Thinking of a trip to Chile? Well you are in for a treat!
Chile is an amazing country to visit for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the diverse landscapes of Chile are a major draw with the stunning Atacama Desert in the north, a haven for stargazing due to its wonderful clear skies, and then there's the breathtaking Patagonia region in the south, known for its rugged beauty and amazing opportunities to go hiking and to get involved in all kinds of outdoor adventure.
In between, you'll find the bustling capital Santiago, with its vibrant culture and delicious food, not to mention Chile's famous vineyards, if you love a glass of wine.
What’s Chile's climate like?
Chile's climate varies greatly from north to south.
The Atacama Desert in the north of Chile is one of the driest places on Earth, so a trip to this area means you will find the days arid and sunny.
As you move south the climate becomes more temperate. Santiago has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters but in the south, Patagonia is known for its unpredictable weather, so you must be prepared for rain and wind.
So, when is the best time to go to Chile?
To sum it up, Chile offers a little bit of everything in terms of climate and landscapes, making it a year-round destination but let's break it down into seasons to help you make your choice.
Peak Season in Chile (December to February)
The peak season in Chile typically occurs during its summer months, from December to February. This is when the weather is usually warm and pleasant, so a great time to visit.
Temperatures in Chile
In central Chile, including Santiago, temperatures range from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) on average but it does vary depending on where you are. If you head to the coast then the temperatures will be slightly cooler and obviously the northern desert regions will be much hotter. Patagonia, as its in the southern part of the country will be cooler with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).
Rainfall in Chile
Central and southern Chile has more rainfall during its peak season but in central Chile, though you may have occasional showers, it is generally dry. Santiago, for example, has quite low rainfall during this time but the southern regions, areas like the Lake District, can be wet with a lot more rain. In contrast, the northern desert regions like Atacama remain dry year-round.
Things to do in Chile during the Peak Season
When you visit Chile, especially during its peak season, you're in for an adventure, there are some fantastic things to do:
- You can start your journey in the capital city, Santiago, visiting Bellavista and Lastarria neighbourhood. Try not to miss the stunning views from Cerro San Cristobal.
- Chile is well known for its wine and wine tasting in the Maipo Valley and Colchagua Valley are great places to go to experience the local wine culture.
- Torres del Paine National Park is definitely worth a visit. The Patagonian wilderness is a stunning area of natural beauty.
- Atacama Desert is unique and otherworldly with its surreal salt flats and geysers. It also has some of the clearest skies on Earth so you get the perfect opportunity to stargaze in the best conditions.
- Chiloe Island is a beautiful island, home to the Chilote culture where you can visit wooden churches and enjoy local seafood.
- A visit to Easter Island is like stepping into history with its Moai statues. You can also hike to volcanic craters and relax on beautiful Anakena Beach.
- Puerto Natales is a coastal town serving as a gateway to Torres del Paine. If you love fresh seafood then this is the place to be and you can also take a boat tour to view the stunning glaciers and fjords.
- Valparaiso is a colourful and artistic city with vibrant street art, funiculars and fascinating neighbourhoods, a unique destination and well worth a visit.
- Of course Chile is the perfect place for adventure, with so many opportunities to go trekking, horseback riding and kayaking.
Remember that Chile's peak season does vary depending on the region you plan to visit. Central Chile is great during the spring and summer (September to March), while Patagonia is best in the summer (December to February).
It's also worth mentioning that while December to February is the peak season, it can also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. If you prefer to travel when there are fewer people and lower prices then it may be worth looking to travel during the shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May) when the weather is still pleasant.
Low Season in Chile (June to August)
The low season in Chile typically falls during their winter months, from June to August. The temperatures at this time of year are a lot cooler, especially in the southern regions. In Santiago, the temperatures range from 40°F (4°C) to 60°F (15°C) and in southern cities like Punta Arenas, it can get even colder, with temperatures dropping below freezing.
The good thing about the low season though is that is it has less rainfall so if you don’t mind the cold then visiting during these months is a lot drier. If you go to Santiago then you may occasionally get some light rain, but it's not too heavy. The southern regions may get a bit more but not a huge amount.
What to do in Chile during the low season
- Santiago is worth a visit at any time of the year. Go to the historic neighborhoods like Bellavista, try some Chilean food at the local restaurants, and explore its cultural scene.
