Santiago is Chile’s sophisticated capital, which 40% of the country’s population call home. Easily accessible on foot, the city is one of South America’s most attractive capitals and a few nights here will afford the chance to enjoy its many top-class restaurants, fascinating museums, unusual architecture and lovely parks.
Peered over by the snowy peaks of the Andes, the city sits between the mountains and the coast, just two hours’ drive from Valparaiso, a coastal city which can easily be visited on a day trip. Modern influences have spurred regeneration in a number of its attractive suburbs, where bars and chic restaurants have a European feel and attract a stylish crowd in the evenings.
The European influence trickles over into its social scene, as locals and travellers alike can be found sipping potent Pisco Sour cocktails in rooftop bars or taking part in the city’s frequent fiestas: from film fêtes to literary festivals. Santiago’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for exploring, with long, balmy days segueing into cool nights; however, the city is also just a short drive to the Andean ski resorts of Valle Nevado and Portillo, demonstrating how versatile Chilean holidays can be.
Santiago is beautiful and entertaining whatever the season, with local draught beer to drink, cafés in Barrio Italia in which to sip coffee and the vibrant nightlife of Bellavista to enjoy.
Highlights of Santiago include the San Francisco Church and the historic cathedral, located in the Plaza de Armas, the original centre of the city.
This is also an ideal place to admire the city’s colonial architecture before exploring the Centro. It’s an easy journey by metro to the well-heeled suburbs of Las Condes and Providencia, where bar-hopping is an evening pastime. Bohemian Lastarria is Santiago’s most diverse barrio, packed with cinemas, theatres, boutiques and cafés.
Holidays to Chile are easily combined with Argentina, and it’s possible to travel overland from Santiago via the high passes of the Andes, through spectacular mountain scenery to Mendoza.
This is a wonderful combination for wine lovers, exploring the valleys outside of Santiago and the vineyards of Mendoza.