Planning Your Chile Itinerary from 10 Days to 1 Month!

San Pedro de Atacama

Nestled on the southwestern edge of South America, long and skinny Chile beckons travelers with its striking geography, vibrant cities, and abundant national parks. However, it is this geography that can make planning your Chile itinerary a little daunting!

Whether you’re drawn to the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert, the dramatic peaks of Patagonia, the fun energy of Santiago and Valparaíso, or a wine tour along the famed Maipo Valley, Chile is one of the best places in South America for both adventure and relaxation. 

Below, we’ll introduce you to this fabulous country with our favorite Chile itineraries and tips. We’ll share how we planned our visit – so you can too!

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Amazing Chile Itineraries 

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🏔️ A Note About Patagonia… 

Please note that for this guide, we won’t be focusing on Patagonia in the two shortest itineraries. This is not because we don’t recommend Patagonia – the opposite, in fact! 

The Patagonia region is a highlight of Chile, well worth its own trip. As such, it has its own planning and decision-making process. But never fear – at South America Backpacker we’ve covered Patagonia extensively, and encourage you to check out our existing Patagonia itineraries to discover this stunning region! 

Here are a few great places to start:
3 Epic Patagonia Itineraries
Iconic Hikes in Patagonia
Best Time To Visit Patagonia
Patagonia Packing List

A Day Hike to Cerro Castillo Laguna, Chilean Patagonia
Patagonia is one of Chile’s highlights.

10-Day Chile Itinerary – ‘The Hiking Highlights’

Day 1-4: Atacama Desert (San Pedro de Atacama)

Recommended Accommodation: Anka Hostel

No trip to Chile is complete without a visit to the beguiling Atacama Desert. It may be best known as the driest place on Earth, but we found it one of the most swoon-worthy! 

You can fly there from Santiago with budget airlines like Sky for fairly reasonable rates, and once you land in Calama, the main hub of San Pedro de Atacama is about an hour and a half from the airport by shuttle bus. 

While there, don’t miss:

  • Walking around the cute adobe town of San Pedro, checking out shopping on Caracoles Street, and acclimatizing to the altitude. It’s very small, but charming, and will serve as your ‘HQ’ while you’re here. 
  • Exploring the Altiplanic Lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques, usually done in coordination with the Chaxa Lagoon and Atacama Salt Flats on a guided tour from a local company like Denomades. There are tons of companies running similar treks, so just pick one with good reviews. Most tours also stop at the Tropic of Capricorn, the latitude furthest south on Earth (the sun will be directly overhead at noon, very cool!)
  • Hike through Death Valley and Moon Valley – a must in the Atacama and our favorite day while we were here! Located in the Cordillera del Sal (Salt Mountains), you won’t believe the vistas of the landscapes you’ll get on these treks, also doable by mountain bike or as a morning and afternoon combo. As you trek across the Moon Valley, you’ll stop at a variety of natural salt formations, including Tres Marías, the Cañón, the Amphitheater, and the Coyote Stone. Be sure to book this in the afternoon to see the sunset, and note that you can’t access Moon Valley by bike in the afternoons (only tour groups allowed). Death Valley is known for its towering sand dunes and unique geological features. If you’re seeking something more challenging, consider ascending the dunes for panoramic views.
  • Trek up to the El Tatio Geyser. We recommend leaving this one for last because it takes you up to 4,200 meters above sea level into the Altiplano, which can lead to some queasiness even if you’re fully adjusted to the altitude. The wind is really strong here, so be sure to bring layers and sunscreen for the high altitude.
Moon Valley from road
The Atacama Desert is a must on any Chile itinerary!

Day 5-8: The Lake District (Pucón and Villarrica)

Recommended Accommodation: Hostal Graciela

Chile’s Lake District is a picturesque area known for its gorgeous lakes, lush forests, and breathtaking volcanoes. This region offers fantastic opportunities for hiking and outdoor exploration – between here, Patagonia, and Atacama, you’re unbelievably spoiled for choice. 

Note that some trails may require permits, so be sure to inquire about any necessary permissions prior to your visit.

