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The Ultimate Chile Itinerary For Ten Days and Two Weeks

With the piercing peaks of the Andes prominent in the north, glacier-riddled national parks of the south, and fertile, wine-growing valleys of the center, it’s fair to say that Chile has jaw-dropping geographical diversity oozing from every pore.

It’s for this very reason why planning a Chile itinerary for ten days or more of travel might seem a bit of a headache. However, I’ve got plenty of ideas about how to organize a showstopping tour of this truly incredible country – and even wrote a guidebook about it.

How to use this Chile itinerary

Luckily, Chile has one of the best plane networks and road connectivity in South America, meaning you can – and should – zip between its diverse regions if you’re on a short trip.

Staying here longer? Even better; you’ve got plenty of time to really get under the skin of a country I came to love over the three and a half years I was based here. You can also get inspired by my list of the 31 best places to visit in Chile – which includes not just the “must-sees” but those under-the-radar destinations that few other websites mention.

This Chile itinerary focuses on the things to do in Chile broadly, but you’ll find plenty more details about where to go in Patagonia in the following:

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The remarkable cobalt waters of Conguillio National Park, one of my favorite parks in Chile (and one that’s practically unknown to foreign tourists!)

Looking for guidance about what to take with you on a trip to Chile? Check out our detailed Patagonia packing list, as well as our guide to what to pack for South America more generally.

Recommendations for travel in Chile and using this Chile itinerary:

  • As a vast, sprawling country, there are plenty of things to do in Chile; it’s always better to slim down your travel itinerary, take it slow and really dig deep into a place than scratch the surface with a whistle-stop tour of all the top attractions. In the latter, you’ll also spend too much time traveling between places which, let’s face it, is not the main idea of a holiday or even longer-term travel.
  • Travel in Chile is expensive and while this post doesn’t delve too deeply into how you can travel Chile on a budget, consider booking cheaper types of accommodation, such as local alojamientos or hospedajes (cheap B&Bs) or cabañas (cabins) if you’re in a group, many of which aren’t available to book via hotel booking websites.
  • Chile is a safe place to visit. Despite protests breaking out across the country in 2019 and 2020, the situation has since calmed. Parts of Santiago are less safe than others (for example, avoid Downtown at night) and the use of Uber or official taxis firm is highly recommended, but once you get out of the city, you’ll find Chile a safe and welcoming place to travel.
  • There is a wealth of good hotels and guesthouses across the country. Some of the best had a profound impact on my trips around the country, which is why I’ve pulled together my absolute favorites into this guide to the best hotels in Chile (just 31 of them!!).
  • Plenty of hostels and the previously mentioned accommodation types also have kitchens, making it easy to self-cater. Bear in mind that Chile has some excellent restaurants and some surprisingly good local cuisine (even if it might not seem like it at first glance) so make sure to factor in some time and money for eating out!
  • Alternatively, camping is relatively easy throughout the country, so pack camping and cooking equipment (see my recommendations in this post about packing for Patagonia) and use that as a way of seeing Chile on the cheap.
  • These Chile itineraries for ten days and two weeks rely on the fact that you will take some long-distance transport to travel between the regions. Yes, flights can be expensive, but if you plan ahead, you can get a good deal with Sky Airline (the low-cost airline) and LATAM (the more upmarket airline). I generally compare prices on Skyscanner and then book directly through the companies themselves.
  • Additionally, Jet Smart is Chile’s answer to Easyjet in Europe and has some extraordinarily low fares, although, they don’t yet offer flights to all of the cities and they’re often at slightly more awkward hours. However, they’re definitely worth checking out, particularly as they’re starting to offer direct flights between cities in Chile without having to go through Santiago, which can significantly reduce your flight time (you can see their full list of destinations here). Be aware that you always have to pay an extra fee for both hold baggage and cabin baggage and they will charge you if you go over the weight limit for either. 
  • Buses are also an inexpensive and reliable way of traveling through Chile, with long-distance, overnight buses making it easy enough to travel from Puerto Montt to Santiago or Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama in reasonable comfort (although prices of flights, if booked a few weeks in advance, are generally as cheap as bus tickets for these routes). Aim to book a couple of days in advance; websites such as Bus Bud, Viaje en Bus, and Recorrido are really helpful, while you can book off the cuff at the bus terminals in all towns and cities.
  • Renting a car is also a great way of traveling. I’ve personally driven through a lot of Chile and it’s much faster than taking buses and gives you the freedom to explore beyond the main tourist destinations. Driving in Santiago is somewhat terrifying and you find drivers don’t pay a lot of attention in most cities and even in rural areas, so you’ll want to keep your wits about you. However, of all the countries in South America, Chile (and Argentina) is definitely the safest place to rent a car. There are lots of tolls on the highways, so make sure you’ve always got cash and download Maps.me for maps available without internet. I always book using Rental Cars, as I find they have the best prices (even better than going directly with companies generally) and have insurance documents in English. Always double-check your insurance documents to ensure your insurance is valid for driving on unpaved roads if you plan on exploring the Carretera Austral, as this is not always guaranteed.
  • Uber and other ridesharing apps such as Easy Taxi, do work in Chile. Uber used to be illegal, but now isn’t. Uber is generally a reliable and safe way of traveling around cities (and better than hailing a cab, which will often try and rip you off or scam you).
  • Oh, and I lived in Santiago for close to three years and wrote a guidebook about Chile (you can learn about the project here and buy the book here), so rest assured that these itineraries stem from some pretty extensive exploration and travel.

What previous clients have said:

Steph’s itinerary exceeded all expectations. She provided off-the-beaten-path hikes, great restaurants and accommodations, and very helpful local contacts. Due to the weather, we had to deviate from our original plan, however, Steph quickly responded to our email during the trip with further recommendations. Her service took all the guesswork out of planning our vacation and led to the most fun and unforgettable trip we have ever had!

