Travel & Learn Spanish in Chile
Would you like to visit the driest and longest country in the world? Chile (no relation to the spicy ingredient!) is a country filled with natural, culinary and cultural wonders that will marvel all of your senses with their distinct Latin American charm.
From vast desert landscapes as old as time to pristine lakes surrounded by snow-caped mountains, Chile has everything you need when it comes to outdoor adventures. However, if you prefer to have a cultural experience, you can always visit the country’s archaeological ruins as well as explore the urban charm of Santiago. Whatever your tastes are, Chile will surely please you beyond your expectations.
If you have the time exploring Chile by land (by bus, motorcycle or car) is the best way to fully absorb the culture and natural landscapes of this wonderful country. From North to South, Chile stretches 2,653 miles (a greater distance than going from New York to Los Angeles) so don’t underestimate how much time it could take you to reach each destination.
What to See & Do in Chile
Chile has a large variety of things to see and do. Here’s a list of some highlights that will better help you to understand the greatness of this Latin American country.
Feel the Hustle and Bustle of Santiago de Chile
Your first impression of Chile’s capital, Santiago, might be of a chaotic city where everyone looks stressed, but don’t let first impressions stop you from enjoying this great city. While Santiago is a city mostly aimed at business travellers, you can still have a lot of fun visiting its many historical sites (including the Chascona, house of poet Pablo Neruda) as well as exploring the markets (La Vega is the city’s main fruit and vegetable market) and trying out Chile’s signature dishes (highlights include churrascos, empanadas, cazuela and pastel de choclo).
There are several options to learn Spanish in Santiago, Chile.
Get Lost in the Vast Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert, better known as the driest place on Earth, sits at Chile’s Northern border with Bolivia. With an area over 400,000 square miles, exploring all of the Atacama Desert might seem a daunting task, but you can see the main highlights in just a couple of days when you base yourself in the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Don’t forget to take a selfie with a vicuña (the llama’s little cousin) while you’re there.
Visit the Open-air Art Museum of Valparaiso
Valparaiso, just a little over an hour from Santiago, is probably one of the most alternative places in the entire world and, if you’re a fan of street art, Valparaiso will quickly become the highlight of your journey to Chile. Whether you hike its hills, take its cable cars, or ride its more than 20 lifts, Valparaiso’s street art and colourful houses will give you more than one reason to visit and re-visit it again and again. Plus, you can also take a bout tour of the harbour and spot sea lions if you’re lucky.
Hike in the Breath-taking Patagonia Region
The Patagonia region of South America is without a doubt the favourite destination for all adventure seekers and a hike to Torres del Paine is a must. Have you ever imagined tall lanky mountains with pristine lakes and a fauna to die for? For all of this and more, the Patagonia region of Chile will become your favourite one in the entire world. You can even go from West to East (and back) to explore Argentina’s Patagonia as well. Are you ready to feel the adventure?
Experience the Extreme Journey to Antarctica
From Punta Arenas (Chile’s Southernmost hub), you can embark on an epic journey to the Antarctic continent. Pricing depends mostly on length of the trip as well as how far you book it in advance (last minute deals booked on Punta Arenas are considerably cheaper than those found online). However, if you cannot afford the entire journey to Antarctica, you can always enjoy Punta Arenas itself and enjoy the mighty march of the penguins at Isla Magdalena. Don’t you just love them?
Uncover the Enigma of Easter Island
Known as the most isolated place on Earth (it’s located 2,340 miles West from Santiago de Chile), Easter Island is one of those destinations that will fill your head with mysteries and wanderlust. During the day, you can either rent a bicycle and explore the small island at your own pace or join a day tour to see the best archaeological sites, including the giant Moai statues. During the night you simply cannot go wrong by attending a dance show to get a taste of the unique Rapa Nui culture.
The Chile Trail
Rapido travel2 weeks or less
Taking into consideration the size of Chile, it is better to prioritize your time in seeing the highlights of the country instead of trying to fit it all in. The following route can be done by taking night buses, although you can also use local flights.
San Pedro de Atacama - Santiago - Torres del Paine - Santiago
Tranquilo travelUp to a month or more
With more time to spare, you can explore most of Chile’s wonders by either land or plane. Here’s a suggested itinerary starting from the Atacama Desert and ending in Santiago.
San Pedro de Atacama – Santiago - Valparaiso - Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine – Santiago - Easter Island - Santiago
Ultimate Patagonia Trekking
Here are the spots for the biggest adventures while you’re in Chile’s Patagonia region.
- If hiking isn’t for you but you don’t want to miss the mountain back-dropped celeste blue lakes, the day trip from Puerto Natales (the nearest town to all the treks described here) to Torres del Paine is worthwhile. Keep in mind these trips need to be booked with an agency, as they will take you in van to see many of the sites. Don’t worry - you get a solid amount of time to get out and snap pictures.
- The W is the most typical trek of choice for Torres del Paine-ers. It’s usually a 4 night, 5 day journey, in the shape of….. a W (no way!) that takes you up and down two different valleys. You can begin on either side, either starting or ending with the famous Torres (the mountains the Park is named after). You’ll see two glaciers in this trek, but the weather can be volatile so make sure to pack a rain jacket and warm clothes!!
- The O is basically the W trek, plus the back completion connecting both ends of the W. This turns the trip into a 7-10 night expedition. The back is much less traveled so you’ll run into fewer hikers, giving you feel that you’ve got the park to yourself. If you’re a passionate outdoorsy type with the time and the stamina, the O offers a special perspective to the sites.
While hiking Patagonia can be done year round, you need to be experienced and prepared for winter trekking, which is why most hikers go between November and March.
Equipment and preparation is key for a good time (you are out in the heart of Mother Nature, after all) so make sure to do your research and see what’s necessary depending on your trek of choice.
Chile Travel Tips
learn Spanish in Chile
If you want to learn Spanish in Chile, your best options are: Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso and Pichilemu.
Santiago, hands down, has the greatest number of places to study Spanish in Chile since you can find more than a dozen Spanish Schools in Santiago including Escuela Bellavista, Ecela Spanish and Instituto Chileno Suizo de Idiomas y Cultura. In this big city you can also find many cultural and natural attractions plus a big community of foreigners including expats and international students. However, because of its international vibe, you’ll never be far from someone who speaks English.
If you want to push your boundaries to the limit, Pichilemu Language School and Huara Spanish School in Pichilemu and in Viña del Mar Ecela Spanish or Instituto Chileno Suizo de Idiomas y Cultura might be more immersive.
Whichever spot you choose - Santiago for the mountains, Viña del Mar for the ocean or Pichilemu for its forest - you will find the amazing wonders of this beautiful country, making each of them a fine choice to learn Spanish in Chile.