- Soar across the city of Santiago via the Teleférico aerial tram
- Take a day trip to the kid-friendly seaside towns of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
- Explore the Atacama's colorful Rainbow Valley and search out ancient petroglyphs
- Visit the friendly and curious penguins of Isla Magdalena
- Get close to massive glacier walls and see calving ice in Patagonia
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago, Explore||Santiago|
|Day 2||Guided Family City Tour, Dinner at Giratorio Restaurant||Santiago|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Valparaíso & Viña del Mar||Santiago|
|Day 4||Maipo Valley Tour: Concha y Toro & Santa Rita Wineries||Santiago|
|Day 5||Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Meteorite Museum & Stargazing||San Pedro de Atacama|
|Day 6||Guided Family Tour of the Valley of the Moon||San Pedro de Atacama|
|Day 7||Hiking in the Rainbow Valley||San Pedro de Atacama|
|Day 8||Morning Trip to the Tatio Geysers||San Pedro de Atacama|
|Day 9||Fly to Punta Arenas, Explore||Punta Arenas|
|Day 10||Meet the Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Bus to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 11||Boat Trip to the Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers||Puerto Natales|
|Day 12||Hiking & Horses at Estancia Bahía Esperanza Reserve||Puerto Natales|
|Day 13||Family Fun Day in Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 14||Depart Puerto Natales|
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Explore
Welcome to Chile! Your flight arrives in Santiago, the country's capital and largest city. Your driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel to rest and regroup. After the long flight, the kids are probably going to need to burn some energy, so start your exploration of the city with a self-guided walking tour.
Begin with a stroll to the Plaza de Armas and its impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church with large twin bell towers. Sample local street food, listen to music, and let the kids enjoy performers and other entertainment before continuing on to Cerro San Cristóbal, where you can take the Teleférico (aerial tramway) from the base of the hill to a sanctuary at the top, taking in the incredible panoramic views of the city before riding the funicular back down. You'll also have the option of visiting the Santiago Zoo, or the kids can take advantage of the local swimming pool.
Not far from San Cristóbal is Cerro Santa Lucia, a park that sits atop a 226-foot (69 m) hill. The hill, a remnant from a 15 million-year-old volcano, was once the favored lookout spot for conquistadores during their conquest of Chile. It was turned into a park in the late 1800s and now consists of multiple staircases that offer panoramic views of the city. All that walking is sure to spark everyone's appetites, so finish the day at Mercado Central, a vibrant market known for its fresh seafood and bustling food stands. Try local street foods such as empanadas or sopaipillas (fried pastries) before returning to your hotel.
Day 2: Guided Family City Tour, Dinner at Giratorio Restaurant
See more of Santiago today on a guided city tour. Meet with your local guide and walk along downtown's main road, Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, to see the presidential palace of La Moneda and its neoclassical architecture. Stroll around the Huerfanos and Ahumada pedestrian areas, and pass by the Plaza de Armas, where you'll see Santiago City Hall and other government buildings. If you didn't visit Cerro Santa Lucia yesterday, your guide will take you there today. Its role in the foundation of the city makes it one of the most important local sights.
Continue to Forestal Park, an urban oasis with plenty of green space for the kids to play. If you happen to arrive on a weekend, you'll have the added entertainment of performers and food vendors. This is also where you'll find the National Museum of Fine Arts—young creatives will be fascinated with the collections found here. Walk through the Lastarria neighborhood, then cross the Río Mapocho to get to Bellavista, a lively district with restaurants and shopping. See the neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura, stopping for snacks or souvenirs before returning to your hotel.
Tonight, have dinner at Giratorio, a 360-degree rotating restaurant that offers unbelievable views of the entire city. Kids and adults alike will be amazed as the dining room makes its slow, circular rotation, giving your family various perspectives of the city as you dine. The menu features both national and international cuisine, including steaks, seafood, and local wines.
Day 3: Day Trip to Valparaíso & Viña del Mar
Head to the Pacific coast today on a day trip to the cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. You'll meet with your guide in the morning and make the 1.5-hour drive through the fertile valleys of Curacaví and Casablanca, with your first stop in the city of Valparaíso. This colorful metropolis is considered the artistic and bohemian soul of the country, filled with street art, music, and poetry. The city is built into the steep cliffs surrounding the bay, with an amazing network of funiculars, or ascensors, that take you up the hills and through various neighborhoods.
Walk through the plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto, then head to the Reina Victoria funicular—sure to be the highlight of the day for the little ones. The funicular stretches from Avenida Elias to Paseo Dimalow, and after you ride it to the top of the hill, you can walk through the Cerro Concepción and Cerro Florida neighborhoods. End at La Sebastiana, a museum that was once the home of poet Pablo Neruda.
Afterward, your travels continue to the neighboring sea town of Viña del Mar, known for its gardens and working flower clock, which was created in celebration of the 1962 World Cup. You'll see the amazing architecture of the residential sectors of Casino de Juegos, Av. Perú and Av. San Martín, and historic landmarks such as the Germanic Wulff Castle and the Venetian-Gothic Vergara Palace, before stopping at the popular beach at Playa Reñaca. Here, you'll have a chance to visit one of the nearby restaurants for lunch before returning to Santiago.
