Best time to visit Chile
Chile is an extremely long country, over 4300 kilometers, it has several different climate zones with very different weather patterns.
In general it’s perfectly possible to comfortably visit year round from Santiago & the Central Region up to the Peruvian border. However from the Lake District further down to the deep south of Patagonia winter time is definitely not the most pleasant time to go.
We’ll give you an insight about the best time to visit Chile, from north to south. But let’s first start with the holiday periods.
Chile’s Holiday Period
Most Chileans have their summer holidays in February, this is the time you’ll see them travelling all over the country. It’s the high season of the year with of course big crowds and higher prices, except in Santiago where many inhabitants leave the city.
In general, from the Christmas period to February it’s busy, with also many Argentineans and Brazilians celebrating their time off from work, and many foreigners travelling around.
Our advice: definitely try to adapt your itinerary so that you won’t be in Chile’s highlight spots in February. If you can’t, then don’t worry; book in advance, be patient, meet lots of people and enjoy this extraordinary country.
Best time to visit San Pedro de Atacama & the North
San Pedro de Atacama is a destination you can visit throughout the entire year, but from January through March it can get hot and it could rain occasionally. Luckily you’re in the desert and on altitude, so the temperatures go down at night.
Even in winter time it’s comfortable because of our yellow buddy up in the sky, mister sunshine. At night however the temperatures go down dramatically and it gets cold.
When going on an excursion up in the altiplanos (high plateaus) it can get seriously freezing in winter time and cold in spring and autumn. Be prepared and take warm clothes, otherwise you’ll shiver your teeth out. Even in summer time you should dress in layers, just don’t forget we are on high altitude here.
If you’re a beach bum and you want to head south to La Serena, located at about 5 hours north of Santiago, the best time to go is in the busy summer. The weather in nearby stargazing paradise Elqui Valley is fine all year round. But it’s located in the mountains so it gets cold in winter time.
Best time to visit Santiago & the Center
Santiago & Chile’s central region is very pleasant to visit in any season really. The best time to visit Chile’s capital is in spring and autumn, with plenty of sunshine and thinner crowds. In the summer, Santiago is less crowded and accommodation prices go down. The weather is hot this time of the year in Central Chile, with hardly any rain and lots of sunshine.
Beach destinations like Viña del Mar & Reñaca are extremely popular in summer time. Argentineans also love it and it’s the place to go to during the summer months if you want to party like crazy and if you’re not looking at all for an empty secluded beach.
The Center is Chile’s wine area also and the wineries attract visitors all year round. In spring the landscape becomes beautifully green, a very special sight.
Winter time, especially from June to August, means you can strap on your skis or snowboard. Skiing in the Andes, you should tick it of your bucket list!
Best time to visit the Lake District & Chiloé Island
The best weather season for the beautiful Lake District & magic Chiloé Island is without a doubt the summer time, which is also the high season, although it could be rainy and cloudy at this time of the year too.
If you have a limited budget and you want to avoid the crowds then try to visit this region in spring or early autumn when the weather is still very fine.
The Lake District & Chiloé are home to very wet cold winters. Unless you want to test your rain gear it’s not the most advisable time of the year to go there. Winter sports fanatics however will love the skiing possibilities in for example Pucón and near Puerto Varas.
Best time to visit the Carretera Austral
The Carretera Austral, a stunning road and area, starting in Puerto Montt and ending in Villa O’Higgins (near to El Chaltén, Argentina) is mostly visited also in summer time, from December to February, when the weather is most favorable. It even gets pretty hot actually.
In February however, Chile’s holiday month, the area can’t handle the amount of tourists. The Carretera Austral has become very popular in a short time and there simply aren’t enough beds and buses, roads get busy & jammed and people queue up to try to hitch a ride.
If you have the freedom to choose, we suggest going there in spring or autumn. In September and October the first adventurers arrive despite that it’s still rather cold. November and December are excellent months to visit the Carretera Austral (January gets busy already).
March to mid-April, our favorite time, is awesome too. Nature starts changing color, the climate is still great although it gets chilly or even cold at night, especially in April.
From May to September, it’s very cold with lots of rain or snow, public transport is mostly not operating, activities are not organized regularly. For most of you it’s probably not a good period to explore the Carretera Austral.
Year round it’s absolutely advisable to take good rain gear. All the destinations located at the sea, or close to it, are notorious to get a lot of rainfall.
Best time to visit Torres del Paine & the deep south of Patagonia
The story for Torres del Paine and Southern Patagonia is basically the same as for the Carretera Austral. The best time climate wise is from December to March, although the winds can get crazily strong. It is however also the high season, at least up to the end of February. Don’t expect to go trekking with no other hikers around you.
February gets really busy in fact! It wouldn’t be the first time Torres del Paine can’t handle the amount of tourists in February, although measurements have been taken to control the flow of visitors. We have spoken on several occasions with travellers who had travelled to the far south only to go to Torres del Paine, but after one or two days of trekking they just left the park, totally disappointed: too crowded, queues on the trails, no space to sleep…
But don’t get us wrong, the place is incredible! Go there in September or October and there won’t be many people on the campgrounds and at the famous towers. We remember putting our tent up on a campground with just a handful of other tents, absolutely amazing, you’ll forget about the cold nights.
In November and the first half of December the park receives more people but it’s perfectly fine, and March is a wonderful month too with great weather and the big crowds have just left.
During winter time the park stays open and it’s the perfect time to have the pure wilderness experience if you can handle the harsh climate. Good luck!
Year round it’s necessary to take or hire high quality wind and rainproof equipment. The weather can change quickly all year round to very challenging conditions and in summer the wind can be ferocious!
Crossing into Argentina
The Andes are located smack on the entire border with Argentina. Keep in mind that border crossings often get closed in winter time due to the weather conditions, and many are closed for the whole winter season.
Get South’s opinion about the best time to visit Chile
If your goal is to go to the beach, get a tan and party hardy then the Chilean summer is definitely the best moment to go to Chile.
However, most of you are probably not going to Chile just to launch yourself on a beach towel. To get the most out of your trip to Chile we recommend going in the months of October to mid-December and March to April. The weather is excellent or at least fine all over the country and you’ll beat the crowds. It’s so much more enjoyable to admire all the Chile’s natural beauty without thousands of other travellers around you. And it’s not the high season, so you’ll save a lot of budget on accommodation, transport and activities!
You don’t have the freedom to choose when to go to Chile and in your favourite region the weather is not good? No drama, Chile’s other regions will definitely also make your jaw drop, over and over again! Or just accept the weather, take the necessary gear and enjoy the peace and silence!
Don’t hesitate to ask for more advice via the comments down below. Or let us know your opinion about when to visit Chile.