacama desert and tonnes of hostels, tour companies, and restaurants are spread throughout the tiny village, none of those have been able to disturb its serenity.
Visit this village for its centuries-old culture and to immerse in a perfect fusion of the contemporary with the traditional.
Where to Stay in San Pedro:
I stayed at the La Casa EcoExplor in San Pedro de Atacama. This gorgeous hostel fitted perfectly in my budget and taste. EcoExplor is an eco-friendly place with budget rooms and dorms, a seating area, hammocks, a fully-functional kitchen, wifi, hot water, and kind staff. I booked all my Atacama tours with them, and they helped me find the ones at a good price and also explained what all I could see in the desert. The hostel is located close to the center, but still a bit away so you are not in the middle of the chaos. The bus stand is only about 200 m from EcoExplor, and you shouldn’t miss the views on the way from the bus stand to the hostel (hint: volcanoes).
If you don’t like EcoExplor, browse through more hotels in San Pedro and choose one as per your priorities.
Did you know that you can even cross into Bolivia from the Atacama desert via the Atacama-Uyuni border? Have a look at this GetYourGuide multi-day tour that will pick you up in the Atacama but can drop you in Uyuni after showing you the very famous reflective salt flats of Uyuni.
# 2 of the things to see in Chile
Wander in the atacama desert, the driest desert of the world—.
The Atacama desert is not the flat desert valley you think it would be. Snowy volcanoes, emerald lagoons, cavernous valleys glittered with salt, and flocks of pink flamingos would welcome you as you tread in this fathomless desert.
As I told above, at whichever hotel or hostel you stay in San Pedro, it would offer tours to the many natural wonders of the Atacama. Or you can hire a car and drive around in the desert at your pace. You can also book GetYourGuide Tours prior to heading to San Pedro. I have written about the tours in detail in my San Pedro guide . This (to piedra Rojas and blue lagoons) and this (to the Moon Valley) are my favorite.
Related read: See my photo-poetry essay on the Atacama and decide for yourself if you want to add the Atacama to your list of things to see in Chile.
The Central Valley of Chile
As you move south of the Atacama, you find yourself in the central valley of Chile. The major cities of the central valley are Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar , and Concepcion.
The central valley is known for its cosmopolitan life, vineyards, beaches, commercial ports, graffiti, and art. Though the beaches stay cold almost throughout the year except for the summer month of December, Chileans do get out on the beach to relax and many other travelers join them, too.
While I visited these cities I was influenced by the art and street graffiti, amazed by the fluffy street dogs even in the busiest part of the town, watched the residential hills that light up like a star-studded sky at night, drank homemade delicious red wine and visited lush vineyards throughout the countryside, ran around in big farmhouses and apple farms, listened to the seagulls who flew down to the shoreside houses to pick food, and talked to the contemporary artists and the self-involved tattoo artists who simmer down the metropolitanism of the cities with their art.
You might want to spend a few days in the valley to see and experience at least a few cities.
# 3 of the best things to do in Chile.
Visit santiago, valparaiso, viña del mar , and concepcion — if you fly to chile, you will land in santiago, and all the other cities are easily accessible from there..
Stay in the central valley for a few days to observe the Chilean culture , immerse in the art, taste some good Chilean wine, chill at some warm beaches, and soak in urban Chile, for this part of Chile is the most urbanized and a lot of people and students speak English.
Visiting the Central Chilean valley is one of the best things to do in Chile for this side of the country has the densest Chilean population. If you love understanding cultures and want to see regular Chilean life, Central valley is a good place to be in.
Do not forget to go to the local grocery and food markets, fish stalls, quaint cafes, sushi restaurants, art galleries, museums, performances, for you all get a good mix of all these in the cities that I mentioned. I would write a separate article on either the central valley or on each of these cities so I can tell you in detail what is worth experiencing there. I have now written in detail on the things to do and places to see in Central Valley. Read here .
You can view or book my Santiago Airbnb here. I stayed at this Airbnb for two weeks, and Victor is an amazing host.
Here are some other stay options in Santiago:
I stayed in Santiago at a friend’s place and at the Airbnb that I linked above. But if you do not use Airbnb or don’t like the place I mentioned, feel free to go through the accommodation list below. I have handpicked these places from throughout Santiago as per the locality, reviews, experiences, prices, and services provided.
Guest House Mery, Barrio Brasil – Run by a Chilean family, in downtown Santiago, close to historical places and metro, amazing reviews, kind staff, beautiful rooms, and patio, and pick up and drop from the airport at reasonable prices. Best for solo or couple travelers.
Look at the hotel here on Booking and check their availability or book. This place gets sold out well in advance.
Amistar Apartments – In downtown Santiago near Santa Lucia hill, entire apartment for 3/4/5 people, clean accommodation, kind owners, great reviews, and pick up and drop service from the airport. Best for a group of friends or families.
Browse the apartments here on Booking and book if you like.
And now for the hostel lovers.
Hostal Rio Amazonas : In central Santiago near Baquedano Metro Station, boutique hotel, gorgeous interiors and paintings, comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, friendly staff, in-house bar, and wifi. Best for couples, family, and solo travelers.
Click here to see the availability and book Hostal Rio Amazonas.
Valparaiso: To book your stay in Valparaiso, look at the stay options on Booking and choose one as per your preferences. Click here to go to the list of hotels.
Viña del Mar: This beach-side town has gorgeous places to stay and a very high-class feel to it. Browse through the Viña accommodations here and book.
Concepcion: I didn’t go to Concepcion but my friends volunteering with the program had an amazing time there. Go through this list of hotels and see if you like something.
The Lake Region of Chile
The central valley then leads the way to the lake region that is known as Los Lagos in Spanish . The lake region marks the beginning of Patagonia, one of the most inhabitable and inaccessible parts of Chile that attract tourists from around the world.
The major towns in Los Lagos are Puerto Varas, Osorno, and Puerto Montt. Puerto Montt is also the access point of Chiloé, the island that was my home for five months.
The lake region is full of lakes (how genius), active volcanoes, thick rainforests, treacherous mountains, absolutely azure rivers and other water bodies, and has cold and rainy weather due to its location and geographic nuances.
Though all of Chile is stunning and offers many adventurous and cultural activities, the Lake Region is even richer in culture for its numerous islands. You would also notice that the scenic beauty of Los Lagos is even purer and serene as from here Chile starts getting less populated and nature overpowers everything else.
# 4 of the Best Places in Chile
Visit the legendary island of chiloé — a must-have on your chile itinerary. .
If I say that I left my heart in Chiloé when I returned to India, I wouldn’t be exaggerating.
This lush-green island, its open pastures on which stout sheep and cows graze freely, its deep-blue beaches and national parks, its antique wooden churches, its colorful “ palafitos ” or stilt houses, its unique culinary history, its apple trees, its seafood markets and countryside bars, its tiny villages, and its humble people who stop their car for every pedestrian and open their home for every traveler made my stay on the island once in a lifetime experience.
In the capital of Chiloé that is Castro , I taught English, practiced Spanish, ate Chilote food (Chilote means belonging to Chiloé), cooked Indian delicacies, danced with the islanders, shopped for fish in the morning Saturday markets, strolled by the beachside, and soaked in the island life for about five months. Those were some days!
Chiloé people believe in natural powers, and the many legendary stories that are passed onto Chilote generations will make your just-for-a-few-drinks visit to cozy bars into all-nighters. Castro, Ancud, Dalcahue are just some names of the many small villages and towns in Chiloé.
You would definitely want to visit Chiloé if you want to see a culturally-rich island of Chile that speaks Spanish in a rhythmic way, is respectful, and has more fiestas more than you can imagine. You would have to slow down in Chiloé. Consider this tour that will take you to parts of Chiloe and then goes to the Caulin and Puñihuil Penguins Colony.
You can take a bus directly from Santiago to Chiloé or fly to Puerto Montt and then board a bus from Puerto Montt to the island. The island has many Airbnb’s, hostels, and hotels.
The bed-and-breakfast of my courageous host mother is centrally located in Castro. If you tell her that you went to her after reading my blog, you will get special treatment. Though she only speaks Spanish, you wouldn’t face a problem as she is used to conversing with foreigners who only speak English. But she hasn’t listed her place online yet. So go to 471 Los Carrera, Castro and ask for lodging. She lives in the back of a blue house and has the warmest home in town.
Another lovely friend’s Airbnb in Castro – Private domes amidst nature , and the warmest hosts ever who make amazing pisco sours and seafood preparations.
But if you are not on Airbnb or want to book a place beforehand, here are some stay options that I know for a fact are good for maybe I crossed them at least a few times every day.
Palafito WaIwen – Located by the Gamboa river and only about .6 miles from the Castro center, double rooms and dorms with heating, ocean and city views, wifi, kind staff, complimentary breakfast, shared kitchen, and a terrace overlooking the ocean. Best for couples and solo travelers.
Click here to book this palafito or wooden stilt house that is customary to Chiloe.
Casa Chilota B&B – In downtown Castro, a typical Chilote home with wooden flooring, friendly and kind Chilean owners, and clean rooms with a complimentary breakfast spread. Best for families, couples and solo travelers.
Look at the pictures and see Casa Chilota on Booking .
Cabañas Lomas de Ten Ten – Located in Ten Ten, a small countryside area about 4-5 km away from Castro downtown, beautiful wooden cottage, kitchen included, and ocean view from the cabin. Ideal for families or a group of friends.
Book these cabins on Booking here .
# 5 of the Places to Go in Chile
Hornopirén, the majestically beautiful and serene town— this breathtaking town is a landscape painting of the most imaginative kid who painted volcanoes, lakes, mountains, jungles, hot thermal pools, rivers, and flocks of birds and all of that came to life and is called hornopirén now..
I spent a very laid-back yet adventure-filled birthday in Hornopirén. I started the day by drinking mate, a hot herbal tea typical of South America, watched horses grazing in sunlit pastures, ran behind the flocks of thirsty birds that filled the swampy pastures, hiked in the Hornopirén national park, biked up the peaks of Andes only to come down flying, watched the Blanco river (the white river) melting away in its milkiness, and ended the day with another cup of mate and cheese empanadas at a local artisanal restaurant.
What a birthday!
The day wasn’t clear so we couldn’t hike the volcano Yate or volcano Hornopirén. Though both the hikes are challenging so prepare for a tough day.
Hornopirén might not be on the list of famous places in Chile, it was one of my favorites.
In Hornopirén, you should stay in one of the many wooden cabins that Hornopirén is known for and ask your host for a bike and explore like a child.
Have a look at the wooden cabins of Hornopirén here and see what suits you the best.
# 6 of the Places to See in Chile
Pucon (araucanía region, but just above the lake region) — pucon is a travel hub and is on chile must see list of many solo and group travelers. pucon offers so much to do that you might find it hard to rest, though there are many tranquil options for that, too..
Here my Canadian friend Alison and I went crazy and hiked the active volcano Villarrica , kayaked in the quiet Villarrica lake to find remote beaches, jumped in it and swam there with the stunning volcano in the backdrop, and hitchhiked to the deserted Leon waterfalls.
You can also ski in the Centro de Ski Pucon (ski center of Pucon) and hike to the tallest peak of the park Santuario el Cani for stunning views, but we didn’t do any of this as at that time the snow wasn’t deep enough for skiing, and we forgot about the park.
Having done tonnes of activities, we chilled in our hostel, cooked and hogged on enormous amounts of chicken and mushroom curries, spaghetti, and sandwiches, and relaxed at the Caburgua lake beach while gulping down a few beers and talking about our travel and life plans.
We stayed at the Chilli kiwi hostel which was comfortable and had ample double rooms and dorms. You can also book any of the adventure activities, hikes, or tours from Chilli Kiwi. Click here to find the availability in the hostel and to book it.
Consider this guided tour to climb the volcano as you can’t do this on your won. The hike would take your entire day.
# 7 on your list of Where to Go in Chile
Spend a few days in valdivia, the city of rivers (region los ríos or the region of rivers, just next to los lagos) — during my volunteer program, i went to valdivia, which is set at the junction of calle-calle and cau-cau rivers and was the fourth city founded by the spanish when they conquered chile. .
