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Traveling guide for Chile: Tips and more

Read this traveling guide for Chile with recommendations, tips, and info, and plan your next adventure!

august 29, 2023

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Are you planning to travel to Chile soon? This article is just for you. Here, we are going to tell you all about what you can expect on your next trip. In this travel guide, we will give you all the information, tips, and things you should consider to enjoy your trip to Chile to the fullest.

Find recommendations for all types of travelers. Adventurers, culture lovers, and those who only want to relax on the wonderful beaches of this destination. Get ready for an unforgettable experience!

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What should you know about Chile?

Before traveling, you must consider some essential information that will help you fully enjoy your trip. From the different types of weather to local customs, here is a step-by-step guide to planning your adventure with confidence:

Valparaíso, one of the most beautiful regions in Chile. Source: Pexels.
Valparaíso, one of the most beautiful regions in Chile. Source: Pexels.
  • Surprising Weather: Chile’s unique geography results in surprisingly varied weather. From the desert and hot north to the cold and glacial regions of the south, you will be exposed to different weather conditions during your trip. Prepare your suitcase with appropriate clothing to adapt to temperature fluctuations and be comfortable in any environment.
  • Cultural Connection: Although Spanish is the official language throughout the country, it is possible to find people who speak English in tourist areas. However, diving into the local culture and learning a few basic Spanish phrases will let you connect even more with the locals and better understand their culture.
  • Currency and Economy: The Chilean peso (CLP) is the official currency. Be sure to exchange currency at banks or authorized exchange houses to obtain the most favorable rates. Chile can be affordable in terms of the cost of living, but prices vary depending on the region. Plan your budget and enjoy a diverse dining experience.
  • Schedules and Times: Keep in mind that Chile is in different time zones. While most of the country follows UTC-3 in winter and UTC-4 in summer due to daylight saving time, the Magallanes and the Antarctic Chilean Region remain in UTC-3 throughout the year. Make your plans based on the local time zone to fully enjoy your trip.

What to take into account when traveling to Chile

It is essential to consider some key aspects to have a great experience. First of all, make sure you have the documents required to travel to Chile. Some of these documents are an identification document, a passport, international travel insurance (It is not mandatory, but it is recommended), and a vaccination certificate (The recommended vaccines to travel to Chile apart from COVID-19 are triple viral, hepatitis A and B, and tetanus-diphtheria) and verifiable financial means.

How the visa and passport policy work in Chile

When traveling to Chile, you can find two essential requirements to enter the country: a visa and a passport. Depending on your nationality, Chile may ask you for one of these documents or even both (which is the most normal). Nonetheless, there is the possibility that, if you are from a specific American country, you can only enter with a passport or even only present your identity document. You can do it without obtaining a visa or passport, according to the official website of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some tourists will be able to enter only by presenting their identity cards. We are going to tell you more about this below.

If you are from a country that is not on this list, you have nothing to worry about; this only means that you will have to go through the visa process that is commonly required when visiting a foreign country. You can advance this process on the Chilean procedures page, where you will have to fill out a form and follow the required steps.

Countries that do not require a visa or passport only require an identity card (ID)

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Paraguay

Countries that only require a passport but no visa:

  • Belize
  • Venezuela
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • The Savior
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • St. Lucia
  • Surinam
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Guyana
  • Dominica
  • Grenade
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Security

Chile stands out as one of the safest destinations in Latin America, anyway, it is important to take security into account. Tourist places and main cities such as Santiago, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar are relatively safe, but in urban areas and crowded spaces, you should be cautious. During your trip to Chile, store valuables discreetly and keep your belongings safe.

While most tourist destinations are safe, some outlying areas in large cities may have higher crime rates, so avoid traveling alone through unfamiliar areas at night and look for local safety guidance. Also, take into account the demonstrations and protests that are common in Chile.

Although they are mostly peaceful, it is advisable to keep your distance as a precaution. Also, consider that traffic and driving in Chile can be chaotic, so it is important to be aware of traffic regulations and pedestrian crossings.

How is the Chilean culture?

During your trip to Chile, you will find a vibrant and diverse culture reflected in its music, art, gastronomy, and ways of life. In the most touristic places, such as Santiago and Valparaíso, you can enjoy a great mix of indigenous traditions and European influences that have shaped the country’s cultural identity.

To respect and dive into Chilean culture, it is essential to remember the importance of punctuality. Chileans value formality in schedules and expect visitors to do the same. Also, being friendly and cordial with locals will open doors and create genuine connections.