Day 4: Maipo Valley Tour: Concha y Toro & Santa Rita Wineries
Learn about one of Chile's most vital agricultural products with a tour of the wineries of the Maipo Valley. As one of South America's major wine producers, Chilean wine offers several delicious varietals, and you'll have the opportunity to sample some of these today. Your family will meet with your guides in the morning and head into the valley, a rural area surrounded by gorgeous, snowcapped mountains.
Your first stop will be the internationally-renowned Concha y Toro Winery. Walk through the vineyards as the kids explore the pathways and trails, and your expert guides share insight into the growing and harvesting process. Afterward, there will be wine tastings for the adults and fresh juices for the kids. From here, you'll continue to the Santa Rita Winery, where its wine traditions coexist with the region's history, culture, and cuisine.
Visit the wine cellars and see where their products are made, stored, and bottled, with stops at some of their oldest and most historic cellar areas, including the famed 120 Patriots cellar, a national monument. Finish with a tasting of their reserve wine, accompanied by juices and snacks for the little ones. Before returning to Santiago, you'll also make a visit to the winery's Andean Museum, an exhibition of nearly 3,000 archaeological and ethnographic artifacts from the pre-Colombian peoples. Your family might also want to shop a bit here, as the museum gift shop offers unusual souvenirs and gifts for friends back home.
Day 5: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Meteorite Museum & Stargazing
Today's journey takes you into the Andes mountains and to the northeastern town of San Pedro de Atacama, located within the vast Atacama Desert and its rugged landscape of salt flats, volcanoes, and hot springs. You'll take a private transfer to the airport in the morning, where you'll catch a two-hour flight to the city of Calama. Upon arrival, your driver will meet you and transport you to your accommodations in San Pedro de Atacama. After hotel check-in, you're free to take the kids out to explore the city!
Start with a stroll to the main square, where you'll find the Iglesia San Pedro, a small church constructed during Spanish colonial times and purported to be Chile's second-oldest church. There are also several restaurants in the area, so you can grab some lunch or snacks. Afterward, you can visit the R.P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, which has a large collection of pre-Colombian artifacts.
Just outside of town, you'll find the Museo del Meteorito (Meteorite Museum). Located in a large domed building, the museum showcases a collection of specimens found in the area, and the kids are even allowed to touch as well as look! The collection is supported by NASA and the European Centre for Research And Teaching in Geosciences. If you've got any young astronomers in the family, head out into the desert tonight for a guided stargazing tour. Meet with your guides and drive to a remote desert location, where you'll make use of high-powered telescopes to study the stars and learn more about the night skies.
Day 6: Guided Family Tour of the Valley of the Moon
Take an otherworldly adventure into the Valle de Luna (Valley of the Moon), part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve and one of the most popular destinations in the region. Your guides will collect you in the morning, and you'll head into the park, traveling along landscapes that were formed by thousands of years of erosion and will, as the name indicates, make you feel like you've landed on the moon!
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Hiking in the Rainbow Valley
The day starts early as your guides pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Valle del Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley), located in the interior of the Cordillera Domeyko and at the edge of the Atacama Salt Flats. Here, you'll find the results of a series of geological events that transpired over millions of years and created a colorful, layered mountain landscape. You'll have a chance to hike around the area and enjoy some family photo ops, then continue to the archaeological site of Yerbas Buenas.
Day 8: Morning Trip to the Tatio Geysers
Rise early this morning to witness the incredible Tatio Geysers, located in a geothermal field that sits at more than 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above sea level, right in the middle of the Andes. Constant volcanic activity here generates ongoing geyser blasts, with boiling water that can shoot upward of 20 feet (7 m) into the air! Depart from your hotel in the morning with your guides, driving into the fields and then walking out to the geysers. Your family will be able to get quite close, watching the displays of water and clouds of steam erupting into the morning sky.
Afterward, you'll visit the nearby river of Vado Río Putana, a peaceful area where animals such as vicuñas, foxes, and birds come to drink and feed, and make a stop in the Machuca wetlands, home to a colony of colorful flamingoes. The kids will love watching these long-legged creatures wading around, and you're likely to see other birds and wildlife enjoying the marshlands too! Tonight, relax at your hotel or enjoy dinner at a local restaurant for your final night in San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 9: Fly to Punta Arenas, Explore
Your driver will pick you up from your hotel this morning, transporting your family to the airport to catch the six-hour flight south to Chilean Patagonia and the town of Punta Arenas. Located on the Brunswick Peninsula, Punta Arenas is considered a major Patagonian transport hub and is often a stop for visitors traveling to Antarctica. Surrounded by panoramic views and natural beauty, this is also a fairly sophisticated city with stunning architecture, museums, and historic sites. Upon arrival, a private transfer will take you to your hotel for check-in, then your family can take a self-guided walking tour of the city.