The Spanish built many forts and castles in and around Valdivia. I took a day trip to the Niebla fort, one of the many forts, and visited the war museum, took a walked on the beach (playa grande), clicked pictures with canons, ate chicken and pork anticuchos (grilled skewers) and drank chicha, a homemade fruit juice with insignificant alcohol content, in the Niebla market. If you fancy, you can also get your ears or nose or cheek pierced by one of the many professional ladies in the market(not speaking with experience.)
My favorite place has to be the Mercado Fluvial or the local grocery market of Valdivia which was a colorful assortment of street food, fresh fish, local vegetables and fruits, and handcraft artwork and wooden artifacts. And while we admired the fresh avocados and drooled over the salmons and trouts, the sea lions basked in the sun in the Valdivia River, while seagulls flew around to sneak out a fish or two from in front of the fish sellers.
Mercado Fluvial is also the starting point of a boat ride through the network of waterways that are spread through the many rivers of Valdivia. I didn’t take the boat ride, but I have heard that you can visit many more forts and historical places through these waterways while cruising along with a refreshing view.
My Chilean friends would kill me if I talk about Valdivia and don’t mention the brewery of Kunstmann beer, one of the oldest and popular Chilean brands, where you can sip the frothy beer while watching the brewing process. Honey flavor was my favorite.
Stay Options in Valdivia:
Airesbuenos Hostel y Permacultura, Valdivia – I stayed at Airesbuenos for about 2 nights. As the hostel was about 350 m from the bus terminal, I walked to the place and took a bed in a dorm. It’s a great place for solo or couple travelers who are looking for an affordable yet comfortable stay. Wifi, breakfast, and a shared kitchen is available to all guests.
You can book Airesbuenos on Booking here .
And if you don’t like this hostel, then feel free to browse through other options in Valdivia .
After the Chiloé island, Chile divides into tiny islands scattered near the coast, and the Andes rise on the mainland forming Patagonia. What is Patagonia? An icy and mountainous nomad terrain that is home to endemic animals, national parks, hanging glaciers, deep blue and turquoise rivers, fjords, and lakes, marble caves, and vast wilderness.
The proximity of this region to Antarctica makes it the coldest area of the country.
The Carretera Austral or the Southern highway runs along with this nomad land from Chaiten till the Tierra del Fuego or the land of fire which culminates in Cape Horn, the last stop before Antarctic Peninsula — Patagonia leads our way into the end of the world.
# 8 on the list of What to See in Chile
Visit patagonia, the end of the world— patagonia is a collection of jugged, icy mountains with glaciers atop, turquoise-blue lakes, labyrinthine fjords, and impenetrable ice sheets. .
The only significant occupants of Patagonia are the generations of the early European migrants from the nineteenth and twentieth century who came here to find a new life.
I couldn’t go to the interiors of Patagonia, but I did enough research to suggest you the right places.
The central attraction of this treacherous landscape is the Torres del Paine National park. The famous, 100-km-long W circuit goes along the park through its mountains and jungles. You would have to pre-book the limited camping sites and the food packets that the travel companies in the park offer to hikers as they get sold out. You can also book the entire W trek with some tour company to take off the burden of booking everything individually.
I came across this brilliant guide to the campsites of Torres Del Paine while doing my research and am sure this information would help you in your planning and booking places in Patagonia and the treks within.
After completing your treks, you can picnic at the Laguna Azul , a shiny blue lake with snowy mountains in the backdrop and guanacos grazing on the golden grass nearby.
Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales are the two major cities of Patagonia that are connected by air. From Punta Arenas, you can visit the Isla Magdalena which the penguins have colonized unabashedly. Visit before March as then they start their swim to the Brazilian side.
Should you book Patagonia in advance? Patagonia is a popular destination amongst travelers from around the world, especially in the summers (Nov-Feb). Either you can explore the Torres del Paine park from Puerto Natales with a tour company for a full day and then decide what you would like to do. Or pre-book the tours online. Accept the W trek which has limited slots and get booked beforehand sometimes, most of the activities would be available in the high season, too.
If I were you, I would research about Patagonia before going there, book one or two nights at a hotel in one of these cities, walk around, explore, talk to the many tour companies, and then see which one suits me the best as per the prices and the itinerary. Also, you can go to most of the places on your own and hire a local guide for a hike or a glacier trek, if needed. Else explore on your own or book a tour then.
If you want to travel through Patagonia freely on a bike or your own car, you should think of getting Argentina visa, too, for you have to cross many times between the two countries due to the geography of the mountains. Else you would be limited in what you can do.
Have a look at this comprehensive Patagonia guide to plan your trip.
If you are coming down from Chiloé, you can take a ferry to Chaiten and then enter the Carretera Austral or the Southern Highway from there.
I have marked all the destinations in Chile that I visited on this map. If you are planning a trip to Chile, this map would give you an idea of the relative locations of the various places you want to visit.
Though I have given you a lot of recommendations about the best places to travel in Chile, the country is so amazing that in whatever direction you turn, you are bound to find unadulterated nature. Build your own Chile travel itinerary as per the time you have and the places you want to see. And as I mentioned above, you should read my list of 50 incredible things to do in Chile to get more ideas on what to do in Chile.
The landscape of Chile is breathtaking. But what about your other doubts?
The Logistics of Traveling to Chile
Chile is far. what about the l ong flights and the insane timezone shifts.
South America is far from Europe, India, the UK, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Except for the US, we are all in for a treat if we plan a Chile travel.
From India to Chile, I changed the aircraft twice, spent a night at the Dubai airport, flew a 14-hour flight from Dubai to Sao Paulo, and spent a few exhausting hours in the Sao Paulo airport. The journey took me about thirty-six hours.
Do you know what I did throughout these thirty-six hours? I slept.
How did I do that? I carried this extremely comfortable memory foam pillow which fit around my neck and gave me the best neck support that I could expect in a flight. Given that flights also provide food and movies, I was more than comfortable.
What about the jet lag? Jet lag hits everyone differently.
I slept throughout the flights like a kumbhkaran (read the Ramayana to know more about this sleeping devil who didn’t wake up even when drums were beaten next to his ears), woke up to eat, and then dozed off again at my window seat. I was in such a deep sleep during the night halt at the Dubai airport that I didn’t even use my food coupon.
And then I arrived at my hostel in Santiago, and then fell asleep again.
Please don’t worry about the time zone shift. You will gradually adjust to it.
Note: Consider pre-booking this pickup from the airport to your hotel if you are arriving in Santiago for the first time. If you are going to stay in Santiago a bit longer, consider this introductory tour to Santiago with a local guide.
Is that all to long flights and insane distances? No.
How to stay connected with family while you travel Chile? Or what are the various modes of communication a traveler can use for long-distance calls?
The 17,000 kilometers between India and Chile and the time difference of 8-9 hours further strangled my relationship with my angry parents. Mostly I used to call just after waking up or before going to bed, which is what most of the travelers did.
But this distance also meant that I wasn’t expecting any calls during the day, and sometimes I didn’t even look at my phone for hours.
If you are visiting for a few weeks or a month, the distance isn’t a problem. If you plan to travel Chile for a long duration, you can use video calls.
For making international calls, try the app Rebtel that lets you buy unlimited international credit for 10 USD. When I visited Chile, I didn’t know about the application, and I used Skype credits and Whatsapp calls. You should Whatsapp for even the FB messenger video calls have better connectivity than Whatsapp (believe a girl who video-called for hours to save her long-distance relationship recently).
But I used Rebtel on my other international trips, and the app worked wonders.
Didn’t I feel homesick or lonely that far away from my home country and friends? – The challenges of traveling solo to new countries.
The beginning of my solo Chile trip was challenging because I didn’t understand even basic words of Spanish. To get over the social awkwardness, I started learning Spanish . When I could put together the words to frame basic Spanish phrases , I felt at home. (I speak about the challenges I faced with Spanish and how I learned it later in this guide).
Once I started speaking Spanish, I could talk to the local people much better, and thus slowly I grew comfortable in Chile. South Americans, especially Chilean people, are very warm people, and they opened their homes and hearts and made me a part of their families.
Needless to say, when you travel solo, you meet a lot of solo travelers who share the same fears and anxieties, so you never feel that lonely.
Having said all this, I admit that I was out of my comfort zone for the first few weeks in Chile — but isn’t getting out of the comfort zone a dictionary meaning of travel? And once I started hanging out with the local people and start communicating in broken Spanish, I had the time of my life.
What about the rough Chilean Spanish?
When I landed in Chile, neither could I speak Spanish nor could I understand it. The language learning app DuoLingo had introduced me to words such as cat, cow, dog et cetera, but that’s all.
When my cab driver picked me up at the Santiago airport, he conversed with me using the voice feature of Google translate. During my solo travel in Chile, I talked with many tech-savvy Chileans with the voice feature. But when I went to Castro, I got to know that most of the islanders didn’t speak English and didn’t use Google translate or any application that could help me communicate with them.
Chileans speak super fast Spanish.
In the initial days, I didn’t understand a word of what was being said. Then I started learning Spanish, and within a few weeks, I spoke conversational Spanish.
So if you are wondering what to do in Chile if you can’t speak Spanish, I will be honest that traveling in Chile would be tough in the beginning as you wouldn’t understand much. You wouldn’t find any signs in English, and most of the people, including cab drivers, bus drivers, shopkeepers, won’t speak English.
But that shouldn’t deter you from planning a Chile vacation for the Chileans are helpful. They don’t expect you to speak Spanish or understand what they say. People of Chile know that not only they talk fast, but their Spanish is one of the worst forms of spoken Spanish.
Ask any Chilean, and he or she would confirm this.
But I met tonnes of long-term travelers who started speaking at least the essential Spanish words and phrases in a few weeks. People who were on short trips were managing more with applications and sign language.
Download Google Translate and the offline file of Spanish and use the voice feature. Try DuoLingo but don’t expect too much as it would teach you how to say avocado and chili and cheese but you wouldn’t still be able to say “I want to go to the toilet.” You can also download Spanishdict, an app that gives all Spanish nouns and verb forms.
Now I have three important guides that will help you:
With these three combined, you should be good to go.
Do try learning at least some Spanish if you plan to travel to South America for long. Of course, the best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in the culture. So don’t try to practice too much at home. Bring these guides with you and then learn Spanish while traveling and talking to native Spanish speakers. If your trip is short, then you can bring a print out of the phrases, start speaking, and, soon, you will pick up simple words and sentences to make your way.
If nothing else, start using your hands and face for making expressions. Believe me, Chile people would never get tired of you.
Good luck. Buen suerte!
Chileans grow up amidst the strong forces of nature and see many natural calamities happening around them from early childhood. These natural disasters and the extreme climate teach them how to be helpful. The challenges that Chilean see while growing up also show them the importance of living in the present without worrying too much about the future – My Chilean friend told me this, and she seems right.
While traveling through Chile, the locals directed me to the right place when I was badly lost, listed down the various Chile tourist attractions that I should visit, gave me their spare phone when mine was stolen, talked to me using the voice feature of the Google translate, stopped their car for us pedestrians to cross the road, enquired every morning about how I had slept, wished me to enjoy fully every time I went out, helped me translate my CV into Spanish, translated Spanish words and hand gestured from early morning to late evenings, invited me to their homes and opened their best wine and cooked sumptuous meals, and I can go on and on.
Chileans are one of the most passionate and helpful people on the planet.
One of my best Chile travel tips that I can give you – In Chile, Be outspoken about your troubles. Express what makes you happy. And I bet that Chileans would join you as they love sharing.
Chile is one of the most financially stable and economically strong countries in South America, and, hence, one of the most expensive ones, too.
As per currency conversions, 10 US dollars is about 8,500 Chilean pesos.
Chile’s purchase power is higher than in India. Even though the conversion rates seem to make Indian rupee more valuable, everyday things, such as towels, shampoo, oil, bread, snacks, fruits, vegetables, et cetera, cost slightly higher. For the people from the US and the UK, the prices were lower or almost similar.
I will give you a general idea of the travel costs in Chile, but how much money you spend depends on your travel style and the time you stay in Chile.
Water: You can drink tap water, so don’t spend money on buying water bottles. I also use my LifeStraw , a water bottle with an inbuilt filter, that can help you save a lot of money while traveling the world.