Internet in Chile: Connectivity and Options for Travelers

Chile offers a great telecommunications infrastructure that ensures excellent connectivity in most tourist areas and cities. The main mobile networks, such as Movistar, Claro, Entel, and WOM provide many options for travelers. On the other hand, the operator Entel Chile stands out for its wide coverage, including even rural and remote areas. Movistar and Claro also offer good urban and tourist coverage, while WOM in Chile focuses on competitive rates to have internet in Chile.

When you arrive, you can get a local SIM card in Chile to get an internet connection and avoid the expensive international roaming service. However, if you prefer not to use a physical card, you can purchase an international eSIM with data included for your trip to Chile offered by providers such as Holafly, one of the best providers in the market. With an eSIM, there are no strings attached with a Chilean operator, and you can have the amount of data you need with additional advantages.

Best dates to travel to Chile

Chile offers exciting experiences throughout the year, but certain times are especially attractive for travelers who want to get the most out of their visit. If you are a lover of winter sports and snowy landscapes, the months of June to August are perfect for visiting the ski resorts in the Andes. Also, July is the month of the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, a religious holiday that is celebrated throughout the country with colorful parades and traditional events.

To enjoy your trip to Chile, the spring landscapes, and the bloom of nature, the months of September to November are perfect. September stands out with the celebrations of the Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean Independence Day, where the streets are filled with festivities, food, and music. Spring is also an excellent time to visit the vineyards and try the famous Chilean wines since it is the beginning of the harvest season.

Los Andes, one of the best places to visit during Winter. Source: Pexels.
Los Andes, one of the best places to visit during Winter. Source: Pexels.

If you are looking for warm weather and amazing beaches, the months of December to February are ideal for exploring the Chilean coast. January stands out with the Viña del Mar Song Festival, one of the most important musical events in Latin America. Also, February is perfect for visiting the Lake District and enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking and boating on the lakes.

What is the cheapest month to travel to Chile?

If you are looking to save some money on your trip to Chile, choosing the right month can make a big difference in your expenses. Usually, the cheapest months to travel to Chile are during the low season, which is from May to September. During this period, flights and accommodation are often more affordable, as many airlines and hotels offer discounts to attract travelers looking for sales. Once in Chile, you can continue your adventure in other destinations such as Peru, one of the cheapest countries to travel to from Chile.

It is important to note that the low season in Chile matches the winter months, which means that the weather in some regions, especially the more southern areas, can be colder and wetter. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind bundling up and enjoying snowy landscapes and winter activities, this can be a great opportunity to explore at a lower cost.

How to get to Chile?

Traveling to Chile is great and there are several options to choose from depending on your location and travel preferences. Whether you choose direct flights to Santiago or want to explore further with regional connections, keep in mind that your choice will affect your travel experience.

Know all the ways to get to Chile. Source: Pexels.
Know all the ways to get to Chile. Source: Pexels.

From international flights to overland routes from neighboring countries, each path offers a unique opportunity to begin your unforgettable adventure in this South American destination.

How to get to Chile from North America: Land and Flight Options

If you are in North America and want to explore Chile, you have several options to reach this exciting destination. On land, consider traveling through neighboring countries such as Argentina or Peru, from where you can enter by road through border crossings between Colombia, Ecuador, and finally Argentina, or through Colombia and then Peru.

Anyway, the most common and fastest option is through flights. Several airlines offer direct and daily flights from major North American cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Miami, to Santiago, the capital of Chile. If you have just arrived in North America and want to make your trip to Chile, we recommend that you first consider how to have internet in North America so you can avoid roaming charges in this region.

Airline options that provide direct flights to Chile include LATAM Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, letting you arrive quickly and conveniently to start your adventure in this captivating South American country.

Traveling to Chile by Car: Routes and Adventures

From various points in South America, there are land routes that will take you to Chile through neighboring countries, offering you a panoramic view of the region. One of the most popular routes is through Argentina, where you can enter Chile from the Jama Pass from Argentina to San Pedro de Atacama. You will cross the Andes Mountains, which will give you impressive views, and you will be able to explore places like Santiago or the Lake District, depending on the route you choose.

Another option is through Peru, where you can enter Chile from cities like Tacna or Arica. As you cross the changing landscape, you will come across beautiful destinations such as the Atacama Desert or the beaches of northern Chile. Of course, do not forget your pillow to travel because the road trip is one of the slowest ways to get to Chile.

Getting to Chile by Plane: International Connections and Airports

Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago is the main gateway, with direct flights from destinations around the world, including North America, Europe, and other Latin American countries. Santiago is an ideal starting point to explore the capital and its surroundings.

Some of the airlines with which you can access Chile are LATAM Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and others. If your destination is northern Chile, the Diego Aracena International Airport (IQQ) in Iquique or the Cerro Moreno International Airport (ANF) in Antofagasta provide you with access to the wonders of the Atacama Desert. On the other hand, if you would like to explore the Lake District, El Tepual International Airport (PMC) in Puerto Montt is an excellent option.

