One of the most frequent questions new arrivals ask is “Where can I go for a long weekend?” or “What is a great day trip with children?” It is especially hard when you move to Chile and find that not only is the country even more skinny than you imagined (meaning driving anywhere takes longer than you thought possible!) but for us Northerners all the seasons are upside down!

After our initial settling period in a new country it doesn’t take long before I am scanning the calendar for long weekends, statutory holidays and school breaks.

But how to plan where to go at the right time and for the right amount of time? And for our family, how to avoid the crowds and make the most of the time we have in a country? Three to four years may seem like a long time, but that is only three long summer holidays. So where to go, when?

Here is my list broken down first by timing, so when a long weekend rolls around you have realistic options for getting places. We are based in Santiago and we aren’t afraid of a long car journey. But we also don’t want to spend all our time on the road. Though I will say, for a long holiday, we think nothing of leaving the house at 5 a.m. and driving 1,000 km in one day. Canadians aren’t afraid of long distances!

Chilean Seasons and Holidays

First of all, all the seasons are the opposite for us.

December-March is Summer

April-June is Autumn

July-September is Winter

September-November is Spring

There are an impossible amount of saints days and statutory holidays, and if they land on Wednesday your bank holiday is on a Wednesday! If it lands on a Thursday a lot of people will take the Friday off and say they are taking a “sandwich” long weekend.

Most schools in Santiago follow this calendar:

Summer school holidays beginning of December to end of February or first few days of March. Most Chileans take all of February off. Most Argentinians take all of January off. We try to take the last three weeks of January off if we are traveling in Chile to maximize the weather and avoid the crowds.

Our Chilean school has a week break during last week of May and first week of June. This isn’t typical so we also usually travel this week.

Most Chilean schools have a mid-July break of at least one week if not two weeks off.

In September most schools are off from Sept 6-22 to accommodate the Chilean national days of Fiestas Patrias on the 18th and 19th (commonly known as Dieciocho).

There is a four-day long weekend the last two days of October and November 1 and 2 but fortunately these days are moveable so it’s a genuine four-day weekend, not a sandwich.

So now we know when the local children off (to either plan accordingly or avoid them!!) and so now …

Where to go?

Pichilemu surfing lesson

Day Tripping

Weekend/Long Weekend

4 Day Long Weekend

Horseback riding in Valle de Elqui


2-3 Week Holidays

Island of Chiloe

Published by mamashinetravel

I'm a wife, mother of three children, Canadian Maritimer living in Mexico and planning getaways for the next available long weekend! I'm a Come From Away, but happy to be where I'm at.

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  1. I am by no doubt the inspiration for this..
    ‘So now we know when the local children off (to either plan accordingly or avoid them!!) and so now …‘
    Well played Sarah Lee. This will save you at least one Whatsapp message every upcoming school holiday period. It is going into my favorite tabs! Besitos


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