The Best & Worst Time To Visit Chile

Chile is an amazing country that has so many different kinds of landscapes. From desert to the mountains of Patagonia, the weather varies greatly depending on where you are. Read to find out the best and worst times to visit Chile.
Lake Pehoé, Chile. Photo: Ik T | Flickr

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It’s hard to give a definitive response when someone asks, “When is the best time to visit Chile?” That’s because it’s a large country that stretches across the entire continent of South America.

Santiago Chile, Photo: Erik Cooper I Flickr

The seasons in South America are the reverse of those in Europe and there are about seven main climates throughout the country. The weather in the deserts of the North contrasts greatly with the grasslands in the south.

As a general rule, however, the seasons of Chile are as follows:

  • Summer (December to February)
  • Autumn (March to May)
  • Winter (June to August)
  • Spring (September to November)
Vineyards in Chile, Photo: Mariana Schwab I Flickr

Best time to visit Chile…for festivals

Expect the months of January and February to be the months with the most things to do. There are countless events throughout the country centered around food, music, and dance.

For example, the Fiesta of Tapati on Easter Island in February has a plethora of fun activities. People paint their faces and bodies, and there are swimming and canoeing competitions.

Tapati Festival, Photo: Mike W. I Flickr

The canoes are made of Totora reeds and teams dress up in traditional costumes. They perform dances in the streets and tell stories and legends about their past.

There is a lot more where this came from. Look up a complete list of festivals and see if there is any worth planning your trip around!

By region:

Best time to visit Chile: The Atacama Desert

We all know that deserts are dry, but Chile’s Atacama desert is officially the driest desert on the planet, and it’s at its most beautiful during the first few hours of the day and at sunset.

It’s ideal to visit Chile’s Atacama desert in the winter from May to July when travel to places like Patagonia is not recommended. From May to July, there is very little rainfall and the days are hot with cool clear nights – perfect for stargazing.

Atacama Desert, Photo: Cissa Ferreira I Flickr

The worst time to visit – The Atacama Desert

The weather from January to March consists of intense afternoon storms. The regions that are usually most affected are Arica and Parinacota as well as Tarapacá and locations such as Visviri, Putre, Colchane, and Toconao.

Although it does not rain every single day, there are occasions when these rains are so strong that rivers overflow and it’s very possible that you will have interrupted travel plans due to road destruction.

Proceed with caution if you are traveling to the Atacama during January, February, or March.

Best time to visit Chile – Easter Island

The shoulder seasons between April and June and October and December are the best times to visit Easter Island. The warm climate combined with fewer crowds makes these months the ideal time to discover the Magic of Easter island. 

Easter Island, Photo: The TerraMar Project I Flickr

The worst time to visit Chile – Easter Island

Summer (December to March) is the touristic high season on Easter island, so as you can imagine, it gets so crowded on this little island. That being said, remember that the Tapati Rapa Festival takes place in February, so maybe it’s worth braving the heaps of people.

Best time to visit Chile – Chilean Patagonia

The further South you head down Chili, the more extreme the weather conditions – that’s why the summer months ( December to March) are considered high season. The weather is warmer ( although still cool) and while there are strong winds from December to January – it’s not unbearable.

Patagonia, Chile, Photo: Killy Ridols I Flickr

In the summer its daylight for around 18 hours so you have lots of time to do all the outdoor adventures. This time of year there is so many things to do like hiking, glacier trekking, mountain biking, and white water rafting on the rapids of the Futaleufu River.

The worst time to visit Chile – Chilean Patagonia

During the autumn and winter months, some areas are totally inaccessible because of the snow so it’s best to avoid going from June to August. It is also reaches as low as -15C (5F).

Best time to visit Chile – Torres del Paine & The Lake District

This part of Chile experiences all four seasons and is best during the summer (December through March).

Torres del Paine, Chile, Photo: Marco Nürnberger I Flickr

The actual park is open all year round however, it is wise to limit your visit to the months of October-April (Spring & Summer). During this time of the year, you will also have long sunny days.

The worst time to visit Chile – Torres del Paine & The Lake District

Winters in these regions get wet and bone-chillingly cold so you might want to make other travel plans if it’s winter(June to August).

Best time to visit Chile – Santiago & The Central Valley

Santiago, Chile, Photo: John Englart I Flickr

Hands down, the best time to visit Santiago, Chile is in summer. The locals leave town and hotel rates go down.

The weather in Santiago here is Mediterranean with temperatures ranging between 0-13C/30-50F in winter and 16-35C/60-90F in summer. This particular region is always quite moderate and therefore it is a great place to visit any time of year.

The worst time to visit Chile – Santiago & The Central Valley

Winter begins in June and lasts all the way through September. During this period, temperatures rarely exceed 15 degrees C. On the other hand, smog becomes a major issue during the winter months. As one would expect, the winter months are the slowest period, with most preferring warmer climates and places that are warm and sunny.

Chile, Photo: Ik T I Flickr

To Sum Up

The best and worst times to visit Chile largely depend on which region you hope to visit and the time of year. Choose your destinations, then you will be able to check back and make sure you are planning to go at the perfect time.


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