Chile's capital, Santiago, is often overlooked as a mere stopover after the long international flight, and certainly it is less showy than Buenos Aires or Rio, but it is well worth staying a few nights in one of many good hotels, and exploring the city and its surrounding attractions. Badly damaged by earthquakes over the years, Santiago's architecture is an interesting mix of historic and modern, with gleaming buildings alongside baroque buildings and the impressive Presidential Palace on the central Plaza de Armas.

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Why we think you’ll love it

  • Santiago is an exciting city - whether you like the bohemian vibe of Bellavista, the chic restaurants of Lastarria, or would rather mingle with the well-heeled at one of the many mega-malls is the upmarket areas of Vitacura and Las Condes, there's something to please all tastes
  • The wine region is simply stunning, and its proximity to the city makes it the perfect place to spend a night or two pre- or post-flight if you want to avoid the bustle of the city
  • Different wineries all have different tours to showcase their unique wine making processes, so there's no excuse not to visit a few while you're in the area
  • Can't stand summer because it means no skiing? Head to Portillo and hit the slopes in July and August to keep your ski cravings at bay

Santiago and Central Valley Holidays: the Detail

We would recommend spending a couple of days of your holiday exploring Santiago itself and while you're there, make sure you head up San Cristobal hill with your camera, to get the best views of the city and the surrounding Andes. After this, move on to its surrounding attractions; the coast, Andes and vineyards.

The food in Santiago is great; from the bustling central fish market to any number of upmarket international restaurants and more typical Chilean lunch options. South of the city, the Central Valley is where the majority of Chile's wine comes from. The Maipo Valley, closest to Santiago, is home to the most widely known export; Concha y Toro, whose winery can be visited in a day trip. Maipo's cool ocean breezes, bright sunshine and elevated slopes are perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, one of the export varieties Chile has become synonymous with, but local vineyards also grow Merlot and Chardonnay on the upper slopes. Beyond that, deeper into the picturesque landscape of vines with the Andean backdrop, are many smaller vineyards, some of which form part of the 'Wine Route' and offer charming overnight accommodation. Try a glass of delicious Carménère red wine - the grape was originally from the Bordeaux region of France but is now almost exclusively grown in Chile.


Top picks for Santiago & Central Valley

La Casona at Matetic Vineyard

La Casona at Matetic Vineyard

Santiago & Central Valley

Just over a hundred kilometers from Santiago, La Casona at Matetic Vineyard is a seven room, century-old guesthouse which is the perfect base from which to explore the biodynamic Matetic Vineyard.

Where to stay

Ritz Carlton

Ritz Carlton

Santiago & Central Valley

The Ritz-Carlton Santiago is located in the El Golf neighbourhood of the Chilean capital.

Where to stay

Lapostolle Residence

Lapostolle Residence

Santiago & Central Valley

Nestled into the forested hills of the Colchagua Valley, the exclusive Lapostolle Residence Winery & Lodge, run by the Marnier-Lapostolle family, is located 3 hours south of Santiago.

Where to stay

Hotel Portillo

Hotel Portillo

Santiago & Central Valley

Portillo is unique because there is no actual town and only one hotel of note - Hotel Portillo.

Where to stay

The Aubrey

The Aubrey

Santiago & Central Valley

Situated in the boho barrio of Bellavista, the Aubrey (dating from 1927), is Santiago's first real boutique hotel.

Where to stay

Valparaiso, Chile

Visit Valparaiso

Santiago & Central Valley

A visit to the Pacific coast just a couple of hour’s drive from Santiago makes for an enjoyable day’s outing. The journey takes you through mountain ranges and fertile farmland, orchards and citrus groves.

What to do

Original Travel's dossier (restaurants, sights, useful tips) arrived through our letterbox before we left, and we sacked off TripAdvisor for the entire trip.

Lucy

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