Self-drive Chile from Santiago to Norte Chico

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 7

From: Santiago

To: La Serena



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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This trip lets you self-drive Chile from Santiago to Norte Chico on this short intro to the north of the country. Begin with three nights in Santigo and a guided city tour to discover the different districts and to for staggering views over the entire city from San Cristobal Hill. Then, you’ll head to the coastal town of Valparaiso with its pretty painted houses and steep funicular railways. From here, fly north to La Serena and drive to Elqui Valley, to taste Chile’s local brandy, Pisco and enjoy some of the world’s best star-gazing opportunities under the clear skies. End your trip with a bottle-nose dolphin watching boat tour of the islands near La Serena  - a great combination of cities and wildlife in less than a week.

This Chile itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • Discover Santiago on a walking tour around the city
  • Get panoramic views of the city from San Cristobal hill
  • Exploring the Bohemian town of Valparaiso and ride the famous funicular
  • Discover where Pisco brandy is made in ELqui Valley in Norte Chico (little north)
  • Spot bottle-nosed dolphins on a boat trip to Gaviota, Choros and Damas islands



Itinerary in brief:

  • 3 nights in Santiago
  • 2 nights in the Elqui Valley
  • 1 night in La Serena


Day 1: Arrive in Santiago   

On arrival at Santiago airport, you will be met and taken to your hotel by private transfer, where you will check in for a 3-night stay.      

Day 2: Half day Santiago city tour       

Today we’ve included a tour of Santiago to explore the historical and modern sights of the city. After breakfast, you’ll be picked up by your guide, and you’ll visit the Main Square with its neoclassical Cathedral, the Government Palace (also called La Moneda). Then, you’ll explore the tree-lined, pedestrianised streets of Huerfanos and Ahumada in downtown, home to plenty of shops and coffee houses. You’ll continue to Santa Lucia Hill, and old volcanic mount where the Spanish founded Santiago in 1541, and San Cristobal hill, a spectacular viewpoint at 629m with panoramic views of the capital.       

Day 3: Day tour to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar   

After breakfast, you will be picked up by your private vehicle and guide for the drive to Valparaiso.

Situated on the Pacific coast, Valparaiso is a colourful and bohemian city two hours west of Santiago and at its peak, was once one of the major harbours of the Americas. Although it’s still an important port, it’s become famous for its historic centre full of colourful houses built on the steep slopes and local artists’ boutiques. It’s a lovely city to explore as the upper and lower parts of the city are connected by 16 funicular railways so you can get up and down easily.

After seeing the city, you’ll continue driving north along the coastline until you reach Viña del Mar, the most famous and visited beach resort of the region.   

Day 4: Santiago to La Serena       

Today you will be collected from your hotel in the morning and be taken to the airport by private transfer for your flight to La Serena. Once you arrive, make your way to the rental car offices at the airport to pick up your rental vehicle for the next three days.

From here, you’ll make the one hour drive to Elqui Valley where you will check into your accommodation for two nights. 

Day 5: Elqui Valley   

The Elqui Valley lies at the southern end of the Atacama Desert and in the last 20 years has become an important region for producing table grapes and other fruits, as well as pisco brandy, Chile’s famous and most popular liquor. It is a region of beautiful landscapes and amazing star-gazing opportunities.

Day 6: La Serena        

This morning drive to La Serena, the region’s coastal colonial capital. We’ve included a boat tour to the islands of Gaviota, Choros and Damas where you can spot a variety of marine life including bottlenose dolphins. Lunch is included with the tour; then in the afternoon, you’ll drive to your accommodation in La Serena where you will check in for one night.    

Day 7: Depart La Serena     

At a suitable time drive to La Serena airport to drop off your rental car and connect with your onward travel plans.               


This itinerary can be enjoyed all year round.       

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • 6 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Return airport transfers
  • 3 days rental car
  • Domestic flight from Santiago to La Serena
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary

Not included: 

  • International Flights
  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Any excursions not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities


6 nights in 4* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Hotel Boutique Orly

  • Elqui Domos

  • Hotel Costa Real La Serena
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