Feeling a little wanderlust and eager to explore Chile’s capital? Before heading to Santiago, you might want to do a little research about when to go.
Whether you want the cheapest option, the best weather, or the fewest tourists, knowing the best time to visit is crucial. Proper timing can make your adventure to this magical and intriguing city that much better.
It’s the biggest city in all of Chile and home to some of its best nightlife, culture, and a great jumping-off point to explore Patagonia and the Andes mountains beyond.
However, since Santiago sits at a reasonably high altitude, the weather can be intense, so it’s a good idea to bring sunscreen and various clothes when you visit. Let us help you figure out the best time for your getaway!
Why You Should Visit Santiago, Chile
No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that Santiago’s got it. Nestled between the Andes mountains and the Mapocho River, you can immerse yourself in stunning natural surroundings.
It’s also an excellent home base if you want to visit Patagonia or go skiing in Valle Nevado and Portillo. Santiago has spectacular art and music. Poke around the tiny cobblestone streets, and you’re bound to come across exquisite galleries and interesting historical attractions everywhere.
Barrio Bellavista has some of the best nightlife in the country, with a whole range of bars and clubs to choose from. You’ll also find incredible street food on the small, winding roads around Barrio Bellavista.
There are also plenty of wineries outside the city featuring grapes and vintages unique to this part of the world. You can go independently or schedule a wine tour from Santiago itself.
Overall Best Time to Visit Santiago, Chile
As Santiago, Chile sits below the equator, its seasons are the opposite of what the northern hemisphere experiences.
You’ll find steaming temperatures in January and February and much colder ones in July and August. As a result, fall and spring are the best times to visit Santiago because the weather will be mild enough for you to enjoy the outdoors.
Travel in March and April to experience the seasonal change. Chile is stunning during its fall, and these months are a perfect time to visit local wineries and enjoy warmer days and comparably cooler, crisp evenings.
September and October are also excellent times to visit and partake in many outdoor activities. Plus, if you travel during September, you might find less expensive flights, as it’s considered to be part of Chile’s “shoulder season.”
Cheapest Time to Visit Santiago, Chile
Winter is the cheapest time to visit Santiago, meaning that if you want to shave a few dollars off your travel budget, plan your trip during summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Winters in Chile can be pretty intense, thanks to its proximity to the south pole and elevation. Chile also experiences quite a bit of wind during these periods.
On the other hand, if you like skiing, you’ll probably want to visit Chile in the winter. Other outdoor activities, like hiking or seeing parts of Patagonia, will likely be off-limits.
Least Busy Time to Visit Santiago, Chile
With the notable exception of ski tourism, Chile tends to be a little bit less busy from June to August. You’ll likely find deals on hotels and fewer tourists in Santiago itself.
There’s a good chance that you’ll experience fewer lines at museums and attractions. You may have an opportunity to explore more of the city in a shorter time.
Keeping an eye on Chilean public holidays is another exceptionally smart way to avoid most crowds. Several holidays fluctuate, so it’s important to pay attention when planning ahead.
Worst Time to Visit Santiago, Chile
Ultimately, there is no worst time to visit Santiago, Chile, because “worst” is entirely subjective. The best way to gauge when you should take your Chilean vacation is to think about what you want to do and what your budget is and plan accordingly from there.
If you love skiing and don’t mind freezing temperatures and a lot of wind, June through August would be an ideal time for you to visit Santiago, Chile. These months wouldn’t be suitable for those looking for other outdoor activities.
January, February, and March are excellent months for people looking to have some fun in the sun, but they also bring larger crowds and steeper prices, which may be off-putting for some people.
Things to Consider
If it’s your first time visiting Santiago, Chile, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. Keeping these things in mind will help you to have a much better, more interesting, and action-packed trip while still respecting local customs.
Here are our top tips:
- Plan ahead for popular, limited-access attractions like Easter Island.
- Flying is a popular way to get around Chile, mainly because the Andes mountains can make vehicular traffic difficult and time-consuming at times.
- Understand that Chile is more expensive than lots of places in South America, and budget accordingly for excursions, transportation, and entertainment.
- Chile is a large country, so you’ll want to assess what you’d like to see and plan your vacation around that. If you don’t have several weeks, don’t think you’ll be able to see everything in one go.
- Patagonia tends to be quite expensive because it’s pretty remote and also popular with adventure seekers.
