Santiago has a beautiful setting, flanked by the Andes, while colourful UNESCO-listed Valparaiso is well worth a visit, as is the Central Valley, which offers stunning landscapes and award-winning wines.
Flanked by the towering, snow-capped peaks of the Andes, Santiago is set in a truly stunning location. Colonial streets are juxtaposed with high-rise modernity, interspersed with green parks and gardens. The Chilean capital showcases the country’s heritage with its various museums, like the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, and the verdant Cerro Santa Lucia is a must-see: this was where the city was founded in 1541.
Towards the coast from Santiago, you’ll reach the busy, historic port of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town built on a steep hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With its colourful houses and mazes of cobblestone streets, up-and-coming Valparaiso is a great contrast to Santiago. The city boasts some killer views, best admired from its famous funicular railways, as well as excellent bars and restaurants.
The Central Valley
The Central Valley offer the perfect rural contrast to buzzing Santiago, taking you along Chile’s spine, where fertile plains snake between the Andes and the coastal range. Thanks to a winning combination of fertile soil, long, dry summers and cold, wet winters, the Valley is Chile’s premium agriculture and viticulture region, with pretty orchards, vineyards and pastures dotting the landscape. Where to spend the night? The avant-garde and otherworldly Viña Vik retreat and wine spa is simply astounding.
Skiing in the Andes, the second highest mountain range in the world, comes highly recommended and is possible any time between July and September. There are a number of ski resorts easily accessible from Santiago including Portillo, 164km to the north, which has long groomed runs and spectacular views; the vast Valle Nevado, 67km from Santiago and one of the best ski resorts in Chile; and Termas de Chillan, some 500km east of Santiago, which offers some fabulous tree-lined pistes.