Chile – Santiago
The more research I do about South America, the more I start to regret not having enough time to visit all the countries there. I’m only passing through South America and only visiting the major cities in each country just to get a glimpse of what it has to offer. Chile is such a large country, all be it with a lot of mountains, but it’s still a huge country with a lot places and cities worth visiting. Sadly I’m only going to Santiago de Chile. Orignally I had planned to visit Patagonia and Torres Del Paine, but time and budget would not permit it. Next time I visit South America I’ll come prepared and make up for all the things I missed!
While Brazil and Argentina have been more in the media and more commonly known with the general public for their tourism, there’s actually little known about Chile and what it has to offer for your average tourist. Don’t quote me on this, but I think Chile has a lot to offer for the adventurous traveler. The main touristic hotspot for most people would be Torres del Paine which is located at the south of Chile. This are is known for it’s amazing hikes through the mountains with A-MA-ZING wildlife and nature. Yes I did just say amazing twice, yes. Sadly there’s not much I can write about it since I’m not going there or have been there. But from what I’ve read, the entire southern area there is called end of the world since it’s has some of the most southern cities in the world there. (Punta Arenas & Ushuaïa)
Santiago de Chile is the capital of Chile, meaning that it’s a real metropol with commercial buildings combined with historical buildings and artifacts. It’s an excellent base from which to explore, with world-class ski resorts, sun-kissed beaches and beautiful vineyards all within easy reach. But to be honest… other than that I have no idea what to see and visit in Santiago itself besides the museums and colonial buildings. If you have any tips on what to see, visit, eat, drink, etc… be sure to tell me in the comments. I’d really love to find out what Santiago has to offer.edit: I’ve managed to find several more things to do in and around Santiago. However, a lot of people do say that eventhough Santiago is a cosmopolitan / metropole there are only a handfull of really touristic things to do. The majority of the people advise you to stay in Santiago a few days to chill and relax before heading to other surrounding cities. Let’s list a few attractions in Santiago first.
Visit the cerro’s
Cerro’s in Spanish are hills and Santiago is filled with them. The border with Argentina is home to the massive Andes mountains and a short drive away from the city you can access the highest peak in the western hemisphere, Mount Aconcagua. Cerro San Cristobal is the one hill in the city where you can spend an entire day relaxing and exercising or simply going to see the gorgeous sunsets. They have snacks and many times you can catch a wedding while you are going to see the great views. Another great cerro to visit is Santa Lucia. With quite of bit of history behind it this is the actual spot where the city of Santiago was founded in Pedro de Valdivia in 1541. You can get exceptional views of the city here as well. La Moneda: The courtyard of the Presidential house of Chile is very easy to enter and there are awesome sculptures by Chilean artists worth seeing. Have a Terremoto at La Piojera: – The terremoto (translation: earthquake) is a Santiago staple “copete” (drink) that every traveler needs to try. What is it? A mix of wine, pisco (a domestic liquor made from grapes), pineapple ice cream, and a hint of grenadine. Make sure to mix well and you will walk out feeling like a tremor just hit you. Quinta Normal: You could call it Santiago’s museum district, a huge park on the east end of Santiago Centro. I don’t know the exact number, but I would guess there are between 5 and 10 museums in the park and you could spend a whole day here. Barrio Bellas Artes and Parque Forestal on Sundays: Every decent-weathered Sunday, hundreds to thousands of Chileans come out to the section of Parque Forestal right around Museo Bellas Artes to enjoy the life in Santiago. Sculpture Park: Along the banks of the not so beautiful Mapocho River running through Santiago lies a tranquil park with about 30 sculptures made by Chilean artists. This is a gem of the city that I have never seen talked about in English guides to Santiago. Bellavista: The ultimate nightlife sector of Santiago is also very centrally located. Tons of bars (for drinking), discotecas (for dancing and drinking), and restaurants (for eating, and of course, drinking). If you’re still out of ideas what to visit and where to go, there are several people/organisations that offer a free tour of the city for no charge at all, besides tips. http://www.spicychile.cl/
Frequently referred to as simply Valpo, it is located approximately 120km west of the capital, Santiago de Chile. The city is widely known for its bohemian culture, brightly colored houses, and beautiful seaside views. Valparaiso was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. It has less to do with touring specific sites than it is about roaming the chaotic, hilly streets, and taking in the views and ambiance. There is also an active nightlife and a constantly changing variety of artistic events.
Vina del Mar
It’s a beach resort town close to Santiago de Chile, it’s the most important beach in country. Besides the beach culture there are also a handfull of things to see around town: La Quinta Vergara – a beautiful garden with trees from China and Canada for example. In the same place the “Festival de Viña” takes places every year in the last week of february. Plaza del Reloj – near the beaches there is a clock where the numbers are made of flowers. After some more intensive research I did manage to find things to do around Santiago. Since I’ll only be staying 9 days, this list should keep me busy enough during these days. Although there are more things I’d like to see and visit.
- Chilou Island (largest island in Chili)
- Robinson Crusoe Island
- Easter Island