Are you going to Chile? Here’s the best time to go

Planning another trip Chile? First, congratulations – you have it bueno taste in travel destinations. Second, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed right now. I mean, Chile has everything. There are almost also 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 travelers.

For starters, how about dividing this extra long country (FYI Chile is over 4000 kilometers long but only 170 kilometers 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 do this because Chile is a lanky country of extremes. One day you might be staring into the belly of a volcano, and the next you’re hiking the mythical Andes. You might start your adventure with stargazing in the north, then drink world-class Malbec at the end of the trip.

But that’s exactly what makes Chile a wonderland. Because regardless of the time of year, there is an experience out there that is guaranteed to keep your travel fire burning. So let’s talk about Chilean weather patterns, peak seasons and where to get the best Mate in the city.

Chilean Patagonia

Happy hikers in Patagonia

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

Best Outdoor Adventure Weather: November to February
Best public-free months: September, October, March, April

Chilean Patagonia may be stunningly beautiful, but it’s also a fickle beast, and travel to this region in the winter months is likely to have world-record winds (they can reach 120 km/h) and sub-zero nights.

A trekker in a yellow jacket in Patagonia

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

But even if you’re Shackleton incarnate and want to brave the Patagonian steppe at its wildest (perhaps spotting a cougar or two), be warned that many of the main attractions close in winter, and large parts of southern Patagonia are emptied.

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

Therefore, summer time is your best bet, especially if you are keen on horse riding and hiking. Sure, travel in high season will inevitably involve larger crowds, but dealing with a few 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 perfect (thank me later, photographers).

A group of hikers in Patagonia, Chile

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

RELATED: WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO EXPERIENCE PATAGONIA ON A GROUP WATCH

Spring (September, October, November) and fall (March, April, May) shoulder seasons see fewer crowds and relatively mild temperatures, but I’d still recommend packing one (or two) of everything. Patagonia is completely unpredictable and you can expect rain, hail and sunshine on 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 is in the heart of some of northern Chile’s most dramatic landscapes. Surrounded by bubbling geysers, a ring of volcanoes and the magical salt flats, it is a bona fide oasis town. It also happens to be one of the driest areas in the world; in fact, some parts have not seen rainfall for over 400 years. So if you’re looking to escape the wet, you’re set. Literally.

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

Hikers in the Atacama Desert

Photo by April Wong.

Daily temperatures are fairly stable year-round (sitting in the mid to low 20s), the only difference between seasons being the chill factor at night. If you visit in winter, expect sub-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 bit of frost, this is a spectacular time of year to see the desert plains bloom with over 200 species of flowers. So not bad at all. Pretty enticing for florists, I’d imagine.

RELATED: WHY YOU’LL LOVE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

Travelers 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 to see the sky, summer is the season for you. The night sky during these months is crystal clear, so you can lay your head down on the dusty desert floor and get lost in the Milky Way. Sunrise at El Tatio Geyser is also best at this time of year, when you can see the white columns of steam billowing into the morning sky. Dreamy.

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Santiago and Valparaíso

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 pampering. Culture? Check. Nightlife? Double check. Good food and wine? More than you can imagine, little adventurer. Whether you’re shopping on Avenida Vitacura, swimming in Playa Canelo or stuffing your face with seafood at Mercado Central, this region is very bee all year round – it just depends on what you’re looking for.

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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 beautiful slopes in South America. Imagine a ski field with an Andean backdrop, just two hours from the sea. If that makes you want to dust off your board, then I’d consider hitting up the capital over the winter (June to August).

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

March and April must otherwise be some of the most beautiful times of the year in and around Santiago. The autumn leaves are turning, the wine festivals are in full swing and you can visit the wine countries during the harvest. Valleys and vineyards and wine, oh my!

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

Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

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