While planning your visit, choose a few national parks to check out:

  • Villarrica National Park. This park has three volcanoes: Villarrica, Quetrupillán, and Lanín, and you can hike to Villarrica, which is an active volcano and a very popular choice. While considered quite challenging, this hike rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding Andes and nearby lakes. If this is a bit too tough, consider the Sierra Nevada trail for a less challenging but equally rewarding hiking experience, meandering through native forests and showcasing the region’s diverse flora and fauna.
  • Huerquehue National Park. The Los Lagos Trail is renowned for the views of its ancient Araucaria trees and its pristine alpine lakes, including Laguna Verde and Laguna Arco Iris, surrounded by lush forests and stunning views of the Andes. For a more challenging option, consider the San Sebastián trail, which leads to the San Sebastián Mirador with panoramic views of the Huerquehue Valley.
  • Alerce Andino National Park. This national park is known for its ancient Alerce trees, one of the few places in the world where you can see them, as well as over 50 lakes and ponds. The Alerce Costero trail is the best way to see these super cool trees and experience the coastal rainforest environment. Note that there is also an Alerce National Park in Argentina.
  • Puyehue National Park. Boasting 220,000 acres of naturally occurring thermal springs, volcanoes, and native evergreen forests, the Antillanca to Casablanca trail is a great way to explore this terrain. 
A snowy mountain seen over wooden houses and a forest, Pucón, Chile
Pucón town is overlooked by the snow-capped Villarrica volcano.

Day 9-10: La Campana National Park

Recommended Accommodation: NovAqua Bed and Breakfast

La Campana National Park, located in the Valparaíso region of central Chile, is known for its diverse ecosystems, unique flora, and the iconic Cerro La Campana. 

You can hike to the summit of Cerro La Campana for breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. Called la campana for its distinct bell-like shape, you’ll encounter a variety of ecosystems as you ascend, with Mediterranean scrubland along the lower slopes and Chilean Wine Palms and other unique plant species higher up. Birdwatching fans may even spot the Chilean mockingbird and the Andean condor (if they’re lucky)! The Andinista Trail is the most popular way to ascend.

If you have more time, there are a few other great trails to check out:

  • Circuito Los Robles: An easier trek through the Cajón Grande sector of the park, a lesser-known but really beautiful area. 
  • Salto la Cortadera: A moderate day hike to a 40-meter waterfall. 


  • Pack sturdy hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, and essential gear for both desert and mountainous terrains. The weather can change fast, so it’s good to have layers (including a rain layer) and download any trail maps before setting out. 
  • Acclimatize gradually and carefully to high altitudes, especially in the Atacama Desert.
  • In the Lake District, consider guided tours for more challenging hikes, ensuring safety in diverse landscapes. Also, be sure to check out the fresh seafood in this region! 
  • Monitor volcano conditions to ensure your safety before attempting any summit hikes. 

“We really recommend doing any volcano summits with a guide – some treks even require them. Be sure to do your research and prioritize staying safe.”

Tegan and Alex, Writers at South America Backpacker

2 Week Itinerary – ‘The Bucket-Lister’

Day 1-3: Santiago

Recommended Accommodation: Terraza Santa Lucia Suites

Santiago is a world-class city and it’s well worth spending several days exploring. Located in Chile’s Maipo Valley, it’s surrounded by the gorgeous Andes Mountains and is a great place to start your trip.

Santiago street art
Don’t miss the country’s capital, Santiago de Chile.

While in Santiago, you can’t miss:

  • Palacio de la Moneda, the seat of the Chilean presidency. You can take a guided tour to learn about the country’s fascinating and turbulent political history.
  • Nearby, Plaza de Armas is the main square and historic center of the city. Admire the architecture of landmarks like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the fountain of Simon Bolivar, the Central Post Office, and other historic buildings in the vicinity. The Museo Histórico Nacional, located in the Royal Court Palace (what used to be the seat of government), and the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino are also nearby.
  • Less than a 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas is the Mercado Central, Santiago’s big seafood market. It’s a bit touristy/pricey but worth a quick peek. 
  • Another quick walk from Mercado Central is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Parque Forestal, a beautiful urban park lined with trees, statues, and walking paths. The museum is located in a grandiose and very romantic building and is free to enter. After, check out the trendy area of Lastarria, known for its bohemian atmosphere and boutique shopping. You can also visit the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral) for art exhibitions, theater performances, and live music nearby.
  • Nearby Cerro Santa Lucia is a lovely park situated approximately where Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago in the 1500s. As you summit the hill, be sure not to miss the Fuente Neptuno fountain at the entrance and the Castillo Hidalgo, which was built in the 1800s to protect the city from invasion. We really enjoyed watching the sunset from the top!
  • You can also take a funicular or hike to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, the city’s iconic hill. Boasting panoramic views of Santiago and the Andes Mountains from the summit, as well as a statue of the Virgin Mary and beautifully landscaped gardens.
  • For some outdoor time, head to Parque Metropolitano, the largest urban park in Santiago. It’s packed with outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or simply enjoying the green surroundings with a picnic!
  • Don’t miss Pablo Neruda’s former residence, La Chascona, which is now turned into a museum dedicated to the famous poet. Note that the staff are very protective of the house, and there are certain places you aren’t allowed to take photos. One of the highlights is the attached bookstore, packed with Neruda’s works translated into different languages and special editions. 

