Much of Chile is covered with mountains and snow. The deserts in the north are warm in the day and cool in the night. The centre of the country has a more Mediterranean climate, with rains from May to August. The south is very cold, especially in the winter, and rainy.
Getting around Chile
Domestic flights are available throughout the country with airline LAN. If you’re planning on making lots of flights, consider getting the LAN “Visit South America Air Pass” which will give discounted tickets within Chile and also to Peru and Ecuador. There are other regional airlines flying to different destinations.
The bus system in Chile is very good. The network covers much of the country and service is cheap and efficient. In comparison, trains are poor; many lines are used only for freight.
Chile insider information
- Santiago, the country’s capital is a bustling metropolis. With the snow-topped Andes as a backdrop, the city can serve as a starting point to a skiing holiday in the mountains. However, there is also much to see in the city itself. The square in the middle of the city, Plaza de Armas is a good place to start a sightseeing tour. Almost all tourists find their way to the lively plaza, which contains many artists and their painters and is surrounded by popular tourist destinations such as the National Museum and the 18th-century cathedral.
- Easter Island, located off the Chilean coast, is a popular destination in its own right, and definitely worth visiting when traveling in Chile. The symbol of the islands is its huge stone heads, called moai. There are lots of different spots to see the moai. For 15 lined up together, with a backdrop of the sea, head to Ahu Tongariki.
- Pucon is a popular tourist spot for its lake and volcano. There are also innumerable sports to take part in from horse riding to water-skiing. For a more relaxed time you could just spend the day at one of the beaches around Lake Villarrica. The sand on these beaches is black, formed from old lava flow from the volcano. The beaches are well-developed, with bars, restaurants and places to change.
- A UNESCO World Heritage site, Valparaiso has been named the country’s “cultural capital” and after a few days in the city it’s not hard to see why. Overlooking the bay is one of the most popular cultural buildings, the house and gardens of poet Pablo Neruda’s, open Tuesday to Sunday. First opened to the public in 1992, the house has been restored to its condition when Neruda lived and worked in it.
- Sampling the local cuisine is a must. Try empanadas, turnovers filled with meat or cheese, seafood, especially from coastal towns and asados, barbecued meat.