For those who want to dive into the beauty of Patagonia, the Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ) in Punta Arenas or the Teniente Julio Gallardo International Airport (PNT) in Puerto Natales are convenient entry points. From these airports, you will be able to access impressive glaciers, national parks, and unique adventures in the southern region of Chile.

Can you travel to Chile by sea?

If you are looking for an alternative and beautiful way to make your trip to Chile, the sea route is an exciting option. Many cruise ships and ferry lines connect Chile with neighboring countries such as Argentina and Peru, offering you a unique experience in the Pacific Ocean. When you arrive, you could disembark in coastal cities such as Valparaíso or Puerto Montt, depending on your itinerary.

Although maritime navigation takes longer than other options, it is an opportunity to appreciate the coastal landscapes and discover new perspectives on Chile’s natural beauty. Before embarking, check the itineraries, and documentation requirements and consider the possibility of seasickness, to fully enjoy this maritime journey to this destination.

To make your planning easier, mobile travel apps like Skyscanner can help you compare options and find the best connections for your adventure.

Gastronomy: What is it like and which destinations have the best

Chilean gastronomy is a delicious mix of flavors and traditions. From Patagonia to the arid north, each region has its signature dish. Enjoy a full, traditional breakfast with eggs, meat, and bread, anywhere in the country. If you are looking for fresh seafood and fish, the coast is your destination, while in the south you can try curanto, a feast cooked in a hole in the ground.

Cities like Santiago and Valparaíso offer a vibrant gastronomic scene with restaurants that fuse the traditional with the contemporary, so we could define these two destinations as the main ones to look for a little of each region.

Top 10 Best Cities to Visit in Chile

Chile is full of charming cities that offer unique experiences. For this reason, it is quite difficult to put together a top 10 because no city is better than another, since each one has a characteristic that makes it unique and worth visiting. Anyway, some of these cities are:

  • Valparaíso captivates with its street art and its Bohemian atmosphere.
  • Santiago, the capital, offers a mix of the modern and the historical and is an excellent starting point for exploring the country.
  • Puerto Varas, in the Lake District, will surprise you with its natural beauty and its views of the volcanoes.
  • Viña del Mar: With beaches and exuberant gardens, Viña del Mar is known as the Garden City and is renowned for its international music festival.
  • La Serena: With its colonial architecture and nearby beaches, La Serena is a coastal city with a relaxed atmosphere and full of history.
  • Antofagasta: With its desert aridity and vibrant port, Antofagasta is an economic and cultural center in northern Chile.
  • Valdivia: Surrounded by rivers and forests, Valdivia is a city with a marked fluvial character and a rich colonial history.
  • Pucón: Located in the middle of nature, Pucón is an adventure destination with hot springs and views of the Villarrica volcano.
  • Iquique: This city offers golden sand beaches and a mix of historic and modern architecture, as well as water activities.
  • Arica: In the far north, Arica is well-known for its warm climate, beaches, and the region’s indigenous culture.

What are the 10 best beaches in Chile?

Best beaches in Chile
The best beaches in Chile. Source: Pexels.

From the beautiful Bahía Inglesa to the serene tranquility of Pucón, each beach offers a unique atmosphere. Some of the bests of this South American country are:

  • Bahía Inglesa, Atacama Region: With its turquoise waters and white sands, this beach is a paradise in the desert, ideal for relaxing and practicing water sports.
  • Anakena, Easter Island: Surrounded by palm trees and golden sands, Anakena is a jewel in the middle of the Pacific, perfect for swimming and enjoying the tropical surroundings.
  • Pucón, Araucanía Region: Located next to Lake Villa Rica and surrounded by mountains, Pucón offers volcanic sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, ideal for relaxation and adventure.
  • Matanzas, O’Higgins Region: Famous for its waves, Matanzas is a paradise for windsurfers, kite-surfers, and surfers, as well as offering beautiful views of the ocean.
  • Cavancha, Iquique: With its long golden sand beach and warm waters, Cavancha is a popular destination for bathers and lovers of water sports.
  • Zapallar, Valparaíso Region: This remarkable beach with calm waters and natural surroundings is a favorite destination for those seeking relaxation and scenic beauty.
  • Cocholgüe, Biobío Region: With its rustic and authentic atmosphere, Cocholgüe is ideal for enjoying fresh seafood and the beauty of the sea together with local culture.
  • Puerto Viejo, Los Lagos Region: Surrounded by forests and mountains, Puerto Viejo offers quiet beaches and captivating landscapes, perfect for disconnection.
  • Pichilemu, O’Higgins Region: Renowned for its ideal waves for surfing, Pichilemu also has beaches to enjoy the sunset and relax.
  • Tongoy, Coquimbo Region: Its extensive beaches and calm waters make it a perfect destination for families to savor fresh seafood.

