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

The guided tours for visitors will take place every Saturday of the year. Tours are also offered on Sunday mornings between April and August.

Arrival at La Silla Start of tour End of the tour
Saturdays (all year round) 09:30 10:00 13:00
Saturdays (September to March) 13:30 14:00 17:00
Sundays (April to August) 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 is not accepted.
  • You can cancel your reservation online until 10:00 AM on Friday before your visit. If you decide not to come, please be so kind as to cancel your reservation as much in advance as possible. In this way, you will allow other people to visit the Observatory.
  • Every visitor to La Silla (or any ESO site) must read and sign the Release Form.
  • There is no accommodation for visitors in the observatory.
  • For safety reasons, you cannot drive your vehicle inside the premises. You must park in the designated area and use the tour bus during your visit. 
  • People with peacemakers are not allowed inside the telescopes. This is because the electromagnetic fields generated by the instrumentation may interfere with the device.
  • Children under four years old are not allowed to visit the observatory for safety reasons. During winter, minors under eight years old are not allowed to visit the observatory.
  • An adult must accompany minors. Each adult can be responsible for a maximum of 10 minors.
  • Pets are not allowed  at the observatory.
  • Please be aware that the tour could be cancelled due to severe weather conditions. In this case, you will be notified by phone or email as soon as possible. 

Useful information


  • For special inquiries about the visit or information unavailable on our web pages, email We will respond within a maximum of 48 hours (two business days).
  • For emergency calls about the visit or booking, call +56 9 9839 5312.

Travel & Meals

Please follow this link for 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.
  • There are no facilities on-site that offer meals. You are welcome to bring your light snack or lunch to eat before the start of the tour. There is a picnic-shaded area near the gate.

Arrival at La Silla

  • You must arrive at the observatory's main gate at least 30 minutes before the tour starts.
  • There is a waiting area for visitors just beyond the main gate.
  • You will be asked for your ID and QR ticket at the gate.

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 if conditions allow, 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

  • 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)