“This was our favorite thing that we did in Santiago. Be sure to arrive here early, as tickets are first-come-first-serve, and tune into the included audio tour, it’s fantastic!”

Tegan and Alex, Writers at South America Backpacker

Day 4-6: Maipo Valley Vineyards

Recommended Accommodation:  Casa Origen

Maipo Valley is one of Chile’s most renowned wine regions. Luckily, it’s located just outside Santiago! Visiting the vineyards in Maipo Valley is certainly a highlight for wine enthusiasts, but the picturesque landscapes, photogenic wineries, and, of course, yummy wine tastings have something for everyone. 

Many vineyards are situated in the towns of Pirque and Maipo, so you can drive, take a guided tour, or use public transportation from Santiago to get there. This also makes it easy to get back to Santiago to hop on the bus for the next leg of your trip to Valpo. 

Factory at Tacama Winery - Full Day Ica Tour
Wine enthusiasts can enjoy a tour and a tipple at one of Chile’s wineries.

While in the Maipo Valley, you have several options for how to structure your time:

  • Go on a guided tour of several wineries, or pick a few to visit in detail. Some notable vineyards in the area include Concha y Toro, Santa Rita, and Cousiño Macul. 

“We visited Concha y Toro and had an absolute blast there. The tour is really in-depth, and you learn quite a bit about each type of wine they make there, as well as the history of the vineyard and a delicious tasting. You get to keep the glass too, which is a nice souvenir.”

Tegan and Alex, Writers at South America Backpacker
  • In general, check the offerings of each vineyard to pick the best choice for you. For example, some focus on the region’s classic Cabernet Sauvignon (the most common wine produced here), while others may specialize in blends or other varietals. Consider booking a lunch reservation for a gastronomic experience paired with the wines you’re sampling.
  • Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, don’t forget to check the seasonal activities and events going on at the vineyards! Some host harvest festivals, grape stomping activities, and more during certain times of the year. 

Day 7-9: Valparaíso

Recommended Accommodation: Hotel Winebox Valparaíso

It’s an easy bus ride from Santiago to Valparaíso, Chile’s bohemian street art capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tickets are very inexpensive (less than $5USD each way) and depart every 20 minutes or so either at the Pajaritos Metro station or the central station, Terminal Alameda.

Once in Valparaíso (or Valpo, as locals call it), the bus terminal is very close to the Plaza Sotomayor, one of Valpo’s busiest squares. Don’t let the hubbub distract you from the architecture around here, especially the Iglesia de la Matriz and Edificio Armada de Chile

Also, note that the easiest way to get around the city is to walk, but the many, many up-and-down hills can get a bit tiresome after a while! We recommend being on the lookout for funiculars and elevators like the Ascensor Reina Victoria, which was built in the early 1900s, and use it as the streetcar or bus system. 

Keep in mind that the city has the ill-fame of being a hub for pickpockets, particularly on the funicular. Be sure to keep a firm hand on your belongings and your wits about you to avoid becoming a target. 

Street art in Valparaiso
Check out the colorful street art in Valparaiso.

While in Valpo, be sure to:

  • Stroll through the city’s colorful streets and check out the murals at Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción. These two iconic hills are known for winding streets and staircases, as well as some of the world’s most famous street art. The Open-Air Museum of Valparaíso is an outdoor gallery showcasing murals created by local and international artists, also worth a visit.
  • Go up and down the funiculars and elevators. Much more than just a simple mode of transportation, these are a super fun way to explore the city and we loved their vintage feel. Ascensor Concepción and Ascensor Artillería offer panoramic views of the city and the harbor.
  • Visit Pablo Neruda’s Valparaíso home, La Sebastiana. The quirky architecture and eclectic collections are sure to intrigue you, and it’s worth visiting both La Sebastiana and La Chascona (in our opinion!) 

