The Best Time to Visit Chile

Scenic View Of Sea Against Clear Blue Sky
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The best time to visit Chile is in March. The whole country begins to cool down, and accommodation prices are low. Since Chile has extremely diverse climates and regions, different places will have different optimal times to visit, but if you want to traverse the country in just a few weeks, March will have the best overall weather and prices for a short trip. The Lake District hosts wine festivals, while Patagonia has little rain and far fewer visitors than in summer inside its national parks. Beaches are not crowded and have plenty of sun.

Summer is high season with divine weather and a slew of festivals, but you'll pay full price for accomodation. If you have no interest in winter sports, like cooler weather, and enjoy saving money, then travel anytime during the shoulder seasons of fall (March through May) and spring (September through October).

Key Holidays and Events

Come to Chile during the harvest season in March and April to celebrate one of its most famous exports: wine. Vendimias is celebrated in the center of the country in Santiago, Valparaiso, and the Lake District. Head to the Colchagua Valley for the most famous of the wine fests to partake of reds, whites, rosés, and handmade chocolates.

Santiago a Mil is the largest art festival in the country, a three week-long extravaganza in January, based in Santiago. Experience theater, music, visual arts, and dancing, including many free events. A month later, the largest and oldest music festival in Latin America takes place in Viña del Mar for the Viña del Mar Song Festival. Big name international acts, a song competition, and chic resort vibes await. For those wanting a smaller music festival with more of a focus on wellness and music, Festival Nomade is an alternative option for February.

Peak Season

The high season for international tourism is from the end of November through February. Patagonia is particularly busy during this time, as is Easter Island. Chileans travel to the coast during these months, making Valparaiso and Viña del Mar crowded as well. However, most Santiago locals travel during this time, making the city less crowded than usual. The peak of ski season is the last two weeks of July, due to school holidays.

Weather in Chile

The weather varies greatly throughout the country due to its extreme range of latitudes, altitudes, and geography. Summer (December to February) has some of the most enjoyable weather of the year. Expect warm temps in Patagonia, but watch out for windy days. Coastal cities, like Valparaiso will experience warm, Mediterranean-like weather these months. Santiago, the Central Valleys, and the Atacama Desert can be visited any time of the year weather-wise. The ski resorts around Santiago and in Patagonia will be open for winter activities starting in June, and the wettest month throughout the country will be July. Spring and fall have mild weather in the central to northern regions of the country, but spring will come late (in November) to Patagonia.

January

Though it’s the hottest month, temperatures are manageable throughout the country. Desert regions, like Iquique, range from 64 to 77 degrees F (18 to 25 degrees C), while the beaches of Valparaiso boasts temperatures of 55 to 72 degrees F (13 to 22 degrees C).

Events to check out:

  • The biggest New Year's party is in Valparaiso. Celebrate by participating in Chile's New Years traditions: wearing yellow underwear for fortune, lugging an empty suitcase around the block for travel blessings, eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight, or watching the massive fireworks show.
  • Head to Chiloé for Semana Ancuditana to experience traditional Chilote music, dance, and food.

February

The summer months experience the lowest pollution levels of the year, making February an excellent time to travel. Expect windy weather in Patagonia, cool ocean breezes on the coast, and hot temps in Santiago and in the north of the country. While Santiago is still not crowded, expect the opposite in Torres del Paine National Park.

Events to check out:

  • Head to Easter Island for Tapati Festival: 10 days of traditional body painting, canoe racing, banana tree tobogganing, swimming, and more.
  • The city of Arica hosts the Carnaval Andino con la Fuerza del Sol in January or February and mixes Catholic and native traditions. Over 60 dance teams dance through the streets, each with its own distinctive costume and showcasing dances like the tinku, tube, waca waca, and more.

March

The high season tapers off in Patagonia and Easter Island, but the weather is still sunny, warm, and pleasant. Temps get a bit cooler on the coast (54 to 70 degrees F, 12 to 21 degrees C), but Valparaiso still has sunshine seven hours a day and far fewer crowds than in the summer. Wine lovers head to the Lake District for the grape harvest, even more sunshine than on the coast, and stunning fall leaves.

