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Great Chile Itineraries: How Many Days to Spend?

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Chile is a travel destination unlike any other. The slender country runs from north to south and features all kinds of landscapes including glacier-filled Patagonia in the south, the stony terrain of the Atacama Desert in the north, the lakes and volcanoes of the Lake District and even secluded Easter Island, a Chilean territory in the Pacific Ocean. The country is also home to cultural hotspots including the capital, Santiago, which is surrounded by the Andes mountains, and the port city Valparaiso. Here is an overview of possible Chile itineraries to help you plan your trip to Chile, depending on how long or short you want the stay to be.

How much time should I spend in Chile?

Star-studded night sky against the arid hills of Atacama
The hauntingly beautiful landscape of Atacama Desert is often compared to the moon

A short stay in Chile would last from about 5 to 7 days and could give a glimpse into its diversity. You could mainly explore Santiago and its neighbouring colourful towns and wine valleys. Squeeze in a few more days and you can venture out to either Patagonia, Atacama or Easter Island. Large distances between the major highlights means flying in and out of destinations is the best approach to any Chilean vacation, particularly for shorter trips.

Our recommendation is at least 2 weeks to experience Chile’s must-not-miss wonders. This allows plenty of time to explore the destination you are interested in most, with some time to visit the best attractions like Santiago, Valparaiso, a wine valley or two and Cajon del Maipo. Better, with three weeks, you can really start to discover Chile in more depth, taking in all the major destinations and lingering a little longer in the places you enjoy most.

1 week in Chile

View of Santiago from the top of one of its hills
The cultural hub of Chile, Santiago is usually the first city most tourists visit in the country
An array of fruits on display in a market in Santiago
Mercado Vega Central is Santiago's mecca of tastes and aromas

An extended weekend of 5 days to 7 days may not look like a lot when traveling to somewhere like Chile, but if you are willing to make some tough decisions, you can still experience a lot.

Those wishing to revel mostly in the culture, wine, and food of Chile should start the trip discovering Santiago. Couple a day of sightseeing with a taste-bud tingling stop at Mercado Vega Central. Hike up Cerro San Cristobal for a 360-degree view of the city and visit the bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista for lunch or dinner. Do not miss out on the exquisite Chilean cuisine! No trip to Santiago is complete without a coastal break to Valparaiso. The colorful port city is the soul of Chile, allowing its visitors to actually wind down and enjoy life at a slower pace. Add Vina del Mar and one of the wine valleys in the itinerary and you can have a holiday of sand, sea, sun and wine without traveling far. Cap it off with a short road trip to Cajón del Maipo to reach the Andes and take a dip in one of the hot springs before heading home.

Alternatively, you can completely scratch off Santiago and its neighbors from the plan and head straight for the destination of your choice — Patagonia, Atacama, the Lake District or Easter Island — for an unforgettable 7-day Chile vacation!

For more information, check out some of our 7-day Chile itineraries.

10-day Chile itinerary

With ten days at your disposal, you don’t have to miss out on much. You can see the best of Santiago, Valparaiso, the coast, and the wine region and still have enough time to explore one or two of Chile’s major destinations. Head to Atacama and then to the Lake District on this 10-day Chile itinerary. Or, if you’d like to take the steering wheel of the journey (literally!), you might also want to consider taking a road trip through the Lake District that culminates in Santiago via Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and Casablanca valley. The possibilities are endless.

For more ideas, check out our recommended itineraries for 10 days in Chile.

2-week Chile itinerary

A woman hiking up a trail next to a snow-capped volcano
If you thought you couldn't climb a volcano, think again! Climbing Villarrica volcano in the Lake District may not be easy but is definitely achievable

A two-week Chile trip itinerary will allow you a more complete experience. You can follow a similar itinerary to the 10-day version, but instead of skipping over the transitional zone between the center and far north or south of the country, you can take in the pretty Elqui Valley region on your way up to the Atacama Desert. If you don’t hang about too much, you will also have time to fly back down to the south of the country to spend a few days exploring Torres del Paine National Park, another of the country’s famous parks and perhaps the most visually appealing.

3-week Chile itinerary

A traveler cycles on a stretch of road between two rocky formations
The Atacama Desert can be sweltering during the day but that doesn't stop visitors from exploring its wonders
The moai statues stand against the Pacific ocean under the starry nightsky
See the sunrise or the Milkyway Galaxy at night from Tongariki, Easter Island — also home to 15 giant stone heads

With a trip of this length, you can afford to spend more time in each place you visit, or you can go quickly to pack in as much as possible and see all the best that Chile has to offer. Follow the same plan as for the two-week itinerary but consider adding a stop in Chile’s Lake District before continuing on to Torres del Paine. Alternatively, you can travel to the harsh and dramatic landscape of Tierra del Fuego in the deep south for some challenging hiking. Another irresistible possibility if you have time is to take a flight to remote Easter Island to see the enigmatic moai, megalithic statues carved by Polynesian settlers hundreds of years ago.

Planning a trip to Chile?

If you need more help planning your trip or working out the best Chile itinerary, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts. If you’d like to book a package or join a group tour, check out our Chile tours page for more ideas.

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