September marks the official transition from winter to spring, and it's a beautiful time to visit Chile. Santiago, the starting point for most international visitors, sees highs in the upper 60s with only a few days of rain in September. You can catch stunning wildflowers across the central and northern parts of the country, and some travelers even plan their trips to the north around these spectacular desert blooms.
As for Southern Patagonia, spring doesn’t arrive until November, since daily highs remain the 40s, though spring starts to see less rain and longer daylight hours for more outdoor adventures. No matter where you travel, still bring plenty of warm clothing with you for chilly evening temperatures (after the sun goes down) and those unpredictable winds.
Crowds & Costs
This is the start of shoulder season as the country moves into spring. If you can handle the cool weather in certain areas (i.e. Patagonia), you'll beat the flood of international tourists (and pricey accommodation costs) of coming peak summer months. In any case, you'll want to make your reservations at least three months in advance. Also, keep in mind that many locals travel for the country's Independence Day (September 18th) so this may see an uptake in prices at popular destinations.
Where to Go
There are many options for experiencing Chile this time of year. You'll likely start your trip in Santiago where you can enjoy its prime spring weather. In addition to great cultural sites in the city center, there’s much to see and do in the surrounding areas with a number of rapidly changing neighborhoods, each with their own distinct flavor and charm. Explore by foot and enjoy the spring blossoms along the way.
From Santiago, you can easily take day-trips to Casablanca Valley for wine tastings. For a longer road trip, consider the Atacama Desert for desert blooms amongst the otherworldly landscapes including red canyons, rocky valleys, gorges, thermal lakes, salt flats, and geysers—a great place to come and unplug.
Brave types who don't mind the pesky winter weather (keep in mind certain trails may be snow-covered) can head to Torres del Paine before the summer crowds. With staggering peaks, glaciers, and turquoise lakes, along with rare wildlife like guanacos and pumas, the UNESCO-listed park usually ranks high for travelers. Thanks to its remote Patagonian location and limited lodging choices, it remains relatively undisturbed, only receiving a fraction of the Machu Picchu crowds.
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
What to Do
Ski season in the southern mountains may be over, but September marks the start of the best surf waves of the season on Chile's northern coast. These are surf conditions that are almost entirely untapped. If you take a road trip along the Pan American Highway, which skirts the edge of the desert (look for those blooms), you can spot the perfect breaks. Two towns to keep an eye out for include Arica and Iquique, amongst others.
You can also pair the road trip with time in the Elqui Valley, an area known for becoming a bit of a health and wellness hub with small hotels offering ayurvedic treatments, yoga classes, and other natural therapies. Low-key activities include hiking, biking, and horseback riding. At night, the area offers one the purest skies for stargazing.
Events in September
Independence Day Celebrations. Chilean Independence is feted during Fiestas Patrias (week of September 18), with a week of big barbecues, wine punch, and merrymaking all over Chile. These celebrations take place leading up to Independence Day in honor of significant historical events in regards to Chile's independence.
Army Day Parade. Celebrated every September 19 (a day after the independence day), Santiago holds a parade where all the branches of the armed forces display some of their troops and equipment.
Traveling to Chile in September? Check out these great itineraries.
Patagonia & Atacama Desert. Explore regions on both ends of Chile's latitudinal spectrum with this 10-day itinerary. After getting a taste of Santiago, fly north to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for geysers, moonscapes, and starry skies. Then fly all the way south to Patagonia's Punta Arenas where you'll meet a penguin colony before finishing in Torres del Paine National Park for a range of activities and wildlife viewing.
Chile Grand Tour. Outdoor adventurers rejoice because we've curated a 15-day itinerary that covers the unparalleled natural beauty of Chile. First, you'll head to the far north of the country and tour the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert. Then it's off to Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park, home to the most awe-inspiring mountains and unspoiled nature in Chile. You'll then finish the journey far west in the Pacific, amid the mysterious stone idols of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island.