Catherine Bradley
Traveled to Chile and Patagonia in Dec 2019/Jan 2020

FAQs about visiting Chile

Chile is a vast country, extending 4,270 km (2,653 mi) from tip to toe and packed with superlative natural landscapes, world-renowned wineries, and remarkable cultural destinations. As a result, the minimum amount of time you want to spend in Chile to truly get a feel for the country is ten days.

Seven days isn’t much time to see this huge country. However, with just seven days, you could spend one in Santiago enjoying the city’s fine restaurants and exploring its museums and street art, before heading out to the Casablanca wine valley to sample the country’s tastiest white wines or to the historic coastal city of Valparaíso

From there, you can fly three hours south to Punta Arenas, the southernmost settlement in continental South America, where you can see penguins and whales.

Afterward, continue to Puerto Natales (three hours north by vehicle), the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park. Spend three days in this beautiful protected area kayaking to glaciers, hiking to lofty mountain peaks, and even catching sight of pumas. Then, fly back to Santiago and then home.

January and February mark the hot summer months in Chile, but also the busiest times for tourism. If you want to explore the sights of Patagonia and other popular places around the country without the crowds, the months of November and March are the best times to visit Chile. Expect slightly cooler temperatures but quieter attractions!

Chile Itinerary for ten days of travel 

Day One: Santiago

Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance), Uber or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the centre of town).

Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural (Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre, the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.

Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles, and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilizations across Latin America.

You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile’s history: the Pinochet dictatorship.

Finally, read this article about the best things to do in Santiago, this piece about day trips you can’t miss from Santiago, and then listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Santiago’s skyscrapers with the brooding Andes Mountains behind.

For dinner, you’ve got various options:

  • Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with some of the best Chilean wines at Bocanariz.
  • Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria, a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
  • Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró.
  • For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio.

Where to stay in Santiago: Stay overnight in Santiago’s first ‘ecoHotel’, Carménère Eco Hotel (Santander 292, double room $155,000 CLP ($196 USD)), which is equally appealing to environmentally conscious travelers and those seeking an authentic Chilean wine experience from their own hotel. It’s in the heart of the hip Barrio Italia, surrounded by a wealth of bars and restaurants and excellent transport links.

Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget, ordered by neighborhood. 

Days Two to Five: San Pedro de Atacama

Head back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL), from where domestic flights leave from a separate terminal. Take a two-hour flight to Calama.

Transfer services at the airport are timed to leave after flights arrive, so hop on one (one hour 30 minutes) or hire a car and drive to San Pedro de Atacama, one of Chile’s top tourist attractions.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The otherworldly pavement at Piedras Rojas.

Spend the next two days exploring the region’s top sites, including Piedras Rojas, Lagunas Altiplanicas and Geisers del Tatio, and spend an evening stargazing and learning what ancient Andean cultures believed lay in the night sky.

For more detailed information and inspiration for San Pedro de Atacama read this post on adventurous places to visit in and around San Pedro de Atacama.

Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama: If you’ve got a bigger budget or are traveling in a couple, stay at Ckuri Atacama (double $63,000 CLP/$80 USD; minimum two-night stay); it’s definitely the nicest accommodation you’ll find in San Pedro. Their three double rooms include private bathrooms, large double beds, a small breakfast area with fridge, cutlery, and plates (breakfast isn’t included – so go and check out Pananderia Franchuteria (Calle Gustavo Le Paige) in town for Chile’s best croissants and other delicious French pastries!).

Where to stay on a budget in San Pedro de Atacama: For smaller budgets, Hostal Lackuntur (dorm $15,000 CLP/$19 USD, double $47,000 CLP/$60 USD) is ideal. It’s got a decent kitchen, loads of hammocks, and a very welcome swimming pool. Its location a few blocks north of the town also ensures it’s nice and quiet during the evenings.

Days Six and Seven: Valparaíso

Return to Calama and take a flight to Santiago. Buses leave from the Terminal Alameda (Av. Alameda 3750) and the Terminal San Borja (San Borja 235) in the city center for Valparaíso (two hours, $3,000 CLP/$4 USD), a historic harbor city set across 42 hills and home to a wealth of street art.

This includes La Sebastiana, the beautiful ship-inspired house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda (well, one of his three), elderly acensores (which are also UNESCO heritage monuments), and a colourful skyline of brightly-painted houses, cobbled streets, and vivid graffiti.

Read all about our favorite things to do in Valparaíso for more information about the city.

If visiting over the summer (be warned: it gets rammed full of Chilean holidaymakers), be sure to hop on a local micro (bus) and head around the coast towards Viña del Mar where the best beaches are.

The easiest to access is Playa Caleta Abarca as it’s right on the main road that passes through the city, while nearby Reñaca also has a pretty beach.

Viña del Mar is also home to the brilliant Museo de Arqueología e Historia Natural Francisco Fonk, which houses a collection of artifacts from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – including a 2.9-meter tall moai statue – and is well worth a visit.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The colourful rooftops of Valparaíso.

Valparaíso has a reputation for being unsafe at night, so you’ll want to stay in either Cerro Alegre or Cerro Concepción. Wherever you stay, avoid the bus station at night, and stick to areas with plenty of street lights.

Where to stay in Valparaíso: Winebox (Baquedano 763, $99,000 CLP/$125 USD double) is a truly unique hotel, built entirely from 25 recycled shipping containers. What’s more, they have an urban winery in the basement and a wine bar cum restaurant on the roof (which is open to the public). It’s actually on Cerro Mariposa, so you’ll need to take local colectivos (shared taxis) or taxis to get into the centre at night.

