Hop between deserts, mountains, and lakes on this two-week family trip through Chile. Bookended with a stay in Santiago, you and the kids will float in salt pools in the Atacama Desert, sail to penguin-filled islands in the Lake District, and visit glaciers and national parks in Patagonia. An itinerary of gentle hikes and scenic boat rides will keep young adventurers entertained, while relaxed excursions like a winery picnic, an alpaca farm visit, and a day trip to colorful, coastal Valparaíso will delight all ages.


  • Float and swim in the salt lagoons of the Atacama Desert
  • Make friends with the flightless residents of Puñihuil Penguin National Reserve
  • Tour Patagonia's soaring peaks, parks, and glaciers by boat and on foot
  • Explore the street art of laid-back Valparaíso by vintage funicular
  • Pet fuzzy alpacas and enjoy a family picnic in the countryside outside Santiago

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago, Free Afternoon Santiago
Day 2 Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso Santiago
Day 3 Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Valley of the Moon Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Half-Day Family Adventure to the Baltinache Lagoons San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Free Morning in San Pedro, Discover More Desert Lagoons San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Fly to Puerto Varas via Santiago, Tour Puerto Montt & Puerto Varas Puerto Varas
Day 7 Day Trip to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park Puerto Varas
Day 8 Explore Isla Chiloé & Puñihuil Penguin National Reserve Puerto Varas
Day 9 Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided City Tour Punta Arenas
Day 10 Visit Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony, Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 11 Boat Tour to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers Puerto Natales
Day 12 Explore Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 13 Fly to Santiago, Viña San Esteban Vineyard & Alpacas Tour Santiago
Day 14 Santiago City Tour & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Free Afternoon

Welcome to Santiago
Head to colorful Bellavista for dinner this evening

Welcome to Santiago! Chile's vibrant and relaxed capital teems with culture, history, and family-friendly activities. Nestled against the picturesque backdrop of the Andes mountains, you'll find enchanting parks and plazas, world-class museums, and a laid-back pace perfect for kids of all ages. Meet your driver at the airport and make the short journey to your hotel. Settle in after your flight, and when you're ready, head out with your family to explore.

Start with a stroll around the Plaza de Armas, Santiago's central square. This is a great spot to treat the kids to a helado (ice cream), grab a drink, and people-watch. Depending on your interests, there are several central landmarks worth a visit. The Natural History Museum and the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art are a good bet for the kids, and the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's opulent presidential, is one of the country's most important historic buildings. For panoramic views of the city, wander over to Cerro Santa Lucía and enjoy some downtime in the park's manicured gardens.

In the evening, grab a bite to eat at one of the many great restaurants in neighborhoods, such as the trendy Bellavista or the revitalized historic areas of Yungay and Italia. Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination in recent years, and you'll find an excellent selection of authentic local and international cuisine. 

Day 2: Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso

Explore Valparaíso
You'll find street art, music, and poetry within Valparaíso's cobbled streets

This morning, you'll be picked up from your hotel for an excursion along central Chile's Pacific coast and the fertile valleys of Curacaví and Casablanca. Your first stop is the chic coastal resort of Viña del Mar, known for its gardens and working flower clock, which was created in celebration of the 1962 World Cup. Stroll the promenade or head to Playa Reñaca, an excellent spot for the little ones to play on the sand and paddle in the sea. See the town's landmarks, including the Germanic Wulff Castle, and enjoy a relaxed family lunch at one of the waterside restaurants. 

The bayside town of Valparaíso is just next door, and with its colorful cliffside homes and network of cable cars, you'll see why it's considered the San Francisco of Chile. The kids will love the relaxed bohemian vibe and the charming streets filled with street art, music, and poetry. Visit the old plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto. Then, ride the Reina Victoria funicular and ascend to the top. Explore the charming neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida. On the last hill, you'll find La Sebastiana, a museum that was once the home of the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Stop for a cool drink at one of the quirky cafés and wander the vintage stores. Let the little ones make a beeline for the live music, and be sure to sample the delicious street food. Take in the ever-present views of the Pacific coast as you make your way back down. Your driver will be waiting to transport you back to your hotel in Santiago. 