Wine: Chilean wine is delicious and cheap; you can even get a bottle of good wine in about 2500 Chilean pesos (CLP). Of course, you can spend more, but buying these cheap wines from regular supermarkets is a thing in Chile. So while you are there, get drunk often on the finest wine in the world. Hello El Gato!
Food: A meal at a local fair or in a food market/stall would cost you somewhere between 3000 to 6000 Chilean pesos. But dinner in a fine dining restaurant could make you shed more than 10,000 Chilean pesos.
If you have a kitchen at your hostel or Airbnb, you may also cook your own food if you want to stay really low budget. I cooked a few times in Chile for my friends wanted to taste Indian food. In the central part of Chile groceries aren’t that expensive, but as soon as you go on the islands, or in the extreme North or South, prices soar for the transportation costs add up.
Accommodation: The prices for one night’s stay would depend on the location and timing of your visit. You could get a dorm bed with breakfast for about 10,000 CLP if you go to a hostel or a local budget hotel anywhere in Chile.
On the Chiloé island, I got a room with meals included for 10,000 Chilean pesos. But that was because my host mother had already hosted me as part of the program, and later on, when I stayed at her place, she charged me a low price.
But big cities like Santiago and touristy places like Pucon were more expensive. A budget room and a shared kitchen in a Santiago Airbnb cost me about 10,000 CLP without any food, and a dorm bed in a good hostel in Pucon was around 16,000 CLP. If you go for better options or private rooms, expect to pay more, of course.
Transport costs: The local micros or buses that travel within a town or within an island would cost you between 2000 to 4000 Chilean pesos depending on where you are going. The long route buses cost higher, for example, my semi-cama or half-bed bus from Santiago to Castro or vice-versa cost me about 38000 Chilean pesos.
Total Costs: I spent about 30,000 to 40,000 CLP per day on an average. I took a mix of private rooms and dorms, ate at local stalls, bought groceries sometimes, did basic activities such as the Atacama tours, museums, performances, and bought wine. Your travel costs would vary as per your accommodation and eating habits.
Overall, among the many South-American countries, travelers considered Chile and Argentina the most expensive ones.
I booked both my flights (Santiago to Mumbai and vice-versa) about 2-3 months before the travel dates. In total, the tickets cost me around 1,800 US dollars for the return flights.
The Emirates flights from Mumbai to Santiago cost me about half of the Ethiopian return flight from Santiago to Mumbai and was a much better experience. I would strongly suggest you avoid the Ethiopian airlines which is a frequent flyer on this route.
Use Skyscanner to compare the ticket prices and never forget to click the “Add nearby airports” button. Though you might have to fly for longer with this option, you would get cheaper flights. You can also see a new place as you fly to a connecting destination first.
I would write about finding cheap flights in a separate article.
Chile gives free visa for ninety days to most of the countries. But not to India, of course.
I was stuck on the Chilean-Bolivian border once because I thought that I could also get free access. And then I had to go back all the way to La Paz, Bolivia to apply for a Chile tourist visa. (I would publish this story soon on the blog.)
What is the best time to visit Chile?
As Chile is in the Southern hemisphere, our summer is Chile’s winter and vice-versa. So when New York is buried under snow, and trains are canceled in New Delhi due to the fog, heat waves strike the North of Chile (that’s how Chilean newsreaders call those hot days in Santiago.)
The coldest months of Chile are June, July, August, and September during which the Lakes region and Patagonia are freezing and wet, and that is when I landed in Castro.
October brings in the spring which is followed by the shining summer that lasts until March. Visit Patagonia and the lake region during the summer, mainly from November to February, for the mild weather and friendly sun.
I also visited the Atacama desert in the scorching sun of February and got the best views of all the places, though the nights were chilly.
For the central valley, the temperature ranges from 0-13C/30-50F in winter and 16-35C/60-90F in summer. The locals from the central valley go for a holiday to the colder parts of the country in summer, and everything is cheaper (something to remember if you are traveling to Chile in summer).
The best time to travel to Chile is different for each part of the country. But you can see most of the best places in Chile if you explore Chile in the summers.
I would say choose your battles wisely.
What to pack for Chile? – My Chile Packing Guide.
As you have read about the colorful Chilean weather, you must be already thinking about carrying a range of clothes from summer essentials to winter jackets. But remember that you can buy some of the woolen clothes for affordable prices at the local artisanal markets in Chile. (Like if you stopover in Chiloé , you can buy homemade llama-wool sweaters, gloves, and caps.)
Here are some of the essential things you should carry to Chile for a comfortable and adventurous stay.
- A couple of dresses and Skirts for women – For the Chilean outgoing culture and wine bars. People in Chile are very cool with any kind of clothes, so wear whatever you like without worrying about being out of place.
- Short for women and shorts for men – For everyday travel in Chile.
- A good pair of jeans – Even though I am not a big fan of wearing jeans and love many other more comfortable bottoms, sturdy jeans can keep you pretty warm in Chile and the surrounding countries. I wore mine frequently.
- Swimwear for women and swimwear for men – Most of the beaches would be too cold to get in, even in the summers, but you can definitely jump in the beaches in central Chile.
- Yoga pants for women and for men – suitable for long buses, which you will take many in Chile, and flight travel, too.
Sturdy items to beat Chile cold and icy winds
- Good hiking shoes for women and good hiking shoes for men – A must-have in South America.
- A rain jacket – Don’t go to south Chile or Patagonia without a rain jacket.
- Warm jackets for men and for women – You might even need these on a rainy day in the summer.
- Warm and waterproof gloves – essential for hiking and the outdoors.
- Woolen socks for women and for men – For hiking and to survive the chilly winds of Chile.
- A woolen sweater – Or buy one from Chile.
- A scarf for women and for men – You can buy woolen ones from Chile but I could only find the hand-woven ones in San Pedro de Atacama or on Chiloe Island.
- A pair of warm leggings or thermals for women and for men (I wore them under my dresses to stay warm.) And I know that my male friends wore theirs under their jeans, too.
- A fanny pack to carry your passports and money. (I bought one from the San Pedro de Atacama market and loved its local feel. But until you find a locally made one, you should carry one fanny pack especially when you are in Santiago. Read my story about getting mugged in Santiago to know why.)
- Also, bring a strong backpack as you would travel in weird weather and on rough routes – I have been using a North Face backpack for about four years now and have no complaints.
- A travel towel – Carry a light travel towel like this one for it will save you a lot of space.
- A first-aid kit – Always carry one while traveling. Carry essential medicines as in Chile you only buy medication with a doctor’s prescription.
- Lifestraw water bottle – Comes with an inbuilt filter, and you can fill it anywhere.
- Memory foam travel pillow for a good sleep while traveling
- A good camera – Nikon D3400 is a very good choice for the price. I use Nikon for all my photography now (the pictures in the article though have been clicked with my phone for I have been using Nikon only for the past nine months). This camera comes with two lenses, and the one with the higher resolution if perfect for bird photography if you are interested.
I have a piece of special advice for my Indian readers —T ake your favorite snacks along as you wouldn’t get any of those in Chile. I took along Indian spices, too, which helped me cook Indian food, and then I gave them away to a 70-year-old Chilean friend who relished them.
Also, take along some affordable Indian things such as bindi, henna, bangles, light jewelry like earrings, rings, and bracelets, light-weight sweets, incense sticks, and other such small artistic items that you can gift to your Chilean friends or Airbnb hosts.
Chilean people love Indian stuff, and you can’t find any of these things easily there. I searched an entire island and Santiago for henna but couldn’t find it. Your gifts would cheer up your hosts, and they would go out of their way to help you, for such are Chileans.
And last but not least, if you plan to work and travel in Chile, bring your degrees and mark sheets in original. You would need the original copies for you would have to get them notarized to show them to the ministry for the visa (you can also get these documents notarized in India).
How to travel in Chile?
Chile doesn’t have trains, and most of the intercity travel happens by buses, cars, ferries, and flights.
You can book the major buses, which are Pullman, Turbus, Cruz del Sur, online. I generally checked the timings and purchased my ticket from the counter at the bus station.
The buses have two options – half bed (semi-cama) and a full bed (salon cama). The full bed means that you can recline the seat a bit more than in the half bed, but it isn’t a full bed similar to the one you get in Indian buses. All the buses in Chile have toilets, except the local short-distance micros that run within a city(intracity) or on an island.
To explore the Carretera Austral and the Atacama desert, you can also hire a car and drive on your own. I met a lot of travelers who were driving their caravan vans and paid a small amount to a camping place or a hostel and then parked their van inside. These self-sufficient vans are a cheap and fun way to travel. If you want to experience them, South America is a good place to start. The distances are long, routes are extremely scenic, roads are good, and plenty of places would allow you to park your van.
Carretera Austral, which is mostly gravel, also has scheduled buses and is also a popular cycling route.
I only flew once during my entire stay in Chile, and I picked LATAM airlines for it is one of the best of Chile.
Buses and taxis run within bigger cities such as Santiago and Valparaiso. Santiago also has Uber. Intracity and intra-island buses are called micros.
On islands, you have micros or local buses, that stop frequently and you pay when you leave, a custom that I couldn’t get enough of and appreciated it when it happened recently in Pushkar, too. When the bus has to go to another island, it gets onto a ferry, and you sit on your bus and enjoy. Or get out of the ferry and enjoy the dancing dolphins in the water ( a regular scene on the ferry from Puerto Montt to Castro.)
For me getting into a bus and crossing to distant islands was one of the most fun things to do in Chile.
Colectivos are a favorite mode of travel in many small places. These are taxis that run on specific routes, carry four or five people, and charge low rates. For example from my home to school in Castro, I used to pay about 1000 Chilean pesos to the collectivo.
Ask the locals for these collectivo and micro routes as they aren’t written anywhere in most of the places.
How should you carry money when you travel in Chile?
Though I carried a travel card and some US dollars, I wouldn’t suggest you do so. The card didn’t help much for it always applied conversion rates and some transaction charges, too. For most of my trip, I withdrew with my debit card from the BancoEstado government bank ATM. The US dollars helped, but were not necessary.
Carry at least two working debit cards and inform your banks that you are traveling internationally. Else they might block your card (after a certain amount of international withdrawal), and you would wonder if you went bankrupt.
Do check the international withdrawal limits before you leave your home country. I couldn’t withdraw any money after a few weeks, and when I enquired the bank, the phone banker told me that I had exceeded the international withdrawal amount.
Keep a working Indian mobile number for you would receive all the one-time passwords (OTP) on it, without which you cannot do online transactions ( a thing specific to India). Only HDFC allowed me to enter my online pin instead of the one-time passwords.
Is Chile Safe? What is the situation of Chile Tourism after the civil revolt?
This chile travel guide is updated for the current uproar in chile. .
Chile is one of the “safest countries in South America” for its economy is stable, and people have basic work and money, mostly, and believe in making their ends meet by working.
The simple rule that you should not walk alone at night in any part of the world, unless it is Singapore, still applies in Chile. Most of the cities of Chile were safe during daylight, except Santiago which is known for drugs and delinquency.
The young (and some old) crowd of Santiago deals in drugs for easy and quick money. Be careful while walking around in Santiago for the city is known for many tourists traps. One of the popular tricks is that someone would put some paint on you when you aren’t looking, and then they will point out that you have paint on your shoes or your trousers. While they engage you in a conversation, someone from their group would run away with your bag.
But I never heard any such stories in any other parts of Chile except Santiago. Also, some residential parts of Santiago didn’t feel so safe even during the day for they were frequented by delinquents looking for easy targets. How do I know? I stayed for about a month in Santiago and walked around the city quite a bit.
Having said this, Santiago’s central area, or downtown, was pretty safe. But don’t take the risk of going out alone at night in Santiago.
Chiloé was extremely secure, and I even walked around alone at night, when I returned from some late-night parties.
Apart from the limited instances of Santiago, I didn’t hear of any other crime or robbery during my entire stay from any volunteer or local.
Update 2019: Since the protests have started in Chile, many people have asked me is it safe to travel to Chile now. I asked my Chilean friends about the situation.
Chileans say that this revolt or protest was long-awaited. The present (and past) Chilean government have done a lot of things such as selling water to private foreign companies, damaging natural resources, cutting fruit trees, and more. Due to these actions, rivers have dried, animals have died, and much damage has been done to the natural resources of Chile.
