Chile stretches along South America’s western edge, with more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago, its capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains.
The massive Parque Metropolitano offers swimming pools, a botanical garden and zoo. Climbing the peaks of Torres del Paine National Park and surfing on the dangerous waves of Punta de Lobos are adventurous traveler favorites.
Chile Travel Info
Language: The official language of Chile is Spanish which is spoken by over 85 percent of the population. Locals also use some other dialects including Mapudungun and Quechua. German and English are the only International languages spoken in Chile.
Currency: Chilean Peso.
Visa: A tourist visa is not required for travelers coming to Chile from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and most of the EU. Citizens from all other countries must check their visa requirements before planning a trip to Chile.
Electricity: Chile operates on 220 volts with a frequency of 50 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Chile Festivals & Celebrations
Grape Harvest Festival: The beginning of summer marks the celebration of Chilean wine heritage in an extraordinary way. Celebrations in the city of Curico are perhaps the best of all. The festival starts by blessing the first batch of ripened grapes. The main highlight of the festival is stomping twenty kilograms of grapes.
Fiesta de La Tirana: La Tirana, a small town located near Iquique hosts this festival every year with great vigor and energy due to the significance of this event has. The festival sets off on 12th June with dancers and musicians participating from around the world to enact “dance of the devils.”
Fiesta de La Virgen de Andacollo: This festival celebrates Chile’s abundant natural resource which is Copper. In their local language Quechua the word “Anda” is called copper and “Coya” is called monarch; therefore Virgen de Andacollo is called the Queen of Copper. The festival is held every year from 24th to 26th December and gets attended by a large number of Chilean people as well as tourists.
Safety In Chile
Just like most countries in South America, Chile is a relatively safe place to travel to. Thefts, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so be mindful of this. Based on my own travel experiences in Chile, I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Chile.
Top Things To Do In Chile
Visit the picturesque Cajon del Maipo
In the metropolitan region of Santiago lies a great canyon, Cajon del Maipo. The main features of this gorge are the Maipo river, Colorado River, El Volcan River, and Yeso River. Many tourists visit Cajon del Maipo on a day’s trip. The views are outstanding making it a picturesque spot. The place is full of adventure sports like horse riding, trekking, and bike riding and swimming in hot springs.
Explore Chilean Museum of Fine Arts
The Chilean Museum of Fine Arts was built in 1880 and hence it is the oldest museum in South America. The museum is controlled and managed by a union of artists, and it has emerged as a leading center of rich South American and Chilean art. The place is in itself a marvelous piece of artwork planned by Emile Jequier. Some famous exhibitions for travelers include ‘The Traffic of the Earth’ and ‘Another Way of Looking at Infinity.’
Explore the volcanoes of Chungara Lake
Chungara Lake is situated in the superb Lauca National Park and located towards the north side of Chile. The park although is full of volcanoes and mountains, yet the primary source of attraction here is Chungara Lake that draws thousands of visitors in all seasons. Listed as one of the highest lakes, the tourists not only enjoy the surrounding views but also get to see many animals like Llamas, Guanacos, Foxes, and Alpacas.
Go wild in the Pumalin Park
Sprawled across 715,000 acres of land, the Pumalin Park of South America is one of the many diverse parks in the entire world. The park starts from Pacific coast and stretches till the Andes, is home to Chile’s most precious rainforest. Tourists can stay overnight in camps and enjoy the night sky full of stars alongside a bonfire. The park is full of varied landscapes. Just opposite the park is a Pumalin Project which is a group of organic farms restored with the help of local people.
Feel the heat of Al Tatio’s spectacular natural geysers
El Tatio, situated on Andes Mountain, is one of the highest geysers found in the world. The site is full of geysers, around 80, some erupting as high as 6 meters and that is why you can count this spot as one of the major tourist attraction of Chile. The best time to visit these geysers is early morning because the hot steam gets condensed by low temperature, creating some marvelous views.
