Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chile is a nation known for its astounding landscape diversity and rich cultural heritage. One of the longest countries in the world, Chile is bordered by Peru to the north, Bolivia and Argentina to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south.
Known affectionately as “the Land of Poets,” this skinny nation of more than 19 million residents has gifted the world with two Nobel Laureates for Literature and numerous other noted authors. Among its prized literary figures are Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, and Nicanor Parra. Explore more of what to do on a Chile family vacation.
All told, Chile encompasses 2,700 miles (4,300 km) of coastline and contains a vast range of climates, ecosystems, and soils. Ready to learn more about visiting Chile with kids? Read on for our ultimate family travel guide.
A Nation of Landscape Diversity
The driest non-polar region in the world, the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, receives, on average, 0.04 inches of rainfall per year. About once per century, this increases to 1.5 inches, enough extra precipitation to feed the area’s short-lived lagoons where flamingos and other birds and wildlife flock. The Atacama’s stunning lunar landscapes, pristine night skies, and dramatic geysers captivate visitors.
Moving southward, you’ll come to the Central Valley and the capital of Chile, Santiago. This metropolis holds approximately 6.7 million inhabitants or nearly one-third of the population. As a result, it represents the vibrant heart of the nation. The burgeoning city offers plenty of amenities and urban activities, including great nightlife options and dining.
About an hour and a half northwest of Santiago, you’ll find the eclectic, artistic haven of Valparaíso on the Pacific Coast. If Santiago is the heart of Chile, then Valparaíso represents its soul. A must-see highlight of any visit to Chile, Valparaíso packs in plenty of character and charm. From the busy port filled with sailors and nomads to bustling cafes, mural-infused cityscapes, and La Sebastiana (Pablo Neruda’s former house-turned-museum), you’ll find endless ways to appreciate Valparaíso’s heady Bohemian allure.
South of Santiago are the rolling fertile winelands of Chile, which include the valleys of Maipo, Casablanca, and Colchagua among many others. The area’s pastoral landscapes showcase fields of ancient vines that stretch as far as the eye can see, the centerpiece of Chile’s abundant wine production.
In Southern Chile sits Patagonia, renowned for its untouched natural splendor. A wild region punctuated by rugged mountain ranges, stunning waterfalls, and pristine glaciers, there’s plenty to see and do. From hiking to horseback riding, cruises through glaciers and fjords to penguin watching, get ready for the family adventure of a lifetime.
When to Go to Chile
Best Time to Visit: Due to the varied and vast geography of Chile, pinpointing the best time to visit depends on the region. Because of Chile’s position below the equator, its seasons are reversed from those of the northern hemisphere. Summer runs from December to February, fall from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November.
When to Visit Northern Chile: The Atacama Desert represents a year-round destination. Although days can sizzle during the summer, they cool off considerably each evening due to the high altitude.
When to Visit Southern Chile: As for Patagonia, June through August represent fantastic times to visit for those interested in skiing and ice skating, this represents the optimal time to visit. Just remember to pack for colder weather and snow.
Chile with Kids: FAQs
Time: CLT (Chile Standard Time), UTC/GMT -3 hours
Voltage: 220 v
Adapter: Type C/L for US appliances
Visas for Chile
Holders of valid passports from the United States, Canada, and the European Union may visit Chile without a visa for up to 90 days. Contact your nearest Chilean embassy or consulate for up-to-date visa information based on your nationality. If you do need to apply for a Chilean visa, then we highly recommend iVisa for a fast, affordable turnaround time.
Health & Vaccinations
Before every trip, make sure you and your family are up-to-date on routine immunizations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. Vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended for most travelers to Chile. All visitors should have travel insurance that covers medical expenses. Check with your doctor for more information before travel.
LATAM, Chile’s primary airline, connects both the US and Europe with Chile. British Airways also services Santiago via São Paulo, Brazil, with the second leg of the journey operated by LATAM. Air France flies to Chile via London from Paris, and Air Canada departs for Chile from Toronto and London. Chile’s primary travel hub is Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, located 9.5 miles (15 km) northwest of central Santiago.