If people complain, the government puts fine on them, increases the metro fares, and so on. People are also very angry for the current president has a very big house in the South, and he hasn’t paid any taxes for the past thirty years. Also, the economic inequality within Chile has angered the common masses who want the government to bring some reforms so that the financial conditions improve.
A lot of questions are unanswered, and the people don’t want to stay silent anymore.
My friends told me that most of the people want to march and protest peacefully. There are only some delinquents who are taking advantage of the situation and are burning buses and supermarkets and are stealing stuff.
Now for how long would this go on? I don’t think Chileans are ready to settle down until the government resigns, and a new government brings some revolutionary changes regarding the concerned issues.
I think people can still travel to Chile but they should keep more time at hand for unexpected issues. Instead of hotels or average-rated accommodations, travelers should try to choose home stays so that they stay close to the locals and can get help if anything comes up. All big cities such as Santiago, Valdivia, Osorno were all in an emergency zone. So do your research and read the news while traveling to Chile and see which places you can visit.
Do you think that Chile is safe to travel to? Please let me know your thoughts about traveling to Chile in the current political conditions in the comments.
Update July 2023: Since the new government in Chile, the situation for travelers in Chile is more or less stabilized. Please do consult your embassy for more guidance.
Also Read: My Worst Travel experience in Santiago, Chile
I have written about Chilean food in the guide to Chile culture , but a lot more has to be said.
Chileans are mostly non-vegetarians with their favorite meat being beef, pork, chicken, and seafood (hello, the 4,300-kilometer coastline). They love steaks and grilled meat or prepare soups that they eat along with potatoes and rice or bread. Kurkuma (turmeric), oregano, and paprika (similar to chilly but milder) are the only spices Chileans use (if at all), along with the occasional garnish of coriander and lemon.
Chile people love bread, mostly made from white flour, and buy it every day or once every 2-3 days from the local bakery. They pair the bread with cheese, ham, eggs, butter, and tea or Nescafe filter coffee for breakfast.
Generally, Chileans don’t eat a lot of vegetables, and as you go to the colder parts of the country and islands, the consumption of vegetables decreases further giving way to the meat.
There is also this food tour in Santiago that you can take to get close to the local food scene.
Most of the foods that I mention below would be served along with pebre — the finely chopped onion, tomato, green chili, garlic, oil, and coriander mixture would save your life when you miss some chili in your food.
Not to miss food preparations of Chile:
- Sopaipilla – Fried flatbreads which are eaten with pebre or ketchup.
- Empanadas – Empanadas are brothers of samosas because they are fried and stuffed. Some people also prepare empanadas in the oven, and then they are called empanadas de al horno . The most popular is empanadas de pino or beef empanadas. But my favorite was the mariscos (seafood) or pollo (chicken) empanadas.
- Pasta del choclo and humitas – Both are made with corn. Pasta del choclo is like a corn paste, while humitas are prepared by stuffing corn paste in corn leaves and then boiling the stuffed leaves.
- Cazuella – Cazuellas are soups of seafood, chicken, or pork, made by simmering the meat with peas, pumpkin, onion, ginger or garlic, corn on the cob, tomato, carrots, oregano, and other vegetables.
- Completos — The Chilean hot dog that comes overloaded with avocado, tomatoes, and mayonnaise — a Chilean favorite.
- Porotos Granados – Red or white b eans made with mashed corn, onions, pumpkin, garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Though this dish is more popular in the countryside, I loved how my friend in Santiago made them, and I ate bowls of them every day.
- Churrasco – Grilled beef or beef steaks extremely popular in Chile and eaten in a sandwich form. I didn’t try this.
- Chorizos – Pork sausages. A favorite of Chileans.
I drooled over all the above preparations, except for the extremely meaty ones such as churrasco, chorizo, completo, or asados (barbequed meat). But if you are a meat lover, you should try all of them.
Not to miss preparations of Chiloé, known for its unique culinary :
You could find all the above food items on the island, but some exquisite preparations were only local to the island. Also, the size of every dish was bigger on Chiloé, and if the food could have a deep-fried version, Chilote people took out their woks and oil.
If you visit the island, definitely incline towards trying the seafood whenever you can. Chiloé people have come up with exciting and yummy seafood preparations.
- Cazuella Chilota – The Chiloé preparation of cazuella. The seafood version of this soup was nowhere better than in Chiloé. And even better if my host mother made it.
- Milcao – A grated and mashed potato preparation that is stuffed with pork and other ingredients and is then deep-fried. I will admit that this yummy bowl of carbs lured me a few times.
- Algas or algae soup – You can only find it in Chiloé. It has a very explicit sea smell and taste but is delicious and healthy.
- Ceviche – A preparation of raw mussels, clams, and salmon, red and green peppers, onion, coriander and lemon.
- Curanto – Curanto is generally prepared in an activity called as “minga” in which a group of friends come together and dig a hole in the ground, make a fire, and then place a huge dish full of mussels, clams, Chilote potatoes, white wine, pork, and then just let the ingredients cook. Then they dig out the dish and share it with friends.
Don’t forget to taste the papa Chilota or colorful potatoes from the island.
Go to the local markets on the islands and in the cities, look for seafood restaurants, try food from streetside stalls, buy empanadas and sopaipillas wherever you see them, and bite into some purple and pink potatoes.
Surviving as a vegetarian is a bit tough in Chile and South America, but definitely manageable. You can always go to a supermarket, buy some fresh bread, and eat it with fresh avocado, the first love of all Chileans.
Insider Tip: Do read the Spanish food phrases in Simple Spanish phrases for travelers guide to be able to say your food preferences.
If you have read through the article, you would know by now that Chileans love to drink. Otherwise, why would they all make delicious wine and store it in ten-liter containers at home?
Pisco sour, wine, navegado (wine boiled with orange and cinnamon), terremoto (literally earthquake), beer with chili and lemon, wine with strawberries, wine in pomelo shell – Chilean get high on all of these, and I joined them because they always invited me with love.
I didn’t see many people drinking hard drinks such as whiskey, vodka, or tequila, except in the big bars of Santiago.
As I said above, don’t miss the Kunstmann beer. Though Kunstmann is a little more expensive than the regular beers, it is worth the price.
Don’t shy away from drinking when you are in Chile, because Chileans don’t. Drinking is part of the Chilean culture, and Chile people are never bad drunks. Drinking is one of the top Chile things to do.
Also Read: A Memoir on Chile Independence Day – Or As The Chileans Call It, Fiestas Patrias.
Some Closing FAQs and Tips
What is chile.
Believe me, a lot of people ask this question. Chile is a country in the continent of South America.
Do you need to carry your passport when you go out?
No. And this is universally true for all countries and all nationalities. If you like, bring a printout or a soft copy on your phone.
Can you teach English in Chile?
Would you be a millionaire by teaching english in chile.
No. I talked to and interviewed many English teaching institutes in big towns and small cities and even with schools and colleges. No one would have researched as much as I did. So if you are looking forward to just staying in South America, especially Chile, and want a work visa with some money, go ahead.
Most of the teaching jobs, except the online ones, involve traveling throughout the city to teach business clients, students, and homemakers. The pay was between $6/8 to $15 per hour (though finding the $15 ones would take time.)
Does Chile have the Amazon jungle?
I hope that with this Chile travel blog, I have done justice to my long travel through this beautiful country. Hope you enjoy the guide and use it to the fullest when you travel to Chile.
Que Disfrutes! Enjoy!
It took me a week to write this exhaustive and honest Chile guide. So if you like it, please pin it!
Are you still wondering what to do in Chile?
Or are you are already planning your chile adventures, let me know in the comments 🙂.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I like; If you choose to click through and make a booking or purchase a product, I will earn a little bit at no extra cost to you. Thank you.
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26 thoughts on “Chile Travel Guide 2023 [From My 6-Month Solo Chile Trip]”
No comments on the lack of any spices – or flavours – in Chilean food, especially from an Indian point of view 🙂 ? We spent 6 weeks in Chile in 2019. We started from Punta Arenas and travelled north, so it took us 4 weeks to reach Santiago. And we were so crazed with the bland food by then, that on all 5 days in Santiago, we made sure we had only Indian or Asian meals 😀
But to be fair, Chilean food is a bit better than Argentine food. Argentine asados are just drop dead boring 🙂
Hi Priyanka, loved your in depth article on Chile travel! I am heading their soon with my family. A little nervous due to the political situation there, and also the fact that our Spanish is muy basico! 😉 My kids are very excited too. Fingers crossed, it will be a wonderful experience! 🙂
You are most welcome, Dipika. I am glad you are traveling there, and hope you have a nice time. The situation in Chile is a bit chaotic right now but the people of Chile want to protest peacefully. They just want their rights. Hope you have a had a look at my basic Spanish phrases guide that will help you immensely in South America – https://www.onmycanvas.com/basic-spanish-phrases-south-america/
Have fun. Let me know how it goes.
From always I am fond of visiting the chile. I will follow your guide so how I can visit the Chile without any problem and hardship.
Thank you, Roger. I hope you have lot of fun in Chile. Do let me know if you have any questions 🙂
priyanka, fantastic and really nice blog and chile travel information thank you
Super informative Priyanka. Ended up bookmarking and going back to the link multiple times in the last three days. Looks like you had an amazing time!
Thank you, Narayanan. Glad you liked the guide for it took me a long time to write and compile the information. Let me know if you have any other questions about Chile or in general about South America. Enjoy your trip and tell me later how it goes 🙂
Wonderfully and nicely written and really informative to anyone willing to visit Chile. I’m planning to visit Chile in couple of months, but as per information in your blog, Jun to Sep is too cold which is not suitable for me, I think I have to postpone. Anyway, thanks a lot Priyanka. Where are you now? want to know more about Chile, any direct contact no?
Thank you, Musthafa, for your comment and reading the detailed article. June to September is definitely cold. But after September the weather starts to improve. I am in India currently. Please reach out to me via comments and questions on the blog articles (I always reply). Or if you have something specific to ask, you can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Instagram at priyanka_onmycanvas. Thanks.
Wonderfully written and extremely detailed with a lot of information
Thank you, Diptarka. I am glad that the information helped you. Let me know how your trip goes.
Whoa, that just about covers the length of it 🙂 Makes me nostalgic to remember how much there is to do there! Also, love that you cooked Indian food for your Airbnb hosts in Santiago! What a great way to say thanks for their hospitality.
Thank you, Taylor. The country is beautiful, and people were so nice that I couldn’t skip over any information. I cooked Indian food so many times that I have lost count. haha. Look forward to hearing from you more 🙂
This blog post is so informative and handy! Chile is definitely on my bucket list and I even got more excited after reading this.
Thank you, Maartje. I am glad you found the guide helpful. You should definitely go. Chile doesn’t disappoint anyone. Buen Viaje!
Wow, so amazing that you got to spend 6 months exploring Chile and really comprehensive post about it, thanks for sharing! I’ve wanted to go to Chile for a while, so was interesting to read your experience.
Thanks Helena. I am really lucky that I spent six months there. I want to visit again. When are you visiting?
Wow, that is a really impressive and massive guide to Chile. I have been in Chile and loved it but there is so many things you discuss in length that I had no idea about! Time to pay a visit again!
Thank you, Marysia. I am glad that you found the guide helpful and even discovered some new things. Chile is gorgeous; please visit again 🙂 I am sure you will enjoy. Stay connected.
Chile is so high up on my bucket list. And this is such a detailed post, I will certainly be saving it for later.
Thank you so much, Lizzie. Please visit Chile. I adore the country, as you would already know by now 🙂 Save it, and let me know if you have further questions.
This is absolutely gorgeous! You have put so much effort in this post! I loved your insights as Indian, it’s always special when you are the first traveller/representative of your country ☺ I have yet to go to Chile but your guide is going to be really useful for me, thank you!
Thank you, Valentini, for this appreciative comment. I worked so hard for this post. 🙂 Haha. yeah at a lot of places I was the first traveler here. Definitely visit Chile. You would love it. Thank you for saving my guide. Also, let me know if you have any questions when you go.
This is such a comprehensive guide and I am so happy I found it. I really want not only to visit but live in Chile at least during some time. I have been looking for different opportunities how to teach English but wasn’t able to find many options. I have never heard about the English open doors program and now can’t wait to get in touch with organizers and possibly to apply. Thank you for this information! I am bookmarking your post and will be referring to it later!
