Suggestions for 3 week Chile itinerary

Jul 19th, 2019, 02:05 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Suggestions for 3 week Chile itinerary

Hi Fodorites! Looking forward to getting your varied opinions and suggestions. We have 23 nights in Chile (arriving Santiago early morning Dec 26th and departing Santiago Jan 18th). Due to winter weather and possible delays where we are departing from (Nova Scotia, Canada) we prefer to spend a few nights at our first stop (Santiago) before heading anywhere.

2 years ago we spent three weeks in Argentina (northern area mostly) and this trip we would prefer to focus not on the Patagonia, T del P, and far Southern areas of Chile, as we have not too distant future plans to focus solely on this area of both Chile and Argentina. This is our third visit to SA and are comfortable getting a rental car and travelling independently, as well as taking public buses (ideally not overnight) and domestic flights.

Not sure exactly where to focus our time, but would like to explore Santiago, Valparaiso (is 3 nights here “too much”), the wine region, the north (including San Pedro de Atacama), as well as possibly as far south as Puerto Montt. We are certainly OK with only a 1 or 2 night stay in some spots, but would also like a few days to settle and get to know a couple areas.

We are currently researching the areas and what they offer, but in case anyone wishes to provide suggestions, we love archaeological areas, smallish towns/villages, great food, great wine, not huge fans of relaxing on beaches (except maybe an hour or two, for the entire trip).

I’m finding it a challenge, due to Chile’s geography, to map out a nice easy loop without backtracking. Any suggestions for a 3 week itinerary for the central and north would be truly appreciated!

Jenn (PS - I am a long time Fodor member (even have lounge access but had many issues logging in to actually post, so had to create a new profile, sadly.).
jennlovinglife is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 09:33 AM
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I think you may struggle to find a loop without backtracking. We have generally travelled through the country en route to either Peru or Argentina. I would probably look at flying back from somewhere to Santiago.

In the north we really enjoyed our time in Valaparaiso and spend 3-4 days there which we felt was about right but that did include a side trip out of the city to do some horse riding . It is a few years ago now but there are some photos and detail on our blog @

We spent a few days in San Pedro de Atacama en route from NW Argentina. A pleasant if expensive town with loads to see and do , although we did skip most of it as we had already spent a lot of time on the Bolivian altiplano and Uyuni (you could consider a tour there from San Pedro and flying back to Santiago via La Paz. See the Bolivia.section of our blog for photos of our time there. It really is a unique and totally stunning region.

Elsewhere in the north we quite enjoyed our time in Iquique and Arica but these were mainly just pleasant towns on the way to somewhere else rather than destination in themselves.

In the south we didn’t make it as far south as Puerto Montt but only as far as Pucon which was a wonderfully scenic area and maybe well worth including in your plans if you go that way
crellston is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 09:42 AM
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1, You will be visiting during high season. Although Chileans tend to holiday in February, there is a large influx of Argentine and Brazilian citizens in January. So try to set your itinerary and then book lodging and flights.

2. Personally I think 3 nights in Valparaiso is too much. I think 1-2 is plenty.But if you want to see the fireworks on NYE in Valparaiso most lodgings do a three day minimum stay and prices skyrocket. If you are interested in this, decide and book soon. You can go and return by bus or go with a driver if you want to stop in Casablanca. A car in Valpo is a lot of headaches. About 4 bus companies and buses every 15 mins or so. Just do not try to get a bus on the 30th, 31st of December or the 1st of January. Bus seats will sell out a month beforehand.

3. For San Pedro de Atacama you need to fly to Calama and take the Transvip shuttle to San Pedro from the airport. There are low cost fares (Latam, Sky, Jetsmart) but do read terms re luggage allowance carefully. The sooner you book, the lower the price. Use the Chile version of the website to book. A bit tricky to use but the cheapest flights are there.

4. There is not one wine region but several. Casablanca can be combined with Valparaiso.Note that whoever is driving cannot do tastings so this is best done with a driver and car. Return to Santiago by bus. Another major wine valley is Colchagua. Excellent wines and plenty to explore in the area. This area is classic Central Chile. The Maule region further south is also fun to explore. If you google Maule tourism you should find something.

5. For the south, you can drive, take a luxury bus overnight or fly into a destination and hire a car to explore once there. I think the last option is best, although if you work your way down via the wine regions I posted about then you could drive the whole way. . To plan you need a map. You are roughly interested in the area between Temuco and Puerto Montt. Virtually anywhere on the map between those places will be worth visiting. Pucon offers the most activities , including the most hot springs, followed by Puerto Varas. Puerto Montt is just a big city 20 mins from PV. From either you can bus to the island of Chiloe, really more than one island, and a car is handy as transport is difficult otherwise. Rolling hills, penguins ancient wooden churches - plenty to explore, including one of the smaller islands.

That should keep you busy doing some research and plotting the number of days in each place. I agree that Patagonia as a separate trip is best.
Huentetu is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 09:52 AM
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Just a couple of comments. We agree that 1 or 2 nights in! Valpo is plenty (and we really enjoyed our visit). We did drive from Santiago airport. Driving TO Valpo is easy Driving IN Valpo not so-much!

Second, uf you decide to fly back to SCL to fly home, know that the Holiday Inn at the airport is as convenient as it gets. You can even take a luggage trolley from the terminal to tell hotel (andtbe bellhop will return it for you)

Lastly, we took the luxury bus fro Santiago to Mendoza. The luxury-bus is incredible. If coach airplane seats were that-comfortable nooner would complain!
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 01:33 PM
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So grateful for everyone's comments! We spent a couple hours today (avoiding the rare heat wave here!) and nailed down a better itinerary, thanks to your helpful advice! We will soon book our domestic flights (there will be two at this point) and are arranging accommodations. Agree that 2 nights is probably good for Valpo, at least for now - we will add that night to somewhere between San Pedro de Atacama and Antofagasta. Cheers! Jenn
jennlovinglife is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 08:04 AM
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We went as far north as Zapallar, a very town on the ocean. Reminded us of Santa Barbara in CA, though much smaller. We loved sfaying in Valpariso up in the hills at the lovely at Hotel Casa Higueras. Between Valpariso and Santiago, we visited the Casablanca Valley wine country. We enjoyed the lake country in tne south, stayed in Puerto Varas several nights after doing the Lakes Crossing from Bariloche, Argentina.
We flew into Buenas Aires, then Bariloche, Lake Crossing with an overnight in the National Park, Puerto Varas, flew to Santiago, rented a car and drove north to Valparaiso, then Zapallar, finishing in Santiago for a wedding. Flew home from Santiago. We live in the desert so had no interest in
Atacama..We spent three weeks in Chile and Argentina on this
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Aug 4th, 2019, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2014
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3 nights in Valpo will be fine, not sure if you have decided where to stay but anything left of the Port (whilst facing the Sea should be avoided) read my report on Chile here. Make sure you have your Uber app installed. avoid taxis.
europefun is offline  
Aug 6th, 2019, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Just a heads up about Uber. It is operating illegally in Chile (not in a grey area as some state as the law doesn't work like that here) and an Uber ride can be stopped by police and the car impounded at any point. So if you are going to use it, only use it in urban areas where you are not likely to be stranded. Easy Taxi has an app and is legal. It uses normal, registered taxis so proper insurance and drivers with professional licences.
Huentetu is offline  
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