Public Visits to La Silla Observatory

The La Silla Observatory is located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. Like other observatories in this geographical area, La Silla is located far from sources of light pollution and it has one of the darkest night skies on the Earth. La Silla has been an ESO stronghold since the 1960s. Here, ESO operates two of the most productive 4-metre class telescopes in the world. Come and see this place full of astronomical history.

Registering for a guided tour

Guided tours for tourists are offered every Saturday of the year.

Arrival at La Silla Start of tour End of the tour
Saturdays 09:30 10:00 13:00
Saturdays 13:30 14:00 17:00
  • The guided tours are free of charge, but registration is compulsory as capacity is limited. Large groups are recommended to register as far in advance as possible.
  • Visits can be reserved through the online form only. Booking by phone or email are not accepted.
  • You will be able to cancel your reservation online until 10:00 AM on Friday before your visit. If you decide not to come, please be so kind to cancel your reservation as much in advance as possible. In this way, you will give other people the opportunity to visit the Observatory.
  • Every visitor to Paranal (or any ESO site) must read and sign the Release Form and a Health Declaration Form. 
  • For safety reasons, children under 4 years are not allowed to visit the observatory.
  • For safety reasons, pets are not allowed  at the observatory.
  • For safety reasons, minors must be accompanied by an adult. Each adult can be responsible for a maximum of 10 minors.
  • Please be aware that the tour could be cancelled in the case of severe weather conditions. In this case, you will be notified via phone call or email as soon as possible. 

Useful information

Contact

  • For special inquiries about the visit or information which is not available on our web pages, email visits@eso.org.
  • For emergency calls about the visit or booking, call +56-9 -98395312.

Travel & Meals

Please follow this link for very important information on how to reach ESO La Silla, and security and safety advice.

  • ESO does not offer transport to reach La Silla Observatory.
  • ESO does not provide car fuel to visitors. Please make sure you have enough to drive to your next destination.
  • There are no facilities on-site that offer meals. You are welcome to bring your own light snack or lunch to eat before the start of the tour. There is a pic-nic shaded area near the gate.

Arrival at La Silla

  • You need to arrive at the observatory main gate at least 30 minutes before the tour start time.
  • There is a waiting area for visitors just beyond the main gate.
  • At the gate, you will be asked for your name(s), your QR ticket, your Chilean mobility pass (or negative PCR test taken within 48 and 24 hours).

The Tour

1. The tour begins at the Visitor Centre where you will enjoy a walk through an exhibition about the Observatory and astronomy in general. This include an exhibition about the evolution of astronomical detectors and the recreation of an old control room.

2. Then you will visit the ESO 3.6-metre telescope,

and then, the New Technology Telescope (NTT).

3. Everything will finish with spectacular views of the desert and the Andes.

The order of the steps described above may vary depending on the number of people in the tour.

While on La Silla

  • Use of face masks is mandatory. All visitors need to arrive with their own masks. The safety approved masks to use at the observatory are: disposable surgical masks, N95, KN95. Cloth masks are not allowed at the observatory. Facial shields must not be worn without site approved facial masks.
  • Wear sunglasses, a hat, protective clothing and sunscreen over SPF50.
  • Drink plenty of bottled water.
  • Move around slowly.
  • Take your litter with you.
  • Smoking is not allowed.
  • Illegal drugs and alcohol use are forbidden.
  • The use of drones is not allowed.
  • If you feel unwell: inform your guide immediately!
  • In an emergency: follow the guide and the Emergency Coordinator’s instructions.
  • Follow your guide’s instructions at all times throughout the tour.
  • Please find more information here: Health & Safety advice.
  • Be curious — ask lots of questions!
  • You are welcome to take pictures, without previous authorization, unless the picture includes a recognizable person. We encourage you to share your images with us by tagging our social media accounts: Instagram (@esoastronomy and @Eso.Chile), Facebook (@ESOAstronomy and @ESO.Chile) and Twitter (@ESO and @ESO_Chile)