Given Chile's geography and unique length, weather can change drastically depending on where you travel. Santiago will experience highs of 60s in May with slightly more moisture. The weather gets warmer and drier as you head north into the Atacama Desert, while coastal towns stay cool with Pacific Ocean breezes.
If you don't mind the chilly weather, this can be a nice time to visit Patagonia. Winds are not as strong as they are in the summer and the forests will still offer brightly colored fall foliage. Daily highs fall into the 30s and 40s, making chilly conditions for exploration and occasional rain showers are likely.
Crowds & Costs
May makes up Chile's autumn shoulder season without the threat of Easter crowds (like April). That makes this a great time to take advantage of consistent off-season pricing before the winter ski season picks up steam. In other words, both hotel rates and crowds are at some of their lowest numbers of the year.
Where to Go
Squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and Andes Mountains, and stretching over 2600 miles from the Atacama Desert to the glaciers of Patagonia, you should enjoy as much of Chile as you have time for. Most international visitors will arrive in Santiago, their entry point for further explorations including mountains, glaciers, deserts and a rugged coastline. Big on the list is usually Torres del Paine National Park, which offers some of the world’s most beautiful natural sculptures rising from the vast Patagonian landscape with guanocos, pumas, condors, as well as stunning fjords that extend to Chile’s southern border. This is a good time to explore the region before winter arrives.
Santiago and Valparaiso are worth experiencing for urban culture. There's also plenty of places to unwind and relax in the Atacama Desert, Elqui Valley, and the scenic wine valleys like Aconcagua, Maipo, and Casablanca, which offer perfect day-trips for touring vineyards.
What to Do
Outdoor enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Chile with options for day-hikes, multi-day treks, glacier tours, wildlife sightings, and adrenaline sports.
For something unique, the starry skies in the Atacama Desert and Elqui Valley are truly a sight to behold. If visiting these areas, you'll want to join an expert-led astronomical tour and visit a proper observatory. You can also take great daytime excursions from San Pedro de Atacama to visit the Tatio Geysers early in the morning to appreciate the fumaroles before the temperatures warm up. After lunch, when the sun is less intense, you can visit the Valley of the Moon and Valley of Death to watch the sunset with a glass of Chilean wine.
On that note, it’s well worth spending a night drinking wine under the stars in one of Chile’s award-winning winery accommodations in central Chile, especially in Colchagua Valley, where you'll also find beautiful colonial architecture and a museum showcasing pre-Columbian art and archaeological findings.
Events in May
Navy Day. Held annually on May 21st, this Chilean national holiday commemorates the Battle of Iquique, which occurred on Wednesday, May 21, 1879, during the War of the Pacific.
Other than that, this is a quiet month for the whole country in terms of events and festivals. It's best to check out the wine valleys to see what remaining vendimias are taking place (harvest festivals). Through the autumn months, wine regions across Chile hold vendimias, filled with song and dance, to honor the grape harvest. Town squares become lively markets for locally produced wine, artisanal foods, and grape-stomping competition.
Traveling to Chile in May? Check out these great itineraries.
Chile's Beaches & Natural Wonders. Stretching thousands of miles in length, Chile can feel a world away with its mountains, glaciers, deserts, and rugged coastline. This 12-day trip hits the highlights with a series of unique guided tours. Move at a relaxed pace as you make your way from the Atacama Desert in the north, to Patagonia in the south. You'll also make urban stops in Santiago, Valparaiso, and upscale Viña del Mar for two days of beachy fun.
Ultimate Patagonian Adventure. This itinerary is ideal for adventure enthusiasts looking to get the most out of Chile's Patagonia region. After two days in Santiago, head to the south of the continent for a series of unique guided excursions in and around Torres del Paine National Park. You'll also visit a working Patagonian ranch, and tour a series of caves known for archeological sites—all while staying in some of the area's best hotels.