Thank you, Anya, for such a thoughtful comment and appreciating my hard work in this post. This is a straight-of-the-heart kind of article, and everything I have written is based on my experiences. Definitely visit Chile. You would love it. It is easy to apply to the English Open Doors program, and I will publish another detailed post on the program. Thank you for bookmarking this, and let me know if you have more questions. Would be happy to help 🙂
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If you like to get inspired and plan your holidays by reading travel blogs and travel diaries, or you like to receive travel guidance from local experts , then make sure to start reading our travel blog on Chile. On our travel blog, we share all must-see places from North to South, things to do in Chile, our favorite travel experiences , and itineraries ideas. In short, this is the ultimate travel guide you need to plan a trip to Chile from north to south. We have created a dedicated category for backpackers from around the world, who would like to do a multi country trip, like for example going from Chile to Bolivia or to Argentina.
We also have a category for family travel in Chile, for expat families , but also for travelers who come to Chile with their children and who want to enjoy the trip of their lifetime. Chile is the best destination you could dream of for a family trip, as it offers extensive travel experiences and tours suitable for small children, or teens (with lots of adventure..).
We have also added content about local life for the expat community in Chile, and in that category we share travel tips in Santiago de Chile (restaurants, trekking, getaways,…).
Whether you’re thinking about traveling to Chile in the coming weeks, or still looking for the best destination of South America for your next holidays, you will find on our Travel Blog many good reasons to travel to Chile ! This travel blog has been made for you, and we wish you a pleasant read. Don’t hesitate to leave us comments to suggest the next posts you would like to read!
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Travel Stories: Chile’s Far North
Santiago is so much more than a stopover city. Here’s why.
My nine-month South American backpacking trip started in Chile and, like most travellers, I didn’t know much about its capital, Santiago, before boarding the plane. My time on the continent was physically demanding, eye-opening, and a series of confirmations and contradictions as I put one foot after the other in search of authenticity.
People often talk about Rio, but if they took the time to walk the streets of Santiago then chances are that this would be the city they talk about the most; a foreign city that sometimes gets lost in the sea of content where Machu Picchu and Brazil – although awesome and deserving of such prominent highlights – reign supreme. Perhaps this is a good thing, especially for the traveller who yearns to get off the beaten path and face new experiences head-on, because if we aren’t travelling to experience something for the first time, something that’s special and hidden from our digital periphery, something that has, as far we can see, escaped the lens of an Instagram influencer’s account, then what’s the point of travelling halfway across the world?
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Cerro Santa Lucia, Santiago. Photo by f11photo.
The Spanish colonial architecture’s royal appearance runs through Chile’s capital like a pulsating electric vein, one pumping with a thriving restaurant scene and fun nightlife. When I write ‘fun’, I mean every branch of its connotation: Good. Positive. Upbeat. Friendly. Somewhat wholesome. Santiago’s bars, especially in the bohemian backdrop of Bellavista, are a refuge for local artists who busk the night away between Pisco Sours and ceviche as the night owls cut across blocks of street murals – as dazzling as anything in New York or Melbourne – before heading to “the big white place” for Chilean craft beers and pub grub at Kross Bar (signified by the running man logo, and yes, after your first plank you’ll be running back for more). Try the avocado and shredded pork pizza, and the K15 Cerveza Nativa craft beer (made with 100% Chilean ingredients) to really kick-start your night.
The colourful streets of Bellavista, Photo by Daboost.
Patio Bellavista is one of the main stomping grounds during the day and night, and the perfect spot to pick up unique keepsakes (such as the copper native mask hanging on my wall, looking right at me while I write these words). The square has a ton of restaurants, all serving everything from traditional Chilean soups and stews to American-style burgers. Everything tastes as good as it looks (head to Barrica 94 for local oysters, short ribs and red wine), and once it hits 5pm, those bars you’ve been eyeing off come alive with people doing the rounds on impromptu bar crawls.
RELATED: CHILE BEYOND PATAGONIA – 4 DESTINATIONS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
Fresh ceviche. Yum. Photo by Larisa Blinova.
When the morning arrives and you’re in need of a hearty meal, head to Galindo for traditional Chilean empanadas and the garlic and pepper prawns. It’s a lowkey local joint reputed for home-style cooking at fair prices (look out for the red and green exterior on the corner of Dardignac 098), and a good meal is exactly what you’ll need if you plan on heading to Cerro San Cristóbal, the city’s answer to Christ the Redeemer (Rio) with the Virgin Mary at the summit, overlooking the mountain-ridged metropolis. There’s a wine museum on the walk up because, you know, water isn’t as fun a thirst-quencher as Chile’s world-famous grape drops! After taking in the incredible views of the snow-hooded mountains on the horizon, catch a train or taxi to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights – a place for thought, reflection, and education about the civic-military regime and the ensuing human rights abuses that defined former President Pinochet’s dreadful tenure.
The Virgin Mary on San Cristobal Hill. Photo by carriagada.
Few museums in the world have touched me the way this one did, and it serves as a sobering reminder that in travel, it’s important to take the time to understand the history as well as the contemporary, in all of the places that you go, in order to get a sense of the political landscapes which shape societies around the world. While I’m confident you’ll be heading to Patio Bellavista for the colours, sounds and warm smiles afterwards, a visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights is another worthwhile layer in what is a remarkably beautiful city – arguably the most beautiful on the entire continent.
RELATED: TO THE MOON AND BACK – WHY YOU’LL LOVE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
What a view… Photo by Jose L. Stephens.
If you travel the way that I travel, and like to save some extra money for a special experience to treat your significant other (yes, looking in the mirror counts), give that bank account a slight shake and make a reservation at Boragó Restaurant. It’s an organic top-tier restaurant which operates on the premise of sustainable farming, supporting local producers (including buying directly from the fisherman themselves), and serving you the experience of a lifetime (right down to the Patagonian rain water). If there’s a better way to round-out sunny Santiago before catching a train to Valparaíso, then I’m yet to hear it.
More pops of colour. Photo by Lilia Akhtanenko.
While it’s an odd way to conclude a piece by talking about a sunrise, it’s something I’m going to do anyway. My first steps on South American soil were in Chile’s underrated capital. I made my way to the hostel’s rooftop balcony, walked over to the edge, gripped the iron railings and inhaled the crisp, cool air as the sky’s darkness found itself replaced by a golden burst of orange.
The Andean mountains were in the backdrop and in front of me was a bustling metropolis, its inhabitants waking up as the clock hit 6am. The sunrise was unlike anything I had seen before or since, anywhere in my native Australia or the 50 countries and innumerable villages, towns, and cities I’ve travelled to.
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Plaza de las Armas Square. Photo by April Wong.
When my Latin American adventure ended some nine months later in Havana, Cuba, I thought back to this moment (as I do more regularly than you’d probably believe), and I smiled at the irony of it all. That I came to the world’s most spectacular continent to see Machu Picchu and Rio was more than understandable – it was expected – but to leave knowing that I took a chance on Santiago and it paid off in ways I wish other people could relate to, was the icing on the cake.
Life moves quickly and most moments never turn to memories, but that sunrise in Santiago is here to stay. And while droves of travellers will no doubt be starry-eyed for the Incan ruins and gritty charm of Rio’s fun-loving beach culture, I hope those of you who are reading this decide to go against the grain, and make space in your plans for Chile’s capital city.
Explore Santiago on a small group adventure now. Check out our range of tours here .
Feature image by Angela Maria, Shutterstock.
"Travel isn't a phase, it's a lifestyle" is a term Anthony coined while publishing his backpacking adventure, Vagabond. His endless pursuit of cultural authenticity has taken him to over 40 countries, and when he's not planning, reading, or writing about travel, he's dreaming about it.
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Discover the Allure of Chile: A Tapestry of Nature, Culture, and Adventure
Welcome to Chile, a land of awe-inspiring landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and thrilling adventures. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chile offers a unique travel experience that combines stunning natural wonders, historical landmarks, and vibrant cities. Whether you're seeking relaxation, exploration, or adrenaline-pumping activities, Chile has it all.
Travel and Tourism in Chile:
Chile is a sought-after destination for travelers around the world, thanks to its diverse attractions and warm hospitality. From the arid deserts of Atacama to the pristine fjords of Patagonia, Chile offers a wealth of experiences that will leave you enchanted and longing for more.
Natural Wonders and Outdoor Adventures:
Chile is blessed with a breathtaking array of natural landscapes. Explore the otherworldly Atacama Desert, where you can witness mesmerizing sunsets, stargaze under some of the clearest skies on Earth, and marvel at geothermal geysers. Embark on a journey to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, where jagged peaks, turquoise lakes, and glaciers create a postcard-perfect setting for hiking, wildlife spotting, and epic photography.
Beach Holidays and Coastal Charm:
Chile's extensive coastline offers a haven for beach lovers and water enthusiasts. Visit the bohemian city of Valparaíso, renowned for its colorful houses, vibrant street art, and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Relax on the golden beaches of Viña del Mar, soak up the sun, and indulge in delicious seafood. Chile's coastal towns offer a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural immersion.
Cultural Experiences and Historical Landmarks:
Immerse yourself in Chile's rich cultural heritage by exploring its historical landmarks and charming towns. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Valparaíso and its historic quarter, renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Visit the ancient ceremonial village of Tulor, which dates back thousands of years, or explore the indigenous cultures of the Lake District. Engage with the friendly locals, savor traditional cuisine, and partake in vibrant festivals.
Adventure Sports and Ecotourism:
Chile is a playground for adventure enthusiasts. Strap on your hiking boots and trek through the mystical forests of Chiloé Island or the majestic Andes Mountains. Challenge yourself with white-water rafting in the wild rivers of Pucon or go skiing in the world-class resorts of Portillo and Valle Nevado. Chile's diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities for outdoor activities and ecotourism.
Travel and Accommodation:
Chile provides a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler's preferences. From luxury hotels in Santiago and Valparaíso to cozy lodges in Patagonia and boutique hotels in wine regions, you'll find a place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploration. Take advantage of package deals that include accommodation, transportation, and guided tours to make your travel planning seamless.
Travel Guides and Tips:
To make the most of your Chilean adventure, seek the expertise of local travel guides. They can provide valuable insights, recommend hidden gems, and ensure you have an authentic experience. Whether you're interested in wine tours, cultural excursions, or outdoor adventures, their knowledge will enhance your journey and create unforgettable memories.
In conclusion, Chile is a destination that offers a harmonious blend of nature, culture, and adventure. With its diverse landscapes, historical landmarks, and warm hospitality, Chile invites you to embark on a journey of discovery. Start planning your trip to this remarkable country today and unlock the treasures of Chile.
Also, familiarize yourself with the national cuisine
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Home » South America » Travel Safety
Is Chile Safe for Travel? (Insider Tips)
The very long country of Chile takes up almost the whole west coast of South America and boasts a load of amazing places to explore. There’s the Atacama Desert with the clearest skies in the world, the Andes and its alpine lakes and then there’s the mysterious Rapa Nui – or Easter Island.
There is no doubt that making your way to Chile is a very good idea, especially if what you love doing is getting out and seeing some wild stretches of nature such the incredible Salar de Atacama salt flats or otherworldly volcanic landscape of El Tatio.
The trouble is that Chile, though relatively peaceful for the region, has a problem with petty theft – often targeting tourists. More has surfaced recently with dormant issues of social inequality erupting into widespread, violent protests, making the future a little uncertain.
Coupled with the real potential for big earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, a visit to Chile suddenly sounds scarier than it should. With this in mind we have created this guide to staying safe in Chile, just to make sure you know what to expect and how to travel ’round with peace of mind.
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How Safe is Chile? (Our take)
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Backpacking Chile is an amazing experience. There’s deserts, lakes, far-flung islands and sweeping mountain ranges to explore here. Oh, and don’t forget the cool cities with funky street art and great food. All of this makes for a potentially unforgettable time.
With all that nature, however, as well as all those cities, there is also a little bit of a risk in visiting Chile.
In cities throughout Chile, pickpocketing and mugging is not uncommon – especially at tourist sites and around transport hubs.
Nature also likes to play its part in the danger levels of Chile too. There are earthquakes, volcanoes and heavy rains which can cause flooding and landslides. Insects here can also be pretty nasty.
