- Summer (Dec-Feb): Prime beach weather, outdoor activities, and festivals galore
- Fall (March-May): Brilliant foliage in northern Patagonia, grape harvest in full swing
- Winter (June-Aug): Great skiing/snow sports; some tourist spots close at this time
- Spring (Sept-Oct): Blooming flowers, lively festivals, mild temps, and fewer crowds
Planning Your Trip to Chile
The most popular time to visit Chile is from December to February. This is when the long summer days offer the best climate for adventures big and small, including hiking, rafting, horseback riding or simply hanging out on the beach. Not surprisingly, this is when prices are highest, and advance bookings are essential.
Traveling during the shoulder season (before and after the summer) yields better prices and smaller visitor numbers. It’s also a great time to see wildflowers, changing fall leaves and take part in harvest festivals in Chile’s wine country.
Winter sees relatively few foreign visitors, but winter resorts heave with Chilean snow-lovers. There’s excellent skiing and snowboarding on powdery slopes, though prices are fairly high. It’s also not a bad time to visit the north, with excellent deals and few crowds.
Summer (December to February)
During the high season in Chile, there’s a wealth of adventures on offer, with long summer days and average daily high temperatures around 80°F/27°C. Along the coast, you’ll enjoy mild temperatures and refreshing breezes, though once you head inland the heat can be intense, especially in the desert country of the north.
Nights can get chilly even in the summer, particularly up in the Andes and in the Atacama desert, where lows drop to 54°F/12°C. It’s wise to bring a sweater and light jacket. The further south you go, the colder and rainier the weather. In Valdivia, for instance, the high in January and February is around 72°F/22°C, while in Punta Arenas the high hovers around 57°F/14°C.
If you’re thinking of tacking on a trip to Easter Island, summer is the liveliest time to go, particularly if you plan your trip around the massive two-week long cultural festival of Tapati Rapa Nui in February. Other lively summer events not to miss include Santiago a Mil, the biggest theater festival in Latin America and New Year’s Eve. One of the best places to be on December 31st is Valparaiso, with midnight fireworks launched over the bay.
Fall (March to May)
March is a bit of a transitional period, with summertime crowds thinning out by the end of the month. It’s still a great month for hiking with dry skies in Patagonia and the Andes.
You can also catch some of the big harvest festivals in Chilean wine country. Santa Cruz in the Central Valley throws one of the best Fiestas de la Vendimia (grape harvest festivals), with folk dancing, food and craft stands and free-flowing wines.
Winter (June to August)
Chile’s coldest three months see frosty temperatures, with average lows of around 38°F/3°C. Rain is rarely a concern in the north, though elsewhere there is a slight uptick in precipitation, with a nationwide average of three inches per month from June to August.
Things are slightly wetter in Central Chile, which has more of a Mediterranean-like climate (hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters) than in the rain-free north. Some places in Chile use the winter rains as an excuse to celebrate: the Festival de la Lluvia in Puerto Varas in the Lakes District features concerts, street performances and umbrella-themed parades.
The south is quite cold and very wet in the winter. Transport services are at a minimum in Patagonia. Intrepid travelers need not rule out the deep south, however, as far-flung places like Ushuaia offer skiing, snowboarding and even dogsledding in winter.
Spring (September to November)
Spring is a lovely time to visit Chile. In September you can catch wildflowers in bloom across the central and northern parts of the country. Some travelers even plan their Atacama trip around those extraordinary desert blooms. Spring doesn’t come to the south until November, which is a great month to beat the crowds and enjoy lower prices at beach resorts and in Patagonia.
Though it’s low season in Chile, the country is full of life during these months. The Fiestas Patrias (Chilean Independence) is feted with much revery during the week surrounding September 18. On the following month, you can tap into Chile’s German roots with big Oktoberfests held in Malloco (just outside of Santiago) as well as Valdivia and Puerto Varas.