Winter in Chile: Top 5 Destinations


While the north half of the globe is basking in summer, Chile, in the Southern Hemisphere, is deep in winter. And though some areas may be cold, winter in Chile comes with its own perks, and there are probably more than you think. They run all the way from enjoying the sites and attractions with fewer tourist crowds to experiencing the best winter sports and most interesting landscapes throughout the length of this diverse country.

Chile in Winter

Chile is a long, narrow country running north to south, meaning winter spreads across the landscape in vastly different scales. July to August is considered winter in the country, but while Santiago lows hover around 2°C (with highs up to 15°C) Patagonia experiences a freezing zero, with highs only at about 6°C and the Atacama is usually in the negatives. At the same time, Easter Island sits at a comfortable 18° C. The diversity in the temperature range makes visiting Chile during winter even more interesting. You can easily get snow in the Andes, sun in the Easter Island, and some magical stargazing in the Atacama. Although we do recommend avoiding coastal regions during the season as they tend to be pretty wet.

Top 5 go-to destinations in Chile during winter

So what else makes winter in Chile so fantastic? Here are the best destinations to explore in winter and some ideas on what to do there. Read on to get the most out of your trip.

1. Torres del Paine in winter

Enjoy secluded hikes in Torres del Paine during winter
Hiking in Torres del Paine during winter can be a unique experience with the outdoors

Known for its incredible landscapes and trekking opportunities, Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is a huge attraction. During winter, there are far fewer crowds, and you’ll get to see an altogether starker and more spectacular landscape. As for the weather, microclimates in the park mean some areas get heavy snow, while others just get a light dusting or frost.

Recommended activities:

  • Take the W Trek tour to see the park during its wildest and most secluded period
  • Head to the base of the Towers themselves, although you might need the help of crampons, trekking poles and a guide
  • Make the short (but steep) ascent to Mirador Ferrier for panoramic views
  • Get close to the glaciers in the French Valley, hiking through frozen forests and across icy rivers

2. The Lake District in winter

Skiing is one of the best things to do in Chile
Chile in winter opens up a world of skiing in great ski resorts

Another of Chile’s Patagonian wildernesses, the Lake District is suitably strewn with mirror-like lakes, reflecting craggy peaks for a beautiful place to visit in the Andean foothills. During the coldest months of the year, fresh snow in the Lake District makes it a veritable winter wonderland.

Recommended activities:

  • Snowboard or ski the powder at Corralco Resort
  • Explore the charming fishing villages and towns in the area, featuring wood-shingled buildings linked by walkways for something right out of a fantasy movie
  • Warm-up with a hearty bowl of cazuela
  • Hike along the base of Volcan Osorno and over ancient landslides
  • Relax in the geothermal waters of Hot Springs Geometricas

3. The Atacama in winter

it snows in Atacama during winter
Visit the Atacama desert during winter for unparalleled stargazing and landscape photography

Normally a scorching, barren land, the Atacama Desert in winter sits at a mild 21°C on average during the day but drops dramatically to sub-zero temperatures after dark. With perfectly clear skies — and being the driest time of year for the high plateau desert — winter in the Atacama is tailor-made for stargazing, with the perk of much less crowds.

Recommended activities:

  • Enjoy an unmatched stargazing experience in the icy-cold nights
  • With some luck, witness the rare phenomenon of snowfall in a desert
  • See the Salar de Atacama salt flats — minus the crowds — and get some awesome shots
  • Visit the Tatio Geysers, the world’s highest geyser field, to watch them explode with geothermal energy (particularly spectacular in winter because of that cold air)

4. Aysén in winter

Aysén is a less-explored destination in northern Patagonia and one of the most sparsely populated regions of the country. Boasting two amazing waterways, Chilean cowboys (gauchos), and the largest lake in the country — Lago General Carrera — this relatively untouristed destination feels even more empty during winter. Explore remote trails and glaciers as if you have it all to yourself.

Recommended activities:

  • Discover the eerie Marble Caves by kayak, set along the shores of Lago General Carrera
  • Witness the stunning sight of icebergs on the San Rafael Lagoon
  • Hike along the confluence of the two rivers, Chacabuco and Baker
  • Go skiing on the four ski runs at El Fraile Ski Center

5. The Andes in winter

Chilean Andes during winter
With a high amount of snowfall and beautiful scenery, the Andes during winter is a heaven for skiers

The longest continental mountain chain in the world, the Andes separates Chile from the rest of South America. The peaks of the world’s second-highest mountain range offer an incredible spot for a skiing adventure, easily one of the best things to do in Chile in winter. With high snowfall, low temperatures, and incredible landscapes to discover, you can even ski down the side of active volcanoes. Come in August for fewer crowds.

Recommended activities:

  • Head to Portillo, a high-altitude (2,880 – 3,310 meters above sea level) ski resort where winter sports teams from around the world come to train
  • Go backcountry skiing in Chile with a guide to see a wilder side to the snowy peaks
  • Explore Lauca National Park, home to Lago Chungara — one of the highest altitude lakes in the world
  • Hike among the beautiful surroundings of the Maipo Valley and breathe in the fresh mountain air
  • Visit the ghostly mining town of Sewell, with myriad staircases crisscrossing through its abandoned, colorful houses

Winter in Chile may not sound like a good idea on the first go, but there is no reason to put off your trip. Many destinations are still accessible and different activities are available during the season — especially if you’re a fan of skiing: you won’t have to put your skis or your snowboard away during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months. Alongside winter sports, a tour to Chile in July and August means clearer skies, stark and stunning landscapes, and fewer crowds, making for worthwhile seclusion in a wintry paradise.

Check out our guide on best time to visit Chile to better plan your trip. You will also enjoy our article on how many days to spend in Chile, if you are planning a customized Chile trip. Don't want the hassle? Talk to our travel experts.

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  • Ezequiel Fernandez Estelrich
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    Travel Expert in Argentina & Chile
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    Travel Expert in Argentina & Chile
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