Day 3: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Valley of the Moon Tour

Tour the otherworldly landscape of the Valley of the Moon
Wonder at the otherworldly landscape of the Valley of the Moon

Swap bustling Santiago for the remote desert plains today with a flight to Calama, in Chile's far north. Your adventure starts as soon as you touch down and meet your driver for the 1.5-hour journey to the remote outpost of San Pedro de Atacama, the launching point for adventures into the Atacama Desert. As you pass evocative, ancient landscapes featuring towering Andean peaks and endless salt flats backed by red-hued mountains in the volcanic Cordillera Domeyko, you and the kids will feel like you've arrived on another planet. 

Return to San Pedro and break for lunch before picking up your discovery of the Atacama Desert's geological wonders this afternoon with a guided tour of the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). You'll visit the Cordillera del Sal's unique salt caves and the Three Marias, stone formations carved out by wind and salt over millions of years. Even weary teens will be impressed when the sun sets over the desert, painting the mountains in shades of pink and red while the mighty Licancabur volcano looms overhead.

Day 4: Half-Day Family Adventure to the Baltinache Lagoons

Visit the salt-laden Baltinache Lagoons
Float in the salt-laden waters of the Hidden Lagoons of Baltinache 

Familiarize yourselves with more of the desert's gems today with a trip to the Lagunas Escondidas de Baltinache (Hidden Lagoons of Baltinache). These seven saltwater lagoons dot the sugar-white terrain of Atacama's Cordillera del Sal (Salt Mountain Range) and feature startling bright turquoise waters. You and the kids will have the opportunity to swim in two of them, and thanks to the high volume of salt, the youngsters will love the sensation of bobbing around in the buoyant waters.

Day 5: Free Morning in San Pedro, Discover More Desert Lagoons

Take a swim in the Cejar Lagoon
Enjoy a desert swim in Laguna Cejar this afternoon

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and some free time to explore San Pedro with your family. Walking the entire town in around 15 minutes is possible, so take your time, browse the artisan crafts and pottery at the souvenir shops, and enjoy a cool drink at one of the local cafés. Despite the town's tiny size, there's plenty of history to be found as you stroll the dusty streets. Chile's second oldest church can be found here; the small whitewashed Church of San Pedro de Atacama in the town center dates back to 1540 and contains Chile's only three-tiered Baroque altar.

If the kids loved yesterday's day trip, there's more floating fun this afternoon with a guided tour of Laguna Cejar, located amid the Atacama Desert's salt flats. Bathe in the clear topaz waters before continuing to the Ojos del Salar (Salt Eyes). Almost otherworldly in appearance, these two crater-like lagoons are flanked by the Domeyko and Andes mountains. The kids will enjoy keeping an eye out for the resident flamingoes and foxes as you watch the sunset over the water at Laguna Tebenquiche. It's an enchanting sight, with the surrounding hills reflected on the pool's surface.

Day 6: Fly to Puerto Varas via Santiago, Tour Puerto Montt & Puerto Varas

Enjoy Puerto's
Enjoy Puerto Varas' relaxed lakeside vibe 
Plan your trip to Chile
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Rise early for your family's flight to Santiago and onward connection to Puerto Montt, often described as the capital of Chilean Patagonia. The city's a 30-minute drive to Puerto Varas, your destination for the next three nights, and sits nestled in the heart of the country's Lake District.

Before your driver takes you to your accommodation, you can stretch your legs post-flight and take a guided tour of Puerto Montt. Your first stop is the Plaza de Armas to see the cathedral and a monument to the German colonists, whose influence you can spot in the local architecture. Next up is the Manuel Montt lookout for panoramic views of the city. You'll also squeeze in a boat trip to Isla Tengo, a traditional fishing settlement just a short ride away. Your guide will fascinate the kids with tales of local legends while you explore the serene hamlet.

Hop on the boat back to the city's picturesque port of Angelmó, where you can pick up handicrafts from the local market before your transfer to Puerto Varas. Once you've checked in at your hotel, your guide will show you the Old Town, where you'll find the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a replica of a German Black Forest church. There's more German colonial architecture on show throughout the town, but it's the beautiful backdrop of the Osorno volcano against the calm shores of Lago Llanquihue that will capture your and the kids' imagination.

