Backpacking Chile

From the subtropics to Antarctica. From crystal-clear lagoons to active volcanic chains. From colourful colonial cities to remote salt lakes. From barren rock formations to tropical waterfalls. From arid deserts to snow-capped mountains. Chile is a country of superlatives.



Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking itinerary for Chile.


Important Basics

Official language: Spanish
EnglishSpanish
HelloHola
GoodbyeChau
Thank youGracias
Yes
NoNo
Capital city

Santiago de Chile

Form of government

Presidential republic

Best time to travel

December till March

Currency

Chilean peso

Telephone area code

+56

Fun Facts
  • If you love avocados, Chile is the place to be. By the way, the avocado is called palta here.
  • Chileans usually know their tax number by heart, as it is important for all sorts of things, such as entrance fees or bonus points.
  • The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest desert in the world.

Cities

Santiago

Your first stop in Chile is Santiago.

This is where modern architecture meets traditional, colonial-period architecture. The city’s landmark is Iglesia de San Francisco, the country’s oldest church. Also worth seeing are the Presidential Palace, Plaza de Armas and the Central Market, where you can taste some local specialities.

Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago's local hill, offers a phenomenal view over the city. It is located in Bellavista, the city’s bohemian quarter, along with the mighty statue of the Virgin Mary.

During your time in Santiago, do a day trip to Valparaiso. This port city is located in a beautiful bay on the Pacific Ocean. The historic, picturesque old town Cerro Alegre is situated on a hill and can be reached either on foot or by funicular. With its lovingly renovated houses, colourfully painted facades and creative street art, Valparaiso is one of South America’s most colourful cities.

Santiago offers great accommodations for €12 in an eight-bed dorm.

Punta Arenas

Continue by plane to Punta Arenas, for about €100.

The city has many European influences and several cultural attractions to visit. Get to know Punta Arenas’ history in the Museo Regional De Magallanes, discover the Plaza Muñoz Gamero with the Magellan Monument or visit the Cementerio Municipal, one of South America’s most magnificent cemeteries.

At the harbour, you can buy fresh seafood or enjoy fish dishes at the local fish market. Additionally, you can book tickets for a trip to Isla Magdalena. The island is located off the coast of Punto Arenas and is home to about 70,000 penguins.

Staying overnight at a hostel will cost €12 for an eight-bed dorm.

Puerto Natales

Continue your trip by bus to Puerto Natales for approximately €10.

Located in Patagonia’s western part, this city is the gateway for excursions to the Torres del Paine National Park, which offers an incredible variety of landscapes, from crystal clear rivers, granite rocks and grasslands to glaciers, mountain lakes and swamps.

Discover this breathtaking nature on a guided day hike to the foot of the Torres del Paine. The route passes El Chileno Mountain Lodge, which has a fantastic view of Nordenskjöld Lake and Almirante Nieto. The ascent up the Torres del Paine, which means “Blue Towers,” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At the end of your hike, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the National Park’s impressive landscape. This experience includes hostel pickup/drop-off, trekking equipment and lunch from €130 per person.

Spend the night at a hostel in Puerto Natales for €19 in a four-bed dorm.

La Serena

From Puntas Arenas, fly back to Santiago for about €100, and take a bus to La Serena in the north of Chile for about €30.

This popular holiday resort with its colonial buildings and numerous churches is the second-oldest city in Chile. The archaeological museum, with exhibitions about the area’s settlement and history of the indigenous peoples, and the big handicraft market on the Plaza de Armas are worth seeing. Make sure to visit the town’s lighthouse, located on a picturesque, eight-kilometre-long sandy beach.

Tongoy Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Chile, is also only a bus ride away from La Serena. Spend a few relaxing days on the beach here, unwind in the Pacific Ocean’s turquoise-blue waters and just breathe.

Take another day trip to the mystical Fray Jorge National Park or to Coquimbo, where you can take a tour through the charming harbour or visit the traditional fish market.

Stay overnight in La Serena – a bed in an eight-bed dorm costs just €15 per night.

San Pedro

Your last stop is San Pedro. There are flights from La Serena to Calama from €100, from which you’ll take the bus for €5 to San Pedro de Atacama.

This small village lies in the middle of the Atacama Desert and offers a spectacular landscape about 2,400 meters above sea level. From San Pedro de Atacama, you can explore the Great North. Hike through the Atacama Desert (the world’s driest desert), visit El Tatio (the geothermal field), or take a bath in the hot springs around the desert city.

A trip to the Valle de la Luna is also an unforgettable experience, as you can admire the world’s most beautiful starry sky there.

An overnight stay in town costs €18 for a four-bed dorm.

Salar de Uyuni

From the driest sand desert, continue to the largest salt desert in the world. The Salar de Uyuni is located just across the border in Bolivia and is an absolute must-see.

You’ll spend four days in the surreal landscape and visit remote places that seem to be from another world. The Salar de Uyuni’s salt crust extends for more than 10,000 square kilometres. During rainy season, it turns into the world’s largest salt lake, resembling a gigantic mirror in which the snow-covered mountains and blue sky are beautifully reflected.

