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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!

Chile Map

Use this Chile travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Chile map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Chile Travel Guide

Plan the ultimate trip to Chile with the help of these guides!

Traveling In South America

These guides share Chile travel advice as well as tips for exploring South America in general!

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

Chile Hotels

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?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

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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