Santiago, Valparaíso & Central Valleys

At the foot of the splendid Andes Cordillera, Santiago has grown to become one of the leading cities in Latin America.

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At the foot of the splendid mountains of the Andes, Santiago has grown to become one of the leading cities in Latin America. It surprises by their culture, growth rate and large business center. Besides this, just little over an hour you can enjoy places like ski resorts, Valparaiso (World Heritage), Colchagua and Casablanca Valleys, among others.

Santiago has become a destination of choice for international business travelers, developing a reputation as a calm and clean city with a good quality of life. According to The New York Times, Santiago de Chile is the number one destination for travelers in 2011.The best way to discover this constantly changing metropolis is to walk around the various districts and neighborhoods.

Most government activities take place in Santiago’s downtown area (El Centro), which is home to La Moneda (the presidential palace), Plaza de Armas and the Judicial and Executive Branches. This area also boasts numerous museums and pedestrian malls.

Districts such as Providencia, Bellavista, Las Condes and Vitacura offer a dazzling array of businesses, shops and restaurants as well as a bustling nightlife.

Though all big cities are dominated by concrete to some degree, Santiago is home to several imposing green spaces. For example, Parque Metropolitano, also known as Cerro San Cristóbal, is visible from most of the city. You can get to the top on foot, by bike or by car or take a refurbished cable car.

Don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of Chile’s best wines and tour the vineyards that are now enveloped by the city. Other great daytrip options are Pirque, a neighboring village in the Andean foothills, and the Maipo Valley, where you can enjoy nature, sample local food, pick up some souvenirs and find a place to spend a few nights near the banks of the Maipo River.

Santiago is also located near many attractions such as the beach house of poet Pablo Neruda, Isla Negra, ski resorts located around 60 km from the city, spots in the Andean foothills like Cajón del Maipo, the port of Valparaíso, which is about an hour from Santiago, and Viña del Mar and other summer resorts on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Options for enjoying the mountains and sea are always right at your fingertips in Santiago.

If you happen to be in Santiago only for a few days, have a look at this article from The New York Times article called “36 Hours in Santiago, Chile” to find out some good ideas of what to do and where to go.

Know the experience of our visitors in Chile, through this video!

Bellavista Neighborhood

One of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Santiago is Bellavista, which is known for a great many things including its reputation as an artsy enclave and center for nightlife. Situated between the Mapocho River and Cerro San Cristóbal, Bellavista was home to Chile’s elite until recently, and its history is still evident in its stately urban architecture.

Lastarria Neighborhood

This is one of the most bohemian neighborhoods in Santiago, and it holds an important part of Chilean architectural heritage. Its streets have kept their old cobblestones, but have also been filled up with restaurants, bookstores, design shops, cafes, and hotels. The beautiful Forestal Park is adjacent to this neighborhood, which comes alive on weekends.

The Route of Neruda

This tour begins in the Bellavista neighborhood where the house museum La Chascona is located. Here we can find odds and ends of the poet, Pablo Neruda. We continue on to the beautiful former National Congress, where the poet served as senator of Norte Grande. We then move on to the Mapocho neighborhood where he spent his youth at 513 Maruri St., where he wrote Crepusculario.

Central Market

The many attractions of Santiago include the colorful Central Market, a metallic structure of great worth. Today it is considered to be a temple of Chilean popular cuisine and a fruit and vegetable market, for which it was created in 1872. You can find a variety of restaurants, with menus ranging from seafood to delicious dishes with different types of meat and vegetables.

Cajon del Maipo and Baños Morales Hot Springs

The Cajón del Maipo is located one hour from downtown Santiago at the foothill of the Andes Mountain and the Maipo River. Other interesting attractions here are: Lagunillas ski resort, El Morado Glacier National Park, the San Jose Volcano, and Baños Morales hot springs. Tryto get close to the area called Villa del Valle while at Baños Morales, where you will find a piece of Tibet in the Andes. On the road from Santiago to the Baños Morales hot springs you will find several restaurants and good places to stay.

La Moneda Palace

When it was inaugurated in 1805 as a home for minting coins, it was considered the best civil building throughout the Americas. It was built by the architect Joaquín Toesca, who was inspired by eighteenth-century stately palaces. Later the building was acquired by the Government where they installed their headquarters and shared this space with the mint from 1846 to 1929. In 2000, its doors were opened to the public so that anyone who wanted to could tour the palace.

Plaza de Armas and Paseo Ahumada

These are, respectively, the first square and the first walking strip mall of the city. These buildings are located around the square: the Cathedral (1775), the main post office headquarters (1882), the former Palace of the Royal Court, which today houses the National Historical Museum (1807), and City Hall (1895).

Museum and National Palace of Fine Arts

This is the best collection of Chilean and European art from the 19th and 20th centuries in Santiago. It occupies a neoclassical building with Art Nouveau, built especially for the museum and designed by the French architect, Emilio Jecquier. It was inaugurated in 1910 to mark hundred-year anniversary of national independence. It was inspired very obviously by French architecture.

