Weekend visits to Paranal Observatory

Information about the observatory is available on the following pages:

Virtual Paranal
Visit the Paranal from your armchair with our Virtual Tours. Click on the thumbnail to experience a 360° visit.

Registering for a Guided Tour

Guided tours for tourists and the general public are offered every Saturday.

Arrival at Paranal Start of Tour
Saturday 09:45 10:00
Saturday 13:45 14:00


  • The guided tours are free of charge, but registration is compulsory as there is limited space. Large groups are asked to register as far in advance as possible.
  • We do not accept bookings by mail or phone.

Book your tour here.

  • You will be able to modify or 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 in English or Spanish.
  • There is no accommodation for visitors in the Residencia.
  • For safety reasons, your are not allowed to drive your own vehicle inside the premises. You will need to park in the designated area and use the tour bus during your visit.
  • For safety reasons, people with peacemaker are not allowed inside the telescopes. This is because the electromagnetic fields generated by the instrumentation may interfere with the device.
  • 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 young people.
  • 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 within 48 hours before the visit. 


  • 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 Paranal, and security and safety advice.

  • Paranal Observatory does not offer transport to tourists.
  • ESO does not provide car fuel to visitors. You must have sufficient fuel in your car to be able 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.

Arrival at Paranal

  • You should arrive at the observatory 15 minutes before the tour start time, in order to register at the gate.
  • For safety reasons, the access to the facilities is not allowed before the tour start time.
  • At the security desk, you will be asked for your name(s) and signed Release Form(s).

The Tour

  1. The tour begins at the Visitor Centre where you will enjoy an exhibition about the Observatory and astronomy.
  2. The Paranal Visitor Centre
    The Paranal Visitor Centre. Credit: ESO
  3. Then you will be taken to the VLT platform and enter the dome of one of the 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope.
  4. If conditions permit, you will be shown the control room. This is where the astronomers work, because all telescope control and communication takes place through computers.
  5. VLT Control Room
    The VLT Control Room. Credit: ESO
  6. Finally, you will look inside the famous Paranal Residencia.

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

While on Paranal

  • Wear sunglasses, a hat, protective clothing and sunscreen over SPF35.
  • Drink plenty of bottled water or juice.
  • Move around slowly.
  • Do not leave litter.
  • 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!
  • Taking pictures is allowed except at the Control Room, when people are working.