Where to stay on a budget in Valparaíso: For smaller budgets, the pint-sized Puerta Escondida (Templeman 549, $79,000 CLP/$100 USD double room) is a welcoming B&B in the heart of Cerro Concepción. It gets booked up fast, so be sure to reserve in advance.

Days Eight and Nine: Santiago and Colchagua

Return by bus to Santiago and you’ve got two options for exploring another of Chile’s top attractions: vineyards (which, in our opinion, make Chile the best country in South America for wine).

  1. For bigger budgets: rent a car and drive to winery Casa Silva, just north of San Fernando.
  2. For smaller budgets: take the bus from the Terminal Santiago ( Av. Alameda 3850) operated by Nilahue to Santa Cruz (3 hours, $7,000),

1. For bigger budgets

One of the most awarded wineries in the country and on the northern tip of the Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva not only has a wonderful setting (think rolling hills covered with neat rows of vines and a colonial-style bodega overlooking their polo field) but also an excellent restaurant.

Where to stay: I stayed in their gorgeous accommodation, Hotel Casa Silva (double $181,000 CLP/$210 USD) and spend a day eating in their two fine restaurants, wine tasting in their wine shop, and wandering their vineyards.

You can stay one day at Casa Silva, and then on the next, drive to Santa Cruz, the main town for the Colchagua wine valley, and spend an afternoon exploring some of Chile’s top vineyards (see below).

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Vineyards at Montes in the Colchagua Valley.

2. For smaller budgets

Take a bus to Santa Cruz where you can rent mountain bikes, complete with panniers, from Casa Suiza ($40,000 CLP/$51 USD double, $19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm) to explore the local vineyards of the surrounding Colchagua Valley at your leisure.

For all budgets

All of the wineries in the Colchagua Valley offer tastings, tours and many even have fine-dining restaurants (in beautiful settings, surrounded by vines), so I strongly suggest you aim to have lunch at one of the restaurants.

The valley is also known for its carménère wine, a grape similar, and for a long time, confused with Merlot, so make sure you sample plenty while you’re here.

My favorite is Montes, which lies ten kilometers north of Santa Cruz. It’s a renowned winery (they age their wine to the sound of Gregorian chant in an amphitheater-shaped cellar) with tours (from $10,000 CLP/$14 USD), tasting (from $2,000 CLP/$3 USD per glass) and the truly sensational Fuegos de Apalta restaurant.

I had the best steak of my life in their dining room, which surrounds a circular iron grill where you can watch the chefs at work. It doesn’t come cheap (expect to pay $20,000-$24,000 CLP/$28 USD-$34 USD per main) but their lomo liso (sirloin) and entraña (skirt steak), washed down with a Cabernet Sauvignon is an experience you’ll never forget.

Other wineries to visit from Santa Cruz include:

  • Boutique winery Laura Hartwig, which you can easily walk to for a tasting as it’s on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. They produce very small quantities of wine each year and while it can sometimes be hit-and-miss, they often strike gold. You can sample glasses for just $1,000 CLP/$1.5 USD).
  • Eight kilometers east of Santa Cruz, Viu Manent is a winery set within a beautiful old hacienda. Their star grapes are Carménère and Malbec and they have tours of the vineyard via horse-drawn carriages (from $15,000 CLP/$21 USD) as well as tastings (from $12,000 CLP/$17 USD) and great food in their restaurant Rayuela Wine & Grill ($9,000-$14,000 CLP/$13-$20 USD mains).

Where to stay in Santa Cruz: Hotel TerraViña (Camino a los Boldos, $166,000 CLP/$210 USD double) has a charming location overlooking rows of vines from cast-iron balconies and a swimming pool. The added boon is they’re a short walk through the vines to the Laura Hartwig winery, which can be reached by a short vine-lined path.

Where to stay on a budget in Santa Cruz: Small budgets will enjoy staying overnight in Casa Suiza (Los Libertadores 199, $40,000 CLP/$51 USD double, $19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm). There are plenty of places for unwinding, including a grassy garden, plus kitchen access, and owners who run cycling tours to tiny boutique wineries.

Day Ten: Santiago

Spend a final day in Santiago. Dedicate at least three hours to exploring the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), an excellent museum dealing with a grizzly topic: the Pinochet dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990.

Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, as seen from the road into the park from the southern entrance

Want a custom-made Chile itinerary, but without the effort of planning it?

Get it planned by an expert (me!) with my travel itinerary planning service; you’ll give me an overview of your ideal once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chile and/or Patagonia, and I’ll put together a custom itinerary just for you using my expert knowledge of the destination.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a local operator to plan and book your trip, I recommend our trusted partner EcoChile Travel. They design and book tours throughout the country, such as this 12-day highlights of Southern Patagonia itinerary – and offer Worldly Adventurer readers a 5% discount on their services!

Book here to claim your discount.

If you want to learn first-hand about the Chilean love of the sanguche, head to La Fuente Alemana for a traditional churrasco (beef or pork sandwich) – just ask them to go easy on the mayo. Alternatively, sample some other key Chilean dishes in Santiago with the help of this guide to Chilean food.

Head over to nearby Barrio Lastarria (barrio means neighborhood) and take the short hike up to Cerro Santa Lucia for views across the city and the omnipresent Andes Mountains beyond.

For even more impressive cityscape views, take the funicular up to Cerro San Cristóbal in Parque Metropolitano (don’t walk; there have been reports of muggings of people hiking up the hill and those straying from the trails).

Finally, listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.

Return to the airport and fly home.

Chile itinerary for two weeks of travel: Santiago and the Lakes District

Day One: Santiago

Arrive at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance, Uber, or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the center of town).

Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural(Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre, the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.

Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles, and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilizations across Latin America.

You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile’s history: the Pinochet dictatorship.

For more inspiration, read this article about tourist attractions you can’t miss in Santiago.

For dinner, you’ve got various options:

  • Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with some of the best Chilean wines at Bocanariz.
  • Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria, a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
  • Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró.
  • For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio.

Where to stay: Splurge on your hotel and stay overnight at the foot of Cerro Santo Lucia in Hotel Magnolia (Huérfanos 539, $276,000 CLP ($350 USD) double) in the heart of the Barrio Lastarria and surrounded by a wealth of bars and restaurants, plus excellent transport links.

Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget (including much more affordable than Hotel Magnolina), ordered by neighborhood or learn about other things to do in Santiago.

Days Two to Five: Chiloé

Fly from the domestic terminal in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) to Aeropuerto El Tepual (PMC) (one hour 40 mins), the airport just outside of Puerto Montt.

Outside the airport, buses for the bus station in central Puerto Montt (30 mins, $2,500 CLP/$3.5 USD) are run by Andrés Tour and leave a short while after flights land.

Moon Chile guidebook

In the bus terminal, there are plenty of companies selling tickets to Ancud, on Chiloé Island (2.5 hours including the boat crossing, $5,000 CLP /$7 USD).

Alternatively: Rent a car from the agencies at Aeropuerto El Tepual and drive to Chiloé Island. While public transport on the island does connect most destinations, it can be painfully slow and infrequent, so a car grants you significantly more flexibility and will allow you to get to destinations faster and therefore see more. Puerto Montt airport has some of the cheapest car rents in Chile (from $30 USD per day) and you can book using Rental Cars, who provide insurance documents and all contracts in English.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Chiloé’s beautiful palafitos rising out of the bay.

In Ancud, stop at the brilliant and free Museo de las Iglesias which explores how Chiloé’s most famous buildings – the brightly colored wooden churches, of which 16 are UNESCO World Heritage registered – were constructed.

If the season’s right (September to March), spend the afternoon at the Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñhuil where the rare Humboldt and less rare but still wonderfully cheeky Magellanic penguin have a colony.

You can take a tour from town with 13 Lunas (Los Carrera 855), who charge $15,000 CLP/$21 USD per person (and an additional $5,000 CLP/$7 USD for an English-speaking guide).

Alternatively, hop on a local bus marked for Puñihuil (40 mins, $2,000 CLP/$3 USD) from the Terminal Rural (Colo Colo 318). These leave four times daily from Monday through Friday and at 1pm and 1.30pm on Saturdays; they drop passengers and then leave for the return journey around 10 minutes later. 

When you arrive at Puñihuil, you’ll need to get on the next boat with Pingüineras Chiloé ($7,500 CLP/$10.5 USD), a cooperative of fishermen who take tourists out on their boats to see the penguins (note that you are not allowed off the boat).

Where to stay in Ancud: A 15-minute drive or taxi journey southwest from Ancud, Paihuen Yurts (Camino a Lechagua, $60,000 CLP/$84 USD two-person yurt) have one spacious canvas yurt hidden in the forest, with its own private hot tub down a short path to the river. The setting is serene and the facilities are superb, with a complete kitchen, plus a modern bathroom with a good shower. I loved my stay here!

Where to stay on a budget in Ancud: 13 Lunas Hostel ($19,000 CLP/$24 USD dorm, $28,000 CLP/$43 USD double) is a really comfortable and beautifully decorated hostel right opposite the bus station, a two-minute walk from the harbor and with big, comfortable dorms, plenty of communal space including a huge kitchen and a terrace overlooking the bay. Avoid the beds downstairs as they’re dark and most don’t have windows.

The next day, hop on a bus to Castro, the capital of Chiloé and famed for its vibrant palafitos: colorful, traditional fishermen’s houses on stilts that line the harbor overlook the bay at two places, just off Calle Ernesto Riquelme and another accessed by Calle Puerto Montt.

However, the best place to appreciate them in all their colorful glory is across the river from Calle Ernesto Riquelme at Mirador Gamboa.

Another unmissable stop in Castro is at the Feria Artesanal (Lillo s/n, just before the harbor), a craft market where you can find both local woolen crafts to buy and a cheap lunch of empanadas (stuffed with seafood or cheese and prawns) or huge plates of fish.

Nip out the back to meet the resident sea lion population, who’ll also be fighting over their lunch – scraps of fish thrown into the sea by the fishermen.

Where to stay in Castro: If you fancy finding out what it’s like inside a palafito, stay at the brown-shingled Palafito 1326 (Ernesto Riquelme 1326, $79,000 CLP/$100 USD double). Rooms are spacious, with crisp white linens and those overlooking the water have a balcony from which you can watch the ocean.

Where to stay on a budget in Castro: La Minga Hostel (dorm $16,000 CLP/$20 USD, $25,000 CLP/$40 USD double) is a proper backpacking hostel (run by the wonderful Camila, a Brazilian and former backpacker herself) that is small but perfectly-formed. Rooms are fairly tiny and there aren’t that many bathrooms to go around, but it’s got a really sociable atmosphere without being a party hostel. Camilia also has great local knowledge and can help with suggestions for local things to do.

Spend the rest of your time on Chiloé exploring the churches; my favorite was definitely Tenuan, which you could reach by bus from the terminal in Castro (one hour 10 mins, $1,600 CLP/$2 USD).

If there’s a group of you, take a wander along the shore and you can try negotiating a small boat to take you to Isla Mechuque, which also has its own church and a small museum and is supposed to be stunning.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
The beautiful wooden church in the village of Tenuan.

Cucao, a one-hour bus journey (again from the local bus terminal in Castro), is one of my favorite places on the island and has the mind-blowingly beautiful Palafito Cucao ($55,000 CLP/$130 USD double).