Events to check out:

  • Go to any wine region to sample the many pours of Vendimias (the Grape Harvest Festival). See a grape blessing, and sample one of Chile’s most famous exports. Each wine region will have local celebrations, but to guarantee good reds, go to the Colchagua Valley while the Curico Valley is the place to go for a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

April

You can find reduced lodging prices, as this month is in the middle of shoulder season. Many hotels start to close in Patagonia, but the national parks remain open. The Lake District is still in harvest season with less rain than other times of the year. Up north, the Atacama Desert cools slightly, and the camanchacas (fog and low clouds) begin to roll across its plains.

Events to check out:

  • Meet Chilean cowboys at Campeonato Nacional de Rodeo in Rancagua, see the cueca handkerchief dance, and browse markets of traditional food and crafts.

May

If you want to avoid rain and cold temps, go to the north. Iquique has lots of sunshine, no rain, and a temperate climate. However, if you don’t mind highs in the 40s Fahrenheit and some rain, Patagonia has few crowds now, as it’s still too early for ski season. Plus, it’s less windy than in summer.

Events to check out:

  • Go to coastal towns on May 21 to see many small boats take to the water and passengers throw flowers overboard, commemorating the Día de las Glorias Navales (Navy Day).

June

Skiers and snowboarders begin to arrive at the slopes near Santiago, as well as further south in the Lake District and the whole of Patagonia in June. The whole country begins to cool, with the north experiencing lows of 57 degrees F (14 degrees C), the middle dropping to 46 degrees F (8 degrees C), and the far south dropping to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree C).

Events to check out:

  • Thoroughout the country, Mapuches celebrate their own New Year’s on the winter solstice in late June. Communities gather to perform rituals, dance, tell stories, and play folk music. Go to the city of Temuco for one of the largest celebrations.

July

Expect rain in Valparaiso, but lots of glorious snow in Portillo and Valle Nevado. Patagonia has only seven hours of daylight, while Santiago’s temps will range from 39 to 59 degrees F (4 to 15 degrees C).

Events to check out:

  • Punta Arenas celebrates the longest night of the year with a themed car competition, parades, and a waterfront fireworks show for the Carnaval de Invierno.
  • Part carnival, food fair, and “dance of the devils”, the Fiesta de La Tirana (also known as the Fiesta de la Virgin del Carmen) mixes native religions and Catholicism for one of the largest religious festivals in the country.

August

For the best powder in Patagonian ski resorts, visit during this month. Crowds thin, ski resort prices drop, days get longer, and the rain begins to decrease. The cold days and increased sun also create the perfect weather for soaking in the hot springs of Termas de Chillán.

Events to check out:

  • The Festival de Jazz de Ñuñoa is a free festival showcasing the best jazz and jazz fusion musicians in the country over several days of concerts.
  • The Fiesta de Santa Rosa de Lima on Aug. 30 celebrates a Christian mystic with colorful street parades.

September

If you come at the beginning of this month, you can get huge discounts at ski resorts. Patagonia will still be in winter, while the rest of the country begins to transition into spring. Every few years the Atacama Desert has stunning desert wildflowers in September, especially in Parque Nacional Llanos de Challe. Santiago becomes sunny, and on the coast, surfers return to ride the waves.

Events to check out:

  • Feast on asado, dance the cumbia, and watch rodeo feats during Independence Day (Fiestas Patrias), celebrated during the week of Sept. 18.

October

The height of shoulder season, prices for accommodation continue to stay low. The northern and central regions have little rain, lots of sunshine, and continual flowers. See the penguins in Patagonia and experience the vibrancy of Santiago before the summer crowds hit.

Events to check out:

  • Drink up at Oktoberfest in Puerto Varas, Valdivia, and Malloco. Expect oompah bands and lots of German attire.

November

Spring arrives in Patagonia, the weather begins to war, and the sun shines for 15 hours a day. Expect hot days in Santiago with highs in the seventies but cool nights with lows in the high 50s. Crowds are low, making it a great time to visit popular places like Tierra del Fuego or travel along the Carreterra Austral.

Events to check out:

  • Antofagasta celebrates immigrants who helped shape Chile’s musical identity with international food and dancing at the Festival of Foreign Colonies, while Valparaiso celebrates big ideas at their Puerto de Ideas fest.

December

December is an ideal time for outdoor activities throughout the country such as hiking, glacier viewing, wildlife spotting, and sailing the fjords. Come earlier in the month to avoid the beginning of high season.

Events to check out:

  • Buy handicrafts at Santiago’s International Exhibition of Arts and Crafts or venture to Andacollo for La Fiesta Grande, a party celebrating the patron saint of mining.
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