Santiago Travel Guide
Santiago Day Trips
Chilean Wine Country © Beatrice Murch
Chilean wine enjoys a good reputation with sommeliers all around the world, with its popularity continuing to soar. Central Chile's Mediterranean climate is ideal for vineyards, and some of the best wine comes from the Central Valley around Santiago. Needless to say, wine tastings are a popular activity in Santiago, and there are many wineries to choose from. Valle de Maipo, Valle de Casablanca and Valle de San Antonio are the closest to the city, and there are nearly 30 wineries in Valle de Maipo alone. Wine country in Chile stretches for many miles along the coast, from Valle de Elqui in the north to Valle de Malleco in the south.
Chilean wine country is an especially
beautiful region in the summer, and a great way to explore the area
is on bicycles, which can easily be hired in nearby towns. Some
groups of wineries have banded together to offer established tours
along 'wine routes', of which the circuit of the Colchagua Valley
is the most popular. Many tour operators in Santiago offer wine
tasting packages as well.
Coastal Road, Vina del Mar © mig rod
Vina del Mar
Vina del Mar is a short bus ride from Santiago, right next to Valparaiso; in fact, travellers could be forgiven for thinking the two coastal cities are one and the same. Vina del Mar has a vastly different character to bohemian Valparaiso, though. It is a safer, more manicured city celebrated for its fun resort culture, malls and beautiful beaches. Vina del Mar translates as 'Vineyard of the Sea', and the city's beautiful parks have earned it the romantic nickname of Ciudad Jardin, or 'Garden City'.
Pretty Vina del Mar is a popular summer
resort and weekend retreat for the wealthy inhabitants of Santiago
with a rollicking nightlife, good restaurant scene, and beaches and
casinos that boom in the peak summer months between December and
February. Though Vina del Mar's picturesque beaches are its biggest
drawcards, they are not always safe for swimming. Visitors should
be careful not to underestimate the power of the waves and currents
and should obey directives from lifeguards.
Valparaiso, Chile © Hector Garcia
Valparaiso, only 75 miles (120km) from Santiago, has a real bohemian spirit. It is an historic port city; in fact, in the 1800s it was the main shipping hub of the Southern Pacific, which brought wealth, floods of European immigrants, and that deliciously debaucherous atmosphere that was often present in places where sailors congregated.
Valparaiso clings to the steep sides of 45 hills along the coast, a tricky geography that makes epic staircases and quaint old funiculars integral to getting around. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to a wealth of well-preserved historic architecture, but it is the highly modern street-art phenomenon that truly sets the place apart. The sheer amount of murals and graffiti, mixed up with grand old buildings, makes the whole city feel like a weird work of art. Adding another layer to this artsy atmosphere are the musicians who busk on seemingly every corner and artists selling their work at improvised stalls all over the picturesque hillside districts.
Unsurprisingly, Valparaiso is renowned for its vibrant nightlife and there is a surplus of cool places to eat and drink in the city. Apart from taking in the art, colourful architecture and numerous pubs, travellers should be sure to visit the quirky home of beloved poet Pablo Neruda, which offers glorious views over the city as well as insight into his life.