When to Go to Chile
Chile by season
As it spans more than half the length of South America, crossing 38 degrees of latitude, Chile's climate varies considerably depending on where you go. This makes summarising the weather a little tricky, so in order to simplify it, we’ve broken the year down into its four seasons. Remember that these occur at opposite times of the year to those in the northern hemisphere.
September to November
Spring is a lovely time to visit Chile: days are bright and sunny, if a little chilly, and the flowers begin to bloom, especially in the Lake District. In the south, there’s a reasonable chance of rain, but visitor numbers are low in this, the shoulder season, so chances are you’ll have Chile’s gorgeous scenery to yourself. By November, temperatures are increasing again, and hotels and attractions begin to fill up.
Independence Day: on 18th September, celebrate Chile’s independence from Spain with traditional food, dancing, parties and air shows, plus plenty of patriotic flag waving and red wine drinking.
Halloween: Chile may not traditionally celebrate Halloween, but year on year, participation is growing, and you’ll find Santiago kitted out in pumpkins, and various super-scary parties.
December to February
Chile’s summer generally offers the most comfortable conditions for exploring, but it’s also when cities and tourist areas are busiest. Days are warm and sunny, with temperatures averaging between 15°C and 25°C. Up in the Atacama Desert, daytime temperatures can hit 38°C, and then plummet below freezing at night. The relatively warm weather in Patagonia (around 14°C) makes summer the best time to visit Torres del Paine National Park, while down on the coast near Valparaiso and over on Easter Island, the beaches are at their glorious best.
New Year: if you’re in Chile over New Year, the best place to take it in is Valparaiso, where fireworks light up the night sky, visible from all over this hilly city and best appreciated from a rooftop bar.
Tapati Rapa Nui: Easter Island’s 4,000 inhabitants celebrate their culture in late January with dances, body paint, statue carving, singing, surfing, canoeing and plenty of eating.
March to May
Autumn is another lovely time to visit Chile. As the summer’s visitors disperse, attractions become more peaceful, while in the winelands the autumn leaves appear on the vines. Torres del Paine National Park may be getting pretty cold by autumn, but the conditions are good for wildlife spotting. Having said that, as the cold weather sets in, Chile’s southern walking trails close for the winter.
Puma spotting: April and May are the ideal time to spot puma in Torres del Paine National Park, so wrap up warm and join your guide for a wildlife-spotting adventure you’ll never forget.
Vendimia: Chile’s main wine-harvesting period is from February to May. During this time, head for the Central Valley for harvest parties, including food stands, artistic performances and, of course, wine drinking.
June to August
In the Atacama, winter days are cool yet sunny, while over in Santiago, temperatures hover around freezing, sometimes dropping to -13°C. This makes the north of the country perfectly visitable in winter, although do remember to wrap up warm. It’s a different story in the south though, with much of Patagonia inaccessible. It’s not all bad news though, as the ice and snow creates the ideal conditions for skiing – try Valle Nevado near Santiago.
Indigenous New Year: for Chile’s indigenous people, the New Year begins on 24th June with the winter solstice. Religious rituals are performed as the new sun returns, bringing renewed life.
Festival de la Tirana: in July, La Tirana puts on a huge cultural festival honouring the Virgin of Carmen, the patron saint of Chile. Come for music, dancing, worshipping and traditional dress.