Not only is this place hugely comfortable (it has lovely double rooms), it’s the living room area and outdoor terrace with views across Lago Cucao that make this place one of the most sensational places I’ve ever stayed in Chile.

I even saw a giant otter swimming past one day. They can also arrange horseback riding and trekking tours to nearby Parque Nacional Chiloé and its stunning, practically untouched nearby beaches.

Palafito Cucao is close to the Muelle de las Almas, a destination that has shot to fame in Chile in recent years.

While it is beautiful – it’s an art installation shaped like a pier that appears to jut out over the cliff edge and into the ocean on a desolate hillside – it’s now so overrun that much of the magic is lost.

If you do want to go, make sure you get here as early as possible in the morning, as 45-minute queues for photos with the muelle are unfortunately common.

Days Five and Six: Puerto Varas

Return by bus to the bus terminal in Puerto Montt and then take a small micro (a blue local bus) from the terminal to Puerto Varas (20 mins, $1,000 CLP/$1 USD).

This lovely lakeside town sits beneath the shadow of Volcán Osorno, but rest assured, it hasn’t erupted since 1869.

There’s not a whole lot to do in the town, although the somewhat eccentric collection of artwork and accumulated bric-a-brac in Museo de Pablo Fierro, run by enthusiastic owner and artist Pablo Fierro is definitely worth an hour of your time through.

For hikers, the best way to stretch your legs is by taking a local micro (minibus) from the corner of El Salvador and San Pedro in the center of the city (all local buses leave from here) to Petrohué on the banks of Lago Todos los Santos where there are a handful of treks.

Paso Desolación, which goes around the edge of the volcano and takes around eight hours return (23km/14.2mi), while a shorter, 11km (6.8mi) route takes a path along the edge of the lake before heading back in a loop and offering views of the volcano and the valley, with a walking time of around three hours.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Sunset over Volcan Osorno.

Don’t miss the Museo Pioneros Petrohué ($2,000 CLP/$3 USD), which is run by Petrohué Lodge and details the various “pioneers” who ventured to this once remote part of the Chilean lakes district across history, including explorers and German settlers.

If it’s not open (which it probably won’t be), nip into the Expeditions Office next door to ask to be allowed in.

Catch the bus back from Petrohué and stop at the Saltos de Petrohué ($4,000 CLP/$6 USD) to see the raging, crystalline waters of the Río Petrohué churning over the rocks with a backdrop of the volcano. You can also raft down the class II and IV rapids of this river with Ko’Kayak, a local kayaking and rafting specialist operator.

For a more relaxed afternoon, hop on a bus to Fruitillar (from the same place in Puerto Varas) to try locally baked kuchen, a German dessert brought, and cooked, by the German descendants who started this town.

Alternatively, book a sea kayaking tour with Ko’Kayak out into the Chilean fjords for dramatic, volcano-studded landscapes.

There’s also a really good museum, the Museo Colonial Alemán, with its collection of artifacts brought over from Germany with the settlers and the history of founding the different towns around the lake.

There’s also Frutillar’s elegant, lakeside theatre, Teatro del Lago (they have performances from all across the globe and the building is renowned for its acoustics).

Where to stay in Puerto Varas: It’s definitely pricey, but the location right on the shores of Lago Llanquihue of AWA ($350 USD double) makes this a truly remarkable place to stay. Bedrooms are huge, while the restaurant serves up delicate dishes showcasing local ingredients – all with a serving of volcano views.

Where to stay on a budget in Puerto Varas: The wonderful Compass del Sur (camping $17,000 CLP/$21 USD, $24,000 CLP/$30 USD dorm, $54,000 CLP/$68 USD double), with its cozy sitting room with wood fire, breakfast room, and huge new kitchen, it’s my personal favorite when I’m in town. Their owners are very knowledgeable about activities to do in the local area and bedrooms are large, most of which now have their own private bathrooms after extensive renovations in 2017.

Days Seven to Ten: Pucón

Take a bus to Pucón (five hours, $17,500 CLP/$22 USD) from the bus terminal for Buses Jac in Puerto Varas.

Pucón is one of Chile’s best-known adventure destinations thanks to a range of highlights, including an active volcano that you can hike up, accessible national parks, and a whole host of other activities to get your pulse racing.

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
Volcan Villarrica rising out of the background.

One of the best day trips you can take from Pucón is to nearby Parque Nacional Huerquehue, a one-hour bus ride from the town with Buses Caburgua (they have their bus station at Uruguay 540).

There are five trails in the park, the most exciting being the Sendero Los Lagos, which goes past a pair of impressive waterfalls and ends with glorious views across the lakes at the top of the mountain.

The most challenging (and with the best vistas) is Sendero San Sebastian, where you’ll see not one, not two but NINE volcanoes and 14 lakes from the top. Uh, yes please!

You can also stay within the park, either camping (there are various places, including Camping Olga ($18,000 CLP/$23 USD for two people, minimum two-night stay) or at the basic Cabañas Tinquilco ($50,000 CLP/$63 USD per night; minimum stay four nights between December and March.

It’s also impossible to visit Pucón without hiking up Volcán Villarrica, the snow-topped volcano that dominates the landscapes surrounding the town and is easily one of the top Chile attractions for visitors.

It’s a tough climb (you start around 6-7am from Pucón and are at the crater by lunchtime), but not one that requires technical expertise; you will need to go with a guide unless you have all of your own equipment (ice axes, crampons etc.). Bear in mind, this trail is packed with other tourists, so can feel like you’re queuing up the side of the mountain, rather than hiking it.

Patagonia Experience is the most recommended of all the agencies in the town. Expect to pay upwards of $80,000/$132 USD.

