Chile was on my travel bucket list for a long time. In November of 2014 I finally had to chance to travel there in a 4-day brazilian holiday, but I already left the country thinking about going back there. Chile deserves a special whole month trip, and you still won’t be able to see it all. They have big cities, beaches, deserts, mountains, lakes and of course lots of wine!
I stayed 4 days in Santiago, just about enough time to fall in love with the city, which many claim to be a small piece of Europe inside Latin America.
Are you thinking about a trip to Santiago as well? So check out this mini guide with the things I loved the most during my time there! 😉
Arriving in Santiago
If you’re not renting a car while leaving the airport, you can book a van trip in advance with Transvip. The online reservation is very simple and once you arrive at the airport you just need to find the company’s counter and show your reservation. The driver was very nice to us and if you book your return from the hotel to the airport at the same time, you get a little discount.
Inside Santiago the best options to move around are:
▹ On foot: Santiago’s downtown is pretty flat, so you can just walk around the city and get that bonus exercise. What I love about this option is that you always end up finding a little corner that would remain unknown otherwise.
▹ Taxi: Good prices! I mostly used it to go back home after dinner.
▹ Metro: You find 5 metro lines in Santiago, and they are in general pretty good.
Pay attention before buying the tickets once the metro works with 3 different fares according to the time of the day: Punta, Valle and Bajo. So plan ahead what time you’ll be using the metro again in order to buy the return ticket.
Santiago has great neighborhoods:
▹ Centro: close to the historic district and many metro stations.
▹ Bellavista: bit “trendy”, with restaurants and bars.
▹ Providencia: very urban, with skyscrapers and the financial center.
▹ Lastarria: the point for local artists and designers, also with good cultural and gastronomic options!
DAY 1 – Historic Santiago
Start the day at Palacio de la Moneda, close to metro station La Moneda (Line 1). Right in front of the headquarters of the Chilean presidency you can see every other day the traditional changing of the guard at 10:00 am from Monday to Thursday and 11:00 am on the weekends.
I was just lucky to be right there at the right day and the right time while the Banda dos Carabineros was playing this show that usually goes for around 40 minutes.
You can also book a guided tour inside the palace to learn more about its history.
Don’t count on your luck
like I did and check beforehand the monthly calendar for the Change of the Guards.
Continue to Plaza de Armas by foot or, if you want to, you can pick up the metro again and leave at La Moneda or Universidad de Chile (Line 1) or at Plaza de Armas (Line 5).
This square is in the very middle of the city since its foundation and used to be used for festivals, authorities nominations and trials.
The Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago was unfortunately close, but get inside if you have a chance! The entrance is free and they say is a beautiful church from the inside!
Next stop: Museu de Arte Precolombiana. Great museum! Right next to the cathedral, at 361 Bandera St.
This is a nice place to see many sculptures and indian artwork from different places from the pre columbian Latin America. Save 2-3 hours to make sure and can see it all. If you like taking notes on every little detail and reading all of the information
while making your boyfriend wait for a long time, you can easily spend the whole morning here.
Leaving the museum you find this cute souvenir shop, if you’re into it. I wanted to buy everything from that store, but anyways, I was prohibited by someone who had waited long enough.
After all this walk, you’ll probably be starving, so go straight to Mercado Central do Chile, just 4 blocks from the museum. It’s a big market where you’ll find all kinds of sea food – yummy!
At the market you can also arrange your getaways from Santiago – lots of travel agencies are there. Most popular choices are: Valle Nevado, Viña del Mar and Valparaiso.
Walking is always a good idea after lunch, so just go toPaseo Ahumada, the most important shopping street in Santiago. There you can find two major department stores in Chile: Ripley e Falabella. I didn’t get anything but still, it’s a nice walk 🙂
In the afternoon, go to Cerro Santa Lucia. This is my very favourite place in whole Santiago! If you can only make one thing while in town, that’t your place too.
The Cerro – or hill – is very close to Santa Lucia (Line 1) station. It has an altitude of 629 meters above sea level and a 69 meters height – most of it you will go up by stairs. But trust me, it’s worth it: from the top you have just an amazing view of Santiago and The Andes Mountains in the background. In the intermediate level there are some lovely benches, water fountains and some statues.
Enjoy your time here to relax a bit and see all the great pictures you have from your first day 😉
DAY 2 – Wine and a panoramic view
Before going to Chile I researched a lot and found completely opposite opinion weather I should or not visit the famous Concha y Toro. If you’re also wondering about it, my tip is: YES, GO!
The winery is indeed full of tourists, but that in no way makes this trip less gorgeous. It was an amazing experience, and I tell all about it here.
Loved it all: beautiful landscapes, good wine and the best lunch during my vacation!
After the tour, if you’re still in the mood, go to San Cristobal Hill. There is a funicular that goes up the hill every half an hour. Up there you find a little sanctuary and a great panoramic view from the whole metropolitan area of Santiago.
DAY 3 – More wine and seaside
We decided to rent a car during the weekend to explore some of the Casablanca region. There are good wineries in that area and if you’re not really into wine, go just for the view!
We drove to Isla Negra, a small coast town where lies one of Pablo Neruda’s house. Now it’s not possible to buy the tickets to Isla Negra in advance, so make sure you get there early in the morning, or you might not be able to get in – which is ok, the beach is also very pretty!
DAY 4 – To the mountains!
During was last day we decided to go up to Valle Nevado. The view from the top of the mountains are breathtaking! But is was almost Summer so there was n snow.
The road until Valle Nevado is tiresome with its
20.000 60 or something curves. So you need to think if it’s really a good idea to make this by your own (if it’s snowing, just don’t go by yourself!). What can also happen is to get stuck in the middle of a 20-mile bike event that will make this road take more than 4 hours. How fun, hm?
Anyways, I left Chile thinking about my next time there.
So many beautiful places, tasty food and great wine. There’s a lot of things I wish I had the time to do but couldn’t, so I’m only sure about one thing: Santiago, we will see each other again very soon!
How did you like this 4-fun-days mini guide in Santiago?
Any other great tips about Chile? Just share them in the comment box! 😉