That said, Chile is a safe country even though recently it has had a few social issues. Recent protests and demonstrations in some cities (especially in Santiago) rallying against social inequality, caused severe disruptions to public transport and became quite violent.
With all of that in mind, let’s look at the details…
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Chile Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Chile. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Chile.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
With a population of over 17.65 million people, Chile is (or was, at least) a pretty stable country and one of the safest in the region. According to the World Trade Organisation, Chile is actually the 8th most popular destination in the Americas.
Needless to say, Chile very much values its tourism and tries to protect visitors. However that’s not to say that the country is 100% safe to visit.
When looking at the Global Peace Index, Chile ranks a surprising number 27 – between Bulgaria (26) and Croatia (28) – out of 163 countries. According to this Chile is a pretty safe, and fairly peaceful (in general), country to visit. Indeed, many millions of people travel through the South American nation every year without any trouble at all.
One of the main safety issues in Chile is pickpocketing and petty theft. This especially targets tourists. However, it’s something you can easily avoid. Apart from this, there are no other major crimes you need to worry about. Fortunately, violent crime is rare. That being said, you should still keep your wits about you. If you’re looking for trouble, you’ll definitely find it.
Earthquakes can and do occur in Chile, and so do the resulting tsunamis. There are also active volcanoes with the risk of eruptions in the Conguillo National Park and Lascar in the north, amongst other places. The best thing to do is to follow the advice of local authorities.
All things considered, we’d still say that Chile is pretty safe to visit right now. Stay away from protests, keep and eye on the news and don’t let your belongings out of sight when exploring the country and you’ll be perfectly fine.
When choosing where you’ll be staying in Chile, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip. To help you out, we’ve listed the safest areas to visit in Chile below.
This coastal boho beauty is best known for its hills and colourful buildings, both of which are really worth exploring. It is also known as an art capital depicted by stunning murals and some of the most creative and philosophical graffiti you will ever see.
Make sure to go hunt down some local gelato. The locals love it too and you can find this delicious ice cream all over Valparaíso.
Valparaíso to Chile is like what Cinque Terre is to Italy. Well, kinda. Roll with me here. It might just be the most colorful town on earth! It’s also considered one of Chile’s safest cities. Pickpocketing is common, so watch your stuff, but apart from that you won’t have to worry about anything else.
Santiago (Barrio Bellavista)
We just had to include this amazing city. While not ALL of Santiago is safe, if you choose the right area, you can have an epic AND safe time here. Most expats and travellers stay in Barrio Bellavista.
Santiago, in general, is a beautiful, exciting city with a sweet Latin atmosphere, great street food, and even better wine. It also has a bit of a boho vibe going on. Keep an eye out for what the students are up to. They’re often handing out flyers, but most of Santiago’s hostels can also hook you up with what’s happening that week.
Pucón is an excellent choice for adventure backpackers. If you’re looking for a bit of action during your stay, you’ll absolutely love this spot. While it’s relatively secluded from the rest of Chile, a visit is well worth it. You can hike, go paddle boarding on the beach, do some white-water rafting and hop in a kayak. During the winter months you can also do a bit of skiing and snowboarding.
Pucón is often considered a bit of a more high end travel destination, which also means increased safety and a high quality of life. The only thing we’d advise you to be careful of is the rainfall – it’s the highest in the whole country.
Places to avoid in Chile
Chile might be one of the safest countries in South America, but that doesn’t mean that you can drop all caution. Apart from the natural hazards, you have a few other things to worry about. Some areas in Chile are safer than others. To help you out, we’ve listed them below.
- Areas in Santiago – The Las Condes, Providencia, and Vitacura areas of Santiago are notoriously frequented by thieves. Other areas to be cautious include Cerro San Cristobal, Cerro Manquehue, Cerro Santa Lucia and the Lake District.
- Beaches – not necessarily a place to avoid, but definitely a spot you need to be VERY careful of. The riptides and currents can be reckless. Many careless travellers have lost their lives while simply wanting to go for a swim. Also, don’t leave your belongings out of sight!
- Obvious no-go areas – whether that’s dark side streets, walking into secluded areas at night or going against your gut feeling, it’s a no-brainer to avoid these kinds of places and situations. At the end of the day, you will find trouble in Chile if you’re looking for it.
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Chile has, for a while now, been a relatively stable country (compared to its neighbours, especially). Besdies with all that amazing nature, super friendly people, a great culture and some amazing food, it would be a shame to miss out on it. Here are some safety tips for Chile to help you out…
- Don’t get involved in protests – any kind of association with protests that you make can get you kicked out of the country. In addition, they can turn very nasty. Just steer well clear
- Only take licensed taxis – it’s kind of a no-brainer, but we will be talking about the safety of taxis in Chile in more detail later!
- Pay attention to your surroundings and keep belongings close – pickpocketing and muggings are not unheard of
- Try to blend in as much as possible – walking around talking loudly in English, dressed in urban hiking gear, with an SLR around your neck and a smartphone in your hand not only isn’t a good look, it can single you out as a potential target
- Don’t leave your bag unattended or hanging off a chair at a cafe – most likely it will go missing
- Do not walk around with loads of cash on you – opening up your wallet to reveal loads of money may attract potential thieves. Get a moneybelt to keep your cash hidden.
- It’s best not to carry your passport or any valuable documents with you – if you must, take a copy of your ID and Chilean visa to take around with you
- Try not to use your flashy smartphone on the street – it may seem normal to you, but in Chile, there are people who will see this as hundreds of potential dollars rather than your phone
- If someone tries to mug you, do not resist – this is the advice of local authorities and, to be honest, it’s not worth it
- Consider a throwdown or dummy wallet – having one of these with a small sum of money could save you losing all of your cash
- Keep your valuables, bags and belongings with you if you travel by bus – don’t store anything in the overhead compartments, because thieves operate on buses
- It’s best not to walk alone at night – you’ll be putting yourself in risk; try to stick to travelling in groups and on well-lit roads
- Watch your drink in nightclubs and bars – especially in Bellavista and Suecia in Santiago. Drink spiking happens and you could leave yourself a target for theft or assault
- Keep clear of drugs – possession of any illegal substance can lead to a lengthy prison sentence
- Be careful when crossing international borders – some can close without warning, others are landmined (usually marked), it’s best not to cross on foot
- Generally, when you’re out in nature, stick to marked paths – minefields can come right up to the edge of a trail
- Open fires are forbidden in national parks – unless it says otherwise; forest fires can really affect Chile and you may be asked to leave the country if you light one when you’re not supposed to!
- Read up on weather conditions before hiking – and be well prepared for whatever might happen
- You should know what to do in the event of an earthquake – big, serious earthquakes are a possibility; when staying in a hotel room, make a mental note of evacuation procedures. Tip: newer hotels will be safer.
- Be careful around active volcanoes – you should monitor local media reports and the advice of authorities when it comes to going anywhere near them
- Keep away from stray dogs – they can be aggressive and/or have bad, contagious skin issues. Consider volunteering instead of feeding a feral dog yourself
- Bring plenty of insect repellent and cover up – there are some mean insects in Chile during the summer, such as the tabano (a horsefly with a nasty bite)
- Beware of swimming – some of Chile’s most beautiful beaches have some very dangerous rip currents offshore. Pay attention to signs or ask people nearby if it’s safe to swim
- Be careful of Santiago in winter – there can be a bad smog, sometimes even dubbed an emergency. If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, you’re travelling with children or elderly people, it’s best to keep clear
- Learn some Spanish – it would help you read menus, ask directions, get around, and generally not seem like such a gringo
It may be safe to travel around, but there are still a fair few things to keep in mind when you are visiting Chile. Crime against tourists isn’t unheard of here, so it’s best to try not to stick out like a sore thumb – especially in cities. In truth, there’s so much on offer in Chile: these tips are to help you with any potential risks you might face, not threats that you will face. Just be sensible and you’ll be fine.
Solo travel is amazing! What an experience. You get to go on a trip by yourself, learn stuff about your character, grow as a person, tick off places on your bucket list, do what you want when you want, and get to know more about the world we live in as a bonus. It’s honestly ace.
Chile, done solo, is also amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in South America with a varied landscape. There’s something for everybody here and, what’s more, Chilean people are super friendly. Still, it pays know a few safety tips for solo travellers in Chile…
- Get yourself booked into some great accommodation. There is, in fact, a big hostel and backpacking culture all throughout Chile and there are a whole lot of hostels for different budgets and travel types out there. Booking a hostel that’s good for solo travellers means you’ll have other people to chat with and share experiences with; make sure it’s got reviews that approve it for solo travellers.
- If you are travelling by yourself, one of the best ways to see the remotest parts of Chile is on a tour. Doing this makes it stress-free and easy to access – you won’t have to do any of the itineraries or logistics yourself, which can be a real nightmare.
- Make sure that you tell people where you’re going . Whether it’s your parents or best friends back home, someone needs to know where you are. It’s much safer that somebody knows where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing there and when, than nobody knowing what you’re doing, where you are, and going totally off-grid (not cool).
- Another good tip if you’re by yourself is, if you’re going swimming on a beach, tell somebody on the beach or at your accommodation that you plan on swimming . The rip tides can be strong and you should have someone looking out for you .
- Get yourself connected whilst you are in Chile by getting a sim card . Having data on your phone for maps and Facetime back home, as well as a local number to call hostels, restaurants, or even in emergencies, is much better than having nothing at all.
- Know those emergency numbers and make sure you save them with a “#” in front of the contact name so they’re at the top of your contacts list and easily call-able. You should also have these numbers scribbled on a piece of paper or notebook that’s always with you.
- Always have access to money . Whether that means opening a new bank account, so you have more than one to fall back on, having some emergency US dollars stashed away somewhere (we’ve been there, and they’ve helped) or even an emergency credit card. All of these things can be true lifesavers if things go wrong.
- Don’t keep everything in one place . It’s all well and good having 3 bank cards, 2 credit cards, and a wad of cash, but if that’s all in one place – a day pack, for example – and that day pack goes missing… It’s game over. Spread your stuff around to avoid being severely bummed out.
- If you’re going hiking somewhere remote, think about wearing distinctive clothing. It means that people passing you will remember you, so if anything happens they can say, “Oh, yeah, I remember that luminous ’90s print vintage ski jacket.” It also means that, if you take a fall, people will be able to spot you.
- Download all the good apps . We’re talking translators (Google Translate is just fine), any guides you might want, Maps.me (a good offline maps service), and maybe an earthquake app.
- Don’t drink too much if you’re going out by yourself; you might not be able to find your way home and it will leave you with poor judgement for potentially bad situations. It’s probably safest to make some travelling buddies at your hostel and go out with them – or simply drink in your hostel.
You should definitely go to Chile if you’re thinking about going there on a solo travel trip. It’s probably not the place for first-time solo travellers, but it’s certainly a great place to go solo. The backpacking scene here, the number of hostels and awesome things to do, sell it.
If you are by yourself, however, it’s definitely a good idea to meet other travellers. Being by yourself can mean you can get lonely, jaded and out of touch. Be sure talk to other people, call your folks back home for a chat, and remember to be kind to yourself – you’re bound to have a blast!
Being a solo female in Chile is pretty fun. Because of the comprehensive backpacking scene here, the cool, friendly people you can meet and the genuinely awesome adventures you can go on Chile is actually an amazing place for solo female travellers.
First time solo female travellers can easily make things stress free by heading out to explore the country on a tour, whilst veteran female travellers can probably enjoy this country by themselves, getting stuck into local life and enjoying the nature. That said, Chile isn’t always a breeze and does pose, like most places, a risk to women travelling alone. To help out, here are our tips for solo female travellers in Chile.
- Blend in with what you are wearing and dress how the locals are dressing . It’s best that you don’t look like a tourist in Chile as it will single you out as a target for all sorts of crimes and potentially put you in danger.
- Book yourself into female-only dorms . This is a good way to meet other women travelling by themselves, make some friends and share some tips as well. This way you won’t get any weirdos lurking around in the dorms, either. Just make sure you research the hostel, that it’s well-reviewed by other female travellers, that it’s secure and in a safe location.
- Do not walk around late at night – or after dark in general – by yourself. You will put yourself at risk by doing so, especially if you wander down poorly lit, deserted streets. It’s best to walk around in groups or get a taxi.
