Make the most of your visit to Chile – one of South America’s most rugged and beautiful gems – by planning your trip at the right time of year. See the best time to visit Chile from the ideal time overall to the cheapest and least crowded months to go in our guide.
It’s wise to learn about Chile’s climate and seasonal weather patterns, festivals and events, and annual tourism seasons to plan your ideal trip here.
Going at the wrong time of year can result in unexpected rain and snow, fewer events going on, or mega crowds that make your stay far from pleasant. No worries! See the right time to pack your bags and head to Chile in our quick travel guide.
We’ll show you the top 3 best times to visit, when to avoid Chile, and a few tips to make your stay picture-perfect. First, let’s talk about what Chile is known for and why you need to visit.
Why You Should Visit Chile
Chile, the narrowest and longest country in the world, is a land of rugged natural beauty.
Famous for its mountainous terrain with ancient volcanoes rising up from the ground, tranquil glacial lakes, arid deserts, and stunning sandy beaches along its coast, travelers are in for a real delight when they come to Chile in the heart of South America.
Inky black skies at night make for world-renowned stargazing with little light pollution to obscure your view of the heavens. It’s the land of the mysterious monuments of Easter Island, a long and storied Incan history, and 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with dozens more under consideration.
You’ll find an incredible range of wildlife making their homes in Chile, from 4 species of waddling penguins to alpacas, llama-like guanacos, elephant seals, foxes, and Patagonian pumas.
Wildlife lovers flock to Chile with binoculars in hand to spot rare animals in their natural habitat as they explore the rugged and diverse terrain around this long, narrow country.
Chile is often called the “pais de los poetas”, or country of poets. That name was earned because it’s home to Nobel Peace Prize winners and famous poets Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda.
Arts and literature are heavily celebrated here with many museums, art galleries, street art installations, and cinema festivals in the heart of Santiago (its capital city).
Chilean cuisine is another reason to look forward to a visit to Chile. You’ll eat your fill of perfectly spiced, grilled, fried, and simmered meats and veggies here!
The cuisine is strikingly similar to Mexican food with a few important distinctions – fewer beans and rice than Mexican dishes (more root veggies instead), less spicy with fewer peppers used in dishes, and heavier on the seafood.
Make a note to taste the savory national Chilean dish – pastel de choclo – which is similar to corn pudding with the addition of beef, chicken, olives, onions, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs.
Pebre (Chilean salsa), asada (barbequed meats), fresh seafood, different types of filled empanadas, hearty soups and stews, meaty casseroles, and piled-high sandwiches dominate Chilean cuisine.
With a range of gorgeous landscapes and terrain, stunning diversity of wildlife, lots to offer history and art buffs, and deliciously flavorful food, Chile is a must-see destination for travelers in search of true natural beauty and adventure.
Below, see the best time to visit Chile for ideal weather, cheap prices on flights and hotels, and smaller crowds in the off-season. You’ll see the worst time to visit and helpful travel tips to make the most of your stay, too!
Overall Best Time to Visit Chile
- December-February (summer) is the best time to visit Chile
- Ideal conditions for Santiago’s beaches, stargazing, and exploration
- Temperatures range from 60F-90F, depending on location
If you want the ideal experience with the most options for exploration and things to do, the best time to visit Chile is December to February. This is Chilean summertime with the warmest temperatures and best weather of the year.
Locations that are generally chilly warm up to mild, pleasant temperatures and Chile’s beaches, capital city, and glacial Torres del Plaine National Park experience their best weather conditions at this time of year.
Understandably, crowds are bigger in the summertime as tourists flock to the country in search of sunshine, scenery, and adventure. Prices in some areas rise in response (though they drop slightly in Santiago as locals leave town for vacations).
Most travelers will find the crowds and rates well worth it in exchange for the weather, accessibility to all regions, and abundant flora and fauna.
Chile’s vineyards are lush and in full bloom at this time of year, the sun shines for 12 hours each day, nights are perfectly clear for stargazing, and there’s typically little rainfall during summer. It’s the perfect time to head to Chile for an all-around incredible trip, no matter where you plan to visit!
Cheapest Time to Visit Chile
- September-October, March-May are the least busy times to go
- Spring and fall shoulder seasons offer the cheapest prices
- Lots of activities and good weather in most areas
The best time to visit Chile on a budget is September through October (spring) and March through May (fall), which are the shoulder seasons that bookend the peak summer season.
For the most part, you’ll experience pleasantly mild temperatures, suitable weather for outdoor adventures, and plenty of events and festivals to keep you occupied.
Some areas of Chile, like Patagonia and Torres del Plaine National Park, are notorious for wildly unpredictable weather in the spring and fall.
It’s possible that you could luck out with sunshine and little to no precipitation during your stay, but know that freak rain and snowstorms, hail, and cold snaps are always a possibility at these times of year.
Outside of the more rugged areas, March and April are two of the best months to enjoy Chile’s cities and lush vineyards, where the country’s famous wines begin. You’ll arrive in time to see the leaves change color and paint Chile’s landscape in warm shades of red, orange, and purple.
Santiago (the capital) and Valparaiso (Chile’s port city) are truly divine during the fall and spring months. You’ll enjoy your fill of good wine and food with lots of events and festivals when you visit during these less-busy shoulder seasons.
Least Busy Time to Visit Chile
- June-August (winter) is the low season in Chile
- Fewer tourists arrive, so better flight + hotel availability
- Winter weather challenges outdoor activities, events
The best time to visit Chile without large crowds is from June to August, which is winter in Chile. This is the low season for Chilean tourism with the least number of travelers arriving during this 3-month period.