Day 7: Day Trip to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park

Petrohue waterfalls and Osorno Volcano
See the beautiful Petrohué cascades in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park

Today, you and the kids will explore the natural wonders of the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Start with a fun trip on the ski lift and ascend 4,068 feet (1,240 m) above sea level to the Osorno Mountain Ski Center. Keep your camera close at hand when you reach the top and enjoy incredible views of the Calbuco volcano and sparkling lake against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. You'll also have time to ride the lift to Estación Primavera or Estación Glaciar for more awe-inspiring photo opportunities. 

Next is a gentle 30-minute hike through an evergreen forest to the Saltos del RÍo Petrohué. One of the country's most beautiful spots, you'll reach a spot where the river's turquoise waters cross a centuries-old mass of crystalized lava. It's a great place to capture a photo of your wonder-struck kids framed by the snowcapped Osorno volcano in the background. Continue to Lagos Todos Los Santos, where you can sail across the water surrounded by forests, mountains, and volcanoes, before driving back to Puerto Varas with your guide. 

Day 8: Explore Isla Chiloé & Puñihuil Penguin National Reserve

The kids will love the curious magellanic penguins
The kids will love the curious Magellanic penguins of Isla Chiloé

Enjoy breakfast at your lakeside hotel, then rally the kids for today's tour. It starts with a fun 30-minute boat ride from the port of Pargua, across the Chacao Channel, to Isla Chiloé. Task the kids with spotting the seabirds and sea lions you'll likely see along the way before arriving at the island's town of Ancud. You'll have plenty of time to visit the museum and the town's Plaza Mayor and Mercado Central, where you can shop for snacks and souvenirs. Then, walk up to Huaihuen Hill and see the historic 19th-century Fort San Antonio before soaking up the views from the top.

If there are wildlife enthusiasts in the family, then your next stop, the Caulín Bird Sanctuary, will definitely earn you Brownie points. With over 60 migratory bird species, including black-necked swans, flamingoes, and herons, and a penguin colony, the kids will have a ball seeing and finding out about these fluffy creatures. The Puñihuil Colony is famous as the only place in the world where the Magellanic and Humboldt species coexist. In the late afternoon, you'll return to Puerto Varas, where you can relax and enjoy a family dinner in town. 

Day 9: Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided City Tour

See the Magellan monument in Punto Arenas
Discover Magellan's statue in Punta Arenas' Plaza de Armas

It's time for the next leg of your adventure this morning with a four-hour flight to Punta Arenas, the gateway to adventures into one of the country's most beautiful regions—Chilean Patagonia. The town's location on the Strait of Magellan, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific, makes it the perfect base for explorers heading into the surrounding wilderness to access some of the region's most impressive natural attractions, including the Torres del Paine National Park and Isla Magdalena.

Settle in at your hotel, then find your feet with a guided city tour. Start with a stroll around the Plaza de Armas, a leafy central square lined with elegant French street lamps and a statue of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The surrounding neoclassical mansions, once owned by the moneyed sheep-ranching families of the 19th century, give an insight into the wealthy families that formed the beau monde of early Patagonian society. 
After you've parted ways with your guide and seen the main sights, consider taking the kids to the Nao Victoria Museo—a museum where they can explore a life-size replica of Magellan's ship and other historic vessels. If tummies are rumbling, enjoy dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. Seafood is a staple here, so don't miss local specialties such as chupe de centolla (souffle of king crab) and an array of delicious shellfish. If the kids still have energy burn after, head to Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, a great place to watch the sun go down over Patagonia. 

Day 10: Visit Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony, Transfer to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales...gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and guanacoes
Puerto Natales, gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and its guanacoes

It's an early start this morning, which begins with a fun 1.5-hour boat trip across the Strait of Magellan to Isla Magdalena, home to Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, Chile's largest penguin colony with up to 170,000 of the adorable creatures. Ignite the kids' curiosity for adventure as you explore the area's natural beauty, hiking alongside penguins beside historic waters mapped by Magellan and made famous by Charles Darwin. 

If the weather allows, you'll stop off mid-strait at Isla Marta, where your mini wildlife enthusiasts can see the large colony of playful Patagonian sea lions. This rocky outpost is also home to several species of seabirds, where you can spot cormorants, skuas, and arctic pigeons. Arrive back in Punta Arenas in plenty of time for lunch before transferring to the bus terminal for your three-hour ride to Puerto Natales, located at the edge of Torres del Paine National Park, and your base for the next three nights. 