- If you are travelling on a bus, or a train, only travel during daylight hours and try to plan your journey so you arrive safely at your accommodation before it gets dark. Overnight journeys can be hazardous and potentially dangerous.
- Meet up with locals . Try out couchsurfing or book yourself into an Airbnb “Experience”, where you can get insider knowledge and get to meet (and make friends with) actual Chilean people. You’ll be able to get local advice, knowledge, and get to learn more about Chilean culture, too.
- Be kind to yourself : you don’t always have to do certain hikes because everybody’s talking about them, or do anything that’s too far out of your comfort zone. Don’t forget that this is your trip and you don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations.
- Don’t put yourself into an unsafe situation . If something is beginning to get weird, or you’re beginning to feel uncomfortable with the person or goings-on around you, just remove yourself. It’s not worth sticking around to see what may unfold.
- Do not tell strangers everything about you if they ask: your full name, age, whether you’re married, where you’re staying, where you’re going… If you’re uncomfortable with the questions (or who’s asking them), just tell a few lies.
- It’s best not to get super drunk ; by all means, have a few drinks, but being totally wasted just means a higher chance of somehow getting yourself into a dangerous situation.
Going off on your adventures and doing it solo is super liberating – especially as a female; and, you know what? There are actually a whole load of women out there doing it – many of whom make their way, at some point or another, to South America and the mecca that is Chile.
Travelling as a solo female does come with added risk, however, so reach out to online communities (such as Girls Love Travel) and ask for advice on the best way to do it.
We’ve covered the main safety concerns already, but there are a few more things to know. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Chile.
Is Chile safe to travel for families?
Chile is a safe destination for a family holiday – an interesting and unique one, but certainly one that shouldn’t cause you too many problems. Locals will stop and chat to you about your children, and will help you out if you need it. There’s a whole lot of family-friendly accommodation, and there’s a ton of activities and adventures geared specifically to families.
There are obviously different practicalities in Chile – probably different to your home country – to take into consideration, plus a few safety concerns, too.
The air pollution in Santiago, for example (between June and November), can be a genuine danger for young ones. Needless to say, a trip to Chile means you need to be prepared with vaccinations beforehand and take medical advice if your children have respiratory issues.
You should also bring plenty of bug spray, water-resistant sunscreen, appropriate clothing to cover up against the sun (or to warm up, depending on the time of year and where you’re going in Chile).
The real problem is adjusting to the Chilean way of life, with restaurants opening from 7 or 8pm and meals taking a good few hours. You may want to bring things to entertain your children, a book, some pencils and paper, and just go with it! You’re there to experience the culture and life of Chile, after all.
In short, Chile is safe to travel with families – surprisingly safe, in fact. It just takes some getting used to.
Is it safe to drive in Chile?
Whilst it is comparatively safer to drive in Chile than in its neighbouring countries, it’s still something that’s not always straightforward. There are all sorts of different landscapes, type (and quality) of road, as well as hazards and even some security issues in some areas of the country. All of this can make it a bit of a headache.
Having said that, if you want to get off the beaten track and explore on your own, having your own wheels is essential. This is especially true when it comes to the remote national parks like the Atacama Desert – or if you want to drive the extremely long Carretera Austral route.
Hiring a car in Chile is relatively easy. You can do this in Santiago and other big cities and they will have all the big, well known, international rental agencies. This makes things pretty simple, and free of hassle and scam. Note that you’ll need an international driving license. You’ll also have to be over 25 years of age.
When driving in Chile, there are definitely some hazards that you will need to watch out for. Whilst the main roads are surfaced and sealed in Chile, heading off into the countryside will most likely require a four-wheeled drive, due to poor road conditions, or extremes of snow and sandy desert.
There can be restrictions on driving around Santiago because of the terrible smog. It’s called Restriccion Vehicular (i.e. “Vehicular Restriction”) and will come into play depending on the smog levels. It works like a lottery, whereby certain number plates will be allowed into the city on that day – there will be announcements on the news the day before it’s in place. Visit www.uoct.cl for more information.
When parking in cities, be careful where you do so. Car break ins are not uncommon so it’s worth paying a parking attendant to look after your vehicle. Don’t leave valuables – or anything, in fact – on show, as this will only tempt thieves.
For confident, experienced drivers, having your own wheels in Chile could be a whole lot of fun.
Is Uber safe in Chile?
Thankfully, Uber does operate in Chile. You can use it but sometimes there are some difficulties in its legality and is something of a grey area.
Although Uber is safe to use in Chile, you should be careful booking an Uber to take you to the airport, for example, or a place where there’s lots of taxis. It’s very normal for an Uber driver to either refuse to drop you at your desired, taxi-filled location, or drop you off before your location.
That’s because some Uber drivers have been harassed by taxi drivers in areas where there are many cabs. You may even be asked to sit in the front, rather than the back, so that you look less like an Uber fare and more like a normal car passenger.
Other than that, all the usual benefits apply: you get to pay in app, there’s no language barrier, you get to check that the car you’re getting in is the right one, you can read reviews of drivers… All that stuff.
Are taxis safe in Chile?
In general, taxis are pretty safe in Chile, but there are some scams and dangers that you should be aware of you are thinking about taking a taxi in this South American nation.
Probably the first thing to know is about fake taxis. The best way to avoid picking up one of these is to not hail or flag down taxis on the street.
Generally, taxis in Chile are black and yellow, but obviously these can vary depending on where you are. Also, don’t worry about tipping your driver as you don’t have to do that here.
To get a real, licensed taxi, you should head to the front of a hotel, a mall, or any other conveniently located taxi rank – or simply order a radio taxi.
If a taxi driver offers to take you to an ATM, do not take them up on it – this is a scam.
Another thing to note is that you should never get into a taxi if the driver is accompanied by another person; this is not normal and is likely to be shady.
Ask at your hostel or hotel for the number of a reputable taxi company; ask that the taxi driver brings along a proof reservation (or that you’re given one over the phone) so that you can confirm with the driver when they arrive that you are the one they’re supposed to pick up.
At the end of the day, trust your gut. Don’t get into a taxi that seems unclean, with a dodgy driver, or which just seems unfit for service.
Is public transportation in Chile safe?
The public transport in Chile consists mainly of buses although there are some rail services to use, too.
In Santiago, the buses (and the metro) are run by Transantiago. The buses in the city are usually pretty cheap and have automatic fare machines, so you can simply put your money in and hop on. Like most places in the world, it’s important to watch your belongings on buses.
Better than the buses, however, is Santiago’s metro system. This is pretty new, very efficient and easy to use. However, like in many metro, MRTs and subway systems around the world, the Chilean capital’s gets very busy during peak hours.
It’s a pretty extensive system: 5 lines sprawling across the city, carrying 2 million passengers daily.
In addition to the metro system, Santiago also boasts Metrotren. This is a commuter service that runs around all 17 communes of the city. Both the buses, metro system and Metrotren are all connected to each other at certain points and run in sync pretty well, so you can use the transport system in Santiago as, you know, an actual, working network.
To make things even easier, you can use a bip! card, which is an IC card that means you don’t have to be fumbling around with small change and bills the whole time.
In other towns and cities, you can get around on buses – these are numerous and very cheap. There are also collectivos which run along fixed routes – they’re fast, they’re surprisingly comfortable, too, but they are also more expensive than buses.
The Terminal Santiago, as well as terminals in other cities and towns (most large towns and cities have these), is where you can catch long-distance buses and coaches. These provide a good service, are punctual, and offer good value for money.
To sum it all up, though you’ll mainly be relying on buses during your time in Chile, the public transport here is pretty safe in general.
Is the food in Chile safe?
The food in Chile is pretty amazing, we have to be honest. There are a ton of amazingly mouthwatering ingredients on offer in Chile, what with that 2,700 mile long coastline and volcanic soil, you can expect great seafood and a good variety of fruit and vegetables here, too.
With a focus on fresh food throughout the country, there’s not actually much to worry about when it comes to the food safety in Chile. However, it always pays to know more about the gastronomic guidelines of a country, so here’s how to eat your way around Chile safely;
- Take special care around raw fish – especially shellfish. A lot of this is consumed in Chile and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be trying it too. It is best eaten, however, in a restaurant or at markets where you can vouch for its freshness.
- Be careful about unpeeled fruit , too, especially in countryside areas. You don’t know how clean the knife is that peeled and cut the fruit, or how clean the hands are that touched it all, or if the water that cleaned it was contaminated.
- Wash your hands! It’s a simple tip, but especially when you’ve been out in the smog-filled air of Santiago all day, or you’ve been hiking, you’ve been anywhere, really, you should wash your hands before you eat.
- Only eat at places that are bustling with local customers . Places like this are much more likely to be very tasty and have fresh dishes on offer that won’t leave you with a bad stomach.
- Similarly, to get the freshest food and the best of a chef’s or cook’s ability, go to an eating establishment at mealtimes : pans will be hot, ingredients will have just been chopped up, and a high turnover of well-cooked food. Attending towards the end of or after mealtimes might mean you get left with things that have been sitting around for ages – not good. Here are some of those mealtimes…
- “Almuerzo” is the main meal of the day at lunchtime. Usually taking place from 1:30 to 3:00pm , this is a large meal – often with wine involved. You can go eat at a restaurant with a fixed price lunch menu called an “Ejecutivo” (it’s pretty cheap and you get a lot of food); these sorts of places are usually popular with locals.
- (As a side note: since lunch is such a big deal, many other businesses tend to close so they can go and enjoy a spot of food themselves and have a nap afterwards. Good to know.)
- “Onces” is a sort of (late) afternoon tea, served between 5 and 8pm . This usually consists of tea, coffee, scrambled eggs, avocado, bread, jam, sandwiches; yes, it sounds like breakfast, which is why we like it.
- “ Cena” is served anywhere between 8pm and 12am . This is dinner; not everybody eats this every day (because of that big lunch), some people just have snacks or a light meal.
Chilean food is well worth your time. You definitely should not miss out eating in local places and getting stuck into the way of life here. There’s also some good drinking to be done here: Chilean wine is world-class; and definitely, you should the national drink of pisco sour.
You will be able to try a lot of fresh food in Chile. And luckily, most of it is pretty safe!
Can you drink the water in Chile?
Drinking the tap water in Chile’s cities is usually pretty safe. However, you should be aware that it has a high mineral content that can affect some people who drink it and cause an upset stomach.
If you are unsure, stick to bottled water, or use the filtered water your hostel or hotel might offer in the lobby.
Stay away from the water in San Pedro de Atacama: the water here is generally not safe to drink.
Vigorous boiling of water for one minute, or three minutes if you’re at a high altitude (2,000 metres or more), should make water potable and less likely to cause you any stomach trouble. Make sure to bring along a refillable water bottle so that you can limit the number of plastic bottles you are buying and throwing in the trash.
Is Chile safe to live?
Chile is a modern and (officially) newly developed country. It’s pretty efficiently run, the people are lovely, and there’s an abundance of wildlife and amazing natural scenery to appreciate.
Living in Chile means access to some awesome ski locations in the winter, hiking along alpine valleys in the summer, amongst other things.
It is definitely a safe country to live in, with clean-ish cities, good infrastructure. It’s the country with the lowest level of corruption in government in all of Latin America, as well as the lowest level of poverty and a higher standard of living in general. Therefore, life in Chile means things like high-speed internet, well-maintained roads, and good schools. Chile is also considered the safest travel destination in South America.
It’s a diverse country with a lot to offer. Where you choose to base yourself in this very long country will affect your safety and security. Santiago, for example, is a huge city and has plenty of different areas to stay in with lots of great Santiago hostels ; there are expat bubbles like Las Condes, El Golf, Lo Barnechea, Vitacura and La Dehesa, amongst other places in the capital that are very safe to live in.
That said, this isn’t Japan. You will have to watch your belongings because petty theft is pretty high. This just means making some minor adjustments to how you might go about your daily life, but nothing that should stop you considering moving here.
Ranked as a “high income economy” by the World Bank, Chile has a low cost of living but a high quality of life – despite the crime levels. Before thinking of Chile as a wonderland, however, it’s important to know that (like anywhere) it isn’t.
