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Things to Do in Chile

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From Santiago's rich cultural scenes and Valparaíso's fascinating art to overwhelming wilderness in Patagonia and imposing natural monuments like Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, the number and variety of things to do in Chile are good reasons to add this beautiful country to your travel agenda.

Whether you choose to explore the Chilean beauties by yourself, or you are interested in joining some of the many available tours in Chile, there is something for everyone. Check out these top 14 things to do in Chile, and choose what is best suited for you. 

1. Unravel the Mysteries of Easter Island

Easter Island in Chile is a must visit
The giant statue heads called Moai makes Easter Island in Chile a major tourist attraction

Best time to visit: April to June and October to December. The weather is pleasant, it is less crowded, and the accommodation prices are lower than during high season.

While getting to Easter Island has its fair share of challenges, the fascinating land still manages to attract thousands of tourists in Chile every year. Discover the giant head statues called moai, that have shrouded this island in mystery since forever; spend your time in its pristine beaches, enjoy the distinct culture, there are so many reasons to visit Easter Island. Regardless of how long you decide to spend in the island, you are destined for a memorable stay while on a tour to Easter Island!

Insider's tip: There are only a few ATMs in Hanga Roa. It is recommended you pull out cash before visiting other attractions, like Anakena beach where they only accept cash payments. You can pay with Chilean pesos and USD everywhere, as long as the USD is in really good condition and without any marks. — by Joaquin Bruna from Ecochile Travel 

Here is a fulfilling 4 day Easter Island tour, that should appeal to anyone!

2. Witness the magnificent Patagonia Glaciers

Ice-hiking on Glacier Grey in Patagonia
Hikers on an ice-hike trip of Glacier Grey

Best time to visit: Spring (October to November). Winter will havejust ended, leaving the glaciers in great conditions.

When in Chile, especially in Patagonia, one cannot leave without visiting one or all of its jaw-dropping glaciers. The glaciers are amongst the most impressive natural phenomenon in Chile, and each year thousands flock to view them and take part in the carefully organised tourist trade which seeks to safeguard the rapidly disappearing ice coverage. There are many impressive glaciers possible to visit. The Grey Glacier, in the southern Patagonia ice field, measures over 270 square km, and at 6 km wide and over 30 m in height it is an impressive sight. Further north, you’ll find the San Rafael Glacier, the closest tidewater glacier to the equator, covering an area of some 760 square km. Sadly, due to human environmental activity, the glaciers continue to shrink each year, yet they remain an impressive site, the last remnants of the ice age amongst us.

Insider's tip: There is a new excursion available that visits a place called Canal de las montañas or 'Mountain channel'. The place is amazing, wild and visited by very few every year. In this excursion the visitors navigate through a fjord with 7 glaciers going down the mountains on either sides. – Francisco from Onteaiken Patagonia

The Classic Patagonia trek allows you to see and explore many Patagonian glaciers and the rest of the area.

3. Explore Torres del Paine in Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park, a stunning glimpse into the incredible biodiversity of southern Patagonia

Best time to visit: Spring (October to November) brings mild temperatures, and the flora and fauna comes alive. Summer (December to February) is the high season with great temperature and lots of tourists. Fall (March to May) is still a good time to visit, with slightly cooler temperature and less tourists around.

Shared with Argentina, Patagonia is one of the most amazing regions in both countries. You can search for Patagonia tours that take care of the entire itinerary or just embark on the adventure with a group of friends. Either way, make sure you plan your trip for the peak summer months. The best time to visit Patagonia is October to November. The most popular attraction in this region is the Torres del Paine National Park. If time allows, you should deifinitely consider a Torres del Paine trek and there are three routes to choose from! Aside from this you should also explore its southern, mysterious provinces of Magallanes, Última Esperanza and Tierra del Fuego.

Insider's tip: Visit Torres del Paine National Park in the Indian summer (April). The trails are less crowded, the scenery is awesome and it is easier to observe wildlife and do bird watching. – by Christian Moser from Moser Active

Here are some amazing Torres del Paine trek tours that might peak your interest:

6 days W trek tour in Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine Full Circuit 9 days

4. Visit Isla Magdalena and Play with the Penguins

Island Magdalena in Chile
A visit to the Los Pingüinos Natural Monument in Chile is an experience unlike anything

Best time to visit: November to March is the only time with boat tours available to Isla Magdalena.

A visit to the Los Pingüinos Natural Monument in Chile is an experience unlike anything. This is the largest penguin colony in southern Chile, and it is located on the small Magdalena Island.Though some people would love to adventure into searching for penguins by themselves, the island is accessible only by guided boat tours. The best time to visit Magdalena Island is from November until March, when the birds migrate back here and find their mate.

Insider's tip: The boat ride from the dock to the island is pretty much uneventful, but if you are lucky you might sight some dolphins and even whales in the waters. 