Pre-Columbian Art Museum

It has a remarkable exhibit from various indigenous cultures of America, some before Christ, in an old building that has been restored. The collection consists of three thousand pieces that show the history of American man, and which include items such as Pre- Columbian ceramics and textiles that transcended cultures and other important historical items.


The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, which opened in 2010 in the former Diego Portales Building, usually offers a wide and diverserange of cultural activities, from temporary art exhibits up to musical performances.

Cultural Tours of Santiago

Santiago is a city brimming with culture, a quality you’re sure to notice as you walk down its streets. The city’s old quarter is one of the best examples of this. It is home to a large number of museums, theaters and similar institutions that attract local and international visitors alike.

For example, the Teatro Municipal located on Calle Agustinas and San Antonio hosts notable national and international dance performances, operas, concerts and more. The Museo de Bellas Artes (across from Parque Forestal) offers world-class exhibits. Meanwhile, the Museo de Arte Precolombino at the intersection of Calle Bandera and Compañia is renowned for its pioneering efforts to showcase the artistic legacy of the peoples who inhabited the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. The Museo Histórico Nacional (at Plaza de Armas) houses interesting collections that will give you a sense of Chile’s history, including furniture, decorative pieces, weapons, tools, clothing and a valuable photo archive.

Another highlights places:

The Railway Museum and the National Museum of Natural History, Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago Library and Cultural Center Gabriela Mistral.

Ski Resorts

If you’re interested in skiing South America’s best slopes, travel 40 km east of downtown Santiago towards the Andes. Some of the most famous ski resorts quickly come into view as you leave the city, including Farellones, El Colorado, La Parva, and Valle Nevado. All of these have hotels, restaurants, equipment rental, and ski slopes for everyone from beginners to experts who might even prefer backcountry skiing.

Portillo, one of the Southern Cone’s most traditional ski resorts, is located at the Los Andes border crossing only 164 km northeast of Santiago near the Cristo Redentor pass (2,850 m).

Outdoor activities in Cajon del Maipo

The Cajón de Maipo has become an oasis for capital dwellers seeking fresh air and a respite from the bustle of the city. As if by magic, small mountain communities have begun to appear just a few kilometers from Santiago, offering peace, a chance to connect with nature, traditional Chilean fare, and, if you enjoy outdoor activities, opportunities to practice adventure sports.

Towards the end of the line, you’ll encounter Lo Valdés (km 70), which is right near the Colina Valley and its natural 70ºC (158ºF) hot springs, and the El Morado, a natural monument that offers 3,000 hectares of trekking as well as climbing excursions on the area’s main peaks (El Morado and San Francisco).

Aconcagua Valley

Aconcagua Valley is located 65 km north of Santiago at the base of Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in America. This valley’s vineyards are nourished by the annual snow melt and the Aconcagua River. Similar to the Maipo Valley, the Aconcagua Valley is also famous for its red wines, but their vineyards also produce fresh and excellent Sauvignon Blanc.

Shopping in Santiago

Certain Santiago neighborhoods have established themselves as unique shopping areas. For example, the international luxury brands are found on Calle Alonso de Córdova in the neighborhood of Vitacura, which also has a number of elegant boutiques and design shops. In the bustling neighborhood of Providencia, you’ll find a wide variety of shops offering music, books, design, fashion, and crafts. Meiggs and Patronato have hundreds of stores that offer domestic and imported products available at low prices.

Pueblito los Dominicos

The Pueblito de Los Domínicos handicrafts village stands in stark contrast to the aforementioned scenarios, offering visitors and locals alike the opportunity to experience traditional country life in the Andean foothills.


Watch the sunset from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (Parque Metropolitano), drink a potent Terromoto cocktail (made with cooked wine and pineapple ice cream) or the gentler, alcohol-free mote con huesillo (made with cooked peaches, sugar water and husked wheat), visit Pablo Neruda’s museum-house La Chascona or enjoy the local cuisine.

Sky Costanera

If you are in Santiago, you just have to visit the highest viewpoint of Latin America, the Sky Costenera. This has a height of 300 meters and a 360° view of the city. One thing that is striking is that you can reach the top floor to enjoy a spectacular view of Santiago in less than 1 minute, thanks to its modern elevators, This is absolutely a must-see!

Andean Astronomical Observatory

This is located in Santiago 20 minutes away from the eastern part of the city, 1,240 meters above sea level in the mountains. It has a main dome with three telescopes, an observation terrace, and meeting rooms equipped with audio-visual technology. In its dome and terrace, visitors can observe through 9 telescopes at night, and through three solar telescopes with hydrogen alfa filters during the day, which allow to observe details of the sun.

Changing of the Guard at La Moneda

Every other day at 10:00 a.m., the guards perform a formal, 30-minute ceremony complete with parade and military band. This tradition dates back more than 150 years.