Parents’ Escape to Chile | 7 DAY CHILE ITINERARY

If you’re looking for an adventure filled 7-day itinerary for Chile, we have some ideas for you. Chris and I enjoyed our first kid free vacation in years and in fact, this was our first Parents’ Escape outside of North America. On this trip I had no scheduled activities and we went with the flow discovering things to do in Chile. From good eats to scenic views, we found it all in Chile as we roamed around the country. Read on for a detailed 7-day Chile itinerary that includes the best things to do in Atacama, Santiago, Casablanca and Valparaiso. 


Best Things to do in Chile

One week in Chile Itinerary

With Arajet offering budget friendly flight options from Toronto to Chile, we decided it would be a fantastic option for our couple’s getaway. Our flight departed Toronto on a Tuesday morning and had a layover in Santo Domingo where we had enough time to go through security (our bags were interlined) and visit the Priority Pass lounge before boarding our connecting flight. We landed in Santiago at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday (local time) so we were able to easily grab our bags after immigration, request an Uber and check into our Air BnB in Santiago. Remember to store the Tourist card you received at immigration because you will need it on occasion to avoid the domestic travel tax. I did leave our passports in the Uber but luckily I was using an e-Sim with talk and data (was the cheapest option for Chile on Airalo) so the passports and I were reunited thanks to the concierge/night security at the apartment we were staying at. Our return journey was also from Santiago and so we had a week to explore the country to the best of our ability before sneaking in a night at the City Express Airport Hotel prior to our 6 a.m. return flight! 

Read our Arajet review!

flying arajet

I was so impressed by the varied landscapes found in Chile. Santiago was so different to the Atacama dessert and both those were different to Valparaiso and Casablanca. I will admit that I didn’t really know that Chile’s economic and political landscape had gone through some turbulent times, so things weren’t as cheap as I expected. We found things to be relatively comparable to Toronto (where as most of us know, things can be pretty expensive). That said, we also quickly learned a few tips that helped us save a few pesos here and there. There were places we needed cash at and going to a money exchange was the first order of business for us. This money exchanger in Santiago de Chile was the best option because when we used an ATM machine later into our trip (out of desperation), the exchange rate wasn’t as great. So keep that tip in mind! 

We didn’t have time to venture further south than Santiago because Chile is long as Canada is wide and so, it takes a while to get from one area to the next. Driving in Chile was fairly comfortable for Chris because our Google Maps navigations were mostly accurate but know that some towns like Valparaiso has long wind-ey roads that are one way, which means you may need to spend 45 minutes to re-loop if your partner decides she NEEDS to see the Seals across the road! #TrueStory. Renting a car and driving around was a last minute decision but I’m so glad we did this because it opened up additional experiences to us. Chris used his Canadian license when renting vehicles and there was no request for an International driver’s license in Chile. When we were in Santiago, we used Uber to get around. What was fascinating is that Uber was quite cheap even though gas prices are high here. Go figure! And yes we did take an internal flight from Santiago to Calama instead of an extremely long bus or car ride. Having flown Latam airlines during our honeymoon in Argentina and Uruguay, we knew they would be cheap and cheerful. My biggest wow moment was when I was told that I can bring the 1.5 L water bottle through security for the domestic flights! YES!! 

Prior to leaving Toronto, many friends (some of whom were Chilean) warned us to be on guard because crimes were on the rise, especially in Valparaiso. We luckily didn’t encounter any real dangers and while we were on edge in Valparaiso and did let the hype get to us once (more on that story in the tips section), we had a very enjoyable and relaxing experience in Chile. The locals are friendly and if you’re open to new experiences, tastes and people, you will have a fabulous time in this South American country. 


Best Places to See in Chile & Chile Itinerary

Sunset in Santiago

7 Day Chile Itinerary for Couples

If you’re coming to Chile to drink wine and pisco sours, eat empanadas and Pastel de choclo and explore the Atacama dessert, then this Chile Itinerary is definitely for you! We did some local tours but for the most part, we did things on our and took tours as needed. Remember, with no kids around, I wanted a go with the flow vibe and it truly worked out extremely well for us! 


Day 1 : Land in Santiago and sleep. Roam around Santa Lucia neighbourhood (very easy to do if you’re staying at this Santiago Air BnB), grab a coffee (Classy Coffee), exchange some money (Casa de Cambio Frontera Paseo San Agustin) and grab some lunch (Pollozolano). Do a pay what  you can walking tour in Santiago to get an understanding of the city’s political and economic landscape (we did a fabulous one with Guru Walk/Urban Tours). To end the evening, have drinks and nibbles in Barrio Lastarria (we started at Bar Liguria  then hopped over to Chipe Libre).


Day 2 : Wake up and take an Uber to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (pay what you can entry and there’s a cafe on site serving freshly squeezed OJ). Uber to Bella Vista neighbourhood for lunch (Galindo) and then walk to San Cristóbal Hill to take the funicular up. Enjoy the views and then roam around the area for dinner (or head back to your holiday home to watch local Netflix eat the many leftovers you’ve accumulated, like we did). 


