If writing a Nobel prize winning Gabriela Mistral style poem sounds easier than getting all of the information you need on Chile, you’ve hit "trip planning'' burnout. I can’t blame you. After all, the country of poets is as complex as it is beautiful. As the world’s longest country (4,300km long to be exact), Chile is a nation that shatters expectations. If you're here, you’re already excited about the vibrant sounds of cueca music flowing through your ears as the rhythmic clapping accompanies your peach filled Mote con Huesillo drink.
What you’re not excited about is the research it’ll take to get you to that blissful state. This is where we come in. Welcome to the ultimate Chile tourism statistics guide, where do’s & don’ts, transport, when to get a Chile tour guide, weather and safety blend seamlessly. So let's get the tough stuff out of the way. As the Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda once said, “If you don’t climb the mountain, you’ll never enjoy the view”.
República De Chile: The Country of Poets By The Numbers
Home to 19.6 million people, and known globally to have one of the most diverse climates in the world, where Patagonia’s icy glaciers meet the world’s driest desert, The Atacama, Chile is a land steeped in immovable tradition, resilience and potential.
The nation’s harrowing yet resilient past, and innovative future combine to create one of the safest, most economically savvy countries in South America, drawing in business enthusiasts and travelers alike. So how many tourists visit Chile annually? In 2019, over 4.5 million visitors touched down in the land of heart clenching linguists, fluffy llamas and rain free deserts.
Though tourism fell by 75.2% in 2020, it bounced back up to over 2 million in 2022. So where does that rank Chile in terms of tourism? Well, Chile was the 8th most toured country in the Americas in 2019, and there’s no shortage of reasons why.
For The Love of Chile: The Nation’s Top Visitors
Chile’s magnetic pull features lush greenery, vibrant dances and a lot of interwoven culture. So let’s check out who visits Chile the most.
- Argentina- Both best friends and fierce rivals, Chile’s neighboring nation takes the top spot with 650,000 visitors in 2022.
- Brasil - The colorful nation brought in 247,200 tourists in 2022.
- Peru- Yet another neighbor, Peru contributed 183,000 visitors in 2022.
- Bolivia - Do you see a pattern here? Chile’s neighbors to the north-east brought in 145,700 visitors.
- United States - Rounding out our top five is the land of red white and blue, and a close ally to Chile, with 135,400 visitors in 2022.
Celebrating Chile #1: Chile isn’t only fascinating for foreign travelers. The nation has a passionate domestic tourism crowd with over 49 million domestic overnight tourists taking advantage of having Chile as their home country in 2021.
Why We Love Chile: Rustic Landscapes, Traditional Tastes, Deep History & Cultural Celebration
When you come across a nation that hosts sun scorched iguanas, icy cold penguins, Inca ancestry and 43,471 islands, you’ve got no choice but to explore! What is Chile widely known for? You asked the right question.
Rustic Natural Landscapes
Looking to step into “otherworldly scenery”? Chile’s natural corners tell a tale of wild flora, unmatched fauna and breathtaking beauty. What are some major tourist attractions in Chile? These top 5 most visited natural wonders are a great place to start.
- Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park- Covering 2,530 km2, Chile’s oldest national park is the best place to start your landscape appreciation journey. After all, so did 554,542 visitors in 2022. You can start your journey from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas.
- Malalcahuello National Reserve- Tucked away in the historical Araucania region lies this lagoon filled, snow capped wonder crafted from Chile’s volcanic history that enchanted over 176,000 visitors in 2022.
- Torres Del Paine National Park - Welcome to Patagonia! The mindblowing Torres Del Paine National Park perfectly symbolizes wild Chile at its finest, drawing in 140,458 visitors in 2022. Looking for an extended tour? Start in Punta Arenas.
- Puyehue National Park - Around 122,013 visitors took in over 220,000 acres of lush evergreens, thermal, bubbling springs and of course, that breathtaking Andean view.
- Laguna Del Laja National Park - Embrace Chile’s eternal bond with volcanoes in this stunning Andean park that drew in 101,405 visitors in 2022.
Travel treat: Can’t wait to see Chile’s breathtaking landscapes? Dream about your future trip with a relaxing video highlighting sweeping Chilean scenery.
Celebrating Chile #2: What is Chile Widely Known For?
When it comes to travel experiences, Chile has several UNESCO World heritage sites, but the poet state is synonymous with Easter Island, Patagonia, and the Atacama Desert, and these sites put the country on the map.
- The Andes
- Chiloe Island
- The Atacama
- Volcano Villarica
Travel Gem: Parque Nacional Lauca - Nestled in the Altiplano Plateau in the eastern border region with Bolivia lies one of the purest nature reserves. Get ready for Llamas, Condors and Alpacas grazing freely.
To get the best of wild Chile, check out our local private tours and see which custom itinerary speaks to you.
When Mestizo, Western, Mapuche and other cultures crashed together, the unexpected yet delightful tastes of modern day Chilean cuisine was born. Let’s dive into what foods you’ll have dancing across your taste buds!