- Chile's wine regions are beautiful even in the low season so take a tour of the vineyards in Maipo, Colchagua or Casablanca Valley to try some of the world's finest wines.
- The Atacama Desert remains stunning throughout the year. You can stargaze in one of the clearest skies on Earth, explore Moon Valley and relax in natural hot springs.
- Head to Chiloé Island to witness the adorable Magellanic penguins. The low season means fewer tourists so a much more intimate experience.
- Although it's colder, Patagonia's beauty is stunning in the low season. You can go hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, go glacier trekking or just enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
- Low season is the perfect time to go birdwatching and wildlife spotting so visit the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve or go on a whale-watching tour along the coast.
- Explore the indigenous Mapuche culture in Temuco and visit their traditional villages.
- The low season is a great time to go on city tours with fewer crowds. Valparaíso, known for its colourful houses and street art, is a great start.
- Local dishes like empanadas, ceviche and curanto are worth a try and don't forget to drink some traditional Pisco Sour.
A visit in the low season is the chance to experience Chile in a more tranquil and authentic setting plus it will be cheaper for accommodation and flights, perfect if you are travelling on a budget.
Shoulder Season in Chile (September to November) (March to May)
The shoulder season in Chile falls during the spring and autumn months, roughly from September to November and March to May. The weather is nice during this time and you can also avoid the peak crowds of the high season if you choose this season to travel.
September to November in Chile
In the spring of September to November temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) in most parts of Chile. In the north, places like San Pedro de Atacama will start to warm up, making it an ideal time to explore the Atacama Desert and the central regions, including Santiago. However, the southern regions, like Patagonia, can still be quite cool and rainy.
March to May in Chile
Temperatures start to cool down at this time of year with the temperatures in Central Chile around 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The southern regions, including Patagonia, have cooler temperatures so is a good time to go trekking.
Rainfall during the shoulder season can vary. In spring, central and northern Chile generally see less rain, while the south might have occasional showers. In autumn the central region has more rain, but not too much to put you off travelling at this time.
If you decide to visit Chile during the shoulder seasons, though the weather might not be at its peak there are still plenty of things to do.
- Chile is well known for its vineyards and the shoulder season is a great time to enjoy wine tasting with fewer crowds. The valleys around Santiago, like Maipo and Casablanca are great areas to visit.
- Go Skiing in the Andes mountains if your visit falls in the early shoulder season (late Autumn).
- A trip to the Lake District and to Patagonia in the shoulder season has fewer tourists so you can hike in peace through Torres del Paine National Park and explore the beautiful landscapes.
- Santiago and Valparaíso are bursting with cultural events so check out the art galleries, museums and the vibrant street art in Valparaíso.
- The natural hot springs in the south of Chile, such as Pucón and Termas Geométricas are an ideal way to relax during cooler weather.
- Try fly-fishing in rivers like the Maullín or Simpson River.
- If you're up for a unique adventure, visit Easter Island. The shoulder season means fewer tourists.
Remember to pack a few layers, as the weather can be quite variable during the shoulder season. It's a wonderful time to enjoy Chile's attractions with a bit more peace and quiet.
What is the hottest month in Chile?
Chile's weather can vary quite a bit depending on the region you're interested in but generally the hottest months are usually in December, January and February especially in Santiago and in the central valleys.
In the capital city, Santiago, temperatures can range from 30°C (86°F) to 35°C (95°F) or even higher on the hottest days. The coastal cities, like Valparaiso and Viña del Mar have milder summer temperatures, usually between 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F), great places to go to escape from the heat.
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the driest places on Earth, daytime temperatures during the summer months are around 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F).
If you're visiting southern Chile, like Patagonia, the weather can be quite different. Summers are cooler, with temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F).
It's always a good idea to check the specific weather forecasts for your travel dates and the region you plan to make sure you are fully prepared
When is the rainy season in Chile?
In central Chile, which includes Santiago, the rainy season is usually from May to August and July is often the wettest month, unless of course you are in the northern desert regions like the Atacama where rainfall is minimal all year-round.
The diversity of Chile's climate and stunning geography means there is something for everyone all year-round, whether you're into deserts, cities or the wild beauty of Patagonia. It's a country that is definitely worth exploring whichever time of year you choose to go. Happy Travels!!