While it’s nice and uncrowded, accessibility and activity options are also very limited in parts of Chile at this time of year. Winter can be a fine time to visit Santiago, which boasts a California-like Mediterranean climate that stays pretty mild year-round.
Expect increased rainfall during the winter here and temperatures in the mid-30s during the dead of winter. It gets chilly at night, so prepare for dips in temperatures after sunset and bring warm layers to bundle up if needed.
In the mountains and colder zones of Chile, winter is less enjoyable unless you’re there for winter sports. Head up into the Andes Mountains to take advantage of excellent ski conditions and cozy up at your ski resort at night.
Brave the cold and snowy conditions in Patagonia and Torres del Plaine to appreciate the views without the big crowds of summer, but prepare for difficult hikes and frigid temps that only the most serious adventurers will want to take on.
Worst Time to Visit Chile
- June-August (winter) is the worst time to visit Chile
- Coldest temperatures in east and southeast Chile
- Increased rain, snow, and ice conditions
Chile in winter is far from ideal for most travelers, though there are some exceptions. In general, winter (June to August) is the worst time to visit.
With colder temperatures throughout the country and snowy/icy conditions that make the most frigid climate zones and regions (like Patagonia) impassable at this time of year, you’re better off going during the warm summer or milder fall and spring months.
Winter sports in the higher-elevation ski areas in the mountains and visits to the capital Santiago are the two saving graces of wintertime in Chile.
Rain and snow can put a damper on your trip to the big city, but with plenty of museums, shops, and galleries to keep you busy indoors, you can salvage even the worst-weathered trip.
Unless you’re planning on taking part in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, winter (June to August) is the worst time to visit Chile.
It’s too cold for comfortable hiking and exploration in many regions, and snow and ice can make some of the most-visited areas impassable at this time of year.
More Things to Consider
Before you plan your visit to Chile, there are a few more things to consider to make your trip the best it can be.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re planning to visit Chile, especially if it’s your first time:
- Chile’s seasons are reversed. If you live in the northern hemisphere, flip your seasons in reverse and you’ve got the seasonal pattern of Chile – located in the southern hemisphere. Summer (December-February), fall (March-May), winter (June-August), and spring (September-November) can be confusing and hard to get used to while you’re planning. Pay close attention to the months you’re booking hotels and flights to ensure you don’t get your seasons and dates mixed up!
- Pack for the season, and prepare for the unexpected. Chile is known for unpredictable weather at certain times of year, especially in mountainous and glacial regions. Unexpected storms bringing rain, hail, ice, and snow can strike suddenly, so pack smart and prepare for these wild weather changes with plenty of warm layers if you’re going in one of the shoulder seasons (fall and spring) or in winter (June through August).
- Chileans speak Spanish, but some speak English too. The official language of Chile is Spanish (Chilean and Andean), but many locals have some level of mastery with English as well. Native English speakers should be able to get by with passable communication in Chile. Many employees in the tourism industry do speak at least a little English.
- U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to go. While you’ll need a valid passport, you won’t need a visa to travel to Chile if you’re a U.S. citizen. This will make your document preparations before visiting a lot easier with less travel hassle when you’re planning your trip!
- Chilean mealtimes are later in the day. While breakfast may take place at the time you’re accustomed to, it’s typically a very small, light meal. Lunch and dinnertimes are a bit later in the day than in the U.S. In Chile, expect lunchtime – the main meal of the day – to be sometime between noon and 3:00 p.m., with many restaurants not opening for lunch until around 1:00 p.m. Dinner takes place between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. and is usually a small meal.
- Earthquakes are common, but not usually catastrophic. Chile is situated over the junction where 3 tectonic plates meet, making it a hotspot for earthquakes. Structures are sturdily built to withstand them and locals are well-versed in dealing with the “temblors,” so don’t panic if one happens during your visit – take your cues from the locals and take shelter until the quake passes.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Chile?
Overall, the best time to visit Chile is during the summer, from December to February. Warmer temperatures from 60F-90F, easy access to areas that become impassable in winter, and a full agenda of events and activities make this the best time of year to visit most areas of Chile.
Spend your time exploring the cities, hiking and exploring outdoors, or relaxing on the beaches of Chile. The best time to visit Chile on a budget is during the shoulder seasons of fall (March-May) and spring (especially September-October).
This is when you’ll find the best deals on flights and hotels in Chile with moderate weather that can be excellent, but a bit unpredictable depending on where you visit.
When you’re scoring your visit for a cheap price, the gamble on weather is worth it! The best time to visit Chile for smaller crowds is during the winter, which is also considered the worst time to go.
The cold temperatures (especially in the tundra and glacial climate zones of Chile), increased rain and snowfall, and impassable roads leading to the most popular hiking regions and national parks make it unappealing to most travelers.
If you want to avoid crowds and take advantage of great skiing conditions, however, it can be a good time to go. Visiting Chile will give you the chance to witness some of the most incredible scenery and natural beauty in the world.
Instead of spending your next vacation on a tropical island where it’s easy to forget where you are, why not jet to Chile where you can experience mountains, deserts, volcanoes, beaches, glaciers, and a wide range of wildlife?
Chile packs a lot of substance and adventure into one destination and you’ll be glad you chose this rugged South American country for your upcoming journey.
Not sure you’re going to love all Chile has to offer? Read this guide next to see if neighboring Argentina is a better fit: The Best Time to Visit Argentina in 2022!