- Empanadas De Pino- Beloved around South America, Empanadas take many different forms depending on which country you’re in. In Chile, they're stuffed with beef, raisins and even hard boiled eggs. A strange yet delicious combination.
- Pastel De Choclo- With sweet corn as the star, this Chilean version of Shepherd’s pie features a warm, crispy crust, beef mince, chicken, onions, black olives and a lot of flavor!
- Ajiaco- Loved by South Americans, the origin of this thick, creamy soup is debatable, but Chile’s version features leftover meats often collected after a big celebration. Add some potatoes, onions and savory seasoning and you’ve got a comforting Chilean staple.
- Arrollado huaso- Also known as peasant pork roll, arrollado huaso is a tightly rolled, marinated pork cut wrapped in skin and poached to perfection.
- The Completo- You can call this the Chilean national anthem in food form. Famous all over the country, especially in metropolitan areas, the Completo is a loaded hot dog stuffed with sauces, tomato, avocado and sauerkraut.
Chile has fought long and hard to be an American success story, so diving into its rich, sometimes painful and always triumphant history is a great way to get a grasp of the nation that’s given us Michelle Bachelet, Bernardo O’Higgins, and of course, Pedro Pascal.
- The Museum of Memory & Human Rights- Between 1973 to 1990, Chileans suffered under the brutal regime of US-backed dictator Agusto Pinochet, and this museum is a tribute to those who gave their freedom and their lives in the fight for the democracy and human rights we see today. A somber but necessary stop.
- Easter Island- Born from volcanic rock, this Polynesian island has marveled archaeologists, historians and most of all, travelers. With statues standing at various heights (some reaching 30 feet!), you can spend days appreciating the monumental feat accomplished by over 1000 years of indigenous craftsmanship and intelligence.
- Valparaiso- Welcome to the sunny port city of Valparaiso where a metro boom clashes beautifully with the historical trading hub. Be sure to add Plaza Sotomayor and Monumentos a Los Heroes to your itinerary. Have some free time? Try riding the Ascensor Concepcion, an old school trolley-like system that navigates the city’ steep hills.
- Isla Negra - Enjoy the story behind the man that put Chilean poetry on the global map by touring Pablo Neruda’s House & Museum. Ready for a relaxing afternoon? Head to the coast and soak in the Chilean sun at the Playa Chepica beach.
- La Araucania- Be prepared for a whirlwind of history, indigenous pride and pre-Spanish Chilean culture. Head 700 km south of the nation’s capital to La Araucania where you’ll find the heart of the Mapuche people, from cooking to weaving and everything in between.
Travel Tip: Though Chileans are proud of their current democratic state, the subject of the Pinochet regime and its brutal dictatorship is still sore, as is indigenous rights, so be careful to listen instead of giving strong opinions if the topics are brought up.
Welcome to a country that perfectly reflects its rustic, humble past and prosperous future. Chile is home to a loud, penetrating cultural story that features the pain of the past with the beauty of roots that date back to the Incan & Mapuche empire. From cowgirls to rhythmic clapping, here’s an ode to Chile’s everlasting culture.
- Chilean Cowboy Culture- Chilean huaso & huasa (cowboys & cowgirls)are at the heart of the Chilean rodeo and essential founders of the national ranching scene. With a rugged history as bandits who were dubbed outlaws by ruling Spanish royalists, Chilean cowboys are responsible for the vibrant clothes, dances and of course, rodeos of huaso culture. Beyond colonial stereotypes, Chilean huasos and huasas are a strong community of skilled horse riders and cattle ranchers.
- Chilean Textiles & Art - The classic poncho (chamanto, which is reversible) + chupalla (straw hat) combo cannot be missed, especially when touring Chile’s more remote towns. To support local and indigenous artisans, talk to your guide about purchasing Mapuche & Chilean textiles and jewelry.
- Chilean Dance Dreams- have you ever danced la cueca? If this is your first time hearing about Chile's pulsating national dance, get ready for some hand clapping, handkerchief waving fun as this cat and mouse style courtship dance is simple to follow yet hard to master. Curious to see what it looks like? Check out this cueca performance.
Mari Mari Chile! What To Expect In The Longest Country
I can sense your excitement through the screen, and you should be excited! Chile is a land of magical experiences and life-changing adventure. So let’s make sure that travel high continues with some practical tips about Chilean life.
Transport Talk : Getting Around Chile’s Terrain
Depending on where you are, getting around Chile can either be a beautiful breeze, or a big headache. These are the most popular transportation methods in the country, and I’ve added some pointers to make your transit a bit simpler in the land of volcanoes.
- Metro: The Santiago metro rapid rail is the most common means of transport, with 83% of people using it weekly. There isn’t much train infrastructure beyond Santiago though, so speed will be compromised if you plan to travel farther.
- Bus: Next is the bus with 34% of Chileans stating that they use this, especially for wider travel outside of Santiago. Long distance buses can carry you from the capital to the Atacama region and beyond.
