Weekend visits to Paranal

Registering for a Guided Tour


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

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

  Arrival on Paranal Start of Tour
Saturday 09:30 10:00
Saturday 13:30 14:00

The guided tours are free of charge, but registration is required as there is limited space. Large groups are asked to register as far in advance as possible.

To register for a visit to Paranal, please submit the Visitor Form. We do not accept bookings by mail or phone.

For special inquiries about the visit or information which is not available on our web pages, please contact: visits@eso.org. For emergency calls about the visit or booking: +56-55-716931.

Every visitor to Paranal (or any ESO site) must read and sign the Release Form in English or Spanish. Once signed, the form must be delivered on arrival at the observatory gate. An emailed copy of the form can unfortunately not be accepted.

Additional information is available on the following pages:

Travel to ESO Paranal & Security and Safety Advice

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

The Paranal Observatory does not offer transport to tourist visitors. Please note that there is no gasoline station at the Observatory. You must have sufficient fuel in your car to be able to drive to your next destination.

Tour Information

Arrival at Paranal

The Paranal Visitor CentreYou should arrive at the Observatory 30 minutes before the start time of the tour.

At the guard desk, you will be asked for your name(s) and Release Forms. If you are on the approved visitor list, you will be asked to proceed to either the tour starting point (Tours, students) or the Residencia offices (Journalists, family).

Tours will begin at the Visitors Center. There is a brief presentation on the construction of the VLT, Paranal, and astronomy. Other visitors will be assigned a meal card and given room keys (if overnight stays are involved). Your contact person will be informed of your arrival.

The VLT Tour

During the tour, you will be taken to the mountain top where the telescopes are located. You will have the chance to enter one of the enclosures and see the actual telescope. We encourage you to ask as many questions and take as many pictures as you would like.

The Control Room Tour

VLT Control RoomIf conditions permit, you will be shown the control room. This is where the astronomers work, as all control and communications with the telescopes takes place through computers.

While on Paranal

All buildings and public areas on Paranal are non-smoking.

During your visit, you should stay with the ESO Guide at all times. In an emergency, always follow the Guide´s instructions.

The Paranal Site of the La Silla Paranal Observatory permits photographs and video taping during the tours.

Paranal´s basecamp is located at 2,456 metres. The telescopes are at 2,600 metres. We recommend that you do not walk quickly.

For safety reasons, children under 5 years are not allowed.

You are welcome to bring a light snack or lunch. There are no facilities on-site that offer meals. We recommend that you limit intake as excess can cause stomach inflammation and digestive problems at high altitudes. You will be allowed on site one half hour before the tour is scheduled to begin, and restroom facilities are available.

Please wear appropriate clothing such as pants, walking shoes (no sandals), sunglasses, etc. We recommend a jacket/sweater for the VLT enclosures, which are kept at 5–11°C.

While exposed to sunlight, we recommend the use of UV-rated sunglasses--especially while walking on the telescope platform.

Ask questions! The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. The Guides are trained to answer your queries