In November, I flew out to Santiago, Chile to spend some time exploring the things to do in Santiago, visiting the winelands and enjoying the beaches and coastal resorts to the south. It was my first trip to South America, having previously explored more in Asia and Africa.
Located just an hour and half from the popular beach resort of Valparaiso, it’s easy to spend a few days exploring the contrasts of Santiago before heading to the beach for some down-time, in this sophisticated resort, with its brightly-coloured houses.
In January 2017, British Airways started direct flights from London to Santiago – now BA's longest route at 14 hours and 40 minutes. Although Santiago has always been an easy stop to include on a round the world ticket (often as a jumping off point for the remote Easter Island), this new direct flight opens up so many opportunities for Brits to explore Chile, without the extra hassle of flying in-direct.
I stayed at the Hotel Cumbres Vitacura, which is a 5 star property located in the centre of Santiago. The hotel is only a few minutes’ walk away from café’s, restaurants and high-fashion boutiques if you fancy any retail therapy whilst visiting Santiago.
The most pleasant time to visit Santiago in terms of temperature is between September and November when it is pleasant and not too hot, as opposed to peak season from November to February the temperature can be unpleasantly high. If you also travel at this time of year you will also miss the peak season crowds which is from December to February. March brings the wine festivals and April is the grape harvests in the southern wine country.
I’d recommend spending at least 48 hours in Santiago as it's a great city to break the long journey from Australasia to South America on a round the world ticket. If you can allow for a few extras days, Chile is a destination not to be missed. Within a few hours of leaving the capital you can be on a vineyard enjoying the famous Chilean wines or enjoying Valparaiso on the coast.
One of the best ways to take in the Santiago’s situation surrounded by the snow-capped Andes is to visit the Sky Costanera building, where you’ll get 360 degree views at a height of 300m – making it the tallest building in South America. If you’d like to pre-book the Sky Costenera we can organise this with your ground arrangements for Chile.
Santiago is also renowned for its shopping, so if you wish to shop till you drop visit the boutique shops of Avenida Vitacura, Santiago's own high-end shopping district, similar to Rodeo drive in LA.
Santiago is an exciting blend of old and new: old Spanish colonial architecture alongside modern structures. The city sits in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and the Chilean Coast Range and is easy to explore on foot, either on your own or with a local guide, which I can arrange. Plaza de Armas, the grand heart of the city’s old colonial quarter is home to the Palacio de la Real Audiencia and the 18th-century Metropolitan Cathedral.
The beauty of Santiago aside from the city, is its proximity to both the coast and to the renowned winelands of Chile and Argentina, famous for their excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, amongst many others.
It’s easy to arrange a wine tasting tour close to the city, if that interests you. Within just a two hour drive, you could be at a cellar door in one of Chile’s oldest wineries, sampling some fine wine. I would recommend spending 2 nights in the Río Maipo area south west of the city where besides enjoying the fantastic wine, you’ll be able to appreciate this scenic region, framed by more snow-capped mountains and clear blue skies.
If you’re interested in including Santiago in your round the world ticket, or in visiting Chile for a holiday, I can tailor-make all of your arrangements and advise you on flights. I can recommend things to do in Santiago, plus hotels and city tours and also plan wine tasting tours, either as a day trip from the city, or with a longer stay in the winelands. For more inspiration – see our top 10 things to do in Chile.
If you have sufficient times, Santiago offers a unique opportunity to fly out to Easter Island (6 hour flight), where you can see the remote and mysterious Moai stone faces.
For more information and to start planning your trip to Chile, contact David.