This fun-filled exploration of Chilean Patagonia kicks off with Santiago's historic sites and a day trip to the Pacific coast. Fly south to meet the penguins of Isla Magdalena, walk the trails of Magallanes National Reserve, and see waterfalls and glaciers in Torres del Paine, then head up to the Lake District to kayak on Lago Llanquihue and visit the stilt homes of Isla Chiloé. With adaptable excursions that can suit all ages, this trip is perfect for families looking for a taste of outdoor adventure at a relaxed pace.


  • Explore the historic city streets and vibrant markets of Santiago
  • Visit the friendly and curious penguins of Isla Magdalena
  • Ride horses through picturesque trails at a Patagonian estancia
  • Kayak along the peaceful waters of Lago Llanquihue

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago, Explore Santiago
Day 2 Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso  Santiago
Day 3 Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided City Tour  Punta Arenas
Day 4 Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Free Afternoon in Punta Arenas Punta Arenas
Day 5 Guided Walk in Magallanes National Reserve, Bus to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 6 Family Trek in Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 7 Patagonian Estancia Tour: Hiking & Horses Puerto Natales
Day 8 Fly to Puerto Varas, Kayaking Adventure on Lago Llanquihue Puerto Varas
Day 9 Explore Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park Puerto Varas
Day 10 Isla Chiloé Excursion, Depart Puerto Varas  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Explore

Head to the Plaza de Armas to start your exploration of the city

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. Once your family has had a chance to rest and regroup, the kids might be eager to stretch their legs after the long plane ride, and a self-guided walking tour is the perfect way to get your first look at the city. 

Start with a stroll to the Plaza de Armas, home to the 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!

All that walking is sure to spark everyone's appetites, so make your next stop at Mercado Central, declared one of the top 10 food markets in the world by National Geographic. Originally opened in 1872, the market is known for its fresh seafood and bustling food stands. Try local street foods such as empanadas, sopaipillas (fried pastries), mote con huesillo (juice with dried peaches), and more! End the day at Araucano Park, a lovely green space with rose gardens, tennis courts, and a skateboarding area. 

Day 2: Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso 

See the incredible Wulff Castle in 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 to your first stop, Viña del Mar. This upscale resort city combines the modern vibes of shopping complexes and commercial high-rises with historic landmarks such as the Germanic Wulff Castle and the Venetian-Gothic Vergara Palace, the former home of the city's founder. See some of the sights here and have a delicious seafood lunch at a beachfront restaurant, then continue to Valparaíso.

This colorful metropolis is considered the artistic and bohemian soul of the country, filled with street art, music, and poetry. Start at the plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto, then head to the Reina Victoria funicular, which is sure to be the highlight of the day for the little ones! The funicular stretches from Avenida Elias to Paseo Dimalow, and you can ride it to the top of the hill, and then walk through the neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida. End at La Sebastiana, a museum that was once the home of poet Pablo Neruda, before heading back to the capital for the evening.

Day 3: Fly to Punta Arenas, Guided City Tour 

Take a guided tour through the picturesque streets of Punta Arenas

Your driver will pick you up from your hotel in Valparaíso this morning, transporting your family to the airport to catch the 3.5-hour flight south to Punta Arenas and the wind-swept region of Patagonia. Upon arrival, a private transfer will take you to your hotel for check-in, then you'll set out on a guided tour of the city. 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 breathtaking views and natural beauty, this is also a fairly sophisticated city with captivating architecture, museums, and historic sites.

You'll meet with your guide and start at the Plaza Muñoz Guerrero, 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

If the kids still need to burn some energy later, you can head just a short distance out of the city to visit the Magallanes National Reserve. This 33,000-acre (13,356 ha) forested reserve (known locally as Parque Japonés) features a very walkable nature trail lined with lenga and coigue trees, making for a great end to the day for the nature lovers in the family. 