Flight time from New York: approximately 10 hours 30 minutes
Currency in Chile
The official currency of Chile is the peso (CH$), and banknotes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 pesos. Coin values include one, five, ten, 50, 100, and 500 pesos. You’ll generally find the best exchange rates in Santiago. Most establishments also accept credit cards, particularly MasterCard and Visa. Be prepared to carry small bills when traveling in more rural areas as it can be difficult to change large bills in these areas.
Paying with US bills is acceptable at some establishments, especially tour agencies. Top-end hotels often post rates in US dollars, too. These reflect a lower exchange rate than the daily one. In general, it’s best to deal in pesos. Chile offers many accessible ATMs known as redbanc, and they are the most convenient way to access funds. That said, it is not advisable to rely on ATMs in small towns.
What to Eat in Chile
Chile serves up local variations of many dishes found throughout South America, such as ceviche and empanadas. Quinoa has been cultivated in the Chilean Andes for 5,000 years and is a staple of many local dishes. Options abound when it comes to regional cuisine to please the palate, from Northern Chilean sopaipillas with pebre to Patagonia’s exquisite spit-roasted lamb. Read on for ten must-try dishes when visiting Chile with kids.
Safety in Chile
While criminal activity does prove more common in Santiago than other parts of Chile, the US Department of State recommends exercising standard precautions as you would with any large metropolitan area. Chile, as a whole, is rated moderately safe with comparatively less crime than many other parts of Latin America. For more information on safety during your Chile family vacation, read on.
How to Dress for Chile
Because of Chile’s diverse climates and geographies, wearing layers is recommended. For example, while the Atacama Desert can feel quite hot on a summer day, expect temperatures to drop significantly with nightfall. Pack clothes in muted colors and wrinkle-free fabrics that you can quickly rinse out and line dry. Fast-drying materials are your friends.
Don’t forget a couple of long sleeve shirts and pants and always opt for loose-fitting clothes in breathable fabrics. Comfortable walking shoes that can handle short hikes prove a must, too. For more on what to bring, check out our ultimate pack-and-go checklist.
Adventure Awaits Your Family in Chile
Ready to learn more about a family vacation to Chile? Check out our past blog posts on this magical land:
- From Asados to Cueca: Chilean Culture for Family Travelers
- Chile Family Adventure: The Atacama for Kids
- Visiting Chile with Kids: On the Lookout for Unique Birds
Family Adventure that Makes the World a Better Place
At Our Whole Village, we believe family adventure travel can have a positive impact on the communities that we visit. This philosophy guides us to carefully consider the consequences our journeys have on local communities and the environment. We work hard to ensure that your next exhilarating family journey with us leaves the world a better place. We also remain passionate about crafting immersive, authentic experiences to make raising good global citizens a little easier.
How? By working with charities and organizations that give back to local communities. This approach includes eating at estancias (farms/ranches) and supporting local businesses. We also carefully select the eco-friendly businesses and hotels that we visit to lessen our “footprint” and guarantee a brighter future for these destinations. Want to read more about our “kind” approach to tourism? Check out these articles:
Book a Family Holiday to Chile
We’ll build the perfect all-inclusive experience for you and your family and manage the details of your Chile trip so that you can sit back and get your relax on.
We know firsthand that travel with kids doesn’t have to be stressful and have worked hard to craft a specific package for families that takes the guesswork out of visiting Chile. Our trips include everything from pick up (and drop off) at the airport to hotel accommodations, excursions, meals, and more.
Once you board your flights to Santiago, get ready for countless Chilean adventures, from the remote splendor of the Atacama to the vibrant energy of Santiago and the quirky flair of Valparaíso. Check out the full itinerary now.
Ready for Your Chile Family Vacation?
Are you and your family ready for the family adventure of a lifetime? Come along on our 11-day Atacama Family Vacation, an immersive, authentic way to visit some of the most extraordinary destinations in Chile with kids.
At Our Whole Village, we craft transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we curate for curious families just like yours.
Bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Chile with Kids by adding this image to one of your Pinterest boards.