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Overview

Just as California's Sierra Nevada is close to its major cities, the Chilean Andes are close — or even closer — to its capital and other major cities. Near the Argentine border, Portillo is Chile's highest-profile ski resort for the downhill speed records set there, but Nevados de Chillán is both a ski area and a summertime hot springs resort. In both cases, it's possible to stay more cheaply in nearby cities, such as Los Andes and Chillán respectively, with only minor inconvenience.

Along the coast and in the fertile central valley, winter is a time of mild days and cool nights, where it's still possible to stroll the ...

Just as California's Sierra Nevada is close to its major cities, the Chilean Andes are close — or even closer — to its capital and other major cities. Near the Argentine border, Portillo is Chile's highest-profile ski resort for the downhill speed records set there, but Nevados de Chillán is both a ski area and a summertime hot springs resort. In both cases, it's possible to stay more cheaply in nearby cities, such as Los Andes and Chillán respectively, with only minor inconvenience.

Along the coast and in the fertile central valley, winter is a time of mild days and cool nights, where it's still possible to stroll the beaches, hike national park trails, visit vineyards, or even combine your skiing with same-day surfing. Independent of the season, its urban attractions include Valparaíso, Chile's Gold Rush port and a World Heritage Site linked to San Francisco in geography and in history and in Isabel Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune. Nobel Prize poet Pablo Neruda's homes at Isla Negra and Valparaíso are also accessible to visitors.

East of La Serena, the arid uplands around Pisco Elqui are open all year for Taos-style spas, meditation, and mysticism. Perhaps not coincidentally, the area also produces the namesake grape brandy that's the base for Chile's national cocktail, the addictive pisco sour.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    July to October for snow sports