Chile is only 175km wide but stretches for over 4000km along the west coast of South America, overlooking the South Pacific and bordered by Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
It has a share of Southern Patagonia, and Rapa Nui is just one offshore legend. Beautiful beaches in the central region are within an hour or two of the capital Santiago. But it’s the wilds of Chile’s deserts, mountains and immense national parks you really want to experience on a family holiday and they work best for older kids and teenagers.
British Airways is the only UK carrier to fly direct to Santiago. Flights from London to Heathrow take 14 hours 35 minutes.
Punta Arenas in Patagonia has warm and sunny weather for beach holidays from November to March.
El Grand Norte is best in Chile’s summer months from December to April.
Santiago and the central coast are good all year round, best for skiing in the Andes is June and July.
Chile has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Sewell Mining Village and Valparaiso’s historic quarter.
Chile has 36 National Parks covering over 9 million hectares, the most famous is Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the most accessible is La Campana, just an hour east of Valparaiso.
The country’s coastline is almost 6500km long with surf beaches in the north, balmy resort beaches in the central region and wildest shores in Southern Patagonia.
Instantly recognisable by its spine of snow capped Andean peaks Santiago’s an energetic, modern city with good museums and galleries and some spectacular colonial architecture. It’s also an international food icon, with local restaurants placing high on the World’s Top 100 Best list over the past five years.
Chile’s most interesting and idiosyncratic city, Valparaiso is dazzlingly colourful and jumbled, cluttered with history and quaint barrio, always busy and unmissable. If you want uncrowded beaches, choose to stay in one of the seaside resorts to the south.
Chile’s northern territories border Peru and cover almost 25% of the country’s immense length. The Atacama Desert’s here and it’s home to the city of Iquique, and Arica where the oldest mummified human remains have been excavated. Some of earth’s darkest skies are in this part of Chile and it’s the heartland of Astro-tourism and extreme outdoor adventuring.
Everyone’s seen images of the monolithic Moai on Easter Island, but the ancestral homeland of the Rapa Nui isn’t an archaeological curiosity. The living Polynesian culture here is among the richest and most fascinating in the South Pacific, the islanders involve visitors warmly in their customs, festivals and traditions. The island itself is unimaginably lovely and being here with older kids can truly be described as a once in a lifetime experience.
Take tours, drive or fly to get about a country that’s 4300km long, includes Easter Island and has Southern Patagonia for good measure. If you’re travelling with older kids, Chile is one of the world’s greatest road trips and it’s not unusual for families with older kids or teens to hire an RV to explore even one of the regions in depth. Self-drive is doable round beach resorts and many of the national parks. Just beware of the weather conditions at all times, keep the size of the country front of mind, plan everything in detail and book places to stay in advance.