- Private Car/Motorbike: 28% of Chileans rely on private vehicles like cars or motorbikes to traverse the country. If you’re planning on traveling longer distances, or want to visit remote areas and make as many pit stops as you need, a private car is a great option.
- Walking & Bicycling: When possible, 27% of Chileans prefer using their natural transportation a.k.a walking, while 12% love cycling.
- Taxis & Ubers: Ubers and taxis operate mostly in Chile’s metro areas, with 11% of Chileans opting for the service.
Travel Tip: Though metro areas like Santiago and Valparaiso have advanced and modern forms of transport, many towns in the north and south still lack transportation infrastructure beyond the long distance buses which can stretch your transit time by up to 40 hours. It’s best to check area accessibility with your local guide.
Travel Q&A: Is English widely spoken in Chile?
Though it’s more popular in metro areas like Santiago, English is still only spoken by around 10% of the Chilean population, so it’s always best to ask first, learn some Spanish phrases, or get some language help from a local Spanish speaking guide.
When To Go: Chile’s Multi-Seasonal Marvels
When I say Chile is a planet within a country, I’m not exaggerating. By having one of the largest coastlines in the world, Chile covers several sub-climates, so you could be fishing for sunscreen in one town, or rushing to put on thermal gear in another.
Despite its varying climates, Chile is the ideal travel spot all year round, so here’s how to tackle the nation’s regions and its many climatic faces, no matter the season.
Northern Chile: Dry Deserts & Arid Land
Arica, Parinacota, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo
Welcome to the driest place on earth, where some parts haven’t seen rain since humans started recording rainfall! Overall, the Atacama region has an average temperature of 24°C (75°F) but at night, temperatures drop to as low as 4°C (39°F). The Atacama is as dry as it gets, so if you're planning to visit Toconao, or Cellar de Atacama, carry a lot of sunscreen and stay hydrated.
Central Chile: Mild & Mediterranean
Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Quilpué, Villa Alemana, Quillota, Puente Alto, San Antonio, Melipilla
Central Chile follows a laid back, cool Mediterranean climate, with warm summers, and cool, wet winters. Santiago’s summer highs fall between 20°C (68°F) with January being the hottest month where averages of 20.5°C (69°F) are sure to keep you toasty. For cooler temperatures, travel during the winter months (June through August) where daily averages dance around 9°C (48°F).
Southern Chile: Chilly & Cold
Temuco, Valdivia, La Unión, Rio Bueno. Osorno, Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt.
When you’re traveling through Southern Chile, be prepared for anything! Temperatures here follow an oceanic climate, with some regions experiencing a sub-polar climate thanks to the Andes Mountains. Temperatures here dance around 17°C (62°F) for the summer, with winter months dipping to 7°C (45°F). As one of the closest points to the Antarctic, expect a lot of snowfall and rain from April to September.
What To Do & What Not To Do: The Chile Edition
Okay, so you want to savor completos & soak in the warm waves of Easter island, but you don’t want to offend your local guide or make hurtful historical comments, right? These cultural etiquette tips should help you out.
Travel Tip: Learn more about the Leave No Trace method when exploring natural habitats and landscapes.
Staying Safe: The Chile Edition
Okay, now that you’ve got an idea of what your Chile journey will look like, it’s time to get down to brass, or should I say copper tacks about Chile’s safety. On the positive side, according to the Global Safety Index, Chile is the second safest country in South America, after Uruguay.
Chile has achieved a high standard of living as South America’s wealthiest nation, but there are still some safety concerns to keep in mind. Suggestions from the US State department and UK Government should be taken into consideration.
- Civil unrest in metro areas (Santiago, Valparaiso) and in the Araucania region.
- Increased rates of robberies, pick-pocketing and purse/bag snatching in Santiago should be watched out for.
- Due to increased activism and citizen outcry that was re-ignited in 2019, it’s best to keep from large political gatherings and avoid political scenes. Keep an eye on your belongings and don’t leave suitcases, bags, phones and passports unattended. By exercising the same precautions you would while traveling anywhere else, you'll enjoy Chile without any major incidents.
Natural Safety Note: Chile’s Earthquakes & Volcanoes
Since Chile is part of the highly volatile Ring of Fire, the country experiences several earthquakes and has several active volcanoes. Chileans are used to earthquakes, so there are several “what to do” instructions in hotels, business establishments and offices, but to ensure your safety, follow the guidelines from the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service.
With a strong introduction to safety, etiquette, culture and terrain behind you, it’s time to take on Chile with the confidence of a straw hat wearing huaso going head to head with some rowdy cattle! Still feel like you might need some guidance? No worries.
That’s where we come in. By touring Chile with a local private guide, you get to see the nation through a rare perspective. With an instant connection to those who experience Chile’s day to day ups and downs, you'll be able to grasp the authentic nation for what it is. A magical, mysterious, multi-layered gem.
Ready to start your journey? Chat with one of our Chile tour guides today.