Day 3 : Fly to Calama and rent a car. Be sure to swing by a supermarket in Calama to stock up on water and snacks because things are pricier in Atacama. Visit Valley de la Luna (here’s the best place to buy Valley of the Moon tickets) before making your way to your accommodations (we stayed at the Atacama Horse Lodge). Roam around San Pedro de Atacama and chat with local tour operators, do some shopping and dine (Adobe and Ckunza Tilar were both great options). Rest up as your body is adjusting to the changes in altitude.


Day 4 : After breakfast at your accommodations, head to Laguna Cejar. You can purchase Laguna Cejar tickets here, keeping mind that they are closed on Tuesdays and that individuals can visit from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. because it’s only via tour operators that you can visit between 2 and 6 p.m. Spend your morning floating in the salty water and spotting flamingos before enjoying a picnic your brought with you or you can head back into San Pedro if you want an afternoon in the town. We decided to bring snacks with us so we were able to spend the afternoon jumping between the Puritama hot springs. Puritama Springs is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then 2:00 to 5 p.m. After this relaxing afternoon head back to relax and unwind at your accommodations. Perhaps you’ll grab some empanadas for a light dinner at Andino in San Pedro because you have a night tour tonight! Book a star gazing took with Patricio and ask for a translator – this was one of the coolest experiences. We chatted with their Whatsapp customer service who allowed us to pay cash, saving the additional CLP10,000 fee attached to credit card payments.  


Day 5 : Wake up and head back to the Calama airport because your return flight to Santiago is today! Once you land in Santiago, grab a rental car and make your way to Valparaiso where you’ll check into Casa Blu (a stunning property) and grab dinner ( Mito’s rooftop patio was a great option for us).


Day 6 : Wake up and enjoy breakfast at your accommodations before joining another Guru Walks Urban Tours. This 2.5 hour free walking tour gave us a great grasp of the city and we not only learned about the street art and political situations in this region but were also able to purchase Alfajores cookies and go up the funicular! We also found out that Cafe Turri was the perfect spot to enjoy lunch at. Swing by the beach area near the fish market (but we wary of your vehicle if you’re driving there) to see the awesome seals. I didn’t have time but you could easily swim in the beach with the seals nearby!!! Continue driving into Casablanca and make stops at some wineries if you arrive before closing time (most close around 5 p.m.). Vinamar (known for their sparkling wines) and family owned Kingston Vineyards (known for their organic wines, especially their reds) were both open when we swung by. Have your ID on hand because the driver will be asked for their ID before passing the security check points at each winery. Tonight you check into the secluded cabins at Tiny House II Casablanca . Just remember that you may want to stock up on food for dinner because there isn’t much nearby. Perhaps you can enjoy dinner at one of the wineries? Or else it’ll be breakfast for dinner thanks to eggs and avocados being sold at the veggie hut near the cabin. 


Day 7 : Have a light breakfast today (leftovers from that breakfast for dinner perhaps) because you’re going to spend the morning and afternoon at Casas del Bosque. This sprawling winery has many spaces to lounge and sip at but if time permits, you should do one of their tours. They have cooking and picnic experiences onsite and you can even take one of the free bikes to ride around their vineyards. We were hosted on a La Trampa tour and our guide Christopher taught us a lot about their processes and production facilities before taking us through a tasting. Whatever you do, don’t leave Casablanca Chile without having a meal at this Chilean winery. Our lunch at Tanino was definitely one of the top things to do in Chile in my books! After a relaxing day, it’s time to head back to Santiago because you have an early morning flight tomorrow! If you don’t fancy roaming the streets of Santiago with your luggage, you could check into the City Express near the Santiago airport like we did. When we booked via the Expedia app we received coupons for a free drin at their bar. Yes I had another Pisco Sour! They also gave us a breakfast doggy bag at 4 a.m. which really helped us! 


View of Santiago from San Cristobal Hill


I know this itinerary sounds a bit rushed but we truly enjoyed the pace knowing that we were experiencing a lot of things in Chile. And we took quite a few naps, so that’s saying something! If you have ten days or more, there are other places to slot in or you could spend extra days at each of the spots mentioned above and relax some more.  If we had few more days I would have gone further south to Punta Arenas or perhaps I would have added a trip to Easter Island.


Is Chile Safe?

Valparaiso restaurant with a view

We were warned that crime is on the rise and we were on guard in Valparaiso but we did not encounter any dangerous situations. In Valparaiso we noticed that shops would only sell things from behind screens/cages in the night and we did encounter a parking attendant near the fish market who told us that he cannot take responsibility for vehicles that get broken into and that we should just drive our car to the beach and leave promptly. Whilst I was prancing like a school girl in awe at the seals lounging around, Chris freaked out because he saw some guys approaching the vehicle with what looked like crowbars in hand. Not to worry, it was just a gimbal. LOL! PHEW! Beyond that, we were just as alert as we always are, being street smart and not carrying too much cash on us or flashing our phones around late night as we wandered the streets. 