Day 11: Boat Tour to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers

See the mighty Serrano Glacier
See the mighty Serrano Glacier in the remote Bernardo O'Higgins National Park

This morning, you and the kids will don hats and mittens and hop on a boat bound for the Bernado O'Higgins National Park, home to the impressive hanging Balmaceda Glacier. The park is only accessible by foot or boat, and you'll follow the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound) from Puerto Natales to the glaciers. Keep your cameras close and get the kids to spot the sea lions you'll likely spot along the route and panoramic views of native forests lined with coihue, canelo, and lenga beech trees.

Once you reach the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers, you'll have plenty of time to disembark and view these enormous ice structures from the land. A short walk through the icy landscape takes you to a nearby estancia (ranch), where you and the kids will enjoy a traditional Patagonian asado (barbecue) of the region's famous beef and lamb dishes. Explore the ranch, considered one of the area's most beautiful estancias, and then return to Puerto Natales in time for dinner and a relaxed evening in one of the town's cozy restaurants.

Day 12: Explore Torres del Paine National Park

Spend the day exploring the Torres del Paine National Park
Spend the day exploring the Torres del Paine National Park

Begin today's adventure with a journey to the Torres del Paine National Park, an extraordinary area known for its soaring granite peaks, turquoise lakes, glaciers, and golden grasslands. On the way, you'll stop off at the fascinating Cueva del Milodón, the largest cave network and home to a life-size replica of a giant prehistoric sloth whose remains were discovered here in 1895. The kids will definitely need a selfie with this one! Pass by the Silla del Diablo (Devil's Chair) and hear spooky local legends about the seat-shaped rock formation from your guide.

Continue along the road, keeping your eyes peeled for the Cuernos del Paine, the Park's distinctive horn-shaped peaks. Arrive at Lago Grey, stretch your legs with a walk around the shores, and enjoy a lakeside picnic. Then, you'll continue to the Salto Grande waterfall and hike to the dazzling Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint. The breathtaking views continue as you follow a winding route to Laguna Amarga (Bitter Lagoon). Afterward, you'll return to Puerto Natales via the Lago Sarmiento viewpoint for one last glimpse of this beautiful region.

Day 13: Fly to Santiago, Viña San Esteban Vineyard & Alpacas Tour

See Alpaca's on today's tour
Make friends with the alpacas on today's vineyard and farm day trip

You and the kids will fly back to Santiago this morning and then transfer 1.5 hours north of the capital to Viña San Esteban—a family-run vineyard close to one of the world's finest alpaca farms. You'll start with a tour of the vineyards and cellars while admiring the verdant vine-lined slopes, backed by the snowy Andes mountains in the distance. While the children feast on a gourmet, homemade picnic accompanied by soft drinks, you'll end your tour with a tasting of three wines accompanied by nuts, local cheeses, and picnic fare.

Afterward, relax on a beautiful 40-minute ride west to Quintessence Alpacas, located in the heart of the Aconcagua Valley. Stroll the peaceful grounds, meet the adorable alpacas, and learn about the family business. The alpacas here are some of the most well-bred in the world, and you'll get to see how the yarn is manufactured for export across the globe. There'll be plenty of time for the kids to pet the fluffy creatures and find out their names. When you can finally tear them away from their newfound friends, return to Santiago and enjoy your last evening in the city.

Day 14: Santiago City Tour & Depart

The Santiago skyline at sunset with the Costanera Center skyscraper
The Santiago skyline at sunset with the Costanera Center skyscraper

It's time to bid farewell to Chile today, but the adventure's not quite over. Say one last goodbye to the city with a guided tour of Santiago's highlights. Wander the labyrinthine Mercado Central and enjoy a second breakfast as you sample the stallholder's produce. Then, make your way to the Plaza de Armas and see the magnificent neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana. Stop for one last coffee in the square and finish with a walk to Cerro San Cristóbal for a final look at the Santiago skyline. 

At the appointed hour, meet your driver and head to Santiago airport in time for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Chile's Natural Wonders for Families: Atacama Desert, Lake District & Patagonia - 14 Days
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