Chile’s capital city, Santiago, feels a bit like a piece of Europe that has been dropped into South America. With neoclassical architecture, an efficient metro system, and plenty of nearby mountain resorts and wineries, it is also one of South America’s most glamorous and inviting cities. Here’s how to make the most of a three day visit.
Day 1: Explore the City
Get acquainted with Santiago on a sightseeing tour: Take a hop-on hop-off bus to see the city at your own pace, or opt for a guided tour and see all of the city’s main landmarks, such as the Plaza de Armas, La Moneda Palace, and San Cristóbal Hill, with an expert who can give you historic and cultural information. Alternatively, book a walking tour that takes you through the streets of a few different neighborhoods and into food markets; some tours also include lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, make time for a visit to La Chascona, Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s Santiago home. The museum is located in the bohemian Bellavista district, so stick around afterward and soak up the local nightlife at the area’s bars, clubs, and music venues. If you don’t want to go it alone, opt for a small-group tour that includes drinks and snacks.
Day 2: Head to Wine Tasting or Skiing—or Both
On your second day, experience another side of Chile with a tour of some of the many wineries situated just outside the city. Sample top vintages from some of Chile’s most famous producers while soaking up the views in Chile’s rural countryside.
If you’re visiting during ski season (June through August), skip the wineries and hit the slopes. Portillo, one of Chile’s top ski resorts, is just a short trek from Santiago. Book a tour if you want to learn about the history of the mountain and the adventurers and explorers who first climbed the Andes. Ski rentals are available at the resort. Want to make the most out of the day? Join a tour that includes both skiing and wine tasting, and get the best of both experiences.
Day 3: Head for the Coast
On your final day, you can head for the coastal cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. In the port city of Valparaiso, explore the rambling hillside streets by foot or funicular and check out the local street art. In the resort town of Viña del Mar, explore the historic buildings, visit the beach, and see the famed flower clock. Full-day guided tours that include both cities generally include round-trip transportation to give you as much time as possible to explore.
Alternatively, spend the last day of your trip taking a tour of Isla Negra. This charming beach-side village—the site of another of Neruda’s three Chilean homes—features eccentric architecture and a museum dedicated to Neruda’s life and works. Tours generally also stop at the village of Pomaire, which is known for fantastic pottery, before taking you back to Santiago where you can spend your last night toasting your trip in the city’s restaurants and bars.