Wayfairer Travel Guide: Chile

From Atacama’s ethereal deserts to Patagonia’s snowy peaks, discover what makes Chile so unusual with our ultimate travel guide.


A long, skinny strip of country, Chile crams a wealth of diverse wonders into its expansive territory—a captivating tapestry of surreal landscapes and bustling regions waiting to be explored.

Unlock these secrets of Chile with our comprehensive travel guide, revealing the best time to visit, must-see attractions and practical tips for an unforgettable adventure.

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Introduction to Chile

Chile, the world's longest country at 4,300 km, spans from the scorching middle to its icy foot. Despite its narrow width, the country averages just 175 kilometres in width, and it’s packed with extreme natural beauty.

The Andes dominate the east, covering 80% in snowy peaks, while the west is kissed by the Pacific with tropical beaches. Further west is Easter Island (Rapa Nui), a remote island with mystical moai statues and ancient Rapa Nui culture.

The Atacama Desert guards the north, the driest place on Earth, while the south reveals the frozen wonders of Patagonia, home to Torres del Paine's glittering icebergs.

Begin or end your Chilean adventure in Santiago, exploring Valparaíso's history and the wine haven of Casablanca.


Best time to visit Chile

There isn’t really a best time to visit Chile, as the country offers diverse experiences year-round.

Summer (December to February) is ideal for trekking Patagonia and enjoying clear weather. It’s also a great season to visit Easter Island as the famous Tapati Rapa Nui festival is held in February.

Autumn (March to May) showcases golden foliage and hosts wine harvest festivals in valleys like Casablanca.

Winter (June to August) provides excellent skiing in the Lake District and cooler temperatures for exploring central Chile.

Spring (September to November) brings vibrant blooms, particularly in the stunning Atacama Desert.

Top things to do in Chile 

There are many things to do in Chile for all generations, including visiting a kaleidoscope of landscapes, discovering cultures, and tasting many flavours.

The country beckons with unique experiences, from hiking the iconic Torres del Paine in Patagonia, known for its three granite peaks ‘horns’ of the Paine mountain range. Atacama Desert, Earth's driest place, stretches 100,000 kilometres, boasting otherworldly valleys, mystical rock sculptures, towering volcanoes, and dazzling lakes.

1 Explore the spectacular Atacama Desert, a fantastic place for stargazing
2 Torres de Paine National Park is a great location for hiking
Have a stroll through the beautiful vineyards in Chile 

Indulge in a Casablanca winery tour, savouring Chile's renowned Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Or adventure to the Lake District, which combines stunning scenery with thrilling adventures like trekking, ziplining, and sailing. Witness the Marble Chapels on Lake General Carrera, kayaking through mesmerizing blue textures.

Our Chile travel guide wouldn’t be complete without mention of Santiago, the bustling capital. Climb San Cristóbal Hill for panoramic views, encountering the iconic Virgin Mary statue and peaceful Japanese gardens

Where to stay in Chile

Chile’s luxurious accommodations are inspired by the wild beauty of the country, with a focus on sustainable practices and designs that pay tribute to the rich cultures and stunning environment.

Tierra Atacama

Discover Tierra Atacama, South America's first solar-powered hotel, nestled in Chile's Atacama Desert. Experience the thrill of being off the beaten track in the driest place on earth, surrounded by the stunning Andes and volcanoes.

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EcoCamp Patagonia

EcoCamp Patagonia offers a unique camping experience with interconnected geodesic domes against the breathtaking backdrop of the snow-capped Andes. Its 25 luxury accommodations seamlessly blend into the natural world, providing an unparalleled stay.

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Hotel AWA

Hotel AWA, an independent family project, awaits at the entrance to Patagonia in Chile. With views of national parks and mountains, it offers easy access to explore incredible landmarks along the National Park route. Just 20 minutes from Puerto Varas, this is where ancient cultures converge.

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Luxury Chile Itineraries 

Chile is a vast country with a myriad of wonders, and it can get overwhelming when planning your holiday.

Ask our travel specialists to create a bespoke itinerary for you, focusing on your personal tastes, be that trekking, outdoor adventure, culture, cuisine, wineries, or wildlife.

