Santiago is filled with 26 different neighborhoods (barrios) and communes (comunas), which characterize the different faces of the city, including Bellavista, Lastarria and Barrio Italia, so you’ll never run out of places to go or things to see as every turn will bring a new surprise.
There are many different things you can do in the city, see “Santiago – Top Ten Attractions” to learn discover the most popular things to do in the city that you can’t miss!
However, if you’re looking to get away from the hoards, check out the suggestions on our Off The Beaten Path in Santiago de Chile blog to discover some lesser-known hidden treasures.
Santiago sits in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and is just 1.5 hours from the coast, so it is in the perfect location as there is always something to do. Read on to see some of the best places to visit just outside the city, if you want to escape the bustling city for some peace and quiet, a day on the beach, or an active adventure in the hills!
Cajón del Maipo, 1.5 hours from Santiago
Cajon del Maipo is beautifully located on the border of Argentina in the precordillera of the Andes, just southeast of Santiago. It’s home to El Morado Natural Monument, a mountain reserve with trails to the San Francisco Glacier and Laguna Morales. This is a lovely place to come for a hike, picnic or just to take in the amazing views.
Trekking: Cajon del Maipo is a favorite destination for travelers who want to go hiking and get to see some of the real mountainous countryside. On the Cajón del Maipo official website you can find maps which show you the different paths you can take through the canyon.
One great option is to trek to the Embalse el Yeso, a high altitude reservoir in the Andes just a bit further on from San Jose de Maipo. It’s a challenging hike, taking you up 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level, however, if you choose to do the trek as part of a tour you will usually be provided with a guide, equipment and snacks for the journey.
There is also the trail to Mirador del Morado, another mountain keen climbers can attempt, at 4,320 meters high (14,173 feet). This whole area is protected by CONAF (the National Forest Corporation) and is a nature reserve in the area near the small town Baños Morales. It is a great place to scout out indigenous fauna and flowers if you are also interested in bird watching and seeing local animals and plants thriving in their natural habitat.
The San Francisco Glacier trek is another one you can tackle, at 4,320 meters high (14,173 feet), however, this trek includes ice climbing so you will need to be prepared.
Hot Springs: There are three main Hot spring centers in the area: Baños Morales, Baños Colina and Termas El Plomo.
All the Hot Spring are maintained and charge an entrance fee to visitors. Baños Morales is the most accessible one, as you can get there by car, and so is usually the busiest. The access to Baños Colina and Termas el Plomo is a lot harder, therefore they offer wilder landscapes and are usually less crowded, I highly recommend to visit these two hot springs if you can.
Baños Colinas and Baños Morales are both locations which have several outdoor hot springs you can bathe in as well as numerous options for places to stay or get food during your visit.
Adventure activities: Cajon del Maipo has many opportunities for adventure activities if you would like to try something different and find another way to explore the Andes.
Horseback Riding – Horseback Riding is one of the best ways to combine a chance to see the mountains and glaciers whilst conserving some energy to take in the beautiful surroundings. On most horseback riding tours you can see where the real cowboys of Chile come from and encounter many animals and birds in their natural habitat.
Canopy / Zip-lining – Another option is visiting one of the few Canopy parks in the area. Climb to the canopies, cross rope walks or the Maipo river on a zip line!
Rafting / Kayaking – El Maipo River starts up in the glaciers above Baños Colina, very close to the Argentinian border, and follows its way down the valley gathering strength from various lagoons and dams along the way, and flows into the Mapocho river in Santiago. The first section of the river in El Cajón del Maipo Valley is perfect for river sports, such as rafting or kayaking.
Valparaíso, Viña del Mar and Concón, 1.5 hours from Santiago
These 3 cities are located along the coast on the Pacific Ocean, under 2 hours from Santiago. They are each located about a 10 minute drive from each other, or you can take the metro (subway), or a bus from one city to another along the coastal road. They are great places to explore, go to the beach and eat fabulous seafood.
Valparaíso: Energetic, colorful and poetic, Valparaíso is a wonderful mess. It’s known for its steep hills fitted with funiculars and lifts to travel around, the colorful clifftop homes and the amazing street art painted all over the city. You’ll discover something new at every turn: a gem of a building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’.
Viña del Mar: Clean and orderly Viña del Mar is a sharp contrast to the charming jumble of neighboring Valparaíso. Manicured boulevards lined with palm trees, a sprawling public beach, and beautiful expansive parks have earned it the nickname of Ciudad Jardín (Garden City). Its official name, which means ‘vineyard by the sea,’ stems from the area’s colonial origins as the hacienda of the Carrera family. Viña is a popular weekend and summer destination for well-to-do Santiaguinos – and the carrete (partying) here is first rate.
Concón: Concón, 10km north of Reñaca, is a strange sort of place: part concrete terraced apartment blocks, part elegant villas with flower-filled gardens, part sand dunes, and part beaches. The most popular beaches are the rapidly developing Playa Amarilla and Playa Negra, both good for body boarding and surfing.
Casablanca Valley, 1 hour from Santiago
As you may know already, Chile is a proud winemaking country. Casablanca Valley, situated on the coastal plain between Santiago and Valparaíso, is Chile’s fastest growing wine region. The valley is relatively new to the wine industry with wine production beginning as late as the mid-1980s. As a young valley of premium wines, Casablanca Valley boasts a large number of modern cellars with the highest wine-making technology, many of them boutiques wineries. You can see a full list of valleys and wineries in TheBesty Local Guide, but here are three great options:
Indómita: The Indómita castle-like winery sits on top of a vine-covered hill right at the start of Casablanca Valley. They focus on white wine, and their Duette Chardonnay 2009 is particularly delightful with a hint of pineapple and boasting a buttery texture. Wine is not the only treat at Indómita, as their in-house Chef Oscar Tapia serves gourmet Spanish Chilean lunches daily at the Restaurante Viña Indòmita on the property.
Casas del Bosque: Casas del Bosque is another great place to have lunch in the valley. It is a family boutique winery that offers premium wine and terrace dining at their Tanino Wine Bar & Lunch. Here you can get Chilean delicacies and sip their unique wines created right in the valley. Their Gran Estate Selection Private Reserve 2007 is particularly noteworthy with its intense violet color and bouquet of blackcurrant, blueberry and anise.
Veramonte: Veramonte is one of the largest vineyards in Chile, with over 1,000 acres in the Casablanca Valley. This is a great vineyard to visit for families, as the Veramonte property not only has an antique wine-making exhibit hall filled with old barrels and wine contraptions, but also boasts picnic and game areas among the vines and olive trees. Their most popular varietals are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
As well as wines, Chile is also well known for its skiing. With the whole 3000 mile border with Argentina being the Andes mountain range, you’d expect skiing to be a common activity. There are actually many great ski resorts right outside of Santiago, such as La Parva (just over an hour from Santiago), Valle Nevado (about 1.5 hours from Santiago), El Colorado (about 2 hours from Santiago), and Portillo (about 2.5 hours from Santiago).
The prices during high season sit around $ 45.000 CLP to $ 50.000 CLP for a day pass during high season at each of these resorts. High season is usually from June to September, but due to the altitude of the mountains, there is often snow all year round, even when temperatures reach over 30 degrees Celsius (86F) in the city. Portillo, Valle Nevado and El Colorado all have artificial snow-maker machines, which helps the season last a lot longer too. Check out their websites to find out when they are open.
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