- If visiting a place like Patagonia or some of the other Chilean hikes, make sure that you go with a reputable tour company or guide.
- Chile is a land of extremes, with a desert in the north and Patagonia in the south.
- Santiago is a high-elevation city, meaning that you might feel a bit more winded when you’re there and need to acclimatize to the thinner air.
- Bring sunscreen because the sun is powerful all year round in Chile, even during the country’s winter months.
- The best way to deal with altitude is to drink a lot of water and refrain from excess alcohol on your trip. You can also try over-the-counter-medication to combat altitude sickness.
- US citizens do not need visas to visit Chile.
Keeping these things in mind and knowing what to expect from your trip can help you have a much smoother time in Chile.
Frequently Asked Questions
These frequently asked questions and answers will help you understand what to expect further from your time in Santiago:
Are there natural disasters in Chile?
Santiago, Chile, is right in the middle of the Andes mountains, so it’s in a very active earthquake zone. While not completely frequent, earthquakes can and do happen.
These sudden, drastic events can be very scary, even for people who’ve been through them before. Fortunately, there are a few things you can keep in mind to feel better about an impending earthquake.
- Drop, cover, and hold your position during an earthquake.
- Don’t try to run outside. Instead, get somewhere safe and cover your head. Many hotels and accommodations will have earthquake evacuation plans.
- If you’re not sure what to do, ask somebody at your hotel.
Sometimes you’ll experience additional tremors after the first earthquake. This is totally normal and doesn’t necessarily mean that another quake is coming on.
What currency do Chileans use?
The currency in Chile is the Chilean peso, and plenty of ATMs are available for you to take out cash. Depending on your bank, expect to incur fees for withdrawing funds outside of the country. Also, be sure to practice safe ATMs:
- Use machines affiliated with central banks
- Make withdrawals only during daytime hours.
- Avoid using ATMs at large airports, where you could incur larger fees than regular ones in the city of Santiago.
Notify your bank when and where you plan to travel. Most modern banks have an app you can use, but you can also call your local branch to be sure. This way, your funds won’t be frozen while you’re overseas.
Is Santiago Safe?
Chile itself is an extremely safe destination, and you’re as safe there, or even safer, than you’d be in a major American city. Santiago is reasonably safe, although you do need to take standard precautions that you’d take in any major city.
- Don’t pull out your phone to check directions on the street or walk alone in dark, uninhabited, unfamiliar areas.
- Like any large city, it’s a good idea to enjoy the nightlife responsibly and avoid being a soft target for opportunistic thieves.
- Arrive during daylight hours and take sanctioned airport taxis.
- Avoid being a soft target on the streets by looking like an obvious tourist or flashing money around.
It’s also a good idea to learn a bit of Spanish that would relate to your trip, like finding a taxi, getting help, and so on.
How do I get from the airport to Santiago?
Santiago has an excellent public transportation system, so you won’t really have any issues getting around in the city. You can also get from the airport to Santiago reasonably quickly by using sanctioned airport taxis and transfers.
If you’re traveling with a group of people, or if you meet friends at the airport who are going in the same direction as you are, you can always lower the cost by sharing a taxi. One caveat; always make sure that you take clearly marked airport taxis.
Sometimes, taxis in Santiago will refuse to run the meter, and you could find yourself paying way more than you bargained for. Airport taxis are regulated, and they always use the meter and know where they’re going. So it’s a safer, easier, and headache-free option, especially at night.
Can I get by with English in Santiago, Chile?
You can certainly get by with English in Santiago, although you might need Spanish if you go outside the city. Learning a few key phrases in the local language is also wise. Knowing a little bit of Spanish will also ingratiate you with the local people and make your trip to Santiago easier.
The locals might not speak English if you go hiking outside of Santiago or visit any non-touristic parks near the city. Research your destination in advance so you know what to expect.
So, When Should You Go to Santiago?
The best time to visit Santiago, Chile, largely depends on what you want to do when you’re there. Visiting in the winter will mean lower temperatures and wind, but you’ll see fewer crowds in the city and have a chance to go skiing.
Santiago’s balmy shoulder seasons, fall and spring, are excellent bets for those looking for warmer weather and cheaper tickets. Whatever you decide, put this incredible South American city on your must-see list as soon as possible.
So, with so much to see and do in every single season, there’s no reason to delay — book your trip to Santiago today!