Chile is a slender ribbon of land flanked by the South Pacific Ocean to the west, and surrounded by Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The country is a mystifying amalgam of extraordinarily diverse scenery, vibrant cultures, and exciting cities. From the fjords and glaciers of Patagonia and Antarctica to the driest desert in the world at Atacama, volcanoes to tropical islands, Chile boasts nearly every landscape imaginable. One of the country’s defining characteristics is its warm culture, summarised in its motto of ‘buena onda’ (‘good vibes’). Rituals surrounding relaxation and connection - such as the ‘mate’ tea custom - are integral to Chilean culture, as well as a strong connection with food, music and dance. World-class cities like Santiago weave together 21st century global culture and time-honoured traditions, and provide everything from phenomenal restaurants and buzzing nightlife to gorgeous, trendy beaches. Wine lovers will also find worlds of taste to explore in the lush valleys of vineyards offering some of the best wine on earth.
Due to its long coastline, clearly Chile’s weather is extremely diverse and unpredictable although it is seasonal in much of the country. Summer runs from December to February, and winter from June to August.
It is difficult to pinpoint temperatures ranges for the country as a whole as they’re so variable. There’s the dry, arid Atacama desert in the north where temperatures reach a maximum of 32°C (90°F) and can drop to -2°C (28°F). Chile’s central region has a Mediterranean feel with a colder, wetter season (May to August), while it is usually cool and damp in the south. Easter Island has its own humid sub-tropical temperatures, while much of the south, from Region VII down has a very high annual rainfall.
Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the principal summer beach hubs in the north for local tourists, while Pucón in the south sees high tourism numbers from January to March. Due to its proximity to Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso beach areas see plenty of sunshine and beach bums during the summer, often filling up with neighbouring Argentinians. As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the ski season takes place between June and August.
In terms of visiting Patagonia and south, the summer months from December to March are ideal as it is warmer for trekking and other outdoor activities. November and April are quieter times in terms of tourism but the weather is less dependable. It isn’t advisable to visit the south from the end of autumn to the end of winter - May to September - as many trails close due to bad weather and strong winds and waterways ice over. However, places in the north, such as the Atacama, can be visited all year round.