Read our guide to Isla de Magdalena to know more about visiting the destination.

5. Take a Trip to Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo's biggest attraction is the Embalse el Yeso Reservoir
Embalse el Yeso in Cajon del Maipo against the Andes mountains

Best time to visit: All year around. 

This spectacular canyon, on the western edge of the Andes, around two hours southeast of Santiago is a trekker’s paradise, offering amazing mountain scenery, and stunning landscapes. Many locals come here for a weekend escape, and it’s easy to see why. Amongst its natural beauty you will also find the marks of man at the reservoir of Embalse del Yeso, 2,500 meters above sea level. An incredible feat of engineering, which supplies water to Santiago and is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, it is a popular tourist attraction. There are many activities available in the region, from trekking, horse riding, skiing, and even wine tasting, and its close proximity to Santiago makes visiting the canyon easy if you have your own transport. You will also find plenty of tours to Cajon del Maipo from Santiago if you do not wish to navigate the place on your own.

After a hard day of activities relax in one of the many hot springs, the three main ones are at Banos Morales, Banos Colina and Termas El Plomo. The fully-staffed sights are a great destination to unwind!

Insider's tip: Leave Santiago early, best by 8:00. Any time later and you will come across a lot of traffic. Drive a SUV or similar vehicle. The last 22 km is mountain road that is sinuous, gravelled and narrow. You will have to be a confident, experienced driver to tackle this stretch. If possible, avoid weekends in order to avoid local crowds. – Emanuel Villablanca from Stamp’s Tour 

Here is a perfect Cajon del Maipo day tour for you, in case you don't want to go through all of our tours online. 

6. Climb an Active Volcano in Chile's Lake District

Villarrica Volcano in Pucon
Climbing the Villarrica volcano is a feat

Best time to visit: Winter and Spring (May to November), and Summer (January to February). You can climb the volcanoes and ski down during winter.   

If you are an outdoorsy person, then Lake District of Chile should definitely be one of your preferred destinations when visiting the country. Not only does it offer you the chance to wander around and admire incredible natural beauty, and enjoy activities like fly-fishing, kayaking, hiking, and cycling but you can also climb one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, the Villarrica Volcano

Find out some more conquerable Chilean volcanoes in our Ten Volcanoes to Climb in Chile. And if climbing them doesn't interest you, why not visit Chile's Lake District and gaze at the many snowy volcanoes amongst other things to do in the lake region.

Insider's tip: The hiking itself is not technical, but does request a minimum good physical conditions. During summer (from November to April), there’s little snow at the top so crampons will be required only during the last part of the hike. Time taken to climb to the top would be between 4 – 6 hours, depending on whether you use the chairlift service. During winter (May to October), the hiking gets more difficult since the volcano is totally covered with snow and ice. Crampons are required during the entire excursion, and you’ll have to use the ice axe to help you walk against the strong wind. Very good physical condition is required if you want to climb the volcano in winter. – Marie-Lou Goullieux from Amity Tours 

7. Enjoy a Wine Tasting Session

Best time to visit: All year around, depending on which wine regions you'd like to visit.

Chile is famous for its wine. The hearts of wine lovers from all over the world have been conquered with delicacies like Malbec or Carménère. If you are a wine aficionado, you should visit some of the local wineries in the valley, where you can enjoy a tour and an unforgettable wine tasting. If that doesn’t quench your thirst, give a five wine regions in Chile a try!

Insider's tip: One of the best ways to explore a wine valley is to take a day tour that includes 2 wineries with lunch. Our favourite option around Santiago is the Casablanca valley. Visit the biodynamic vineyard of Emiliana Organic Vineyards where you can hug the alpacas and have a food and wine pairing lunch at Bodegas RE. – by Suzanne l’Ami from Chile Off Track

Wine tasting is one of the best things to do in Santiago Chile
Wine tasting tours are a great way to know the rich food and wine culture of Chile

8. Get Closer to the Fascinating Street Art in Valparaíso

One can travel either from a bus or a car from Santiago to Valparaiso
Valaparaiso is also famous as the home of the Noble Laureate Pablo Neruda

Best time to visit: Spring (March to May) brings great weather, ideal for visiting the city and its coastal towns. 

Valparaíso is one of the street art capitals of South America so, whether you are an art enthusiast, or just interested in the Chilean cultural background, visiting Valparaíso should be on your list of things to do in Chile. You can visit this charming port town all year round. Start a journey from Santiago to Valparaiso and have an enhanced street art experience, or join one of the available tours!

Insider's tip: When you are worn out exploring the many thousand street art in Valparaiso, take an icecream break at Emporio La Rosa. They claim to be one of the 25 best icecream shops in the world. Find out if it is true.

Here is full day Valparaiso tour that starts and ends in Santiago.