Classic Chile Tour - 12 Days

Explore Chile's highlights in 12 days, from Santiago and the Atacama Desert to trekking Torres del Paine and savouring the Casablanca Valley's world-class wineries.


Luxury Chile Holiday - 14 Days

Indulge in a 14-day journey featuring top hotels, private service, and experiences in the Atacama Desert, Casablanca Valley vineyards, and the cultural hubs of Santiago, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar.

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Chile Honeymoon - 13 Days

Embark on a 13-day romantic adventure in Valparaíso, Santiago, Casablanca vineyards, the Atacama Desert, and Easter Island for an unforgettable honeymoon.


Chile Family Holiday - 11 Days

Treat your family to an 11-day adventure exploring Santiago, sandboarding in the Atacama Desert, and discovering the Lake District's kid-friendly attractions, including rivers, lakes, forests, and ancient volcanoes.


Chile Off the Beaten Track - 12 Days

Venture into Chile's wildest corners with a 12-day journey to Balmaceda, where the Andes meet Northern Patagonia, and explore the stunning landscapes of Patagonia and Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales.


Chile Travel Advice

Before you go to Chile 

  • Flights: International flights are not included, but we can arrange them upon request.
  • Visa Requirements: Valid passport, one blank page, and proof of departure needed for entry. More details here…link to the government website
  • Vaccinations: Recommended for Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, influenza, and rabies. Pregnant women should consult regarding Zika on Easter Island.
  • Travel Insurance: Obtain comprehensive coverage for your trip, including planned activities.

What to pack for Chile

  • Wear long, loose, and warm clothing for sun protection and insect bites.
  • Bring comfortable walking shoes, hiking boots, and a waterproof jacket.
  • Pack swimwear and water activity clothes.
  • Include toiletries: sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief, and lip balm.
  • Don a hat and sunglasses.
  • Carry binoculars, a camera, and extra memory cards.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to minimise waste.
  • Don't forget a multi-way travel adaptor for Chile's plug types C and L.




During your trip in Chile

Here are some things to know while you are travelling through Chile.

  • Money: Chile uses the Chilean peso. Check current exchange rates on com.
  • ATMs: Access money through redbanc ATMs; watch for high fees and CH$200,000 withdrawal limits.
  • Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard widely accepted but expect up to 6% surcharge.
  • Money Exchange: Exchange currency in Santiago.
  • Tipping: Tip 10% in restaurants; check for automatic 'servicio' charge.
  • Bargaining: Uncommon practice in Chile.
  • Water: Tap water generally safe, but high mineral content. Opt for bottled or purified water.
  • Insects: Protect against bites with repellent and light, loose clothing.
  • Emergency Numbers: Dial 131 for ambulance, 133 for police.
  • Altitude Sickness: Risk above 2500 meters; watch for symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Family travel in Chile

Chile is a fantastic family destination, featuring kid-friendly adventures and accommodations.

Santiago and the Lake District are top spots, offering parks, museums, horseback riding, and thrilling activities for teenagers. The Atacama Desert provides sandboarding and cultural experiences.

Full-board hotels pamper families with spa relaxation for parents and entertaining guides for kids.

Although restaurants may lack dedicated kids' menus, child-friendly options like pasta are offered. Keep in mind that dinner starts around 7 pm, and Latin-style dining is leisurely, so bring activities like colouring books for the kids. 



Accessible travel in Chile

Chile is enhancing travel accessibility, particularly in Santiago, which leads with top-notch facilities.

While public transportation is improving, sidewalks and crossings remain challenging.

The National Tourism Service, partnering with the National Disabilities Service, strives to boost nationwide accessibility.

Is it safe to visit Chile?

Chile is generally safe, ranking among the safest in the Americas. Yet, like many cities, muggings can occur, especially at bus stations and urban centres.

Safeguard valuables, stay vigilant for pickpockets, and avoid walking alone at night.

While gay couples usually face no issues, the country's Catholic and conservative nature may lead to less tolerance toward the LGBTQ community.

Responsible Travel in Chile

Read our Responsible Travel Guide to Chile to discover how you can travel more responsibly and sustainably.

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