Day 4: Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Free Afternoon in Punta Arenas

Meet some new feathered friends at the penguin sanctuary on Isla Magdalena

All aboard for a visit with penguins today! You'll meet your guides at the pier in the morning, setting 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 Albatross, skuas, terns, and Dominican gulls, and there's a scenic lighthouse on the island that you and the kids can visit. Depending on weather conditions, you might also swing by Isla Marta, which sits in the middle of the strait and is home to a large colony of raucous Patagonian sea lions, as well as various nesting seabirds. 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. Once you've disembarked, the rest of your day is free to explore more of the city.

History buffs will love a visit to the Nao Victoria Museum, which features an incredible display of hand-built replicas of the ships used by Patagonian explorers. See Magellan's Nao Victoria, the first ship to circumnavigate the Earth, as well as Darwin's HMS Beagle. The kids can let their imaginations run wild, imagining themselves as seafaring adventurers, while the adults learn more about the ships and how they were built. Tonight, be sure to sample some of Puerto Arena's amazing seafood, such as chupe de centolla (souffle of king crab), oysters, scallops, and fresh fish.

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Day 5: Guided Walk in Magallanes National Reserve, Bus to Puerto Natales

Keep an eye out for wildlife such as grey foxes in Magallanes National Reserve

Explore the beauty of the Magallanes National Reserve today with a guided walking tour. The reserve encompasses more than 33,000 acres (13,356 ha) and is a protected area for the native lengas and coigue trees that grow here. There are more than 37 miles (60 km) of trails, with varied vegetation and diverse wildlife. Along with an expert guide, your family will hike the Las Lengas trail, a 2.2-mile (3.6 km) loop. Learn about the flora and fauna of the region, and the kids might catch glimpses of wildlife such as gray foxes, chinchillas, or the occasional puma! 

After your tour, you'll transfer to the bus station and make the three-hour journey to the southern port town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. After checking in at the hotel, take a self-guided tour of this picturesque town. You can start with a walk along the town's waterfront, where you'll be treated to gorgeous views of Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Watch the boats come in and out, and the kids are likely to spot wildlife like sea lions or even dolphins.

Puerto Natales is also home to several species of birds, and any birders in the family are sure to be entranced by sightings of Andean condors, swans, or flamingoes. Visit the Museum of Patagonia and see exhibits on the region's geology, flora and fauna, and Indigenous people, or head just outside town to Puerto Bories, a former industrial complex that has been transformed into a cultural center that showcases the town's history and heritage. Later, relax at your hotel for dinner, or check out the area's famous seafood at a local restaurant. 

Day 6: Family Trek in Torres del Paine National Park

Hike the natural beauty of Torres del Paine National Park

The day starts early as your guides collect you from your hotel and take you out for a family adventure into Torres del Paine National Park. The park, which encompasses more than 700 square miles (1,800 sq km), is known for its endless hiking trails, pristine blue glaciers, and snowcapped mountains. You'll start by visiting Milodón Cave, a natural monument located about 15 miles (25 km) from town that features a series of three caves where a prehistoric giant sloth was found. After seeing the caves, continue into the park.

Your park tour starts in the Lago Grey sector, where you'll walk along the lakeshore, taking in the astounding sight of glacier ice floating nearby, and on to a viewpoint where you'll see panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The hike is considered moderately challenging, and while there are no age restrictions for kids, you may want to bring a pack or carrier for the littlest ones. It can also get windy by the lake, so make sure everyone is dressed for the weather!

After hiking the lake, you'll break for lunch, then drive to the Salto Grande sector of the park. Visit Paine Waterfall, a beautiful area with turquoise waters that come from the Río Paine, and hike to Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint and Laguna Amarga. While out on the trails, tell the kids to keep their eyes peeled for wildlife. It's not uncommon to see deer, guanacos (a type of wild llama), foxes, and skunks. Just before returning to Puerto Natales, your guides will make a stop at Lago Sarmiento, where you can take advantage of some great family photo ops. 