And don’t miss Termas Geometricas, some really beautiful hot springs located on the southern flanks of the volcano. Unless you’ve got a car, you’ll need to take a tour ($35,000/$58 USD) – but it’s worth the cost as you get to spend an afternoon relaxing in these stunning pools.

Where to stay in Pucón: Another personal favorite, if you’re willing to splash some cash, is the Maison Nomade B&B (double $90,000/$120 USD – but email them as they can offer cheaper prices), which is a few kilometers away from Pucón but has glorious views of the volcano from their huge garden, a swimming pool, beautiful modern rooms decorated with the handicrafts that Carolina, one of the owners, makes, plus a kitchen for guests. Alain, the other owner, also runs an orientation meeting to help you decide what you plan to do during your stay (and he knows the region like the back of his hand).

Where to stay on a budget in Pucón: Having visited this place recently as part of my research for Moon Chile, I can back up the general consensus that Chili Kiwi (dorm $20,000 CLP/$25 USD, $49,000 CLP/$67 USD hobbit hole) is one of the best hostels in Latin America. I stayed in both a hobbit hole and a treehouse (the hobbit hole was a bit roomier and had its own tiny private terrace, which was a nice touch), but they’ve genuinely thought of everything here: from their private bar to their three kitchens, huge lockers for people who’ve checked out but need somewhere to store their bags and just the enthusiasm of the owners and the staff who can answer practically any question you have about travel in the region (and beyond). It’s not a party hostel, but it does attract a youngish crowd.

Days Eleven to Thirteen: Parque Nacional Conguillio

From Pucón, get an early bus to Temuco (one hour forty minutes) and catch the 10.30am Nar Bus to Parque Nacional Conguillio (leaves from the Terminal Rural de Temuco only in January and February, two and a half hours). It’ll drop you off right at the campsite and main ranger office for the park.

From here, there are a number of different day hikes to take that pass through the park’s incredible ancient scenery of thousand-year-old Araucania trees, black lava flows from looming Volcán Llaima, and gloriously blue lakes.

Travel tip: The park is actually quieter and more beautiful to visit in November and December, when the weather’s warming up, or in April, to see the forests turn shades of autumn yellows and golds. The easiest way to get here in these months (or a faster means than taking the bus in high season) is hiring a car from the rental agencies in the arrivals terminal of Aeropuerto Araucanía (ZCO) in Temuco. You can get to the airport with a taxi (around $15,000 CLP/$21 USD from the bus terminal in Temuco).

You can get hold of maps from the ranger station here. The bus returns back to Temuco at 1pm (soon after it arrives).

Out of season, your only options are to take a taxi from nearby Curacuatin or rent a car in Temuco.

There’s a small shop at the campsite, but otherwise, you’ll need to bring food with you (unless staying at La Baita, who can prepare meals for you).

chile itinerary 10 days and two weeks
An aerial view of the picturesque Laguna Arco Iris

Where to stay in Parque Nacional Conguillio: There are a number of campsites run by Sendas Conguillio. The best of these, if you’re traveling in a pair or alone, is Camping El Estero ($6,500 CLP/$11 USD pp), which you cannot book (but there is normally space). If you’ve got a vehicle, La Baita (double $90,000 CLP/$150 USD) is spectacular, with stylish, wooden bedrooms, cozy communal living room with wood fire, and hot tubs. Outside of the summer, the prices are cheaper (but they’re closed in June).

Fly from Temuco airport to Santiago or take the bus overnight (eight hours).

Chile itinerary for two weeks of travel: The highlights

Day One: Santiago

Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (SCL) in Santiago and take either a transfer ($7,000 with Delfos or TransVIP; no need to book in advance), Uber or the Turbus airport bus (get off either at Terminal Pajaritos (better if it’s rush hour) or Terminal Alameda and take the metro Line 1 to the centre of town).

Mapuche funerary statues made from wood found inside the Museo Chilenoo de Arte Precolombino, one of Santiago's best museums and an unmissable thing to do in Santiago, Chile
Mapuche funerary statues made from wood found inside the Museo Chilenoo de Arte Precolombino, one of Santiago’s best museums.

Spend your afternoon trotting around Downtown. Visit the Plaza de Armas to see the oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Pop into the Museo Histórico Natural (Natural History Museum) to learn about Chilean history and, more importantly, to take their free tour up to the Reloj de la Torre, the Clock Tower, for incredible panoramas of the entire Plaza de Armas.

Visit the nearby Museo Chileno de Artes Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art), with its incredible collection of pottery, textiles, and artwork covering the pre-Colombian civilizations across Latin America.

You could also spend an afternoon learning about another side of Chile at the Museo de Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which explores the darkest days of Chile’s history: the Pinochet dictatorship.

Finally, read this article about the best things to do in Santiago, this piece about day trips you can’t miss from Santiago, and then listen to my interview on the We Travel There podcast to learn more about my recommendations for visiting Chile’s capital city.

Street art by Chilean INTI in Barrio Lastarria in Santiago,
Santiago is home to a wealth of street art, plus plenty of brilliant restaurants.

For dinner, you’ve got various options:

  • Head to Barrio Bellavista to experience unique, indigenous cuisine at Peumayen or go for gourmet Chilean dishes paired with some of the best Chilean wines at Bocanariz.
  • Barrio Lastarria (a couple of blocks west of Plaza Baquedano) is also a good shout for dinner. Learn about Chilean pisco at Chipe Libre or go for traditional Chilean dishes at Liguria, a restaurant popular among local Santiaguinos and even Kate Moss.
  • Barrio Italia (about six blocks south of Plaza Italia) is up-and-coming, with excellent Chilean dining (with a focus on sustainability and farm-to-fork) at Silvestre Bistró.
  • For meat lovers keen to learn about the Chilean art of the asado (barbecue), make sure you head east along Line 1 of the metro for a steak (cooked a punto (medium rare) at Eladio.

