Highlights and main attractions of Santiago and surrounds

Calling Chile’s capital pleasant is to damn it with faint praise. True, it doesn’t hold the excitement or romance of Rio or Buenos Aires, but there is little to dislike and plenty to enjoy. Watched over by the snow-capped Andes, and sat in a valley bisected by the Mapocho River, the city was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541. It has grown into the fifth largest city in South America offering first class hotels and restaurants giving it a distinctly contemporary feel. The city’s historic centre has an interesting mix of modern buildings alongside crumbling old churches, a legacy of the earthquake damage that Santiago has suffered over the years. 

Santiago acts as the perfect entry point to an intriguing country.

where is Santiago?

Where to go and seasonal changes

Santiago has much more to offer than one might expect. Although predominantly a commercial metropolis, there are elegant parks and hilltop retreats that take you away from the everyday hustle and bustle. You will also find first rate museums and art galleries, local handicraft markets, as well as bohemian districts full of fine dining and bustling bars. A home to over six million people, there are plenty of attractions suiting all budgets and interests and there is certainly no need to rush away too quickly.

To the west the Pacific coast is just over an hour away. Valparaiso, ‘the Pearl of the Pacific’ was a declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, and is a myriad of colourful buildings, intertwined by mazy streets and lookout points connected by long staircases, outside elevators and trolleybuses. It really has to be seen to be believed! Further north is Viña del Mar, a truly modern city founded just over a century ago; built as an escape from the commotion of the capital. In the summer, thousands flock to top up their tans on the many beautifully groomed beaches.

In the winter, Santiago’s inhabitants migrate to the east in search of snow. Just 40 kilometres from the capital, and two thousand metres above sea level, you can find some of South America’s most desirable ski resorts. They are easily accessible as day trips, as well as excellent hotels, and have slopes that will satisfy beginners and seasoned skiers and snowboarders alike. If visiting out of snow season then the Andes become a playground for a trekkers, climbers, kayakers and horse riders amongst others.

SANTIAGO IS AN INCREDIBLE CITY, AND THE PLACES TO EXPLORE AND ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE DEPEND ON THE TIME OF YEAR YOU TRAVEL.

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