Squeezed in between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, Chile is just 217 miles east to west, but extends more than 2,600 miles from north to south! Its peculiar shape and distinct geography results in a full range of climates and landscapes. Go stargazing in the salt flats of the Atacama Desert, and go kayaking in the icebergs of Patagonia in the Torres del Paine National Park. It’s all possible during the same trip when you visit Chile.
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Named after the huge, granite towers that rise impressively out of the landscape, the Torres del Paine National Park covers over 1,100 square miles of Patagonian wilderness. This park is a must-see for nature lovers and keen hikers who travel to Chile. The Cordillera Paine is the focal point of this park as the transition from the subpolar forests to the Patagonian steppes. Track the elusive puma with an expert guide, and discover the glaciers and deep blue icebergs of Grey Lake.
The Atacama Desert covers more than 600 miles and is the driest nonpolar desert on earth. You’ll see truly unique landscapes quite unlike anything you’ve seen before - huge salt flats, geysers, lagoons, and volcanos stretch for as far as the eye can see. For those interested in astrology, the Atacama Desert is one of the best places in the world to stargaze. Prepare to be amazed by an adventure destination that is truly out of this world.
Easter Island is located 2,290 miles off the coast of Chile. This UNESCO world heritage site is best known for the almost 900 stone head statues or Moai. See these monoliths at one of the ceremonial altars or ahu and summit Terevaka, the highest peak for a panoramic view of this spectacularly remote land.
Volcano Osorno is the perfect destination for those looking to enjoy a scenic road trip or adventure hike. Located around 500 miles south of the capital Santiago, Osorno is one of the most active volcanoes of the Andes. Located in the Los Lagos Region of Chile, this enormous volcano is similar in appearance to Mount Fuji, and has the beautiful Llanquihue Lake at its base.
Chiloé Island is the largest Island in Chile. The houses ignore the border between land and sea, and stand atop wooden stilts on the water. The island is known for its seafaring culture, and even the churches are built like boats! Most of these unique houses of worship from the 18 and 19th centuries are UNESCO World Heritage sites, made completely of wood with rounded ceilings like a ship's hull.
Santiago has been the capital of Chile since colonial times. Now about seven million Chilenos call this sprawling city home. Stroll through the neoclassical ambiance of Plaza de Armas or explore the winding streets of Bellavista where local artisans often sell their wares. Grab an Italiano hot dog—chock-full of avocado, onions, and tomatoes—to power your exploration.
Built on the steep hills rising from the Pacific Ocean, the port town of Valparaíso is known for the vibrant colors of its buildings. Ride the funicular railway up the city’s unusual landscape and enjoy spectacular ocean views. Visit Sebastiana, the quirky former home of Pablo Neruda, and learn more about this Nobel laureate from the attached museum. Watch the sunset with a steaming bowl of Cazuela Mariscos, a traditional seafood stew. Less
Chile is located in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are reversed, with winter spanning June to August and summer from December to February. The most popular time to make a trip to Chile is during the southern hemisphere summer. The best time of year depends on where you want to go. Because of the country’s length, Chile has several climates.
In the north, the Atacama Desert is extremely arid with hot days and cold nights. Central Chile, where Santiago and the Wine Country are located, has a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures ranging from 60 to 90 degrees. Patagonia in the south is known for extreme weather and may be inaccessible during winter and autumn. Easter Island is subtropical with high humidity and is best visited during temperate seasons of spring or autumn. Note that the country.
What you need to pack for your Chile vacation depends on where you plan to visit. If you plan on visiting Patagonia and the Torres del Paine National Park, be sure to pack hiking boots and durable outdoor wear. However, if you prefer not to buy new clothing for your trip, or wish to travel light, there are lots of retailers in Chile that will rent you equipment for your vacation. If you are visiting Wine Country, Santiago, or the Atacama Desert during the summer months, pack comfortable and light-fitting clothing that is suitable for warmer weather. Speak to your Tourlane Travel Expert for more information.
Chile has three time zones: Chile Standard Time, Easter Island Standard Time, and Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Time.
We recommend spending at least 10 days touring Chile.
The Chilean peso (CLP) is the official currency of Chile.
Spanish is Chile's official language.
Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL), also known as Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, has direct flights to the USA.
As a U.S. citizen, you do not require a visa to visit Chile for stays of up to 90 days. More information is available here.
We recommend Chile to travelers with a particular interest in hiking, the outdoors, and nature. If you want to see some of the most extraordinary and varied landscapes in South America, ranging from volcanoes to glaciers and deserts, then Chile is the perfect country for you. Chile is much larger than Peru, so we recommend it to travelers who have enough time to explore it properly. Peru also has less geographical variety compared to Chile. Chile has fewer cities compared to Argentina, and also is less of a food and wine destination compared to Argentina.
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