Where is cultural tourism practiced in Chile?

Chile’s rich history is reflected in its cultural heritage. To discover the heritage of the native people, we recommend you visit the Island of Chiloé, where the wooden churches are a World Heritage Site for their years of history and their great contribution to Chilean culture.

On the other hand, another destination that you cannot miss during your trip to Chile is Valparaíso, as this will let you dive into the port’s history and its colorful urban art. The mining town of Sewell takes you back in time to the industrial past. And in Santiago, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights connects you with the recent history of the country.

Where to practice ecotourism in Chile?

Ecotourism in Chile
Ecotourism in Chile. Source: Pexels.

Chile is a paradise for nature lovers. If you are interested in doing ecotourism during your trip to Chile, places like Torres del Paine are your best option, since it is one of the most famous parks in the world, to marvel at its peaks, glaciers, and lakes. On the other hand, in the Huilo Huilo National Reserve, you will dive into a world of jungle, waterfalls, and lagoons. Finally, the Route of the Parks will take you through a chain of national parks, each with its beauty. In every corner of the country, you will find opportunities for hiking, wildlife watching, and connection with nature.

How public transport works in Chile

Public transport in Chile, especially the Santiago Metro (Metro DF), is an effective and safe option to move around the city. With six lines that cross key areas, the Metro DF is the backbone of the system, offering short wait times, train frequencies of 5-10 minutes at peak times, and 15-20 minutes at other times. With strict security protocols and constant surveillance, the metro is reliable and comfortable for passengers.

Also, the network of urban buses complements this mobility offer, covering areas that the metro does not directly cover. The combination of options lets you explore Chile in an accessible and convenient way.

Public transport, apps, DF metro, flights

During your trip to Chile, having an efficient public transport system lets you easily move around the cities. The Santiago metro, known as Metro DF, is a convenient and fast option to move around the capital. You will also find urban buses and buses that will take you to different parts of the city and its surroundings. Also, apps such as Skyscanner will help you compare and find domestic and international flights, ensuring you the best rates and options for exploring Chile.

Public transport in Chile
Public transport in Chile. Source: Pexels.

When flying within Chile, several airlines offer connections between major cities. LATAM Airlines, Sky Airlines, and JetSMART are some of the options that provide domestic flights, allowing you to quickly reach destinations such as the Lake District, Antofagasta, and more.

What to buy in Chile

During your trip to Chile, you will find a wide variety of souvenirs and local products to take home with you. Do not miss the opportunity to buy Chilean wines, famous throughout the world for their excellent quality. Also, handicrafts such as ponchos, blankets, and jewelry inspired by the Mapuche indigenous culture are unique treasures. If you are a fashion lover, look for wool and alpaca clothing in the local markets. For lovers of gastronomy, ulmo honey and products derived from cochayuyo are authentic Chilean delicacies that you should try.

Best places to buy in Chile

Chile offers a diverse shopping experience, ranging from local markets to luxury boutiques. If you are looking for authentic handicrafts and souvenirs, markets like La Vega Central in Santiago and the Mercado Municipal de Valparaíso are excellent options. The cities also have commercial areas such as Paseo Ahumada in Santiago, where you will find fashion stores and local products. For a unique experience, explore the Santa Lucía Artisan Fair in Santiago, which offers a variety of traditional items in a beautiful setting.

What is the cheapest thing to buy in Chile?

Chile offers some cheap shopping opportunities that can vary depending on your interests. Local farm products, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, are often affordable and fresh at local markets. When it comes to souvenirs, keychains, magnets, and small items are often affordable options to take with you. Also, public transport such as the metro in Santiago and the Transantiago offer reasonable rates to move around the city. To save on dining, look for ‘Menus del Dia’ (Menu of the Day) at local restaurants, which offer full meals at affordable prices.

Frequent questions about traveling to Chile

How many days are needed to know Chile?

The ideal duration of your trip will depend on your interests and chosen destinations. For a full scan, consider at least two weeks. However, even a week-long getaway will let you enjoy some of the highlights.

Is it possible to be a digital nomad in Chile?

Yes, Chile is an excellent option for digital nomads. Major cities have the technological infrastructure, coworking spaces, and reliable internet connections that make working while traveling an attractive option.

How much money is needed to go to Chile?

The budget varies depending on the style of travel and the duration. On average, a traveler might expect around $50 to $100 per day for lodging, food, and activities, though this can vary widely.

Can you use credit cards in Chile?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted during your trip to Chile, especially in cities and tourist areas. Nonetheless, it is advisable to carry cash in local currency for smaller places or local markets.