Where to stay in Santiago: Stay overnight in Santiago’s first ‘ecoHotel’, Carménère Eco Hotel (Santander 292, double room $155,000 CLP ($196 USD)), which is equally appealing to environmentally conscious travelers and those seeking an authentic Chilean wine experience from their own hotel. It’s in the heart of the hip Barrio Italia, surrounded by a wealth of bars and restaurants and excellent transport links.

Alternatively, read my complete guide to Santiago’s best hotels and hostels for every budget, ordered by neighborhood. 

Days Two and Three: Valparaíso and the Casablanca Valley

Either hire a car or hop on a bus from the Terminal Alameda (Av. Alameda 3750) and the Terminal San Borja (San Borja 235) in the city center to Valparaíso (two hours, $3,000 CLP/$4 USD), a historic harbor city set across 42 hills and home to a wealth of street art.

This includes La Sebastiana, the beautiful ship-inspired house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda (well, one of his three), elderly acensores (which are also UNESCO heritage monuments), and a colorful skyline of brightly-painted houses, cobbled streets, and vivid graffiti.

Read all about our favorite things to do in Valparaíso for more information about the city.

If visiting over the summer (be warned: it gets rammed full of Chilean holidaymakers), be sure to hop on a local micro (bus) and head around the coast towards Viña del Mar where the best beaches are.

The easiest to access is Playa Caleta Abarca as it’s right on the main road that passes through the city, while nearby Reñaca also has a pretty beach. Alternatively, you can drive further north to the pretty beaches of surf-town Maitencillo, secluded and beautiful Cachagua, or exclusive Zapallar

White wine tasting in Vina Matetic in the Casablanca wine valley in Chile and a good day trip from Santiago
Matetic is a winery that produces outstanding white wines and is home to the luxurious La Casona hotel.

The following day, head out to the Casablanca Valley, Chile’s premier white wine-producing region. A bus to Casablanca and then a taxi can take you around some of the best wineries, including Casas del Bosque (which has a brilliant restaurant), Viña Mar (which is known for its sparkling wines, Bodegas RE (which produces unusual blends), and Emiliana (an organic, sustainable winery).

Alternatively, drive south via Isla Negra (the prettiest of poet Pablo Neruda’s houses) to reach the Valle de San Antonio, where first-rate wineries offer outstanding wines and stunningly-located accommodations. 

The best are Matetic and Casa Marin, the latter of which produces delicious sauvignon gris. 

Where to stay in Valparaíso/nearby: Winebox (Baquedano 763, $99,000 CLP/$125 USD double) is a truly unique hotel, built entirely from 25 recycled shipping containers. What’s more, they have an urban winery in the basement and a wine bar cum restaurant on the roof (which is open to the public). It’s actually on Cerro Mariposa, so you’ll need to take local colectivos (shared taxis) or taxis to get into the centre at night. Alternatively, stay in La Casona ($774 USD double) Matetic winery’s stylish 10-bed hotel, set within the vineyard and with a welcome swimming pool or at the more affordable Bungalow Miramar ($167 USD one-bedroom bungalow) that has sweeping views across the vineyards of equally brilliant Casa Marin.

Where to stay on a budget in Valparaíso: For smaller budgets, the pint-sized Puerta Escondida (Templeman 549, $79,000 CLP/$100 USD double room) is a welcoming B&B in the heart of Cerro Concepción. It gets booked up fast, so be sure to reserve in advance.

Days Four to Seven: Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Head back to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) and take a six-hour flight west across the Pacific Ocean to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). 

Having captivated archaeologists and tourists alike for decades, Rapa Nui – while still being part of Chile – lives and breaths the Polynesian culture of its inhabitants: the Rapanui. 

After landing on the runway of Matavari International Airport (IPC), take a transfer with your hotel into Hanga Roa, the island’s only town and the location of most lodgings. 

Spend the afternoon snorkeling off Playa Pea on the lookout for Green Pacific, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles, before catching the sunset at Ahu Tahai, where various ceremonial platforms known as ahu play host to the angular stone heads (moai) for which the island is famed. 

17 moai on Ahu Tongariki in Easter Island, Chile
Ahu Tongariki houses 15 stone moai and is the place to watch the sunrise on Rapa Nui.

The following day, head out to Parque Nacional Rapa Nui, where the majority of the moai are located. New rules mean you’ll need a guide, who can show you around key locations across the island. 

Don’t miss Rano Raraku, the volcanic crater and quarry where the moai were carved, or nearby Ahu Tongariki. With 15 moai statues, it’s the largest of the platforms and ideal for sunrise. 

Read our guide to visiting Rapa Nui for more detailed information about getting to the island, as well as recommendations for what to do and where to stay, and the best time to visit Easter Island.  

Where to stay in Rapa Nui: The stunning sea views from certain suites and bungalows make Hotel Boutique La Perouse ($210 USD suite; $288 bungalow) an excellent choice for accommodation on Easter Island. Situated right at the heart of Hanga Roa, but with a tranquil setting, this is a great place to relax after a day of touring the island, while a delicious breakfast will ensure you’ve got the fuel you need.   

Where to stay on a budget in Rapa Nui: If price is your number one factor when it comes to finding accommodation on Easter Island then look no further than Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana ($57 USD double room with shared bathroom, $14 USD camping). Offering private rooms (some with shared bathrooms), it’s hard to quibble over the price here, which grants you clean and spacious bedrooms – some with mini-fridges – and a sociable atmosphere among the other guests staying here. 

Days Eight to Nine: Punta Arenas 

Fly back to Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) and then hop on a flight to Punta Arenas, a three-hour flight south. 

