Gateway to the driest desert in the world, San Pedro also has a lot of charm to stay in the memory of travelers.

the village of San Pedro de Atacama, at the Chile, has around 2,000 residents and has tourism as its main source of income, since it is the last stop for those who have the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world.

The dirt and stone streets of the city center are surrounded by old houses that today have been transformed into tourist agencies and souvenir and handicraft shops. However, the story of San Pedro de Atacama comes from far away and the RP Gustav Le Paige Archeology Museum has in its collection objects that tell the history of the place, which dates back more than 10,000 years and also shows the effects of the domination of the Incas and Spaniards.

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The tours to the Atacama Desert they leave from points in the village or from hotels in the surroundings, it depends on who you decide to book the package with. There are volcanoes, salt flats, lakes and neighboring villages, so it is recommended at least 5 days to visit the main points of the driest region in the world.

A point of attention for those planning to go to San Pedro de Atacama is the climatic variation, since the temperature can go from 9°C to 26°C in the same day.

Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Photo: Albert Backer / Wikimedia Commons

Calle Caracoles

With its straw and mud houses, it is the main street of the city with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and tourist agencies.

Museum of Archeology RP Gustav Le Paige

Focused on local history, the museum brings together household items and other objects that were part of the daily lives of the people who inhabited that land over the years. The oldest objects go back about 10,000 years in time!

Church of San Pedro

With a simple structure, the charming church dates from 1774, the chapel was built by the Spanish Jesuits and is located in the main square.

Cejar Lagoon

The lagoon is known for its enormous concentration of salt, which is larger than the Dead Sea. This concentration allows visitors to float in its extremely clear waters involuntarily. In addition to its characteristics that make Laguna Cejar a unique place, the attraction is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, making the landscape even more impressive.

Salar de Tara

The tour to the fascinating Salar de Tara takes a full day, as the inhospitable area is approximately 140 km from San Pedro de Atacama. Salar de Tara is also the highest point in the Atacama Desert. reaching an altitude of 4,300 meters. The tour is done with 4×4 cars that stop at several interesting points in the desert, including rock formations, mountains and lakes.

Craft Market

Also located in the square, the space offers manual art that is a tradition in San Pedro de Atacama, such as pieces made from llama and alpaca wool or volcanic stones, in addition to the traditional coca tea.


Travelers find eight volcanoes in the region, they are Sairecabur, Socompa, Putana, Lascar, Aguas Calientes, Macóm, Mornar and Licancabur, which is the most sought after as it is almost 6,000 meters high.

Salt Mountain Range

Located about 20 km from San Pedro de Atacama, it is home to the famous Valle de la Luna and Valle de la Muerte. The names refer to the rocky and dry relief, which resembles that of the Moon and are mandatory stops for those visiting the place for the first time.

Other places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama:

  • Guatin Canyon
  • Tátio geysers
  • Tuyaito Lagoon
  • Chaxa Lagoon
  • Miscanti Lagoon
  • Lagoon Miñique
  • Monks of Pacana
  • coyote stone
  • Salar Aguas Calientes
  • Salar de Tebinquiche
  • Salar de Atacama

How to get to San Pedro de Atacama

Photo: Ana Raquel Hernandes / Wikimedia Commons

By airplane

The city does not have its own airport, so the most practical way is to fly to Calama, which is 100km from San Pedro de Atacama on Ruta 23. Flights from Santiago to Calama take around 2 hours. The companies Lan Chile and Sky Airlines make the journey to Calama from Santiago and other cities in the country. When arriving in Calama, you can hire transfers, taxis or take the bus to San Pedro de Atacama.

By car

Departing from Santiago, the trip takes an average of 20 hours. Chile's roads are great and surrounded by country landscapes are impressive. This can be a very pleasant option if your intention is to get to know Chile by land.

By bus

The Tur Bus company is the only option with a direct bus to San Pedro. The Pulmann Bus arrives as far as Calama. Trips last 23 hours.

Best time to visit in San Pedro de Atacama

Photo: Pablo Garcia Saldaña / Wikimedia Commons

As the Andes Mountains make it difficult for clouds to pass, even cloudy days are rare, but temperatures usually range from -10°C to 20°C in winter and from 15°C to 30°C in summer. So choose whether you prefer cold or heat and hit the road!

The high season in San Pedro de Atacama takes place during the school holidays and the end of the year. So, if you want to save money on transport, accommodation, food and tours, avoid mainly the months of July and August, in addition to December and January.

Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama

Photo: Rogerio Camboim SA / Flickr Wikimedia Commons

Find accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama here.

» Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons and Salar de Atacama
» 9 sensational places you need to know in Chile
» What to do in Santiago: 2-day itinerary
» Places to visit in Puerto Natales

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