Home » Travelling to Chile? Here’s the best time to go

Travelling to Chile? Here’s the best time to go

written by Tayla Gentle February 19, 2019
Two travellers in Patagonia, Chile

Planning a trip to Chile? Firstly, congratulations – you have bueno taste in travel destinations. Secondly, it’s normal to be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I mean, Chile has got everything. There are almost too many geysers to see, trails to trek and wines to drink. But don’t worry, we’re going to break things down for you, dear traveller.

To start, how about we divvy this extra long country up (FYI Chile is over 4000 kilometres in length but only 170 kilometres wide east to west) into three key areas: Santiago and Valparaiso; Chilean Patagonia; and San Pedro de Atacama and the salt flats.

EXPLORE OUR FULL RANGE OF SMALL GROUP ADVENTURES IN CHILE NOW

We’re doing this because Chile is a lanky land of extremes. One day you might be staring down the belly of a volcano and the next you’re hiking the mythical Andes ranges. You might begin your adventure stargazing in the north, only to be drinking world class Malbec by trip’s end.

But that’s exactly what makes Chile an adventure wonderland. Because no matter the time of year, there’s an experience out there guaranteed to keep your travel fire stoked. So, let’s talk Chilean weather patterns, peak seasons and where to get the best mate  in town.

Chilean Patagonia

Happy hikers in Patagonia

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

Best outdoor adventure weather: November to February
Best crowd-free months: September, October, March, April

Chilean Patagonia may be staggeringly beautiful but it’s also a fickle beast, and travel to this region during its winter months is likely to feature world record winds (they can get up to 120 km/h) and negative zero nights.

A trekker in a yellow jacket in Patagonia

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

But even if you’re Shackleton incarnate and you wish to brave the Patagonian steppe at its most wild (perhaps spotting a puma or two), be warned that many of the key attractions close over winter and much of Southern Patagonia empties out.

HIKE AROUND BEAUTIFUL PATAGONIA ON OUR 15-DAY PATAGONIA WILDERNESS ADVENTURE – DETAILS HERE

That’s why summertime is your best bet, especially if you’re keen on horseback riding and hiking. Sure, travel during peak season will inevitably involve bigger crowds, but dealing with a couple of extra hikers on the trails will be worth it to see Torres del Paine in all its glory. Not to mention the light at sunrise and sunset will be perfection (thank me later, photographers).

A group of trekkers in Patagonia, Chile

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

RELATED: WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE EXPLORING PATAGONIA ON A GROUP TOUR

The Spring (September, October, November) and Autumn (March, April, May) shoulder seasons see fewer crowds and relatively mild temperatures, but I would still recommend packing one (or two) of everything. Patagonia is completely unpredictable and you can expect rain, hail and shine all in the same day – sometimes all at once.

San Pedro de Atacama and the salt flats

A farmer herding llamas in San Pedro de Atacama

Photo by Jess Kraft

Best months for stargazing: December to February
Most crowded month: January

San Pedro de Atacama lays at the heart of some of northern Chile’s most dramatic landscapes. Bordered by bubbling geysers, a ring of volcanoes and those magical salt flats, it’s a bona fide oasis town. It also happens to be one of the driest regions in the world; in fact, some parts haven’t seen rainfall in over 400 years. So if you’re looking to escape the wet, you’re in the clear. Literally.

CHECK OUT SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA ON OUR 8-DAY BEST OF CHILE ADVENTURE

Hikers in the Atacama Desert

Photo by April Wong.

Daily temperatures are pretty stable all year round (sitting at the mid to low 20s), the only difference between seasons is the chill factor at night. If you’re visiting in winter, expect below zero evenings. That said, winter in the Atacama is delightfully dry so if you’ve got yourself a first-class sleeping bag and don’t mind a little frost, this is a spectacular time of year to see the desert plains bloom with over 200 species of flowers. So like, not all bad. Pretty enticing for florists, I would imagine.

RELATED: WHY YOU’LL LOVE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

Travellers hiking in San Pedro de Atacama

Photo by Yoann Combronde.

High season in the Atacama means super comfortable temperatures (we’re talking daily highs of 24 and nights of five degrees). If you’re in town for the skygazing, summer is the season for you. The night sky during these months are crystal clear, so you can lay your head down on the dusty desert floor and get lost in the milky way. Also, sunrise at El Tatio geyser is best this time of year, when you can see the white steam columns billowing into the morning sky. Dreamy.

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Santiago and Valparaiso

a group of people in Santiago on a walking tour

Photo by April Wong.

Best months for snow sports: June to August
Best time of year to enjoy wine: March and April

Santiago (Chile’s capital) and Valparaiso (the port city) are all about indulgence. Culture? Check. Nightlife? Double check. Good food and wine? More than you can imagine, little adventurer. Whether you’re shopping the Avenida Vitacura, swimming the Playa Canelo, or stuffing your face with seafood at Mercado Central, this region is muy bien all year-round – it just depends what you’re after.

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Cable cars in Santiago, Chile

Photo by Jose L. Stephens.

If you’re into snow sports, Chile has some of the most ridiculously good looking slopes in South America. Imagine a ski field set against an Andean backdrop, just two hours from the ocean. If that gets you dusting off your board then I would consider hitting up the capital over winter (June to August).

RELATED: SANTIAGO IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A STOPOVER CITY. HERE’S WHY.

Otherwise March and April have got to be some of the most beautiful times of year in and around Santiago. The autumnal leaves are turning, the wine festivals are in full swing and you can tour the winelands during harvest. Valleys and vineyards and wine, oh my!

Now you know, it’s time to go! Explore our full range of small group adventures around Chile now

Feature photo by Patrick O’Neill.

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