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Although a very new destination on the much visited circuit, the first thing that strikes potential visitors to Chile is the country's extraordinary offerings, unknown to the world for such a long time.

It stretches thousands of miles from one end to the other, from an arid, rain-starved desert in the north to the icy glaciers of the south. The beautiful Andes mountain range is rarely far from sight, defining the country's easterly border. The country's capital Santiago is a vast, often smoggy sprawl set between the Andes and a coastal mountain range. It has several museums and attractions that are well worth a visit with a vast choice of accommodation, restaurants and culture. One can also hike up towards the giant statue of the Virgin Mary atop Cerro San Cristobal for a spectacular panorama over Santiago's vast sprawl.

When holidaying here, let the uniquely arid landscape of the Atacama Desert sweep you away, with its broad, stark vistas of volcanoes, salt marshes and lakes and abandoned homes of the indigenous Aymara people. One can also get a glimpse of galaxies far away at one of several powerful observatories situated in Chile, which is famed for its lack of light pollution and clear skies. Collowara Observatory near La Serena is one of the most accessible to the public.

Witness giant icebergs from a glacier cruise, which follows a spectacular route through Chile's Inside Passage, the Beagle Channel and around Cape Horn. Passengers can disembark at various points en route, notably at Puerto Natales and on the Argentinean portion of Tierra del Fuego.

Visit La Serena that is bustling with attractive colonial architecture and restored churches. The town is also a good base to visit some of the region's attractive beaches and the beautiful, fertile Elqui Valley with its tranquil hamlets and sedate pace of life. If nature is your luring trait, then a visit to the Patagonia rainforests is sure to make it to your agenda. The famous Carmenere red wine is made in the vineyards of Concha y Toro, one of Chile's oldest and most renowned winemakers, just a short journey out from the metropolis of Santiago. Re-trace the footsteps of the real-life Robinson Crusoe in the little known Juan Fernandez Islands or climb up the iconic jagged peaks of Torres del Paine that offer some defining sights of the far south of Chile.

Such a rich natural setting provides Chile with a wealth of possibilities for fans of the great outdoors. From excellent skiing, through to trekking, horse riding and rafting adventure sport opportunities, the country is increasingly on the radar of adrenaline junkies.

Quick Facts

Location: West coast of South America

Time: Mainland and Juan Fernández Islands: GMT – 4 . Easter Island: GMT - 6

Capital: Santiago

Visa: Pre-departure visas required for some nationalities. 

Language: Spanish (official), Mapudungu (the language of the Mapuche), Rapanui (Easter Island) and Aymara.


The climate ranges from hot and arid in the north to very cold in the far south. The central areas including Santiago have an often idyllic Mediterranean climate with a colder, wetter season (May to August). Much of the south, from Region VII down has a very high annual rainfall.


The currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso