Beyond Patagonia: A Great 10- to 14-Day Chile Itinerary with Kids

We spent our spring break in Chile with Latin Excursions and loved it! Our Chile itinerary was intentionally super-busy to give us a chance to get the flavor of a few of the major highlights. And that we did. Although all roads start in Santiago, there are quite a few possibilities in every direction from here, so a Chile family vacation plan with intention is essential.

Patagonia is the one landmark that everyone seems to know; the challenge, however, is that Patagonia takes time to access and appreciate … regional icons like Torres Del Paine National Park involve a 4.5-hour flight followed by a few-hour drive just get into the park. Moreover, I learned that Torres Del Paine is one of many interesting things to do in Patagonia, so I’ll make a whole trip of it next time and do a number of stops within southern Chile, quite possibly pairing it with southern Argentina.

If you have lots of time, Chile has enough tourist infrastructure where it’s possible to wing it … but that’s not what we recommend for families who have limited time and want to keep kids engaged. To that end, Chile is well-suited for using a tour operator or a destination management company with local offices and in-country support. The country is big and much of it is remote; to have this kind of travel feel comfortable, qualified resources are critical. Using a tour operator to design a fixed itinerary with guides doesn’t equate to travel babysitting — it means guides are more likely to be good and kid-friendly, drivers will be safe and reliable, and that you do what counts and don’t waste time.


High in the Andes between Chile and Argentina in the Atacama Desert

A Great 10- to 14-Day Chile Itinerary with Kids

Latin Excursions developed our Chile itinerary and provided much of the guide infrastructure. They specialize in trips to Central and South America and are unbelievable experts in this region. What they don’t know they research as a team, and what they do know is customized for each and every client.

The process starts with an extensive question-and-answer session where trip objectives are laid out. In our case, we like adventure, but we’re not into extreme sports and stops were selected accordingly. We appreciate fine food and wine, as well as luxury accommodations, but we also want our experiences to feel authentic and we like to log time with locals. Latin Excursions took copious notes and delivered on the experience we wanted.

Before our departure we had a comprehensive itinerary to reference with a slew of local contacts to call with questions or concerns. On arrival, we were met by a local guide who helped us navigate through customs effortlessly and introduced us to the week ahead. It certainly takes the edge off arrival stress when you have this kind of support at hand.

Here’s a look at the main stops that comprised our Chile itinerary:


Exploring Valparaiso with a guide who can explain the city is a must


Although our visit was brief, we were enthralled with this colorful port city on the coast of Chile. UNESCO-protected Valparaiso has attracted artists from around the world who have transformed graffiti into art. The city is gritty and urban, yet the colorfully painted buildings many of which date back to the 19th century — and murals throughout the city are fascinating to explore.

Funicular elevators take people from the base of the city into the hillsides and labyrinth of tiny streets and alleys. You could spend days here and not see it all. We felt safe, but there’s an edge to it and we appreciated having a guide at our side to navigate the city and tell us the stories behind all of the graffiti art. We paired our tour with a graffiti art lesson for our teen — a brilliant, memorable way for him to understand the city and its culture.

If you have tweens or teens, stay in Valparaiso for two nights. Otherwise, I’d spend two nights in Santiago as the urban stop on the trip.


Vina Vik is a spectacular 11,000-acre wine estate in Chile’s wine-centric Central Valley

Central Valley

Wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a stop in Chile’s Central Valley, home to the main growing zone for Chile’s world-class wine. We kicked off our trip at Vina Vik Millahue, a jaw-dropping state-of-the-art hotel spectacularly positioned on a 11,000-acre wine estate. The hotel is an otherworldly modern structure with a titanium roof right out of an episode of the Jetsons. With just 22 suites, Vina Vik is intimate and guests share mutual delight in being “in the know” enough to be there. Every suite is totally different and designed by an artist. This property is a special treat for families, offering have downtime within striking distance of the airport and Santiago (a 2-hour drive).

There’s nothing for little kids here, but tweens and teens will love the super-creative architecture and art. There’s a lovely infinity pool, a large game room, and plenty of spaces for families to spread out. An activity concierge can set up horseback riding, hiking, and biking to explore the estate. Locally sourced food is outstanding and beautifully presented. Vina Vik is a very unique hotel, and we loved meeting Chileans who were there for the weekend from Santiago.

Stay in the Central Valley for two to three nights.

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A visit to the Atacama Desert is a must on a Chile itinerary

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is surreal. It’s known to be one of the driest places on the planet, and to say it’s arid is a vast understatement. There are parts of this desert that have never seen rain. What was surprising is that within this framework is unbelievable diversity, from a literal hot springs oasis in the middle of an otherwise inhospitable landscape, to salt flats that are home to beautiful flamingos, to landscapes that could easily be mistaken for mars or the moon, to wildly spectacular bright blue lagoons high in the Andes.

The Atacama is truly a place that must be seen to be believed. I’ve met many people who have visited Chile without taking a trip here. After our amazing experience, I would absolutely recommend integrating a visit into any introduction to Chile itinerary.

Stay in the Atacama Desert for three to four nights. There’s plenty to do and given the high altitude, it’s best to have time to acclimate before going on some of the longer excursions that take you to places at 13,000-plus feet. Adventures here vary greatly from simple walks to volcano treks, to mountain bike rides, to sand surfing (!) down dunes in the Moon Valley. It’s active family paradise.


The heart of Pucon is the Villarrica Volcano


Pucon is an outdoor enthusiast paradise. It reminded me a bit of Oregon and Washington in the northwest corner of the United States, unspoiled and very picturesque. Families flock to Pucon in the summer (December through March) for quintessential lake and mountain activities: whitewater rafting, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, horseback riding … it has it all.

There are a few spectacular national parks to explore in this area as well. Stay in Pucon four or more nights to fully get a chance to experience all this area has to offer.

There is skiing in Pucon, but the ski facilities are fairly rustic and have been closed recently due to heightened activity on the Villarrica volcano. If you are visiting Chile during winter (June-August), I’d swap out a visit to Pucon with a visit to one of the more popular and developed ski stations in the Andes outside of Santiago.

This is just a taste of what a great Chile itinerary offers families. Latin Excursions does everything on request and can mix and match experiences throughout the country. For more information and/or to start planning contact us at Ciao Bambino on info {at} or reach out to Latin Excursions directly here.

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Editor’s Note: Latin Excursion provided a media package for our trip. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.

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