Day 10-14: Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Recommended Accommodation: Cabañas Maria Hau

As this is the ‘Bucket Lister’ itinerary, we can’t miss Rapa Nui, the remote and mysterious island located in the Pacific Ocean. However, we’d also be remiss not to mention that it’s a five-hour flight to get there, which may not be doable time-wise or financially. 

It’s good to know that flights to the island can be limited and the demand is often high during peak travel times. Tourists usually need a Special Stay Permit (Tarjeta de Residencia), so if this is somewhere you’d like to visit, book everything well in advance.

Now that the administrative considerations have been mentioned, here are the fun ones. Known for its monumental stone statues called Moai, Easter Island offers a unique blend of Polynesian culture, archaeological wonders, and cool landscapes to enjoy. Here’s what you can’t miss while there:

  • As mentioned, the Moai statues are the main attraction. Visit the Ahu Tongariki, where 15 Moai stand against a breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Try to time a visit with the sunrise. You can also see Moai at Ahu Akivi, a unique site where seven Moai face the ocean. According to local lore, these Moai represent the seven explorers sent forth by King Hotu Matu’a to explore the island.
  • Visit the Rano Raraku, the quarry where the Moai were carved. It’s an archaeological site with unfinished statues scattered around, providing a glimpse into the island’s sculptural history.
  • Relax at Anakena Beach, a beautiful white-sand beach with palm trees and Moai overlooking the shore, where you can snorkel or dive in crystal-clear waters.
  • Hike up to the Rano Kau volcano, an extinct volcano with a beautiful crater lake and panoramic views of the island.
  • If you’re visiting in February, don’t miss the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival! This two-week celebration of Polynesian culture is the best way to learn about the island’s culture and traditions. 
The mesmerizing Moai statues of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

📅 Good to Know!

It’s a good general tip to check out local events and festivals happening during your visit to Chile year-round! You never know what cultural experiences are around the corner!

1-Month Itinerary – ‘The Local Expert’

And if you really want to get to know Chile, this one-month itinerary will have you walking and talking like a local in no time!

Day 1-5: Santiago

Recommended Accommodation: Terraza Santa Lucia Suites

  • Explore neighborhoods like Bellavista and Lastarria, visiting cultural landmarks such as Pablo Neruda’s house La Chascona, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Take a day trip to the nearby Cajón del Maipo for stunning landscapes and/or visit local wineries like Concha y Toro. 
Cajón del Maipo makes a great day trip from Santiago.

Day 6-9: Valparaíso

Recommended Accommodation: Hotel Winebox Valparaíso

  • Discover the vibrant street art of Valparaíso, particularly at the hills of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción

Day 10-16: La Serena and Elqui Valley

Recommended Accommodation: Tu Jardín Secreto 

Next, fly to La Serena. La Florida Airport is about a one-hour flight from Santiago or an eight(ish) hour bus ride.

  • While in La Serena, don’t miss Cerro La Virgen, which offers a relatively easy hike with rewarding views of the city, the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding hills.
  • Accessible by boat from La Serena, check out the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. Here, you’ll see diverse marine life, including penguins, sea lions, and various seabirds.
  • The Elqui Valley is known for its vineyards and stargazing – what a combo! You can hike from Pisco Elqui to Montegrande, the birthplace of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, with scenic views of the Elqui River and the surrounding vineyards, or trek up Cerro Mamalluca, home to the Mamalluca Observatory. The trail provides beautiful views of the valley during the day and amazing stargazing opportunities at night.

Day 16-20: Atacama

Recommended Accommodation: Anka Hostel

  • Swoon over the vistas of the Moon Valley and its surroundings.
  • Check out the Altiplanic Lagoons and the vast salt flats.
  • Marvel at the almost 80 geysers in the vicinity of the El Tatio geyser and catch some rays at the Tropic of Capricorn

Day 21-25: Pucón

Recommended Accommodation: Hostal Graciela

  • Hike the trails in Villarrica National Park with views of Villarrica Volcano.
  • Relax in natural hot springs like Termas Geometricas, which boasts 20 thermal baths!