The natural beauty of the Marble Cave
In the Patagonian Andes, waves crashed for 6000 years into their calcium carbonate surroundings, and the result was a fantastic set of caves which were named the Marble Caves. The cave walls have swirling blue patterns which appear due to the reflection of the blue waters of the glacial lake that fall on the walls. You can reach the caves by boat, and several local tour companies take visitors through the caves and the connecting tunnels.
Enjoy the panorama at the Santa Lucia Hills
Santa Lucia Hills are remnants of one of the oldest volcano and are found in the capital city Santiago. The Santa Lucia Hills also has a park with a lot of fountains and beautiful stairways. The major attraction is the peak where tourists flock the most and enjoy the splendid panoramic views. The hills have some ancient monuments, on one such monument is inscribed the names of people who played a significant role in the establishment of Santiago.
Experience the spectacular Stone Moai of Easter Island
The Stone Moai of Easter is among the most well-known attractions of Chile. They are monolithic figures of humans which were carved by the people of Rapa Nui between 1250 and 1500. Among all the sculptures, the El Gigante is the largest, towering over 72 feet and weighing more than 182 metric tons. The statues are all over the hillside and are artistically perfect with a proud expression on their faces.
Relive history in the Museum of Memory and Human Rights
Chile’s capital Santiago is famous for the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. The museum was built to honor the people who died between 1973 till 1999; this was the time when Augusto Pinochet was leading the military regime. The museum showcases a range of well-preserved items used extensively during that period, letters from prisoners, newspaper clippings and survivors testimonies, thereby giving a chance to visitors to imagine the hardships people faced during that period.
Witness the power of nature at the Valley of the Moon
Valle de la Luna or Valley of the moon is an extensive area amid the Atacama Desert of Chile. It has several stone and sand formations shaped by wind and water over the years. The colors and textures of these structures are believed to be just like the moon. The area also boasts natural formations like dry lakes, hills, and caverns that are exciting sites to explore. This incredible natural phenomenon is unparalleled and is a must visit.
Other than these top things to do in Chile, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Chile that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Chile
Although the Chilean cuisine has taken a lot of inspiration from Europe, it is yet to carve a niche in the global food culture. The food is colorful, bright, flavorful and something that would bring a smile to the face of every foodie. Some dishes well worth sampling are listed here.
Empanadas: These are dough pastries filled with seafood, cheese, and Pino, a mixture made of ground beef, onions, and eggs. These pastries are then baked or fried. These are among the main traditional foods served during the festivities to favored guests.
Humitas: Humitas are the Tamales of Chile, made from cornmeal and boiled flour. A mixture of ground corn, onions, basil and ground paprika is stuffed in a corn husk and tied with a thread. These are then cooked to perfection either by boiling or steaming.
Pastel de Choclo: This dish beautifully features the mixed style of South American cooking. Pastel de Choclo is a mix of sweet and savory corn pudding loaded with ground beef, sweet corn, boiled eggs, onions, and raisins.
Completos: These hot dogs are a must eat while you are in Chile. Completos get stuffed with tomatoes, sausages, sauerkraut and dollops of mayonnaise. A tall drink can best accompany it. Perfect on the go combination to keep you energized.
Ceviche: Ceviche is the most loved dish in Chile made of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and served with cumin, cilantro, sautéed garlic, and olive oil. For a unique experience try the Shrimp Ceviche.
Where To Stay In Chile
Chile is a very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Chile is easy even if you’re on a tight budget. Chile hostels and dormitories make travel here very affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Chile is a very popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Chile.
If you’re backpacking in Chile or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South America very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Chile Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Chile
Chile is such a long, geographically diverse country that its difficult to pin down the best time to visit – the best time to visit Chile depends on the region you are planning to explore. For visitors heading to Patagonia in the south of Chile, October to March are the warmest and most accessible months. Santiago, the Central Valleys and the Atacama Desert are great year-round destinations.
Chile Travel Budget
Chile is generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Chile really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $250 plus a day.
- Budget: $15 – $35
- Mid-range: $35 – $100
- Splurge: $100 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Chile Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Chile, like most places in South America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Chile. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques (aimed at tourists) than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your South America trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Chile include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Chile check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate South America Packing List For Female Travelers.