Best time to Visit Chile

Yashy and Chris in Casablanca

We visited in December and I thought the weather was perfect. We encountered some warm days in Santiago, some gloomy days in Casablanca and varied weather in Atacama. High season runs from November to February in general (their summer months) but things get really busy in January (especially in the beach towns). Of course if you’re looking to ski then the off season winter months between June and August are your best bets. 


Chile Travel Tips

Santiago Chile building

These tips are in no particular order but pay attention to them all if you’re planning to visit Chile, okay?


Citizens of 93 countries don’t need a visa to visit Chile if you’re staying for less than 90 days. Canada is one of those! 

Most accommodations will include breakfast and you should keep in mind that tourists don’t need to pay the domestic travel tax. While the larger hotels will gladly remove that tax and may ask you for proof (show the Tourist card you received at immigration upon landing), smaller hotels don’t have a system in place to register you as an international traveller. This happened to us at the Atacama Horse Lodge and we ended up paying cash to avoid the 19% fee. Not all hotels and accommodations have A.C so be weary of this (again the Atacama Horse lodge was amazing from a wild life and nature perspective but they did not have A.C or a fan). 

We were told we can drink tap water in Santiago and Casablanca (most Airbnb’s also have filtered water) but we did purchase bottles of water when we were in Northern Chile. 

Cash is king if you want to avoid random fees. Most vendors pass on the credit card fees to the end user so be prepared to have 1-10% slapped on for credit card fees. I tried to book things online via Expedia as much as possible to avoid this fee. We mostly paid with our credit card at restaurants for meals and they would often ask us if it was okay to add the 10% service fee – we always said yes. We tried to tip the regular 20% but no one understood us and because they have to punch it in, we gave up trying half way into our trip. 

Stay hydrated and bring chapstick and layers for your Atacama adventures. There isn’t much once you’re in the desert so bring EVERYTHING you could need with you. We missed our Burt Bees lipchap desperately on this trip. 

When renting a car for Atacama, book your car rental as early as possible because the SUVs sell out quickly. We booked things last minute and had a dinky car which meant that we didn’t feel as safe on some roads. This is why we didn’t make it to the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos. Also when driving around, know the various scams (main one we heard was that there will be a nail on the road giving you a flat and people will come to your rescue but rob you of your goods instead of helping!). 

Santiago locals told us that they experience many tremors but there’s nothing to be fearful of because all their buildings are built knowing the fact that Santiago experiences frequent seismic activity. We were told to worry only if we see locals running during one of the tremors! Honestly we felt nothing during our week long Chile trip.

Most tour companies and locals will use Whatsapp to communicate so having an e-sim will be helpful. If you want to try an e-sim, here’s a $3 off code for your first AirAlo sim. Use the code “YASHY5624” when you sign up or apply it at checkout. What I liked about the Chile e-sim was that calls were also part of the package which made it very easy to call our driver when I lost the passports! That was so helpful because we would have had to reschedule our Chile itinerary had I lost our passports. We spent USD18 on an esim for 10 days that came with 15 GB + 500 SMS + 500 Talk Mins 



What We Spent Travelling in Chile as a Couple

Chilean pesos for one week trip


As I mentioned earlier, things are pricier in Chile compared to most of the other Latin American countries. If you’re trying to figure out “how much money do I need for a week in Chile”, I hope our breakdown below helps you plan a solid week long Chile itinerary that suits your budget. Food at restaurants were much pricier than anticipated and we didn’t discover many “hole in the wall” options. In fact we started eating at fancier spots because it cost the same as the mainstream restaurants!! If you find a great flight sale, then Chile can be a cheap country to visit when compared to some European and North American cities. 


Here’s our one week in Chile costs from Canada for two people (in Canadian Dollars)

International Flights  : $1500    
Domestic Flights : $212
Car Rental : $301 (we rented in two places for a grand total of 5 days)
Gas : $85 
Chile e-Sim : $50 (for two e-sims)
Accommodations : $1142 (7 nights)
Uber in Santiago : $85 (this includes airport runs which are about $25 each way into/from the city)
Entrance Fees  : $205 (funicular in Santiago, Valley de la Luna, Puritama Hotsprings, Laguna Cejar)
Tours :  $180 (Astrotour and the pay what you can free walking tours )
Wine Tours : $100
Food and drinks: $800
Shopping : $300 (Had to buy Alpaca wool items and Pisco Sour to bring back)


Grand Total for 2 adults : $4,960

We did not splurge on any experiences during our 7 days in Chile so this budget is reflective of a pretty average accommodation and restaurant experience. I hope this helps you plan your Chile travels! 

7 day Chile Itinerary and Budget - 1

Chile Things to do


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