Stroll along the Plaza de Armas, a central plaza with quaint pathways for the kids to run and play. See the neoclassical mansions surrounding the plaza, and if you and the little ones are interested, you can tour the Palacio Sara Braun, one such mansion that showcases the opulence of that era. Afterward, walk down to the waterfront, a recently revitalized area that has wide boardwalks and fun sculptures. End with a stop at the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, a city overlook with views that go all the way out to the Strait of Magellan.
Day 10: Meet the Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Bus to Puerto Natales
All aboard for a meet and greet with curious penguins today! Join your guides at the pier in the morning and set sail for Isla Magdalena, a 1.5-hour cruise from Punta Arenas. This small island serves as a sanctuary to a large colony of Magellanic penguins, as well as a host of other wildlife. Your family will arrive at the island, and after your guide shares a quick briefing on safe interactions with the penguins, you'll set out on a one-hour walk. Don't be surprised if these curious creatures waddle along beside you, as they're quite used to visitors.
Along the way, you'll also see birds such as black-browed albatrosses, skuas, terns, and Dominican gulls, and there's a scenic lighthouse on the island that you and the kids can visit. On the ride back to town, make sure the kids keep an eye out for the small black and white Commerson's dolphins or sei whales that frequent these waters.
Later this afternoon, you'll check out of your hotel and take a private transfer to the bus station, where you'll board a comfortable coach for the three-hour journey to your next stop, Puerto Natales. Your driver will meet you at the bus and transport you to your hotel, where you can relax for the evening.
Day 11: Boat Trip to the Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
Get up close and personal with glaciers and wildlife on today's adventurous cruise. You'll board your boat in the morning, entering the Señoret Channel and heading toward Isla Guanaco and the Estancia la Península. Don't be surprised if you and the kids see dolphins swimming alongside the boat!
You'll pass along sheer cliffs where a population of cormorants nest, then make your way to the island of Punta de Lobos, home to a large colony of sea lions. While visitors aren't allowed on the island, your boat captain will stop and allow everyone to enjoy watching these funny creatures at play. Continue to Mount Balmaceda, where you'll see incredible views of its glacier, disembarking in Puerto Toro.
You'll then take an easy trek along the shore of Laguna de Los Témpanos, hiking through a native forest of coigües, ñirres, and Ciruelillo bushes (more commonly referred to as Chilean firebush) and ending at Serrano Glacier. Enjoy the incredible contrast between the blue sky and the immense glacier, and take advantage of some family photo ops before heading back to the boat and returning to Puerto Natales.
Day 12: Hiking & Horses at Estancia Bahía Esperanza Reserve
Spend today at Estancia Bahía Esperanza, a ranch that's part of a more than 5,000-acre (2,200 ha) reserve located on the Antonio Varas Peninsula. While the peninsula is connected to the continent by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it's only accessible by sea, making it an exclusive and somewhat off-the-beaten-path place to discover. Meet with your guides and board a boat that takes you across the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound), then disembark to explore the reserve.
The park sits almost perfectly in the transition area between the Patagonian fjords' rainy climate and the continent's dry climate, which brings many migratory and resident birds to the area. There are more than 30 different species of birdlife here, and the climate also keeps the reserve lush and green, with upward of 13 different identifiable trees and shrubs.
Your family will have the option to hike around on your own, with several choices in trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty, or you can take part in a horseback riding tour that takes you along several trails. There are also mountain bike or e-bike rentals and tours available if you prefer. Let the kids explore the diverse geography, hike or bike up to the Seno Última Esperanza monument, and see the blue waters of Laguna Junquillos. End the day with a delicious picnic lunch!
Day 13: Family Fun Day in Puerto Natales
Spend today seeing more of Puerto Natales on your own. If the kids are itching to get back on the water, you can take a guided tour into nearby Torres del Paine National Park to view the mighty Grey Glacier. Lago Grey fronts this massive body of ice and is nearly 4 miles (6 km) wide, with an impressive height that fluctuates between 100–130 feet (30-40 m). After meeting with your guides in the morning, you'll drive into the park, and your family will board the Grey III catamaran and head across the lake to the glacier.
You're likely to pass by floating icebergs on the lake and will notice that the ice is often different colors depending on the light, with varying shades of blue that are affected by how the ice is compacted and the amount of sediment it contains. Eventually, you'll approach the glacier wall, taking in the beauty of this ice giant rising from the lake. Spend some time viewing the glacier, and your guides will share information about the geology and history of the area. The kids might even see some calving ice crashing into the lake!
Later tonight, your family can see what it might be like to actually go inside a glacier at the Go Bar de Hielo, Chilean Patagonia's first ice bar. This family-friendly space replicates a glacier ice cave, with a cold room with ice walls and seats, mood lighting, music, and beverages for both adults and kids. Don "cold suits" to stay warm in the bar, and try some of their specialty drinks (nonalcoholic options are available for the kids) while taking fun photos of the ice creations.
Day 14: Depart Puerto Natales
Sadly, it's time to say goodbye to Chile. Your driver will transfer you from your hotel in Puerto Natales to the airport, where you'll catch a flight back to Santiago and then home. Safe travels!