All in all, moving to Chile without any research might not be the best move. Head to expat groups, read news stories about what’s happening in Chile, research nice places to live and start making your plans if it all sounds good to you. Although it’s a safe enough country to live in, it definitely pays off to know what to expect. A short-term visit is also recommended before packing all your stuff into cardboard boxes.
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Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Chile?
Renting an Airbnb in Chile is a great idea. And it’s perfectly safe, as long as you read the reviews. Staying at an Airbnb during your trip will also open up new possibilities and options to experience the country. The local hosts are known to take great care of their guests and give the absolute best recommendations of what to do and what to see. Local knowledge always goes a long way, so be sure to reach out to your hosts if you’re unsure about how to fill up your Chile itinerary!
On top of that, you’ll stay safe with the reliable Airbnb booking system. Both hosts and guests can rate each other which creates a very respectful and trustworthy interaction.
Is Chile LGBTQ+ friendly?
Luckily, Chile is a pretty open-minded and accepting country. LGBTQ+ people are not likely to encounter any discrimination, prejudice or worse. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Chile. Since 2012, the law bans all discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Big cities like Santiago offer a few LGBTQ+ communities, however, gay bars or entertainment venues are still missing. In general, the more modern the city, the more like-minded travellers you’ll find. It’s also a goo
Here are some quick answers to common questions about safety in Chile.
Is Chile dangerous for tourists?
No, Chile is not dangerous for tourist at all. That being said, you should still use your common sense and stay aware of your surroundings.
What should you avoid in Chile?
Avoid these things in Chile to stay safe: – Avoid protests at all cost – Don’t leave your belongings unattended – Avoid looking flashy and like a tourist – Keep away from stray dogs
Are there areas you should avoid in Chile?
Some neighborhoods in Santiago have seen an increased crime rate, however, they’re still very rare and hardly affect tourists. As long as you keep your eyes open and don’t wander off alone, you’ll be safe in Chile.
Is is safe to live in Chile?
It might need some adaptations, but living in Chile can be very safe. Stay in expat communities, copy the local ways of living and you won’t face any problems.
Yes, Chile is safe to visit, if you use your common sense and do a bit of research beforehand.
The country has done very well for itself and yes, the infrastructure here tends to work pretty well. It is also true that there’s generally a good standard of living across the board. However, there is also real poverty in Chile to this day.
If you’re considering travelling around Chile, then most likely this sort of thing won’t be affecting you. Indirectly, it might, since petty theft (even muggings) aren’t uncommon. But if you keep our travel tips for Chile in mind, chances are you can avoid coming into contact with anything that will stop you from having anything short of an awesome time in Chile. For the time being, definitely pay a visit!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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Chile Travel Guide
Chile is a very long and narrow country in South America bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. This is a complete Chile travel guide. It’s over 5000 kilometers long from north to south almost reaching Antarctica. Easter Island, one of the most remote islands in the world, is also part of Chile. In northern Chile you find the driest desert (Atacama Desert) in the world with ancient ruins and beautiful scenery of the high Andes. Central Chile is home to the capital Santiago de Chile and the best vineyards of the country. If you go more south you’ll pass lakes, rivers, forests which get frozen more south. There it’s all about glaciers, icecaps and cold.
Chile is a beautiful diverse country with lots of variety in nature and culture. It’s a perfect place to make a road trip. It has also great wines and delicious food. If you want to go skiing in South America, then Chile is also the place to go. The diversity makes it a perfect country for travelling.
Make sure to read my 10-14 days Chile road trip itinerary for northern Chile, Santiago de Chile, and Easter Island . It covers all places of interest.
CHILE – Road trip itinerary for 10-14 days: from Santiago to the northern desert
Chile is a very long and narrow country offering a huge variety in naturel & cultural destinations. In this article I will show you a sample Chile itinerary for 10-14 days. Starting in the capital Santiago de Chile towards the northern Atacama Desert and Iquique [read more]
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CHILE – Two Chile salt flats and a 5* lunch at 4300m altitude
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CHILE – Mining in the Atacama desert at Chuquicamata mine and Humberstone
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CHILE – Back in history in the Atacama desert & cactus valley
It is time to share with you more about my experience in the Atacama desert. This time I will write about cactuses, pre-Columbian cultures, petroglyphs and the Rainbow Valley with its magical colors. These excursions fit perfectly in a day trip and do not need [read more]
CHILE – Alto Atacama: A 5 star luxury resort tucked away in the Atacama desert
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CHILE – El Tatio Geysers and Moon Valley at sunset in Atacama desert
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CHILE – Top things to do in Santiago de Chile if you have just a day
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CHILE – Easter Island Rapa Nui in 3 days; a magical remote place
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The World Through a Lens
In the World’s Driest Desert, Ancient Wisdom Blooms Eternal
Burned out from life in New York, a photographer traveled to northern Chile to study the ancient wisdom of the Lickanantay, the area’s Indigenous people. Here’s what she saw.
The Río San Pedro surging with rainwater near the community of Coyo, in northern Chile. Credit...
Photographs and Text by Irjaliina Paavonpera
- Published Nov. 3, 2023 Updated Nov. 5, 2023
I was seated with nine other artists in the middle of the Chilean desert, with volcanic Andean peaks ahead of me and the Cordillera de la Sal, or Salt Mountains, behind me. I squinted toward the early morning sun reaching over the peaks, feeling small as it began to light up the desert in every direction. Carlos, our host, had laid out a blanket on the warm sand and was now setting down a bottle of red wine, a bowl of coca leaves and four cups.
As a group we made plates of organic offerings — edible fruit pods from an algarrobo , or carob, tree; chañar seeds; a few slices of apple and orange — before taking turns kneeling in the dirt, filling the cups with coca leaves and wine in a particular order. The cups on the right represented women, life, while those on the left represented men, death — always a duality. We then moved over a small hole dug in the ground representing the boca de Madre Tierra, the mouth of Mother Earth, to leave our offerings and speak with her as we wished.
Here, among the Lickanantay, the area’s Indigenous people, we were participating in a reciprocity ceremony called Ayni, a customary offering made to Mother Earth to ask for her invitation and protection upon our arrival. Carlos, a Lickanantay yatiri, or spiritual and medicinal healer, led us through the ritual, which was too sacred to be photographed.
I had arrived the day before in the tiny community of Coyo, in a dusty corner of the Atacama Desert, in northern Chile, after having been accepted into a three-week artist-in-residency program with La Wayaka Current , an organization that focuses on the environment, community and contemporary art. I was there to learn from and participate in the Lickanantay culture and photograph my experience. Burned out from life in New York City, I was looking to understand how ancient wisdom thrives in this part of the world, and how I could honor these values in my own existence.
Coyo isn’t quite a town; it’s more a collection of winding dirt roads with houses made of clay, rocks and branches that have been pulled from the surrounding landscape. To get there, I’d flown from New York to the northern Chilean city of Calama, where nine strangers and I boarded a bus and headed out into the desert.
As we approached Coyo, Dago, a geologist who served as our driver and guide, told us that the air here would “limpiar tus pulmones” — clean our lungs.
I took time after the Ayni ceremony to walk the streets of the community, feeling the temperature begin to rise as the sun burned away the morning clouds. At first glance, the houses might have looked worn and neglected, with cracks and crevices that exposed their inhabitants to the outside world. But I saw them more tenderly: Each was made with hands that were deeply rooted in the earth. The ceilings were supported with rocks and sticks, the fences tied together with plastic rope. Dogs kept the dwellings secure.
My mind roamed to my home in New York, to my apartment full of trinkets and furniture collected over the years, photographs collecting dust. I live in a Brooklyn brownstone, where the skyline of Lower Manhattan is reflected in my bedroom mirror. I have no idea whose hands built that city.
Pulled back to Coyo by the sounds of barking dogs, I found it hard to reconcile the fact that, somewhere else in the world, a city was thriving with skyscrapers and lights that never dim. In New York, I realized, I move through life in a way that’s alien to this community. And while that life exists, this community — in the driest desert in the world — asks Mother Earth if we may go on. May we come to you for answers, Madre Tierra?
Time was hazy in the desert. Days swirled from one to the next. I measured its passage in sunsets and sunrises, in the walks I’d taken, in the people I’d met. Sandra, Carlos’s wife, wove in and out of my days. Her energy was contagious, and everything about her was vibrant: her clothes, her laughter, her strength.
Sandra comes from a long line of shepherds. We spent an afternoon shepherding with her, talking about life as we walked llamas and sheep across the desert. Each day, she and Carlos walk under the blistering sun for hours to feed their animals, trekking on either side of the pack, whistling to keep them in line. Sandra carried Gaspar, her grandson, wrapped tightly on her back.
One day, we paused under the shade of trees, brushing the ground free of thorns and thistles to sit while the animals grazed. Sandra told us that our base in Coyo used to be their home. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, however, she and Carlos had decided to move to where they lived now, a 15-minute drive from Coyo, a place reserved for shepherding families with miles of open land and trees that drop seeds for the animals to eat. With no electricity, hot water and little to no cellular service, the community of families there pools its money together to have potable water regularly delivered.
Although Coyo is a humble desert community, it was a comfort to Sandra and Carlos. I, too, had come to understand this comfort. Sandra told us that adjusting to a new way of life was difficult at first, but that they now felt more connected to nature. As Sandra spoke, Gaspar rolled around in the dirt, bringing rocks to his mouth to taste them.
Again, I thought about my life in New York, with its comparable comforts and conveniences — a place where we’ve traded connection and respect for other beings for a particular form of bounty. But this life is bountiful, too. Sandra and Carlos walk through the desert each day by choice, feeling connected to the ground beneath and the sky above. In Brooklyn I’d seen a mother reprimand her son for stopping to pick up sticks off the ground. I thought of Gaspar, of how lucky he was to play with the earth so freely.
According to the Lickanantay, yatiris like Carlos are chosen beings who have been struck by lightning, awakening their spiritual abilities that the rest of us can gain access to only with the use of hallucinogens. Carlos was stillborn, he told us, until his mother felt lightning strike through the hospital walls in San Pedro, which brought forth his earthly cry.
In Lickanantay culture, the term “pachakuti” refers to a period of societal upheaval and transformation. The solar eclipse in 2017 welcomed us into the fifth pachakuti, Carlos told us. For centuries, the dominant social order had been that of the Western conqueror, to hide and shame the wisdom of Indigenous communities. This new pachakuti rids us of that energy, he said, and renews us with Indigenous knowledge to bring back into existence a harmony with Mother Earth and all her beings.
The Atacama Desert, abundant in minerals, is also filled with mines — for lithium, copper, magnesium, potassium. In particular, the extraction of lithium, which is used for electric-vehicle batteries and is essential to the world’s transition to renewable energy, has been at the center of ongoing debates about mining interests, climate change and Indigenous rights .
We drove for miles down bumpy roads to marvel at the landscape — the desert, the lithium-rich salt flats, the mines themselves. Nothing, nothing, until suddenly the landscape opened up and you could see salt for miles, dusting the desert like fresh snow. We parked the van, and I climbed up a craggy ledge to sit with this landscape, watching as the sun dipped behind the Cordillera de la Sal, turning the desert and the snow-capped mountains pink.
One morning the skies opened up. At first it was just a few raindrops — but then the winds grew stronger and the skies grayer, and the rain began falling relentlessly. A group of us threw on our raincoats and ran back out into the streets, arms outstretched, to let the rain patter off our sleeves.
I inhaled deeply, allowing the sweet-smelling air to fill my lungs — to clean them, as Dago had told us it would. This, I finally understood, was what he’d meant.
Irjaliina Paavonpera is a photographer who now lives between Sydney, Australia, and Paxos, Greece. You can follow her work on Instagram .
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Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..
52 Places: Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2023 list has all those elements, and more .
Spain : Does a culture-centric family trip have to be boring for the kids ?
Barbados : Venture beyond the resorts to find rum shops, farmers’ markets and surf breaks.
Malaysia : Be dazzled on the island of Penang by winding alleys, pastel-painted storefronts and aromatic food.
India: A writer is guided by the age-old epic story of “Rajula Malushahi,” which led him to a series of unexpected places .
Serbia: Belgrade is quietly developing into one of the best bar destinations in Europe .
Kenya: Fifty years after her own first safari, a grandmother takes her adult granddaughter on a wildlife adventure .
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