Cosmopolitan, dynamic, and deserving of more than a short layover, Santiago is growing in status as a must-see in South America. A metropolitan city that has sometimes been unfairly overlooked in favor of other South American capitals, Santiago’s vibrant fine dining scene, access to vineyards, and status as a winter sports destination make it a centerpiece of Chilean vacation packages.
For those passing through on a trip to explore Patagonia further south, Santiago merits a few days of visiting its unmissable highlights.
Explore the barrios of Santiago
The imposing Andes Mountains flank the city in the east and act as an excellent way of orientating yourself when passing through Santiago’s quirky neighborhoods. To appreciate the modern yet cultural feel of Santiago, a stroll through some of these beautiful barrios is a must.
This is the best-known neighborhood for tourists and the location of La Chascona. One of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda’s houses, it can be visited by guided tour to learn more about his life and works. Also located in this part of the city is Cerro San Cristóbal which provides excellent views over the area.
A a thriving, trendy district, it is home to Museo Nacional Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) – one of the best places for appreciating Chilean and wider South American arts. This district also plays host to a range of inviting cafés, bars, and highly recommended restaurants.
The Mercado Central can be found in this barrio, and is an excellent stop for buying or merely browsing the incredible range of fresh seafood caught off the coast of Chile, or for eating lunch at one of its many restaurants.
This region is famous for its street art and the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which is a commemoration of the victims of the human rights violations under the Pinochet dictatorship.
Awarded the Saveur Good Taste Award 2015, Santiago surprises in terms of the fresh, delicious flavors of its gastronomy and the sheer quantity of excellent quality dining available here. It goes without saying that Santiago’s excellent selection of restaurants and cuisine should be experienced on a vacation in Chile.
- Restaurant Bocanariz regularly makes lists of the top ten dining establishments to visit in Santiago, combining, as it does, a spectacular understanding of Chile’s dual passions: wine and food.
- Santiago’s oldest café, the 136 year old Confitería de Torres sells sweets and savories throughout the day.
- Bringing the best regional produce from Chile, Borago is a restaurant offering inspired tasting menus that use ingredients sourced from a variety of communities and small, national producers to provide an exciting display of the country’s fine ingredients.
With multiple vineyards within close proximity to Santiago, it’s easy to organize a wine tour from the city as part of a Chilean vacation package.
The Casablanca Valley: situated on the coastal plains between Santiago and Valparaiso, the Casablanca Valley is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc and is on the list of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.
The Colchagua Valley: located 81-miles (130km) south of Santiago, vineyards here produce exceptional red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Syrah.
With a series of ski resorts located close to Santiago and accessible in car by an hour and a half’s drive from the city center, all Chilean vacation packages should include a ski trip.
Winter sports enthusiasts can make the most of three ski resorts, El Colorado, Valle Nevado, and La Parva, which are all located within the same region but require different lift passes. Given these resorts include a range of pistes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers and extensive off-piste runs, it’s easy to book a day or even a weekend ski package. A well-developed tourist infrastructure of high-quality restaurants and accommodations completes the appeal of these ski resorts
Arranging Chilean vacation packages to Santiago
Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport has multiple flights arriving daily, including direct flights from Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas. The high season for flights is from December to February, with the holiday season between Christmas and New Year experiencing a peak in flight costs.