The gateway to Patagonia, Punta Arenas is where the first colonizers landed in southern Chilean Patagonia and is home to some of the best wildlife-watching opportunities. 

A Magellanic penguin looks at the camera in Argentine Patagonia
Isla Magdalena is home to over 120,000 Magallenic penguins and you can even walk among them as part of a tour to the island.

You’ll have time for at least one tour. Head out to Isla Magdalena for a half-day visit to the 120,000-strong Magallenic penguin colony that resides on this island. 

Alternatively, take a tour with Solo Expediciones to Parque Marino Francisco Coloane (Francisco Coloane Marine Park) to catch a glimpse of the many species of whales that come here to breed, including humpbacks and sei whales. 

At the end of your second day, hop on a public bus to Puerto Natales (three hours). 

Where to stay in Punta Arenas: Easily the smartest choice in Punta Arenas is the luxurious La Yegua Loca ($160 USD double), where antique wooden furniture rubs shoulders with superb views of the Strait of Magellan. Don’t miss the restaurant on the ground floor, which specialises in local specialties such as king crab.

Where to stay on a budget in Punta Arenas: Budget digs don’t get much better than the family-run Hostal Aventura Austral ($57 USD double), which has small but comfortable rooms and brilliant hosts.

Days Ten to Fourteen: Torres del Paine National Park 

Unless you’re planning on hiking the W or the O Circuit, the best way to explore Torres del Paine National Park is with a rental car

From Puerto Natales, head north along Ruta 9 and then northwest along the Y-290 to enter Torres del Paine National Park from its southern entrance, where you’ll get the best views of the Los Cuernos mountains that dominate the park. 

Los Cuernos as seen from the road into Torres del Paine National Park from the south
The drive into the park from the southern entrance is stunning on a clear day.

Over the next few days, you’ve got time to hike the park’s ubiquitous route up to Mirador Las Torres where you’ll stand beneath the three sky-spearing shards of granite after which the park is named. 

Day hikes and shorter routes to viewpoints abound in the national park, with the steep climb up to Mirador Ferrier for 180-degree views across the park and the short meander along Sendero Mirador Cuernos for dazzling views of Los Cuernos among the best. 

Read our guide to day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park for detailed route information. 

There’s plenty more to do in Torres del Paine, including tracking pumas, with the park believed to be home to the highest concentration of these big cats in the world. 

Torres del Paine National Park is a brilliant place to see pumas in the wild.

The best way is on a two-day tour with Chile Nativo (use the referral code “Worldly Adventurer” for a 5% discount), which takes you along some of the paths most frequented by the cats and has a close to 100% success rate for seeing them.

Return to Puerto Natales and then fly back to Santiago.

Where to stay in Torres del Paine National Park: With its cluster of 20 deluxe yurts, Patagonia Camp ($2,160 USD double all-inclusive for two nights) sits pretty on the southern shore of Lago Toro as a top luxury accommodation option just 15 kilometres from the park entrance. There’s no TV or internet connection in the rooms, but who needs WIFI when you’ve got a private terrace with panoramic views, and even a jacuzzi in the suites?

Where to stay in Torres del Paine National Park on a budget: Restaurant costs within Torres del Paine have skyrocketed with the park’s popularity. Stock up on food in Puerto Natales and head to Cabañas Lago Tyndall ($110,000 CLP ($160 USD) four-person cabin), which is situated on a bend in the Río Serrano and a short drive from the southern entrance to the park.

Our complete guide to what to do in Torres del Paine National Park is packed with plenty more information about how to visit this incredible place, while our detailed Patagonia itineraries contain recommendations for exploring Southern Patagonia, plus how to combine a trip to Torres del Paine National Park with Argentine Patagonia, including the Perito Moreno glacier and hiking capital, El Chaltén. 

How to amend this two-week itinerary

Rather than heading to Rapa Nui, you could spend three days in the Atacama Desert. San Pedro de Atacama is the region’s main hub and jumping-off point for Mars-like scenery and wildlife-packed protected areas, such as the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos.

We’ve got a full guide to what to do in San Pedro de Atacama, while, if you want to avoid the hassle of organizing your trip, EcoChile Travel can help you plan a four-day trip to the region, including visits to local indigenous communities to learn more about the unique culture of the region. Mention Worldly Adventurer for a 5% discount off the tour.


Traveling to Chile? You need these two detailed travel itineraries to help you plan a two week or 10 day trip around Chile. Insider tips, hotel and restaurant recommendations and travel guidance included. #Patagonia #chile #pucon #sanpedrodeatacama #atacamadesert #worldlyadventurer #chiletravel #southamericatravel #adventuretravel #travelitinerary #travelplanning

Eri

Tuesday 23rd of July 2019

Great article. I love this piece of writing. Thanks

Sarah

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Hello Steph,

Thank you for your detail guide and the itineraries of 10 and 14 days. My husband and I are planning to go to Chile 10/11 days on late October or early November. I had planned to go to Ecuador but considering the high altitude that we probably couldn't stand.

There are so many blogs on Pinterest just telling me how great the attractions there but very few itineraries provided. So happy that I found yours

Here I have a few questions for the 10 days itinerary: 1) Any tours around the hostels to the attractions @ San Pedro de Atacama (my husband hates driving on vacation and I don't have a license)? 2) any other suggestions for the day 8 to 9 if not going to the vineyard? Thank you in advance!

Sarah

Steph Dyson

Friday 21st of June 2019

Hi Sarah, yes you can find tour companies for destinations around San Pedro de Atacama on the main drag in the town - there are loads of them! Try and negotiate several tours with one company as this will help you get a discount. Whipala Expedition and 123 Andes Chile Conectado (both have websites) are recommended companies. There are plenty of other destinations to visit in San Pedro. Check out this article for more ideas! Enjoy your trip :)