Chile at a Glance: Best Time to Visit
Recommended time to visit: Chile is a very long, very narrow country. This means it experiences a varied climate, and the best time to visit depends on where you are heading. Patagonia is at its warmest and most accessible in summer, from October - March. Santiago and the Atacama are more year-round destinations, with the warmest weather lasting from November - March. January - February is peak season, so book early to avoid disappointment!
Less popular time to visit: June - August is when Chile experiences its winter. Rainfall is generally at its highest during these months and much of the country experiences cold weather. Some attractions are closed, but the ski resorts around Santiago are filling up at this time.
Best time for wildlife: If you're looking to explore the wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park then April - August is a good time to go. Accommodation is limited and the weather won't be at its best, but you've got a much better chance of being able to spot a puma!
Best time to visit the Atacama Desert: December - February is the Atacama's high season, with ideal conditions but bigger crowds. In the winter months, things can get chilly, so wrap up warm.
Best time to visit Patagonia: November - March is the best time to visit Patagonia, with warmer temperatures across the region.
Climate | Santiago
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Climate | Atacama
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Seasons and Weather
In southern Chile, the weather is generally rainy all year round with falling snow in much of the high altitude areas. However, in the coastal areas of the south, the winters are rarely too cold and summers are comfortably cool. Summer is the best time to visit Patagonia with warmer temperatures perfect for outdoor adventure. High season in Chile is between the summer months of December to March so prices are at their highest at this time of year.
Spring (October and November) and autumn (April and May) can be just as good in Patagonia though it’s best to avoid the winter months of June to September when services shut down and passes become impenetrable. This is, however, the best time for snow-based activities in the Lake District. The central region of Chile experiences warm, dry summers, and moderately wet, cool winters.
In the northern regions, the climate is drier which results in a much higher snow line in the mountains and a very desert-like climate in the areas nearer the coast. Despite it rarely raining, the weather is often cloudy and cool resulting in higher temperatures in the months of March and only cooler in July.
The Atacama Desert basks in sunny weather and high temperatures all year round though night time temperatures can plummet at higher altitudes. The summer months can be extremely hot. Thanks to sea breezes, Chile’s coast generally feels cooler than the inland with the rainy season between May and August bringing cooler temperatures and wetter conditions.
Festivals and Events
Festivals are an integral part of Chilean life and are imbued with religious, historical or cultural associations. Whatever the occasion, one thing can be certain and that is that the population of this long country will pull out all the stops to make every festival an event to be remembered.
What is the Carnaval con la Fuerza del Sol?
Thoroughly entertaining and of great religious and cultural importance, the Carnaval con la Fuerza del Sol ("carnival with the strength of the sun") takes place over three days and brings together people from Chile, Peru and Bolivia. The festival celebrates the peaceful blending of Spanish and indigenous cultures and festivities include participants in brightly coloured, traditional clothing dancing and singing, both competitively and purely for enjoyment.
What is Vendimia?
One thing Chile has gained fame for across the world is its wine so it makes sense that they have a holiday devoted to the celebration of the very thing that creates this delicious beverage. Chile’s annual Grape Harvest Festival, which takes place in March and April, starts with a religious ceremony where locals bless the first grape harvest and give thanks for it. The second part of the festival is much livelier as grape-pressing competitions take place alongside singing, dancing and cheers of encouragement from onlookers.
When is Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day)?
Every year on the 18th of September, the entire population of Chile comes out to celebrate its independence from Spain. The celebrations usually last for the entire week and consist of lots of dancing and singing as well as feasting on a huge array of Chilean food and drinks. Chileans are incredibly proud of their cultural heritage (and rightfully so), therefore this festival is of paramount significance and is guaranteed to have you tapping your toes and wishing that it would last forever.
Patagonia In Style
Santiago to Patagonia
For further information to help plan your trip to Chile, see the following:
Best Places to Visit - our top 10 destinations in Chile
Top Travel Tips - covering everything from money to health, food to shopping Tourist Visas - know what visa you need prior to travel