Chile’s capital, Santiago, is home of more of less 6 million Chileans and is one of the five largest cities in South-America. This modern city is situated closely to various beach cities which are famous touristic spots such as Viña del Mar and Valparaiso and is the entry for all international arrivals. Santiago has most of its universities and industries here, as well as being home to its famous vineyards, finest agricultural lands, colonial and early republican architecture.
Must-see Santiago Attractions
To get the best views of this city, you can reach the peaks of the Parque Metropolitano, also known as Cerro San Cristóbal. The park is Santiago’s largest green space, but it’s still decidedly urban. There are walking trails, picnic spots, and an amphitheater; all of this blessed by the vigilant the 22-meter (72-foot) statue of the Virgin Mary, erected here in the 1930s. The Parque Metropolitano extends into the hills base, and also encompasses the National Zoo and two pretty public pools, both excellent options for families.
While visiting Santiago, make sure to explore the Museo de Bellas Artes, home to one of the world’s largest collections of paintings, sculptures and tapestries of renowned artist Jean Lucrat. The museum was established in 1880, making it the oldest in South-America.
Across the Plaza de Armas you can find many other historirc and invaluable attractions in Santiago, including the Teatro Municipal, Palacio de la Moneda, and Metropolitan Cathedral.
The cathedral itself was built between 1748 and 1775 and in 1951 it was declared as a National Monument. It’s a beautiful and serene building that enhance its’ architectural constructions significance. The cathedral is situated on the west side of the Plaza de Armas.
Further north you can discover the Mercado Central, a major marketplace in one of the most beautiful public buildings. Home to a unique architecture design, the market is a perfect introduction to Santiago where you can listen street musicians alongside a various of dining options, especially fresh seafood from Valparaiso. You can also visit La Vega Market, set in a shady part of town next to the Mapocho River.
To best explore the city, a Santiago bike tour is in order. Local and expert guides can show you all the top attractions while also providing an in-depth look at local life in Santiago, pointing out hidden gems as you zip through the city lanes.
A Day at the Beach – Viña del Mar & Valparaiso
Just one and a half hour from Santiago is Chile’s coastline along the Pacific Ocean. Day trips from Santiago to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso are a must while visiting the capital, as these two coastal cities offer their own charm and flavor to your Chile vacation.
Founded in 1874, Viña del Mar is also known as the Garden City and here you will find most luxurious beach resort town attracting visitors from all over the world. Since the 1800s, inhabitants of Chile’s Capital have flocked to Viña’s beaches to escape the city’s summer heat. Its charming character, its incredible stretches of white beach sand, and its cozy restaurants and bars make it an ideal day trip from Santiago.
We highly recommend visiting Las Salinas, home to an incredible and calm beach, and enjoy a plate of fresh fish while here.
If you’re a culture buff, then you should definitely take in Vina del Mar’s museums, including the Museum of ARchaeology and History Franscisco Fonck, home to a stunning display archaeological findings from Easter Island along with Mapuche silverwork, anthropomorphic Moche ceramics and old-school insect cases. You’ll also enjoy the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes, ituated in the neo-Gothic–styled Vergara Palace. The museum has an interesting collection of 17th to 19th-century European and Chilean art, including works by Murillo, Modigliani, Rubens and Sorolla y Bastida.
Not far away is the stunning Valparaiso. In 2003 this city was declared a World Heritage Site, due to its historical importance, natural beauty, original architecture and layout. This is where Chile’s main harbor is situated, bringing fresh fish to the capital. Valparaiso is famous for its nightlife, but like Vina del Mar it has many famous natural history, fine arts and maritime museums.
To get to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso you can take a ride from the University of Santiago station in just an hour and a half, arriving in Viña, a twenty-minute walk from the beach. If you’re looking for a personalized trip, you can join a lovely Vina del Mar & Valparaiso tour from Santiago by private vehicle.