Chile is most commonly known because of Patagonia in the south or the breathtaking landscapes of Atacama Desert in the north of the country. But there is a lot to see and do in the Central part of Chile.
The central Valleys has a hundreds of beautiful secrets waiting to be discovered. As a local I can take you where very few tourists have seen yet. So let’s start with Santiago.
It is a vibrant capital city which, besides of the museums, restaurants, culture scene and nightlife, also has great outdoor possibilities just an hour away from the city center. Here’s what you just can’t miss when in Santiago:
Old City Center
Santiago is a very big city, but luckily for travelers you can walk and see the entire city center in just one day.
Walk Bandera pedestrian street, brightly painted by Chilean artists and then head to Plaza de Armas, with some of the great colonial buildings still standing in Chile. Look for the Metropolitan Cathedral, Central Post Office and the National History Museum.
Keep going north until you reach Mapocho River, then follow it to the east to ge to Parque Forestal; here you can grab some empanadas and relax under the trees.
Santa Lucía and San Cristóbal Hills
Also in the city center you have two major parks in case you want to take long walks surrounded by tall green trees, beautiful flowers and vegetation.
Santa Lucía was designed and built to be a quiet retreat in the middle of the bustling center of Santiago.
Here you’ll find nicely decorated stairs and fancy brick pathways that will lead you through chapels, fountains and different lookouts to see the city from above. There is a free elevator in case you want to skip the steep stone stairs to the top.
San Cristóbal Hill is part of the greater Parque Metropolitano, here you have many fun outdoor activities.
You can hike, bike, or take the Funicular –elevator- to reach the top. Once there, you can take the Teleférico -cable car- on your way east. You’ll see the magnificent native forests beneath you on the south face of the hill.
A major attraction right next to Santiago is the Andes Cordillera, where you can visit the incredible views of the mountains just 1-hour drive from the city. Where you can also go skiing.
Winter in South America corresponds with summer vacations in North America, and skiing is one of the best things to do with family.
High season goes from mid-July to early September, so the recommendation is to book both room reservations and flights to Santiago in advance.
Vineyards in Chile are very popular. You’ve got options in the city itself, but you could also book a tour departing from Santiago.
This would be a good opportunity to get outside of the city, and delight your eyes with some beautiful views of the mountains.