Family Vacations to Chile

Arrow Discover more

Chile – Family Vacation Guide

Chile is long and narrow. It is only 100-miles wide, on average, and it stretches over 2,653 miles along the west coast of South America, overlooking the Pacific and bordered by Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. It has a share of Southern Patagonia, and the legendary Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is also part of this wildly diverse country. Beautiful beaches in the central region are within an hour or two of the capital of Santiago. But the wilds of Chile’s deserts, mountains and immense national parks are what you really want to experience on a family vacation, especially with older kids and teenagers.

Why Go

  • Rich Culture

    Chile is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Sewell Mining Village and Valparaiso’s historic quarter.

  • Stunning Landscapes

    The country’s coastline is 2,653 miles long, with surf beaches in the north, balmy resort beaches in the central region and wild shores in Southern Patagonia.

  • National Parks

    Chile has 36 national parks covering over 9 million hectares. The most famous is on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), and the most accessible is La Campana, just an hour east of Valparaiso.

  • Year-Round Appeal

    Santiago and the central coast are great to visit year-round. If you want to go skiing in summer, head to the Andes in June and July. El Grand Norte is best in Chile’s summer months (December to April). Punta Arenas in Patagonia has warm and sunny weather for beach vacations from November to March.

Where to Go


Instantly recognizable by its spine of snow-capped Andean peaks Santiago is an energetic, modern city with good museums and galleries and some spectacular colonial architecture. It’s also an international food icon, with local restaurants consistently placing high on the World’s Top 100 Best list.

  • Santiago is one of the safest South American capitals, the atmosphere’s friendly and it scores well for family and kid centred activities and events.
  • If you’re just passing through, head to Barrio Lastarria for museums, pretty cafés, specialist shops, nice parks and the bohemian vibe.
  • Don’t miss: Artequin Museum; La Chascona; Mercado and La Vega Central; Museum of Memory & Human Rights; Quinta Normal.


Chile’s most interesting and idiosyncratic city, Valparaiso is dazzlingly crowded and colorful, filled with history in its quaint barrios. If you want uncrowded beaches, choose to stay in one of the seaside resorts to the south.

  • The Port District looks down at the heel, but it’s one of the city’s most atmospheric and charming areas for traditional shops and restaurants.
  • Take the funicular up to Barrio Alegre in the hills, where the houses and churches are stunning and the sea view will take your breath away.

El Grande Norte

Chile’s northern territories border Peru and cover almost 25% of the country’s immense length. The Atacama Desert is here and it’s home to the cities 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 astrology tourism and extreme outdoor adventuring.

  • The Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet; try guided mountain biking or hiking tours as an easy introduction.
  • Oceanfront Iquique is good as a base for exploring El Grand Norte: The urban beaches are fantastic.
  • Reserva Nacional las Vicuñas is in the north, home to Volcán Guallatire, Chile’s famously active volcano.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Everyone has 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, and 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.

  • Easter Island’s a five-hour flight from Santiago. Several independent small cruises companies also include it in their itinerary.
  • There’s a good choice of places to stay on the island ranging from luxury eco-lodges and beach inns to charming family-run hotels.
  • Visit in February for the annual Tapati Festival, it’s one of the biggest traditional spectacles on Easter Island and a lot of fun for kids.

What to Do

  • The Museum of Memory & Human Rights, Santiago
    This Santiago museum makes visible Chile’s human rights’ atrocities between 1973 and 1990 and stands alongside the likes of Berlin’s Topography of Terror in acknowledging the darkest of recent histories.
  • Mountain Biking, Atacama Desert
    The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the world’s driest and a must-see destination. Day-long and half-day guided mountain bike safaris are easy and make for an amazing adventure with older kids and teenagers.
  • Artequin Museum, Santiago
    Quite possibly one of the prettiest museum buildings in the world, Artequin contains an interesting collection of South American and European reproductions. But it’s best known for kid’s events, performance art, festivals and family days.
  • Chinchorro Mummies, Arica
    Unlike the ancient Egyptians, Chinchorro were egalitarian mummifiers and preserved everyone after death. The incredible Chinchooro Mummies are the world’s oldest exhibited and are at San Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum in Arica on the Peruvian border with Chile.
  • La Campana National Park, Valparaiso
    Just over an hour from Valparaiso on the coast, this is one of Chile’s most accessible national parks and famous for its well-marked hiking trails and wildlife.
  • Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island
    Almost equidistant between Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is Chilean. Known as Rapa Nui after the indigenous Rapa Nui people who still call this their home, it’s an unforgettable experience with kids.
  • Summer Skiing, Santiago
    June to September is high season for skiing in the Andes – it’s winter in Chile. Valle Nevado is one of the country’s most popular family resorts, not far from the center of Santiago.
  • White Water Rafting, Maipo Canyon
    The magnificent Maipo Canyon is near Santiago and is one of Chile’s top white-water rafting spots.
  • Valley of the Moon, San Pedro de Atacama
    The Atacama Desert’s Valley of the Moon is the driest place on earth, where not a single drop of rain has fallen for centuries. It’s as an amazing wilderness adventure.
  • San Alfonso del Mar Lagoon, Central Chile
    Less than an hour south of Valparaiso, San Alfonso del Mar is one of the loveliest resorts on Chile’s South Pacific coast. It’s also home to the world’s largest saltwater swimming lagoon.

Educational Value for Kids

  • Chile is a world leader in scientific astronomy. Not only does it have the world’s darkest dark skies above the Atacama Desert, it’s home to three leading international observatories: ALMA, Tololo and Paranal. Astrology tourism is now one of the country’s fastest growing travel sectors and almost all tour operators and hotels here offer stargazing experiences.
  • Valparaiso is Chile’s most famous seaside city. Take the funicular up into the Alegre and Concepcion Hills overlooking the coast to see why it has UNESCO World Heritage status.
  • Iquique is gateway to the Atacama Desert in the north. Another great Chilean seaside city, the historic quarter’s fascinating and built almost entirely on 19th century saltpetre industry wealth.
  • If you’re in Santiago with a few hours to spare, ignore the designer shops and take kids to Mercado Central. It’s one of the world’s top food markets, and the historic building is a visitor attraction in its own right. La Vega Central, across the road, is the biggest market in Chile.
  • Humberstone and Santa Laura, east of Iquique, is a World Heritage site and the most complete of Chile’s 19th century saltpetre mining settlements. It’s one of many eerie ghost towns still dotted around the Atacama Desert: interesting with older kids.
  • Remote Southern Patagonia is the land of vast glaciers, Cape Horn, the Magellan Strait and some of Chile’s most isolated communities. Visit Punta Arenas November to March, and it’s an idyllic, sunny beach holiday with kids.
  • The extravagant 19th century estancias or haciendas in Chile’s Central Valley are a great adventure for horse-loving kids and would-be ranch hands. The scenery’s breathtakingly beautiful and camping out under the stars is almost compulsory.

Getting Around

You’ll need to take tours, drive or fly to get about a country that’s this long and includes both Southern Patagonia and Easter Island. If you’re traveling 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 one of the regions in depth. 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.

Get travel news sent to your inbox