Day 26-30: Torres del Paine

Recommended Accommodation: Konkashken Lodge 

Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia offers jaw-dropping scenery.

No trip around Chile is complete without a visit to otherworldly Patagonia. It’s pretty easy to fly to Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales from Santiago. However, connections are less frequent in the wintertime and overall the Chilean side is a bit less accessible/touristic than the Argentine side. Note that Punta Arenas is a larger city with more flight options, while Puerto Natales is closer to Torres del Paine – this could impact your trip planning.

While there, hiking the iconic trails in Torres del Paine National Park is the best way to see the region. From the W Trek or O Circuit to the Mirador Las Torres or Glacier Grey, the possibilities are endless!

Planning a Trip to Chile

To make the most of your trip to Chile, we really recommend keeping a few elements in mind while you plan. This will help you stay safe, plan the best route, and ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip once you arrive.

  • Time of year – Chile’s diverse geography means that the weather can vary significantly depending on the region. Generally, the best time to visit is spring (September to November) and fall (March to May) when the weather is mild, and outdoor activities are easily available. Summer (December to February), while boasting super nice weather, also attracts more tourists, but is the best time for hiking and swimming. Winter (June to August) is stunning in its own way, and ideal for skiing in the southern regions. 

“We’ve visited Chile in the wintertime and had a blast, especially as many of the big tourist attractions had far fewer tourists”

Tegan and Alex, Writers at South America Backpacker 
  • Advance booking – Booking ahead is always advisable, especially during peak seasons when accommodations and popular attractions may fill up quickly, but also during shoulder or off-season, when activities may have more closure or less availability. 
  • Transport – Chile has a well-developed transportation system, from domestic flights on budget airlines like Sky to a well-connected network of buses spanning the impressive length of the country. While flying is often easiest, buses are a popular and cost-effective way to travel between cities and definitely something to consider if you have the time. For exploring the more remote areas, renting a car can provide flexibility and access to off-the-beaten-path destinations, but incurs an associated cost. If you’d still like to do some exploring that doesn’t involve a car rental, consider checking out day trips or day hikes. Hitchhiking is generally not the safest option and is not recommended.
  • Money and currency – The overall cost of your trip will vary widely depending on factors like your accommodation standards, dining preferences, and what activities you choose. On average, a mid-range budget should cover accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities, though there are certainly ways to do it shoestring-style or splash out on more upscale activities. 

Know Before You Go! 

Chile’s currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP), and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country. Despite this, it’s advisable to carry cash as a backup. It is also good to have smaller change for tips. 

  • Risks/Dangers/Scams – Scams are relatively uncommon in Chile, but it’s critical to stay vigilant, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Be sure to use reputable tour operators, avoid sharing personal information with strangers, and keep a firm hand on your belongings. As with many other places, it’s best not to be too flashy in terms of jewelry, clothing, cameras, or other belongings while out and about. 
  • Health considerations – Note that altitude sickness is definitely something to keep in mind while visiting high-altitude areas like San Pedro de Atacama. It’s critical to acclimatize gradually and properly over a few days, so be sure to take it easy when you first arrive to avoid getting sick. Tap water in Chile is generally safe in urban areas, but bottled water is often recommended – ask your accommodation if you’re feeling unsure about this. 
Lake in San Pedro Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama is 2,450m above sea level!

Chile is a fabulous choice for travelers, and we had an absolute blast there. From the stunning arid landscapes of the Atacama to the rugged allure of Patagonia, you’ll be spoiled for choice for natural wonders, and the ease of access and convenient transportation linkages put the trip of your dreams well within your grasp. 

We hope these Chile itineraries are helpful in your trip planning – but as always, let us know in the comments if there’s anything you would add or if you have any questions!

Tegan & Alex Bio Pic
Tegan George & Alex McKenzie | Why Not Walk

Tegan and Alex are travel, hiking, and biking enthusiasts currently based in Boston, USA. There is nothing they love more than exploring new places by walking, and they have visited over 30 countries together since they met in 2015. Their love for “walking the world” led them to found Why Not Walk, a travel guide site. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to start planning your next adventure!

Find them on: Facebook | Instagram

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