Top 10 Destinations in South America (I): Santiago, Chile

Tag: Chile

Top 10 Destinations in South America (I): Santiago, Chile

Ole! Besides salsa, sombreros and tequila, South America is a feast for one’s senses, with something for every kind of traveler. The continent is a patchwork of remarkable sceneries, with its snowcapped massifs, dangerous jungles, dreamlike deserts and spectacular mountain ranges, with many of its wonders remaining largely undiscovered.


South America offers rich experiences to travelers seeking natural wonders, ancient ruins, and vibrant cultural experiences.


Any of these ten destinations would make a fascinating trip on its own, or you could combine some or all of them for a memorable tour.



Top 10 Destinations in South America: Santiago, Chile


Santiago de Chile, the capital city of Chile, sits squarely within the central valley of the country.


Santiago makes an ideal winter holiday destination for ski lovers, thanks to Valle Nevado. With nearly 3,000 hectares of skiable domain, it’s the largest skiing spot in South America. If you're planning to travel to Santiago in summer, you can go hiking or do a picnic at the same location. Consider using the Mirador chairlift to take you all the way up to the top, where you can also sign up for more fun activities like horseback riding, going trekking with guides, and even rock climbing.



Top 10 Destinations in South America: Santiago, Chile


Architecture lovers will fall head over heels for the city's neoclassical architecture, long winding streets decked with numerous art deco, neo-gothic and other famous style buildings. Start with the Plaza de Armas, the city's historic center, to view some of the best heritage architecture. Do not miss the National History Museum and the Central Post Office here. Take in a little bit of architecture and history together by paying a visit to Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago. If you want a little more of the poet, check out his houses in Valaparaiso and Isla Negro as well.


For the lazy holiday lovers, Santiago offers tours to hot springs at Banos Colina, the Fine Arts Museum, the bohemian Barrio Bellavista. The nightlife at Barrio Bellavista is best experienced in the many bars here, especially after midnight. You can even sample delicious late night street food in this area.


Top 10 Destinations in South America: Santiago, Chile


The best part about Santiago is its bicycle-friendly streets, so you can pedal all over the city to explore its culture.


Getting Around Chile (I)

Getting Around Chile by Plane


Due to the length of the country and distances between its attractions, many visitors to Chile choose to travel on domestic flights in order to save time. Flights are a particularly popular option for travelers who arrive in Santiago and plan to visit the far north or Patagonia. The two main carriers in Chile are LAN and Sky Airlines, which link all the major cities in the country. 



Getting Around Chile – Patagonia


In Patagonia, where transportation is thin on the ground, local flights are a speedy alternative to long waits and circuitous bus and ferry routes, and a handful of small regional air carriers and private air charters compete with the major airlines. 



Getting Around Chile – Easter Island


One destination that virtually requires a flight is Easter Island, and LAN has several departures each week from Santiago. Be forewarned however, that the tickets don’t come cheap—they start at $500. Domestic tickets are subject to a small departure tax, but this is usually included in the ticket price; be sure to ask when booking.



Getting Around Chile by Boat


Chile hugs the Pacific, so it is not surprising that boats play an important role in the country’s travel infrastructure. This is especially true in Patagonia, where it can be nearly impossible to travel around without setting foot on the deck of a ferry. Many routes only run a few days each week, and the boats often travel slowly, but you will usually be compensated with some wonderful views. 



Getting Around Chile by Ferry


Ferry travel is not very expensive; the price depends on the company and the route, but you can usually count on a basic ticket costing about $2-3 for every hour of the trip. There are multiple classes of service on longer journeys, and prices rise according to the level of comfort. Ferries will also carry bicycles and automobiles for an extra charge. Charter and tour boats also serve some routes, providing greater comfort at a higher cost. During the winter, ferry service is sometimes suspended, and charters will be your only option.


Best Private Island Getaways (I)

For many travelers, their idea of a perfect vacation is a secluded spot away from the rest of the world. These vacationers prefer to be close to nature, isolation and utter relaxation. If this kind of destination appeals to you, we've picked out the best private island gateways. The following islands all have one thing in common: peace and quiet.


1. Best Private Island Getaways: Easter Island — Chile

Easter Island is over 2,000 miles from the nearest population center, (Tahiti and Chile), making it one of the most isolated places on Earth. A volcanic rock in the South Pacific — it is best known for the giant stone monoliths, known as Moai, that dot the coastline. How they were moved across the island remains a mystery. The early settlers called the island ''Te Pita O Te Henua" (Navel of The World). Today, the land, people and language are all referred to locally as Rapa Nui. The islanders developed the only written language in Oceania, but the meaning of the script has been lost. Today, the island is part of Chile and its lengthy runway doubles as an emergency landing strip for the space shuttle. But the moai remain part of the landscape, so, walking around the island is like touring a living, open-air museum. You can walk to the major sites in three or four days, or cover even more ground by horseback or four-wheel-drive.


2. Best Private Island Getaways:  The Hallig Islands in the Wadden Sea — Germany

Germany's Hallig Islands are picturesquely dotted among the North Frisian Islands off the North Sea coast and offer walks on the mudflats in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. Flooding is one of the features that distinguishes Hallig Islands from other islands. During these periods of submersion, only the island's warfts are visible — man-made hills upon which the houses of Hooge's inhabitants can be seen jutting out of the water. The Hallig Island of Oland is a true gem, as it is also home to a wide variety of water birds and waders. The coastal landscape features vast expanses of salt marshes and the natural beauty of the area is enhanced by the blooming purple sea lavender. Walks on the mudflats demonstrate the rich diversity of the region's water birds and waders, and the constantly changing salt marsh landscape makes the Hallig Islands a truly magical place.