Cruise back and forth over the border with a jeep on the Altiplano’s deserted plateaus, past active volcanoes to shimmering, fairy-tale lagoons. Don’t miss the chance to admire flamingos in Laguna Blanca’s turquoise waters, learn about salt mining and visit the cactus island Isla Incahuasi.

Book this adventurous four-day-tour from only €130 – it includes pick-up and drop-off in San Pedro de Atacama, transport, a guide, accommodation and all meals.

Santiago

From San Pedro, take the bus for €5 back to Calama and get on a plane to Santiago – flights start at €50.

In the vibrant capital, visit the trendy Barrio Lastarria district, where you can end your trip with delicious drinks. Don’t forget to do some last-minute shopping to buy gifts for your loved ones.

Soak up as much of Chile as possible before grabbing your flight back home.


Santiago

Santiago

Your first stop in Chile is Santiago.

This is where modern architecture meets traditional, colonial-period architecture. The city’s landmark is Iglesia de San Francisco, the country’s oldest church. Also worth seeing are the Presidential Palace, Plaza de Armas and the Central Market, where you can taste some local specialities.

Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago's local hill, offers a phenomenal view over the city. It is located in Bellavista, the city’s bohemian quarter, along with the mighty statue of the Virgin Mary.

During your time in Santiago, do a day trip to Valparaiso. This port city is located in a beautiful bay on the Pacific Ocean. The historic, picturesque old town Cerro Alegre is situated on a hill and can be reached either on foot or by funicular. With its lovingly renovated houses, colourfully painted facades and creative street art, Valparaiso is one of South America’s most colourful cities.

Santiago offers great accommodations for €12 in an eight-bed dorm.

Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas

Continue by plane to Punta Arenas, for about €100.

The city has many European influences and several cultural attractions to visit. Get to know Punta Arenas’ history in the Museo Regional De Magallanes, discover the Plaza Muñoz Gamero with the Magellan Monument or visit the Cementerio Municipal, one of South America’s most magnificent cemeteries.

At the harbour, you can buy fresh seafood or enjoy fish dishes at the local fish market. Additionally, you can book tickets for a trip to Isla Magdalena. The island is located off the coast of Punto Arenas and is home to about 70,000 penguins.

Staying overnight at a hostel will cost €12 for an eight-bed dorm.

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales

Continue your trip by bus to Puerto Natales for approximately €10.

Located in Patagonia’s western part, this city is the gateway for excursions to the Torres del Paine National Park, which offers an incredible variety of landscapes, from crystal clear rivers, granite rocks and grasslands to glaciers, mountain lakes and swamps.

Discover this breathtaking nature on a guided day hike to the foot of the Torres del Paine. The route passes El Chileno Mountain Lodge, which has a fantastic view of Nordenskjöld Lake and Almirante Nieto. The ascent up the Torres del Paine, which means “Blue Towers,” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At the end of your hike, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the National Park’s impressive landscape. This experience includes hostel pickup/drop-off, trekking equipment and lunch from €130 per person.

Spend the night at a hostel in Puerto Natales for €19 in a four-bed dorm.

La Serena

La Serena

From Puntas Arenas, fly back to Santiago for about €100, and take a bus to La Serena in the north of Chile for about €30.

This popular holiday resort with its colonial buildings and numerous churches is the second-oldest city in Chile. The archaeological museum, with exhibitions about the area’s settlement and history of the indigenous peoples, and the big handicraft market on the Plaza de Armas are worth seeing. Make sure to visit the town’s lighthouse, located on a picturesque, eight-kilometre-long sandy beach.

Tongoy Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Chile, is also only a bus ride away from La Serena. Spend a few relaxing days on the beach here, unwind in the Pacific Ocean’s turquoise-blue waters and just breathe.

Take another day trip to the mystical Fray Jorge National Park or to Coquimbo, where you can take a tour through the charming harbour or visit the traditional fish market.

Stay overnight in La Serena – a bed in an eight-bed dorm costs just €15 per night.

San Pedro

San Pedro

Your last stop is San Pedro. There are flights from La Serena to Calama from €100, from which you’ll take the bus for €5 to San Pedro de Atacama.

This small village lies in the middle of the Atacama Desert and offers a spectacular landscape about 2,400 meters above sea level. From San Pedro de Atacama, you can explore the Great North. Hike through the Atacama Desert (the world’s driest desert), visit El Tatio (the geothermal field), or take a bath in the hot springs around the desert city.

A trip to the Valle de la Luna is also an unforgettable experience, as you can admire the world’s most beautiful starry sky there.

An overnight stay in town costs €18 for a four-bed dorm.

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni

From the driest sand desert, continue to the largest salt desert in the world. The Salar de Uyuni is located just across the border in Bolivia and is an absolute must-see.

You’ll spend four days in the surreal landscape and visit remote places that seem to be from another world. The Salar de Uyuni’s salt crust extends for more than 10,000 square kilometres. During rainy season, it turns into the world’s largest salt lake, resembling a gigantic mirror in which the snow-covered mountains and blue sky are beautifully reflected.