9. Eat Like a Hungry Local

Pastel de choclo
Pastel de choclo, a Chilean dish based on sweetcorn or choclo

Best time: Whenever you feel like it!

Known for its simplicity and freshness, the Chilean cuisine will conquer the heart of every foodie that sets foot on its charming land. You can book one of the available Chile food tours, or you can start your own culinary adventure by tasting one of the most popular Chilean dishes, Pastel de Choclo, which is something like a Shepherd’s Pie with meat, vegetables and a cornmeal topping. Either way, Chile promises its visitors an unforgettable culinary experience.

Insider's tip: Head to La Vega Chica market in Santiago for a dining experience that is as local and as authentic as it gets. The market is stuffed with make-shift restaurants and it can be very crowded. One thing is guaranteed, you won't leave hungry or disappointed.

Here is a food tour that happens in Santiago, that should fit the bill of any foodie!

10. Visit Santiago: Chilean Culture and Entertainment

Best time to visit: All year around.

Visiting Chile’s cultural and entertainment centre can give you insights on the entire country. The best museums and galleries, culinary hot spots, as well as the most incredible events and celebrations are hosted by the charming city; there are so many things to do in Santiago. The best time to visit the city is from March to May and from late September to November.

Insider's tip: Spend a leisurely day at Plaza de Armas. Try your hands at chess with the locals, enjoy free performances by Chinchineros (street drummers), and grab a classic completo at Dominó for a quick and satisfying eat.

If you want a complete experience of the city, book a tour with a local guide, who will effortlessly and efficiently lead you through the most beautiful streets of Santiago.

11. Indulge in Water Activities in La Serena

As mentioned earlier, when you travel to Chile you have got to enjoy a diversity of things to do. If you want to indulge in water activities La Serena is the perfect place for you. A large number of beaches give you the chance to spend time swimming, surfing or windsurfing. The best period to visit this area is during summer. However, the beaches near La Serena can get really crowded, so if you want a bit of peace, check out Playa Tongoy and Playa Totoralillo.

Surfing is one of the top 12 things to do in Chile
Enjoy swimming, surfing or windsurfing in the beaches near La Serena

There are many excellent beaches to visit in Chile if you love the sun, the sand, and the sea.

12. Get Closer to Chilean History: Visit Pablo Neruda’s Houses

The famous poet and senator of the Chilean Communist Party, Pablo Neruda, is one of the most important and beloved figures in South America. When you travel to Chile, visiting his houses is a must if you want to get in touch with the history and culture of the country. So, pack your bags and travel from Santiago to Valparaiso, and then to Isla Negra to see the famous Neruda’s houses. 

Check out Neruda's Route tour that will take you to a journey in Isla Negra and Pomaire, including a visit to Neruda's house.

13. Stargazing in Atacama Desert

Star trails can be seen clearly in Atacama desert
Atacama desert provides some of the best spots in the world for stargazing

Best time to visit: Summer (December to February) is the high season for Atacama. However, March to May (Fall) and September to November (Spring) bring good temperature and fewer tourists.

Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is a place of many natural phenomenon, featuring moon-like terrain, salt lakes, hot springs, multi-colored rock formations, and snow-peaked mountains. But one of the most sought after attractions in Atacama Desert is undoubtedly the star studded night sky. The high altitude of Atacama Desert coupled with little to no pollution, and almost zero clouds, prepares for a night sky with the most majestic astronomical sightings! Book a tour to Atacama now.

Insider's tip: Pack for all weather — winter and summer. Wear full sleeved shirt, long pants (say no to jeans) and a big hat to avoid sunburn. Warm clothes will come in handy during evening and early morning tours.

Here is a Atacama Adventure - Nature Tour that should make for a wholesome trip to the desert.

14. Spend a Day on the Slopes: Skiing in Chile

Skiing is one of the best things to do in Chile
Chile is a lesser known gem in the world of skiing with great ski resorts

Best time to visit: Winter (June to August) brings lots of snow in the mountains.

While Chile is widely popular for summer vacations, there are also plenty of things to do in Chile in winter. If you love winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, you want to travel to Chile during ski season. Between mid-June to mid-October, skiing in Chile is a fantastic outdoor activitiy. There are many ski resorts in the country offering visitors great conditions in order to have a fantastic ski holiday, of which Portillo and Valle Nevado are the most popular. And if you want to try something more extreme, try skiing down the Osorno Volcano

Insider's tip: Don't plan to buy your skiing gears in Chile. Shopping opportunities are limited and when available it is very expensive. You will be better off bringing them from home. 

Here is a ski tour that takes you down 7 volcanoes!

As you can see, the various things to do in Chile can satisfy all kinds of travelers. Whether you are looking for cultural activities or culinary experiences, the country has it all. Adventure activities in Chile is another big attraction, thus ensuring that a visit to the country is an amalgam of different unforgettable experiences.

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