Day 7: Patagonian Estancia Tour: Hiking & Horses

Head to a remote Patagonian estancia for a day of horseback riding or hiking

Spend today at a beautiful Patagonian estancia (ranch), 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 visit. Meet with your guides and board a boat that takes you across the Seno Seno Última Esperanza, then disembark to explore the ranch.

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. Additionally, there are more than 30 different species of migratory and resident birds here, which will definitely keep any birders in the family occupied! Afterward, enjoy a hot beverage and relax in the tranquility of the ranch before returning to Puerto Natales. 

Day 8: Fly to Puerto Varas, Kayaking Adventure on Lago Llanquihue

Take a peaceful kayak tour along Lago Llanquihue

Today your family is off to the Patagonian Lake District and Puerto Varas, a small town that sits on the banks of Lago Llanquihue and near the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. After breakfast, your private transfer will take you to the airport, where you'll take the three-hour flight north. After you've checked in at your hotel, get a closer look at the incredible waters of Lago Llanquihue with a guided kayak tour. 

Meet your guide in town and drive to the lakeshore, where, after a safety and equipment briefing, your family will head out for a relaxing two-hour paddle on Lago Llanquihue. Enjoy a peaceful cruise along the glasslike waters, taking in the views of the Calbuco volcano in the distance, as well as the abundance of birds and other wildlife. The lake's calm waters make for a gentle introduction to the sport, and all skill levels will find it fun and easy—even younger children can take a turn at paddling! Tonight, take a walk through town or along the lake, stopping in at a local café for a bite to eat.

Day 9: Explore Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park

Hike to waterfalls in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park

Today's adventure takes you into the wonders of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Encompassing 977 square miles (2,530 sq km), the park includes the turquoise waters of Lago Todos los Santos and is surrounded by the Puntiagudo, Tronador, and Osorno volcanoes. Start on the shores of Llanquihue, where, with your guides, you'll ascend to more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level to the Osorno Mountain Ski Center. Here, you'll have time to soak in the views of the Calbuco volcano and sparkling lake, all backed by the Pacific Ocean. There's also a lift that takes you to views of the nearby glacier.

Continue making your way along trails that take you through evergreen forests and offer glimpses of the towering 8,700-foot (2,652 m) Osorno volcano and the RÍo Petrohué. This place is known as the Saltos del Río Petrohué, one of the most beautiful spots in the country. The river crosses a large mass of crystallized lava that's been around for centuries. End at Lago Todos los Santos, where your family will take a boat trip across the peaceful waters, surrounded by imposing mountains, volcanoes, and lush greenery. 

Day 10: Isla Chiloé Excursion, Depart Puerto Varas

Take a fun ferry ride to see the colorful stilt houses of Isla Chiloé

Make the most of your last morning in Patagonia with a tour of Isla Chiloé. You'll meet with your guides and board the ferry, which takes you along the Chacao Channel and to the island. Along the way, the kids can point out the many seabirds they're likely to see, as well as a few lounging sea lions. Dock at Chacao Pier and start with a visit to the city of Ancud. See the historic Fort San Antonio, built in the 18th century and one of the country's last Spanish fortifications, as well as the Heritage Foundation of Local Churches. Stop at the Plaza Mayor and Mercado Central for snacks and souvenirs, then continue to Dalcahue.

Located in front of nearby Isla Quinchao, Dalcahue is most known for its market, which features shops and food stalls built on a wooden base that sits over the water. Do some more shopping here, perhaps letting the kids pick out some fun gifts for friends at home, and enjoy the gorgeous lake views before heading to your final stop, Castro, the island's capital city. See the unusual Manuel Montt stilt houses, visit the main square's San Francisco Church, and stop at their large handicraft market, where you'll find handmade crafts and artisan goods.

Afterward, it's time to say farewell to Chile. You'll take the ferry back to shore, and your driver will transport you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home or to your next destination. Safe travels! 

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Map of Family Discovery of Chilean Patagonia & the Lake District - 10 Days
Map of Family Discovery of Chilean Patagonia & the Lake District - 10 Days