Cruise back and forth over the border with a jeep on the Altiplano’s deserted plateaus, past active volcanoes to shimmering, fairy-tale lagoons. Don’t miss the chance to admire flamingos in Laguna Blanca’s turquoise waters, learn about salt mining and visit the cactus island Isla Incahuasi.

Book this adventurous four-day-tour from only €130 – it includes pick-up and drop-off in San Pedro de Atacama, transport, a guide, accommodation and all meals.

Santiago

Santiago

From San Pedro, take the bus for €5 back to Calama and get on a plane to Santiago – flights start at €50.

In the vibrant capital, visit the trendy Barrio Lastarria district, where you can end your trip with delicious drinks. Don’t forget to do some last-minute shopping to buy gifts for your loved ones.

Soak up as much of Chile as possible before grabbing your flight back home.

Chile Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Santiago
Home - Santiago
Flight
325
eight-bed dorm
12
2. Santiago
Santiago
-
eight-bed dorm
12
3. Santiago
Santiago
-
eight-bed dorm
12
4. Santiago-Punta Arenas
Santiago-Punta Arenas
Flight
100
eight-bed dorm
12
5. Puntas Arenas - Puerto Natales
Puntas Arenas - Puerto Natales
Bus
10
four-bed dorm
19
6. Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales
-
four-bed dorm
19
7. Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales
-
four-bed dorm
19
8. Puerto Natales - Puntas Arenas
Puerto Natales - Puntas Arenas
Bus
10
five-bed dorm
19
9. Puntas Arenas - Santiago - La Serena
Puntas Arenas - Santiago - La Serena
Flight+Bus
130
eight-bed dorm
15
10. La Serena
La Serena
-
eight-bed dorm
15
11. La Serena
La Serena
-
eight-bed dorm
15
12. La Serena
La Serena
-
eight-bed dorm
15
13. La Serena
La Serena
-
eight-bed dorm
15
14. La Serena - Calama - San Pedro
La Serena - Calama - San Pedro
Flight+Bus
105
four-bed dorm
18
15. San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama
-
four-bed dorm
18
16. Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
Tour
Tour Accommodation
17. Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
-
Tour Accommodation
18. Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
-
four-bed dorm
18
19. San Pedro - Calama - Santiago
San Pedro - Calama - Santiago
Bus+Flight
55
eight-bed dorm
12
20. Santiago
Santiago
-
eight-bed dorm
12
21. Santiago – Home
Santiago – Home
Flight
325

Total price.

Flights 1000,00
Transportation (inland) 60,00
Tours 175,00
Accommodation 277,00
Total1512,00

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deine eigene

Reise erstellen?

Du möchtest deine

eigene Reise erstellen?

Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Empanada de Pino: The traditional filling is minced meat, however onions, raisins, black olives and hard-boiled eggs are also added. It’s the perfect “to-go” snack.

Sopaipillas: Fried squash pancakes, these tasty treats are usually shaped like circles and topped with things like cinnamon, sugar and honey. They make for a very popular street food.

Soups

Cazuelas: A common name for many types of soups or stews made from beef, pork, lamb, seafood or chicken with garlic, onion, oregano, paprika and vegetables such as potatoes, corn, pumpkins, onions, etc. The name stems from the traditional ceramic plates that are used for cooking and serving the dish.

Porotos Granados: A stew made mainly with corn, onions, pumpkin, cranberry beans, garlic, tomatoes, caraway and basil.

Main courses

Chorillana:  Chile’s national dish made with sliced beef or sausage, French fries, fried onions and topped with scrambled or fried eggs. A culinary must-eat in the city of Valparaiso and large enough that two or three people can eat from one dish.

Chilean abalone: This is a large, edible sea snail. .

Drinks

Mate: A tea made from coca and herbs, that helps with altitude sickness (which you can occasionally get as some places are located high above sea level).

Wine:  Chile is famous for its wine – there are several vineyards with different grape varieties.

Chile

The exchange rate for 100 Chilean Peso = 0.12 euros (as of January 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below.

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Dos

Say hello: This is usually combined with a handshake for men and a kiss on the cheek for women.

Try to learn Spanish: Not many people in Chile speak English, so a little Spanish could be very helpful when travelling.

Tip in restaurants: In restaurants and bars, it is common to tip 10 – 20%. The service charge is not always included on the bill.

Pack different clothing: The climate in Chile differs from place to place, from season to season and sometimes it even changes several times a day. Pack clothing for both cold and warm weather, and do not forget to bring your umbrella, coat, gloves, cap, sunscreen, etc.

Give a gift: If you are invited over by someone, it is customary to bring a small gift for the house, something to eat such as a dessert or appetizer, or a gift for the children.

Don'ts

Avoid saying “no:” Diplomacy is key, and locals are not used to the word “no.”

Don’t be shocked by personal questions: People in Latin America tend to be over friendly, so don't be offended if they ask about your life, family etc. right from the start.

Don’t be offended if you hear gringo: That’s what Chileans call most foreigners, so don't feel offended or take it personally.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Not necessary 

Vaccine

Yes 

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry. We recommend researching the travel document, visa and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to Chile, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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