July is peak winter season in Chile, and that means ski resorts are open for business in the central Andes and Lake District. This is also a great time of year to visit Santiago, the wine valleys, and northern Argentina for desert landscapes, coastal towns, salt flats, and starry skies. Read on for more tips on where to go and what to expect in Chile this month.

Weather

July, in general, tends to be Chile’s wettest month overall. This is when the country's mild winter weather is on full display, though geographically, this depends on where you are traveling along the extensive 2653-mile length. Santiago will see highs in the low-60s—comfortable for sightseeing, though prepare to put on layers after the sun goes down. For slightly warmer, drier weather, it's best to stay north of Santiago in the Atacama Desert, often considered the driest place on the planet. 

Patagonia typically stays in the 30s with a range of microclimates depending on where you travel. This is not really a draw this time of year due to wet and cold conditions. Plus there are only about seven hours of daylight, which means outdoor activities are rather limited. 

Crowds & Costs

Winter sees relatively few foreign visitors compared to other seasons, but mountain resorts tend to bustle with Chilean skiers and snowboarders near Santiago and the Lake District, especially families taking winter breaks. Thus, this is an expensive month to hit the slopes. 

If you plan to visit Northern Chile, you'll find excellent deals and few crowds. Southern Chilean Patagonia is devoid of tourists, though temperatures and rain deter people for a reason (plus many lodgings close for the season so there are fewer options). Still, those who brave Patagonia can luck out with gorgeous winter landscapes without the infamous wind of summer, though transport services tend to run at a minimum. 

Where to Go

Most incoming travelers will fly in and out of Santiago making it a great stopover for checking out the city's museums and up-and-coming neighborhoods. From here, you can drive to the east, west and south of the city, which takes you through the stunning and fertile wine valleys of Chile. This gently rolling countryside represents the heart of Chilean wine production and is often a must-see for many that visit the country. 

A two-hour drive from Santiago, Valparaiso is a quirky port city that has come to be one of the real highlights for any visit to Chile. You can easily spend a few days checking out the colorful hills ("Cerros") that overlook the city. Explore the cobblestone lanes zigzagging their way up and down hilly neighborhoods, lined with colorfully painted 19th-century houses. If you don't feel like walking, there are over a dozen old-fashioned funicular, saving your legs from the steep climb.  

Northern Chile also offers plenty of opportunities this time of year along its beautiful coastline, as well as inland in the Elqui Valley and the Atacama Desert with dramatic landscapes including red canyons, rocky valleys, gorges, thermal lakes, and geysers. This otherworldly region of northern Chile is gaining more attention each year as more travelers search for ways to unplug and get back to nature.

What to Do

Winter is the best time to visit for skiing, snowboarding, and heli-skiing. A popular spot for locals is Valle Nevado—close to Santiago with 17 lifts including the country's only gondola. Due to the resort's altitude of 9,924 feet, Valle Nevado typically receives the most snow of the Central Valley resorts, with a seasonal average of 300+ inches.

For those who wish to skip the slopes, Chile's northern coastline makes a memorable road trip journey. You’ll find sleepy fishing villages, lively surf towns, and wild national parks where the desert goes right to the edge of the sea with chances to spot penguins, sea lions, and dolphins on the rocky islands of the Reserve Nacional Pingüino de Humboldt. 

For something unique, the Chilean territory halfway between Tahiti and Chile, called Easter Island, offers excellent scuba diving destination due to the lack of pollution and algae, making the water here one of the world's clearest. There are several great diving spots offshore with an abundance of undisturbed marine life. 

Events in July

Fiesta de la Nieve (Snow Festival). During the third or fourth week of July, the Snow Festival is held at Puerto Williams. It is the most important festival in the year and the one summoning the largest audiences in town. This event includes various art and recreation activities related to the winter season.

Carnaval de Invierno (Winter Carnival). During two days, the Winter Carnival is celebrated in the city of Punta Arenas at the beginning of the winter season. The event ends on the banks of the Strait of Magellan with a show of fireworks that will delight both grown-ups and children.

Festival of the Virgen del Carmen. Taking place in the Atacama Desert en La Tirana, this is a multi-day celebration with traditional music and dance with a mix of both Incan and Catholic cultures. 

Traveling to Chile in July? Check out these great itineraries.

Chile's Iconic Wine Valleys. Calling all oenophiles: This guided 6-day tour is a chance to become a Chilean wine connoisseur. Starting in the capital city, you'll hit the open road for the country's best wine valleys offering an array of climates, varietals, and production techniques. There will be estates and vineyards to explore galore, as well as dozens of tastings—often paired with delectable local cuisine.

The Atacama Desert & Easter Island. This 13-day trip combines two bucket-list items in Chile rarely visited by tourists. Kick off with a day in Santiago before you’re jetting off again—this time to the South Pacific. Halfway between Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is graced with white sand beaches and 600+ mysterious statues carved from volcanic rock. The second half of the trip takes place in a high-altitude desert on the mainland for sand dunes, geysers, hot springs, and starry skies—perfect for sipping Chilean wine.

More Helpful Information

Chile in June
Chile in August
Best Time to Visit Chile
Top Highlights of Chile (and How To Do Them Differently)